Title: Scratching the Itch
Author: Nomi
Posted: 7/16/00
Archive: wherever, just let me know.
Part: 1/1
Notes: Sort of a twist on a scene from "He Shall, From Time to Time"
Rating: NC-17

Scratching the Itch by Nomi

"You have an itch," she said.

"Huh?" was all I could think to say. She'd trapped me outside Toby Ziegler's office, and what do you say when Abbey Bartlet, the First Lady of the United States, the wife of the President of the United States, says something totally incomprehensible? I thought "Huh" was pretty good, given the circumstances.

"Come to my office; I want to talk to you," she continued, and, again, I had this feeling of "What am I supposed to do, tell the First Lady she's losing it?" So, being the smart person that I am, I followed.

As soon as we were in her office, she started in again. "You have an itch. You have an itch for Sam Seaborn."

"I...huh?" There I was again with the "huh?" Where did this come from? And how the hell did she figure it out? I hadn't figured it out all that long ago myself, and anyway, why would she be encouraging this?

"You have an itch for Sam Seaborn," she repeated, "and it's obvious to more than just me. Don't you think that you should do something about it?" That's just like her - get straight to the point, no nonsense. She sees something that has to be done and makes sure it gets done. Which is fine, usually. But now she was talking about my life, my love life, apparently, and I didn't know how to stop the speeding train that was Abbey Bartlet from running me over.

And she was still talking, despite not getting any encouragement from me. "...so I think you should go down to his office right now and tell him you want to scratch this itch of yours. Don't worry about Leo. I'll take care of him..." and she was propelling me out of her office and down towards Sam's office. I let the momentum carry me the rest of the way.

Nodding to the people milling around outside of Sam's office, I walked towards his open door. OK, here goes nothing, I thought. I knocked on the door jamb, and said, "Sam...can we talk for a minute?"

He looked up. "Sure, Josh. What's up?"

***

"Sam...can we talk for a minute?"

He looked up. "Sure, Josh. What's up?"

Now I'd done it. I'd started this conversation that I wasn't prepared for, and it was all because I can't stand up to Abbey Bartlet. Of course, few men can. But now what?

"Uh...well, it's like this. Do you mind," I said, moving into his office, "if I closed the door?" Oh, brilliant, I thought. Two degrees from Harvard, a Fulbright scholar, and in two conversations I haven't been able to complete a coherent sentence.

"No, go ahead," he said, giving me a confused look. As I closed the door behind me, he continued, "What did I do now that Leo has it in for me?"

My mind was working overtime. *Great. Now he thinks I'm only here as my boss' hatchet man. Maybe I should do this at another time. But if I run into Mrs. Bartlet in the hallway, she'll give me a look, and then I'll stammer again, and she'll wonder what sort of idiot works for her husband, and she'll ask the President, and then he'll ask Leo, who will make it the subject of a staff meeting, and then...oh, never mind. I'm an idiot.*

"No, um...it wasn't..." There I was again, the Great Orator. I took a deep breath and started again. "The First Lady recommended I talk to you." No, that was all wrong; it sounded like a policy decision, not a personal issue. Try again, Lyman. "I wanted to ask you..." but I couldn't just come out and ask him if he had any romantic interest in me. After all, he was getting a reputation around the West Wing as a ladies' man - first with Laurie, his call girl friend, and then with Mallory O'Brien, my boss' daughter. I was going to have to talk this through with Donna, the only one in the West Wing who knows I'm bi. OK, here I go, chickening out..."I'm going out for drinks with Charlie and Zoey and CJ and some others, like last time, only this time maybe we won't get into a fight. You wanna come with?"

"Sure. Sounds like fun," he said.

"How about 8? After the meeting with Leo?" At his nod, I opened his office door. "OK...see you later." I escaped as soon as I could. Now to just convince Charlie and Zoey and CJ and the others that it would be a good idea to have another night out...

***

"Donna!" I yelled as I walked - Donna'd say stomped - toward my office. I needed to talk to her, and I needed her now. She is my rock, my sounding board, my best asset...not that I tell her in words, but she knows. When I didn't see her, I called again. "Donnatella!"

"Yes, Joshua?" She always does that when I use her full name. Even though _she_ works for _me_. But I put up with it, because (and I think she secretly knows this) I'd be lost without her.

"Can I ask you a question?" I said as we walked into my office. I closed the door behind us. I didn't want my love life - or lack thereof - to be any more a topic of conversation among the staff than it already was.

"Joshua, you know that, despite your two degrees from Harvard, I am the greater intellect of this partnership of ours. Ask me anything."

So I did. "I need you to do me a favor. Can you - discreetly - ask around...ask Cathy, ask Carol, ask Margaret, even, though she's not discreet..." I paused, not sure how to continue.

"What, if Sam's at all interested in men?" she finished for me. I don't know how she does it, but Donna always manages to read my mind when I need her to...well, not always, but when I'm a stammering idiot - which she'd say is always - she can figure out where I was going and get there first. "Sure...there's a question that I can really ask in this work environment. But I can see what I can find out. So what made you decide to finally take this step?"

See, that's the problem. Donna, much as I love her, doesn't let me have a private life. But she knows I won't keep things from her if I can avoid it.

"Mrs. Bartlet bullied me," I said. "So I was going to ask him out for a drink tonight, just the two of us, so I could get a feel for his..." I stopped, seeing Donna's expression. "...I mean...I wanted to see if I could get any feeling from him one way or another, but I chickened out, so now we're going out for drinks with CJ and Charlie and Zoey...and you, if you want, but I want..." I stopped again. Here I was, being a world class blithering idiot.

"So how 'bout I pass him a note after study hall?" Donna said. At my scowl, she said, "No, really, I'll see what I can find out. And I'd love to join you for drinks tonight. What time?"

"We're meeting at 8-ish, after the Leo meeting. See if you can have some information on that," I said, opening the door again. "Any research you can give me before my meeting will be great." I hoped that sounded normal enough to whoever might be lurking outside my office.

Content that I had set my crack research team in motion, I went back to trying to concentrate on the reports on my desk

***

By the time I got home that night, I was drained, physically and emotionally. I never realized how much energy was taken up by stressing about my love life. Probably because I'd never really stressed so much about it before. It was all I could do to drag myself into my apartment and collapse on the sofa. Lying on my back, staring at the ceiling, I ran over the day in my mind.

After setting Donna on her quest for information, I spent the rest of the day in meetings. Senators wanting to talk to me, Leo wanting to talk to me, CJ wanting to talk to me, then Leo wanting to talk to Sam and me. But I really couldn't focus, what with thoughts of Sam running through my head. Especially in that meeting with him and Leo. Leo wanted to come down on us for something - I couldn't even tell you _what_ it was this time - and I had to keep myself from staring at Sam.

By the time the meeting ended, Donna had rounded up the troops for our night out - besides Sam and me, the group included Mallory, CJ, Donna, Danny Concanon (I don't know _how_ Donna pulled that one off, but it kept CJ hopping), Zoey and Charlie, plus the requisite members of the Secret Service. We ended up at a small bar a couple of blocks from the White House, a different one from the last time, right before Thanksgiving, just in case the troublemakers came back.

But anyway, on the walk over there, Donna let me know that there was positive news on her research front. Sam had apparently been at least partially affiliated with - and I don't know how Donna managed to find this out - GALAP, Princeton University's gay and lesbian organization, while he was there. So at least he'd had some gay friends at college, which meant that he wouldn't run screaming into the night if he found out I'm bi. Of course, that told me nothing about how he'd react if someone had a same-sex crush on him. Some people are more touchy about that, even if they have gay friends. So the whole time we were out at the bar, while the whole group was laughing and talking, I was stressed about how to approach Sam.

So I lay there on the couch, thinking about the mess I could potentially make of my personal life, and I couldn't fall asleep until really, really, really late. Which is par for the course, but at least this time I was home, instead of being trapped until 2 AM with the president talking about the national parks system.

By the morning, though, I had the beginnings of a plan.

***

The next morning, I walked into CJ's office before I had even gone to my own desk. During the long previous night, I had come to some decisions, and I now needed to enlist some help. Since CJ and Danny Concanon have been doing this mating dance around each other for months, I figured that she could help me with my approach. I still hadn't decided whether or not to tell her _who_ I was trying to approach; I decided to see how the conversation went. She was sitting at her desk looking at some sort of memo when I came in.

"Hey, CJ." She looked up, and I held out my offering, a hot cup of coffee. I figured that at 6 AM, a cup of coffee was always a good start.

"What's up Josh?" She looked at the coffee. "What do you want?"

"D'you mind if I close the door?" At her nod, I closed the door and approached her desk. I noticed that she'd decorated the goldfish bowl again. Gail was swimming around between miniature US and Canadian flags, probably in honor of the visit from the Canadian Governor General that week. "Nice weather we're having, hey CJ?"

OK, so I was nervous about asking CJ about her personal life. Not that we don't talk, but at work, we usually just talk about work. That night of the chili right before Zoey started Georgetown was an exception, when she came into my office looking for me and I was listening to "Ave Maria." But I was maudlin anyway, and it had been a tough day, and even then, we really only spoke about work, even though I showed her more than I usually did when in the West Wing.

But talking to CJ was the first part of what I was already terming "Operation Get Sam" in my mind. So if I had to stammer and look like an idiot for a few minutes, if I ended up closer to my goal, I come out ahead.

CJ saw right through me, though. "You don't close the door when you want to talk about the weather, Josh. What's up? I mean, what's _really_ up?" She took a sip. "Ooh, it must be something important or dangerous - you brought me excellent coffee."

"I need to talk to you about something...personal," I said, and when she didn't immediately throw me out of her office, I continued. "When you and Danny, I mean, when you started with this _thing_ the two of you are doing, how did you start? I mean, when you decided to have a relationship beyond the business relationship you had, how did you approach him?" I knew that Danny'd been flirting with CJ for months and that he'd asked her out like a million times before she actually said yes, but I wanted to know from _her_ side, because she was actually the one who agreed to deepen the relationship.

"Well," she said, "first I asked him out to a business dinner, which I thought would be sort of a testing of the waters, but then I was hung up on the whole thing, and I figured I'd get over it if I just kissed him and found that there was really no chemistry there. But I was wrong. He kissed me the night of the State of the Union address, and I just couldn't get enough of him. That's what started the grabbing-and-kissing incidents you may have heard about. But why am I telling you this? Why are you asking?" Then her eyes lit up. "Don't tell me you are thinking of starting a thing with _Donna_!"

"Yes, a thing, but no, not Donna," I said, feeling trapped by her gaze. Sometimes CJ intimidates me. But I had made a decision while listening to her - I was going to be strong. I wasn't going to divulge Sam's name at this point. I didn't want the rumor mill to get word to Sam before I had implemented what little I had at this point of my plan. "So what you're saying is, take the bull by the horns. Make my intentions clear and to hell with the consequences. Just do it." Great, now I was spouting cliches and advertising mottoes. I had to get out of there before I made a total fool out of myself.

I already had my hand on the doorknob when CJ spoke again. "Just tell him, Josh."

That stopped me in my tracks. What did CJ know - or think she knew?

"Huh?"

"Sam...just tell him how you feel. Or show him, or something. Don't worry - I haven't told anyone or said anything. But it's obvious to me that you have a thing for him, 'cause of the way you look away when he looks at you, or the fact that half the time you talk to his tie as if you are afraid of what your face may show when you look at him."

*Wow!* I thought. The First Lady was right when she said that other people were noticing...but hopefully it could be contained to the "inner circle" so to speak. I turned back to CJ. "Thanks, CJ. I think I'll do just that."

I left CJ's office and walked down to Sam's office. *Just do it,* I repeated to myself. I saw Toby heading toward me, but I waved him off. If I didn't do this now, I'd chicken out again, and then I'd never sleep again, if last night was any indication. Luckily, Sam was in his office and alone, looking for something in one of his file cabinets.

I took a deep breath. "Hey, Sam, you got a sec?" Good, casual, not going to scare him off in any way.

He looked up at me. "Sure, Josh, what's up?"

I walked into his office and closed the door. *It's now or never,* I thought. I walked over to him and put my hand on his shoulder, just light pressure, and he turned. Before he could get a word out, I did it. I, Josh Lyman, kissed Sam Seaborn. On the lips. In his office. Trapping him up against the file cabinet, I touched my lips lightly to his, almost hesitantly, and then pulled back. It was like time had stopped as I waited for his reaction.

For a moment, there was no reaction. He just stood there, looking at me, and I felt my heart stop. Then he put his hands on my shoulders, pulled me to him, and kissed me back. I could feel his tongue outlining my lips, so I opened for him. He deepened the kiss, and I could feel myself getting hard just from the feel of his mouth on mine. I don't know how long it was - could've been seconds, could've been hours, I was so caught up in him - before he pulled back again.

"So, Josh," he said casually, "what was it you wanted to talk to me about?"

***

Immediately after what I have since come to think of as That Kiss, I was so flummoxed that I couldn't do much else but look at Sam in amazement. There must have been something there on his side that I hadn't seen, if That Kiss had been anything to go by. So there we stood, in his office, and I was speechless, and he was looking at me with this grin on his face.

"So, Josh," he said casually, "what was it you wanted to talk to me about?"

As if I were going to be able to carry on any semblance of coherent conversation. I opened my mouth, couldn't think straight, closed my mouth again, and stood there, looking at Sam.

He just seemed amused at my predicament. But the fact that, a, he didn't throw me out of his office for kissing him and, b, *he kissed me back* had thrown me for a loop. Not that I minded, but it was unexpected.

Finally, I got my brain and my tongue working again. "Uh, Sam? We now _really_ should talk."

"Y'think, Josh?" Sam said, still grinning. "I'd rather do this." And then he grabbed me again. This time, from the very start, he was in charge. He turned us so that I was against the file cabinet, and he leaned down and kissed the line of my jaw, from my ear to my chin. Then he took my lips again with his, slowly this time, as if he was savoring this kiss. I wrapped my arms around him, pulling him closer. Leaning into Sam, I let myself fall into this kiss, loving the feel of his warm lips, the skill of his tongue on and in my mouth. I moved my hands down, caressing his back. One of my hands strayed towards his waistline.

That's when we heard the knock on the door.

"Sam? Are you in there?" I could hear Donna through the door. We broke apart, Sam moving away from the file cabinet and me walking back toward Sam's desk. We tried to look as casual as possible.

Donna knocked again and opened the door a crack. "Sam, you seen Josh?" Looking into the room, she saw me. "Oh, there you are. Toby's been looking for you for about 10 minutes."

*Oh, shit!*, I thought I'd seen Toby on my way from CJ's office to talk to Sam, but I'd waved him off because I didn't want to chicken out. Now I was going to have to face him and explain why I'd ignored him before. And I wasn't exactly in any shape to do so. I couldn't exactly tell Toby I couldn't meet with him due to my heightened state of arousal. Yeah, _that_ would go over really well.

"Uh, Donna? Can you tell Toby to give me 10 minutes and I'll be right with him? Sam and I were just going over some things..." I tapered off. Donna looked at me more closely, nodded, smiled, and backed out of Sam's office, re-closing the door behind her.

"What was all that?" Sam said.

"What was all what?"

"That shorthand look thing you did with Donna just then...oh, never mind. I'm being paranoid." He looked uncomfortable for a second, and then his face cleared. "Now, where were we?"

"Sam..." I didn't really want to abandon this train of thought, but we _did_ work for the leader of the free world, and we _did_ have work to do. "Let's get together tonight for dinner and talk about this, OK?" I didn't want to be presumptuous and act as if there was already something between us, but, at the same time, since we did have extremely visible jobs, we needed to figure out what was going on sooner rather than later.

"Tonight's not good - sorry. How about tomorrow night?" Sam said. "I'm not blowing you off, really, Josh, I just have something I can't get out of without deep explanations, and I don't have those yet. Really. Tomorrow night."

I agreed, already planning my side of tomorrow night's discussion.

The next morning, all Hell broke loose. First it was Secretary O'Leary and the Republicans, then it was CJ's root canal and my major screw-up of a press briefing, and then it was Sam and Toby going to Connecticut to get back the Supreme Court nominee. The following 36 hours were nuts, capped by me speaking as part of the Marjorie DuPont lecture series. So needless to say, Sam and I didn't get much time to breathe, let alone talk about non-work-related issues.

After the DuPont lecture, I went home, hoping to get some sleep for the first time in 36 hours. But with everything that had happened, I was way too wired. I watched some TV, tried to read a novel, but still couldn't relax. Finally, I gave into my desires and picked up the phone.

But I was only going to look _so_ desperate - I decided I'd wait for Sam to make it back from Connecticut, rather than calling him on his cell phone, especially if he was still in the car with Toby and Mendoza.

"Hi, you've reached Sam Seaborn; please leave a message at the tone." I knew I'd get his machine, but I wasn't sure what I'd say.

"Hey, Sam, it's me. Josh. Could you give me a call when you get in?" That wasn't so bad. I hung up quickly, before I could say anything stupid. This was progress for me - not saying anything stupid, that is - considering my previous winning ways with the White House Press Corps.

Now I just had to wait for him to call me.

***

By 1 AM, I'd given up on hearing from Sam. Since Sam had called me around 9:00 to say it was all over, I figured another hour to get back to the airport - considering all the problems he and Toby'd had getting to Westley, Connecticut, in the first place - then about an hour-and-a-half flight back to DC, then 20 minutes to get from Andrews to his home, he should've been home by about midnight. That would've given him an hour to call me back, and - not that I was desperate or anything - I figured that if he didn't call me back, it was 'cause something else had come up or he thought it was too late. So at 1, I went to bed.

It felt like no time had passed before the pounding started. I woke quickly - one of the downsides of my job is being a light sleeper - and realized the pounding was coming from my front door. I jumped out of bed, taking just a fraction of a second to notice that it was 1:25, according to my bedside clock. I moved quickly out of my bedroom and down the hall to the front door. Sometimes there are advantages to having the first-floor apartment in a townhouse - people pounding on your door at 1:25 in the morning doesn't immediately wake your neighbors.

"Wha-- Who is it?" OK, so I'm not the greatest conversationalist when I'm first woken up, but it was the middle of the night, for crying out loud.

"Josh, c'mon, open up. It's me. I've been knocking for almost 5 minutes. The neighbors will call the cops in not too long if you don't let me in."

It was Sam. At 1:25 AM. At my apartment. And here I was, in my boxers, unshaven, probably looking like Hell. But I had to let him in. So I opened the door.

And, of course, _he_ looked perfect. His hair was still combed, and through his open coat, I could see that his tie was straight, his pants were creased, and his shirt was totally unwrinkled. I'll never understand how he can look so good at any time of the day. Sam walked into my apartment, barely looking at anything but his feet, which he was stomping on my welcome mat, and his hands, which he was rubbing together and blowing on.

"Hell, Josh, it's only about 40 degrees out there. I could've gotten hypothermia..." He looked up at me for the first time, and I thought I heard him mumble "Damn!" under his breath, but I couldn't be sure.

"Hey, Sam, what...you were in the neighborhood and thought you'd drop by for a quick cup of coffee?" I could hear the sarcastic tone in my voice - not exactly the way I had wanted to start the first discussion with Sam since our "encounter" in his office - but it _was_ almost 1:30 AM.

"C'mon, Josh," Sam said, "I got your phone message...and..." he stopped. "Can I come in? Like beyond the foyer?"

"Yeah. You want something hot to drink?" I pulled a hanger from the coat closet and handed it to him as I closed the front door. He shrugged out of his coat and hung it up, and then we walked down the hall toward the living room. Hey, he'd come out this far this late to see me; the least I could do was offer him a cup of coffee. Anyway, I was getting cold standing in the entryway in only my boxers. I should've grabbed my robe on my way to the door, but at the time, I figured there must have been some sort of national emergency. I should've realized there wasn't - if it had been a national crisis, I would've been called or beeped; Leo wouldn't have sent anyone to pound on my door.

"Coffee would be great," Sam said. He's probably as immune to caffeine as I am - when you work at all hours of the day, until all hours of the night, caffeine isn't a strong enough stimulant to have any real effect on you.

I left Sam in the living room and headed to the kitchen to start the coffee. By the time I got back to the living room - it couldn't have been more than 5 minutes - Sam had taken off his jacket and tie and thrown them over the back of one of the chairs, was seated on the sofa, and had his sock feet up on my coffee table.

At first, I considered taking the chair Sam had left empty, but I really preferred the sofa, so I sat on the right end, opposite where Sam had made himself comfortable. Anyway, I'd have to get up again in a couple of minutes to get the coffee, so I could change where I was sitting then, if I wanted.

I turned so that we were facing each other and cut to the chase. "Sam, why are you here, in my apartment, at 1:30 AM?"

He had the decency to look embarrassed. "Well, I got your phone message, but I thought it was too late to call you..." he stopped.

"So you decided to come by and _wake_ me instead? We need to be in the office in a little over 4 hours for that infernal budget meeting." I knew I sounded hostile, but I was tired and stressed from the past 2 days and horny as all Hell, and Sam was here in my apartment and I was mostly naked.

"Josh...I couldn't sleep after hearing your voice on my machine. After all I'd been through today - and traveling with Toby's no picnic, by the way - when I heard your message, I just wanted to talk to you...see you..." he paused, "do this...."

And he leaned over and kissed me. I hadn't been planning on doing anything but talk tonight, but he had started this, and who was I to say no? But this time, I wasn't going to let him take control. He might have initiated this tonight, but I was going to be the aggressor. I slid my arms between us and found the buttons on his shirt. As I took control of the kiss by making him open his lips for me, I started to unbutton his shirt, slowly, taking my time. Not that I wanted to wait, but I wanted him to realize who was in charge here. I could hear his breathing quicken as I opened his shirt to the waist and pulled it free of his pants. Slipping my hands inside the open shirt, I quickly found his hard, flat nipples with my fingers. When I started lightly playing with them, just teasing, he gasped my name.

"Josh...I...." but then he stopped as I put my lips where my fingers had been. His lightly-haired chest tickled my chin slightly as I lapped at his left nipple, then his right. By then, he was gasping for air. But I was just getting started.

"Sam...I..." I mimicked, looking up at him. His pupils were gigantic; I could only see the slightest blue around the edges. With gentle nudges, I maneuvered Sam so that he was reclining more than sitting. While I was moving him, I continued to drop kisses wherever I felt like - his face, his chest, his shoulders, the base of his neck, wherever. They were only light kisses, but they made him moan each time. When he dropped his head back onto the arm of the sofa and had totally surrendered, I stopped.

"So...Sam...how do you like your coffee?"

He lifted his head enough to glare at me. "Tell me you're kidding," he panted. "You'd leave me here..." he tapered off, his head falling back again as my fingers strayed down his abdomen.

I played innocent. "I thought you wanted coffee...It should be ready in a sec."

"Ohhhhh..." it was more of a sigh than a word. "I...think..." he was struggling with each word as I continued to tease him with my fingers along his belt line. "Aaah...Josh...." My name was like a plea as I found a sensitive spot right below his navel. I could see his erection tenting the front of his pants, and I knew I was just as hard. This wasn't what I had intended when we started this. Suddenly I stopped and backed away, standing up from the sofa.

"Wha...?" He looked up, as if trying to figure out where I had gone.

"Uh...Sam...I think we really should talk before..." I stopped, not wanting to sound either too eager or too reluctant. "After all," I continued, "we have no idea what to expect from one another, and what with our working environment," another pause, "we should probably get our bearings before continuing on."

He sat up. "I don't like it, but I have to agree," he said. Then he looked at me again. Noticing my...predicament...he said, "I can tell you don't want to stop, either."

"Yeah," I said, "but can you just see someone like Lillienfield getting his hands on this story? Leo'd kill us - not for the relationship itself, but for not telling him ahead of time."

"Great, so, what? Should we make it the topic of a Senior Staff meeting?" he asked.

"No, but tomorrow morning, we should meet with Leo early, before the budget thing, and just give him a heads-up," I said. After all, Leo's my boss, and I trust him like a father. After what Mrs. Bartlet said, Leo probably already knows, or suspects, 'cause she said she'd make it OK with him, but I still feel I should tell him myself.

"OK," Sam said. He stood up and started to rebutton his shirt.

"No, let me," I said, reaching out to grab his shirt front. As slowly as I could, mostly so that he knew I still wanted this, I buttoned up his shirt front. Before I covered flesh with fabric, I nuzzled the skin, again leaving light kisses. Sam was moaning steadily by the time I finished. Reaching up, I gently grasped the back of his head and pulled his lips back down to mine for one last kiss. "That's for you to think about on the drive back home," I murmured.

We walked back down the hall to the doorway, and I got his coat out of the closet. I held it for him as he shrugged into it, mostly so that I could nuzzle the back of his neck. I didn't want him to think for even a moment that I stopped because I didn't want him. Right before I opened the door, I kissed him one last time. "Sleep tight," I said, opening the door.

He walked outside and down the block, and I watched him get into his car and drive off. I went back into the kitchen, turned off the coffee maker, dumped out the coffee, and went back to bed. Despite the stimulation of the last half hour, I was tired again. My last thought before sleep overtook me was *Tomorrow. We'll deal with this tomorrow.*

***

I made sure to get into work early to talk to Leo before our budget meeting. Even though I had told Sam that we both should talk to Leo, I wanted to get a feel for how he would take the news that Sam and I were going to be seeing each other. Not that he'd have a problem with it in principle, but I figured what with everything that happened when it came out that Leo'd been at Sierra Tucson, I owed the man at least the courtesy of a heads-up.

Luckily, he was alone in his office when I got in at 5:45 AM. Our budget meeting was at 6, so I had 15 minutes. I was determined to make them count.

"Hey, Leo?" I had thought about using the same ploy with him that I used with CJ - coffee - but I wasn't totally sure he'd take it right - a gift, not a bribe. So I went in just me, with nothing but my considerable charm.

Leo looked up from the papers on his desk. "What is it, Josh?"

"Can I take a couple of minutes?" I didn't want to do this now if he was busy - it was too important to me that he hear and understand me, and if he wasn't receptive to now, I'd do this later.

He looked at me - really looked - for a second and said, "Sure...Now's good." He shuffled some papers around on his desk, then gestured to his extra chair. "Close the door if you want." So I did.

This wasn't going to be easy. First of all, he's my boss, so I had to tread lightly for business reasons. Second, he's the right hand man of the President of the United States, so he's important. Third, if he was at all homophobic - which I didn't think he was, but still - working together could be dicey from this point forward.

"Um...I...it's a personal issue that might have impact on work." Now that I had Leo's ear, I didn't know where to start.

"So, you are finally going to approach Sam, is that it?" Leo said with a smile.

"Huh...What?"

"The First Lady told me she'd spoken to you earlier this week," Leo said. "I'm surprised you moved so quickly. After all, Josh, I know you. You've been lusting after Sam for so long, we'd all been taking bets as to whether or not you'd actually _ever_ make a move."

"Um...Leo? For _how_ long have you been wondering? 'Cause I've only been sure for a couple of months," I said, amazed that, in my shocked state, I could string together some semblance of a coherent sentence.

"Well, Abbey - the First Lady, sorry - and I have been watching you since the Democratic Convention, and we clued the President in right after his inauguration. You might not have been admitting it to yourself yet, but it's been there all along," Leo went back to shuffling papers, as if embarrassed to have been caught idly speculating about people's private lives.

By now, I just wanted to escape from this conversation with a little bit of my dignity in tact, since I didn't have to break any big secrets to Leo - he apparently knew both about my sexual orientation and about my potential relationship with Sam. I looked at my watch - there were still 5 minutes before the budget meeting was supposed to start. I wanted a couple of minutes to regroup before the meeting, so I stood up.

"Leo? You're OK with the thought of Sam and me...well..." I didn't know how to say this to Leo.

"If the two of you have a relationship, just be discreet, please. I don't think the White House could deal with another run-in with Lillienfield," Leo said with a smile. "Now, go get ready for the budget meeting. I need you on your toes in there."

I left Leo's office and headed toward mine. I gathered what I would need for the meeting and was headed back toward the Roosevelt Room when I heard Sam call my name. I turned, and saw him coming out of his office.

"Hey...I tried to find you about 10 minutes ago, so that we could talk to Leo, but you were nowhere to be found," he said.

"I met with him this morning...he already knew," I said. The shock on Sam's face would have been comical if it hadn't been triggered by something I was so...intimately...involved with.

"So...," Sam said, "What now?"

We were walking through the communications bullpen, so I was a little uncomfortable with this line of conversation. "Why don't we meet back in my office over lunch - I know you have that meeting with Toby and Congressman Chalmers right after this budget thing, and I have a quick meeting with Senator Ripley this afternoon, but we both have to eat eventually, right? I'll ask Donna to go get us some sandwiches, and we'll talk about when we'll talk, OK?"

As he nodded, we approached the doorway of the Roosevelt Room. I could see that the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee was already in the room, and Toby and Leo were talking in the corner. Leo looked up, saw us, and smiled at me. I did my best to ignore him.

***

Sam's thing with Toby and Chalmers went long, so by the time he showed up at my office for lunch, we didn't have too long before I had to go over to the Hill to meet with Ripley. On his way into my office, Sam waved at Donna and then closed the door. As the door closed, she gave me a pointed look that I didn't quite understand.

Sam took the guest chair that was opposite my desk and moved it around to the side of my desk, so that we were sitting closer to each other. I handed him his sandwich, and for a bit, all we did was eat, making small talk. After we ate, I had about 15 minutes before my meeting, and I wanted to at least know we had an appointment to talk further.

"Sam, d'you want to come to my place - at a reasonable hour this time - for dinner tonight? That way we'll be able to talk without the walls having ears. You wouldn't believe how many people have mentioned that they've wondered about us..." I stopped, not wanting to freak Sam out with the idea that we were the subject of office gossip.

"Josh, _who_ has been talking about us?" Sam looked frightened, which, considering his previous experiences with office gossip, was justified.

"Well, according to Leo, he, the First Lady and President Bartlet have all discussed it, and I know that CJ and Donna have speculated..." I stopped, seeing Sam's expression. "Don't worry - they all support this...whatever it is."

"OK," Sam said, "So again I'm the topic of office gossip...just what I need."

"Does this mean you don't want to explore this relationship?" There...I'd been the first to use the "r" word, but we were going to have to find some word to use, and if I had my way, we _would_ have a real relationship.

"No, I _do_ want to explore this; I just don't want to pick up the _Post_ one morning and find our faces on the front page with speculation about our relationship. Y'know, once burned, twice shy..."

I wasn't sure if he was talking about the media frenzy about Leo or about some other potential scandal that was averted, but I didn't ask.

Sam stood up. "But, Josh, enough talking for now...we'll deal with all of this tonight." He walked around to my side of the desk and perched on the edge. Leaning over, he kissed me, plundering my mouth with his tongue. That's when my phone buzzed.

I quickly turned toward the phone and hit the speakerphone button. "Donna..." I said in as menacing a voice as I could with Sam's hands exploring my chest. I heard her pick up the handset, and before she could say anything, I said, "Hold all my calls until I have to go to the Hill."

With a smirk in her voice, she acquiesced and then hung up.

I turned my head back toward Sam, and he reclaimed my lips. We'll have to discuss the power structure in this relationship, but for now, I was willing to let him drive. He kissed me deeply as he started loosening my tie. "Sam..." I said with what I hoped was a warning in my voice, but he didn't stop. He untied my tie but left it in place, and started in on my shirt buttons. I tried again. "Sam..." But then he found a sensitive spot - at the base of my neck by my collarbone - that I didn't even know was there, and I couldn't catch my breath enough to try again. Pushing my chair back, he slid off the edge of the desk. He pulled me out of my chair and shifted us around so that I was now perched at the edge of the desk and he was standing between my knees

From there, he kissed his way down my chest as he opened buttons, stopping periodically along his way to pay special attention to random areas that he found of interest. I plunged my fingers into his hair in an attempt to slow down the progression. He tugged my shirt from my pants and pushed it open as far as he could without actually removing it from my shoulders.

"When you came to the door last night in nothing but your boxers," he said, "I couldn't believe it. I'd imagined what you looked like under that suit and tie, but the reality was more than I had anticipated. But then you barely let me touch you last night." As he spoke, he trailed his thumbs down my breastbone, letting his long fingers approach, but not touch, my nipples. "I intend to make up for part of that now...and the rest later."

What he was doing with his hands and lips was making me squirm. My mind was fogged from the stimulation, and I was half willing to strip him naked here in my office and take him on my desk, when the phone buzzed again.

"Joshua," Donna said in a tone that made me realize she knew what we were up to, "you have to be on the Hill in 8 minutes, and I figure you'll want some time to get ready." I hoped that Sam didn't hear the undercurrents in her tone - I knew her that well, but I didn't think he did.

"Thank you, Donna," I said in as clear a voice as I could.

"Oh, and tell Sam that Cathy's looking for him. Chalmers apparently had another thought." Donna's parting remark had Sam grimacing. At Donna's buzz, he'd moved away from the desk, and he was straightening his tie and running his fingers through his hair to make up for the damage I'd done with my fingers. I started re-buttoning and re-tucking my shirt, then I re-tied my tie. I couldn't go to the Hill looking like I'd been kissed to within an inch of my life; while the Senate Appropriations Committee might appreciate the joy we were finding in our jobs, they probably wouldn't like the idea of federal employees spending taxpayer's time and money making out in the West Wing.

As he opened my office door, he turned. "Tonight. There's things I want to talk to you about. And ask you."

I wondered at that but didn't have time to probe it further. "Say 9:00, my place? I'll get us something for dinner, OK?"

At his nod, I started collecting what I needed for my meeting, and he left. *OK...so tonight we'll work it all out and go on from there,* I thought. Now to get through my meeting without this being the top issue in my mind.

***

I finally got done on the Hill and went back to the White House. By then it was 6:15, and I had some stuff to still do before I could go home. My first stop was Mrs. Landingham's office.

"Hi, Mrs. Landingham. How are you?" I figure that if I am polite to her, I will stay in her good graces. And if I stay in her good graces, she'll let me take the occasional cookie, and your access to the cookies determines your access to the President in Mrs. Landingham's strange way of accounting.

"I'm fine, Josh. You're a sweet boy; have a cookie." Yes! Maybe she'll let me sneak in to talk to President Bartlet for a minute before I go.

"Can I see the President for a minute? Do you know if he's free?"

"I know everything, Josh, you should know that by now. But I'll let him know you're on your way in." Mrs. Landingham picked up her phone and pressed a button. "Mr. President, Josh is coming in," she said. It amazes me that she tells the President what to do, instead of asking, but she's worked with him for 14 years, so I guess there's a precedent. She hung up the phone. "Go right in, Josh."

President Bartlet was just sitting down again on his office sofa when I came in. "Have a seat, Josh. What can I do for you?" It was not uncommon for me to come in to talk to the President after the end of meetings for the day. Sometimes he kept me late with random bits of trivia; sometimes we had a poker game or something if the others were also staying late. But tonight I wanted to ask him a question that had been bothering me for a while, and now I had real reason to ask.

"Sir, I mean no disrespect with any of the following questions, but they deal with a very personal issue, so I want to state outright that if I get upset or angry..." I couldn't continue without sounding like an idiot. But he seemed to understand.

"Yes, Josh. Fine. I won't take any insults personally." The President is really a nice guy. He's something of a nerd, but I think that all of us who go into public service are in some way or another. "What is it that you are upset about?"

Well, he wanted me to cut to the chase, so I did. "As you have no doubt heard by now - what with the extensive grape vine here - I am about to pursue a new relationship with another member of your staff...a male member...Sam." I paused, trying to collect my thoughts. "It has come to my attention that you have been aware, or at least suspected, that I am bisexual. I didn't say anything to you at the time of the hate crimes legislation, but it really bothers me that you will not stand up for increased protection of gays under the law. I don't understand how you can knowingly have gay or bisexual men on your staff, in your inner circle, and still support the status quo on gays in the military and still not support family rights for gays..." I stopped, not totally sure how to continue.

President Bartlet looked me right in the eye. "It's not the right time, Josh," he said. "I know this is an issue close to your heart, and to Sam's heart, and to others...." From his look, I could tell that there were other closeted gays in this administration that the President was not at liberty to name, and I respected his discretion. He continued. "If I were to take up the cause of gay rights now, so soon after Lowell Lydell's death, a future Congress could say that I only reacted because of the heat of the moment. If I wait until the next Congressional session, there will be more willingness to listen. There will be less of an idea that I am being reactionary. Don't worry. One of the things that I am determined to see during my presidency - be it 4 years or 8 - is increased rights for gays in all walks of life...." He stopped; I wondered who the other gays in the administration were that President Bartlet would be so adamant about gay rights.

"I want you to know, Josh," the President said, "that I firmly support your relationship with Sam, if it comes to fruition, and it will be up to you as to whether to be open or not about it. I don't think I have a right to say that you cannot be together on the public stage. But I would ask you to be discreet - no getting caught in compromising positions on the taxpayers' time."

I appreciated that, even though I knew that Sam and I would most likely be hiding our relationship from the American people, at least for the time being. It would be too new to _us_, let alone to the people we serve, many of whom think gays are an abomination. So for now, it was enough to know that the President would not stand in the way of our relationship.

"Thank you, Mr. President. Now, may I be excused? I have a dinner to prepare for."

"Go. Have a good time. And don't worry about anything." We smiled at each other, and then I left while the getting was good - before he started in on the sexual practices of Australian aborigines or something else obscure.

***

By the time I got home, it was 7:30, and Sam was expected in an hour and a half.

I had been planning part of the meal while I was meeting with the Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman. Senator Ripley's a nice guy, but he tends to drone, and I could plan dinner then without losing track of the thread of the conversation. So what I'd come up with - not knowing how much time I'd have - was a chicken stir-fry and rice, none of which took too much time to make. On my way home, I'd stopped to pick up the ingredients, so now I had a bunch of vegetables, some chicken and some rice. I found that I was humming as I cooked. I hadn't looked so forward to a dinner for a while, and it wasn't even really a date - it was a dinner to decide if we _would_ have a date.

The fact that I was humming made me realize that I should think about music. I wanted to look casual but at the same time I wanted to look welcoming. I thought for a while as I chopped vegetables. Finally, I gave up, looked at the time, realized I had 45 minutes - more than enough time to cook - and I put down my knife and went over to the CD player. I hunted through my CD collection, which included music ranging from classical to folk to some alternative rock music I've picked up over the years. After considerable deliberation - hey, I'm a lawyer at heart - I decided on a bunch of Paul Simon CDs, set up on continuous play on the CD player. I didn't want to look overly obvious when I turned on the music, so I figured I'd turn it on now and let it run through. Having made that earth-shattering decision, I went back to cooking.

I had just turned off the rice and turned down the stir- fry to keep warm when the doorbell rang. I looked at the clock and noticed that it was 8:45. Either Sam was early, or someone else was going to be in big trouble. I went to the door and was only half-surprised to see Donna standing there.

"Donna, what do you want?" I had no time to be polite - I was still wearing my suit and tie, and I wanted to change out of my office clothing before Sam got here. Donna only lives a couple of blocks from me, so she often drops by on the way to or from places to see if I need anything.

"Hello to you, too, Joshua. I know you have plans for this evening, so I won't be long. I brought you some stuff you might want." She handed me a pharmacy bag and turned. "Don't worry...I'm gone. I just wanted you to know I care."

She turned and ran back down my front steps, waving as she went. *Great...what did she get me?* I asked myself. I'm never sure what Donna's going to do when it comes to my private life - she sometimes treats me like she's the mother lion and I'm one of her cubs. She's protective, and I love her like a sister, but sometimes...well, she's too intrusive. With some trepidation, I looked in the bag. There were 4 boxes of condoms and 2 tubes of lube. *Like she figured I wasn't already prepared...well, she was right...oops. But how active an evening does she think I'm going to have?* I remembered suddenly that there _was_ something I had forgotten while grocery shopping, so I couldn't be too mad. But I'd have to find a way to embarrass her later...

Now down to 10 minutes before Sam came, I rushed into my bedroom to change. I slipped Donna's "gift" into my bedside table drawer, so that Sam wouldn't find it right away and think I had designs on his body...even though I do. Looking in my closet, I decided on a pair of khakis and a casual shirt. On my feet, I wore a pair of very beaten up boat shoes that I've had since before the New Hampshire primary. I didn't want to dress too down, so that Sam didn't think I cared, but at the same time, I didn't want to intimidate him by being too dressed up. Anyway, having decided on what to wear, I went back to the kitchen for a final check on the meal.

At exactly 9:00, there was a knock on the door. "Just a sec," I called, walking out of the kitchen and down the hall. Taking one last deep breath, I opened the door.

And there was Sam. He was holding a bottle of white wine in one hand, which he extended as I opened the door. "I figured I'd donate something to the meal. I hope the white goes." He looked somewhat nervous. I moved aside to let him in, and as he came in, he leaned over and dropped a kiss on my lips. "Hi," he said, grinning.

"Hi, yourself," I said, taking the bottle of wine. I opened the coat closet with my free hand. "Let me go open the wine and let it breathe. You can hang your coat in the closet if you wish." Damn, I sounded really formal. I'd have to work on loosening up if this was going to go at all well for us.

I walked into the kitchen, opened the wine quickly, then went back to the hall. Sam was there, just finishing hanging up his coat. When he turned toward me, I noticed he had gone casual as well - a royal blue shirt and khakis. The color of the shirt really brought out the blue of Sam's eyes.

"Dinner's just about ready. Why don't we eat first, and then we'll get down to talking," I said. I figured we'd think better on full stomachs, and, anyway, the stir-fry is best when it's freshly made.

We made small talk over dinner - his meeting with Chalmers, my meeting with Ripley, recent movies we'd seen, our last non-work trips, that sort of stuff. It was all casual and friendly, but there was an undercurrent that neither of us could ignore. Finally, when we had finished eating and we'd cleared the table, I suggested we go sit in the living room. "Make yourself comfortable; I'll be right there," I said. As he went into the living room, I grabbed the bottle of wine and the 2 glasses from the table - we'd brought out the wine, but neither of us had gotten around to pouring, so the wine had just sat there. I figured we might want it during this discussion, so I took it out with me.

When I walked into the living room, Sam was sitting much like he had been last night - on the sofa, shoes off, feet up on the coffee table, but this time he was in the middle of the sofa. He patted the cushion next to him. "Come sit here, Josh. I don't want to do this with us sitting far apart."

Suddenly, I was nervous. Had he suddenly decided he didn't want to go through with this? He'd been fidgeting slightly during dinner, but I had chalked it up to nerves about this conversation. Now I considered the possibility that he was going to let me down gently.

"Sam...if you...," I started.

He didn't let me finish. "I just want to be near you, OK? It's nothing bad, Josh."

"OK. I'm just being paranoid. After the discussions I've had today with Leo and the President..." Sam looked shocked at the thought that I'd talked with President Bartlet, but I continued. "...I have been obsessing about this dinner all day, and now that we're here, I don't know where to start."

"Mostly," he said, "I need to know some things before I am willing to continue explore this relationship. I need to set some ground rules...I...am being a demanding bastard. I'm sorry." Great. At this rate, we'd spend all night apologizing to each other and never getting to the real meat of the discussion.

So that I had something to do with my hands, I poured wine into both glasses and handed him one. He took it and sipped while we both collected our thoughts. I took a deep breath - I seem to be doing that a lot recently - and started again.

"I really would like to pursue this relationship, and I am willing to tell you anything you think you need to know. I am an open book," I said. I knew I sounded desperate, but I was worried. I drank some wine while waiting for Sam to speak.

"OK...you say I can ask you anything, right?" At my nod, he continued. "So what's the deal with you and Donna?"

***

At my confused look, he asked again. "What is the deal with you and Donna?"

"Huh?" I almost choked on my wine. I figured he'd have questions about my past relationships, my health status, something of that sort. I'd never expected this question. "Donna?" Now I sounded like an idiot again.

But he didn't seem to notice. "Yes, Donna. Your assistant. The woman that seems to always know what you're going to do. I want to know that if we get together, the relationship will be just two people - you and me - not three."

By now I was laughing, but Sam didn't seem to appreciate the humor of the situation. I got myself under control as much as I could, and explained. "Donna sees herself as my protector. She..." I almost told him about her dropping by earlier, but that wouldn't sound right. "She is looking out for my best interests, and if that means scaring away some potential relationships, she says, it's worth it. She helped me pick up the pieces after the disaster with Mandy, and since then she's been overprotective. Once she knows this is a real thing, she'll back off. Why? What has she said to you?"

"Nothing," he said, "it's just the way she looks at me when I go to your office. She's been looking at me that way for months. Remember the state dinner for the President of Indonesia? She was watching me like a hawk."

That dinner was right around the time that I realized how I felt for Sam. One night, in my misery about being alone, I had spilled my guts to Donna. Ever since then, she'd been encouraging me to explore a relationship, but it took Mrs. Bartlet to push me. But Donna'd been watching Sam...I hadn't realized that. I'd have to talk to Donna...and then thank her.

"Oh, don't think anything of it. I'll make sure she knows to back off." I knew I could convince Donna. Anyway, I wanted to get back to the matter at hand.

"So," I said, "is there anything _else_ you need to know?"

"Nope. That was my big worry - I don't do threesomes," Sam said.

"Then I have a question," I said with some trepidation. The answer to this question would determine what would happen between Sam and me.

"Shoot."

"How about Laurie? Are you going to see her while we're together? Or Mallory?" I also wanted an exclusive relationship, and those two were my biggest threat.

"They're just _friends_, Josh," Sam said. "Ever since that night of the no-sex Chinese opera non-date, Mallory and I have been good friends but nothing more. Even that kiss the night of the State of the Union was just in friendship. And as for Laurie, ever since we went to her place to ask her for help..." He paused, and I could tell he was remembering the humiliation of that night as much as I was. "...She really hasn't wanted to speak to me."

I was sorry he'd lost her in a fiasco that was mostly my fault, and I'd apologized for that more than once, but at the same time, I was glad to hear that she wasn't a factor.

"So..." I said. Good move, Lyman. There's that smooth tongue of yours again.

"So..." he repeated and smiled. "So it's a go." We smiled at each other, and then I couldn't hold back any more. I put down my wine glass, and he did the same, and then, as if as one, we found each other's lips. After a brief power struggle, I took control. This was my turf, after all, and I was going to have my way with Sam Seaborn tonight if it was the last thing I did.

While I was kissing him, I was undoing the buttons on Sam's shirt. I wanted direct contact with his skin as soon as possible, and he seemed to want to touch me, as well, as he was pulling my shirt out from my pants and was working his hands under my shirt and onto my back. I pulled back slightly so that I could undo the buttons at his cuffs and slide the shirt off his shoulders. He took advantage of this to pull my shirt off over my head, so that we were both bare to the waist.

"You're still overdressed," I said with as much vehemence as I could seeing as we were busy kissing the breath out of each other. I was already hard, and all we'd done was kiss. This wouldn't bode well if we didn't slow down slightly, but I wanted him naked as soon as possible.

I had a plan. I was driving this seduction tonight - and I had a goal. I wanted him squirming and begging for me to take him. Then I'd decide just how far I'd take this. After all, it _was_ our first night together, and I didn't want to rush things. If it were up to me, we'd have many more chances after tonight to explore each other's likes and dislikes. But tonight was my show. And I'd do anything I had to in order to maintain control. But driving _him_ over the edge was going to be a unique pleasure.

So far, I'd led him to believe that tonight was an equal seduction. But I was about to up the ante.

"Sam," I said, "stand up." When he did, I reached up from where I was still seated on the sofa and undid his belt and the button on his pants. Leaving his pants still zipped, I slid my hand down between his pants and what was underneath - which to me felt like a pair of boxers.

The part of my brain that was not lust-fogged found it interesting that until now, I hadn't really contemplated what type of underwear Sam wore, but now I was about to find out. In my fantasies, he'd come to me already naked, so I had no preconceived notions. But then I shut that part of my brain up.

As I explored what I was finding behind his fly, Sam was beginning to pant. Not wanting to end this before it even began, I used my free hand to unzip that fly, and Sam's khakis fell to the floor. In passing I noted the royal blue boxers that were being misshapen by Sam's erection. They'd have to go, but I was going to take my time.

I slid off the sofa and on to my knees for a moment, so that I could remove Sam's socks. Then I sat back on the sofa. I grabbed Sam's hand and pulled him back to sitting on the sofa next to me..

"Now I want to find out where you're most sensitive," I said in a low voice. Starting at the top of his head, with as light a touch as I could, I started exploring his body. I ran my fingers through his hair, which I already knew he liked, then down his neck, down and then back up his arms, lightly across his chest - but totally avoiding the nipples I already knew were sensitive - down to his navel and then back up so that I could go back down his sides from his armpits to the waistband of his boxers. The further I got, the more he squirmed and the louder his moaning got. His head was thrown back against the back of the sofa as I reached his waist, and he couldn't control the thrusting of his hips, but I was ignoring it as well as I could.

I didn't want to stop, but I wanted to get some of Donna's "gift" from earlier before we got too carried away. At his waist, I stopped my explorations and took my hands away. Sam's eyes were closed, and he moaned again, but this was a moan of desperation. "Don't stop," he whimpered.

"I'll be just a sec." I stood up, went as fast as I could to my room, and I must have set a new land speed record returning to the living room. When I got back, Sam was still sprawled bonelessly on the sofa, but he'd gotten slightly ahead of me. He was adjusting the front of his boxers, as if trying to get more comfortable, but at the same time, I couldn't take the risk that he was trying to bring himself off before I could.

"Sam," I said warningly, "don't do that." He stopped immediately. I had read the signals right. Sam was willing to be a submissive partner. Not that I was into power games, but it was nice to know that I could take control when I wanted and he wouldn't resist. I'll let him control occasionally...I think...

But I could sense Sam's distress, and I didn't want to make him suffer, so on my way back to my seat, I stopped in front of Sam. Grabbing his arms, I pulled him into a standing position. Quickly, I stripped him of his boxers so that he was standing totally naked in my arms. Even through my pants and my shorts I could feel the heat of his erection touching mine, and I gasped involuntarily. Sam smiled, as if telling me that the power I had over him could just as easily go the other way if he wanted. But we'd explore that another time.

I took a moment to take in the beauty that was a nude Sam Seaborn. The light hair on his chest tapered downward to a thick nest protecting that which caught my attention at the moment: his cock. Sam was _huge_, and I wasn't going to complain. I'd never considered that Sam might be that well hung. I silently thanked Donna for the abundance of lube.

I was thinking too much again, so I stopped. Going back to Sam, I pushed him back to sitting on the sofa. "This is just a sample of things to come," I whispered as I knelt on the floor in front of him. I groaned inwardly at my unintended pun, but Sam didn't comment.

Leaning forward, I could smell Sam's own particular musky scent. I took the head of his penis into my mouth, licking it lightly, while I contemplated my next move. Sam began to groan and thrust his hips again, which I took as encouragement to continue. So I took him a little further into my mouth, creating a light suction between my lips and his shaft.

Using my tongue, I traced the vein on the underside of his shaft, while my left hand came around to cup his balls. I traced a line between them with my finger, occasionally drifting lower to just outside his anus. I used my free hand to push Sam's legs further apart, both to give me more room to kneel and to give me more access to his body. I increased the pressure with both my hands and my lips and I could feel Sam jerking in time to my caresses. If I was reading the signs right, it wouldn't be long now, so I increased the rate of suction and caressing, until Sam was sobbing from the sensation.

"Josh, _please_ don't prolong the agony! Make me come. Make me yours!" Sam was begging, almost screaming in his ecstasy.

Just as he started begging, I stopped what I was doing with my hands. I reached for the bag I'd stuck by my leg, uncapped the lube one-handed, and squeezed a bit onto my left index finger. Reaching up with my right hand, I grabbed one of the throw pillows from the sofa. For just an instant, I let Sam's cock fall from my mouth and shoved the throw pillow under his ass. I then reclaimed his cock with my lips. I reached between us with my left hand and slowly, so that I wouldn't hurt him, started working my slicked finger into Sam's body. He didn't seem to notice at first because of the assault from my mouth, but when I hit that sensitive spot inside him, he began thrusting even harder, and within a couple of seconds, I could taste the beginning of his orgasm. He came into my mouth with such force it was hard for me to swallow, but I managed to keep from choking. When he was spent, I let him fall from my mouth, but I left my finger embedded where it was.

After a few seconds, he seemed to notice a change in sensation. "Oh, man," he said, "what you do to me should be illegal."

"It is in many of the states we serve," I replied.

"Josh..." Sam started a thought, then seemed to notice the presence of my finger in his body. He thrust his hips so that he was further impaled on my finger. "Not enough. And you're very overdressed." He thrust again. I could already see his erection reviving. "Josh, _please_." I didn't know what he was begging for this time. To further test his patience, I removed my finger. He groaned at the loss.

"Sam," I said, standing up, "I need to get off my knees. Let's go into the bedroom." I grabbed his hand and pulled him back to a standing position. I grabbed the open tube of lube and one box of condoms - I'd need a rest before we used up the whole box - and led him naked through my apartment to the bedroom.

Sam lay down on the bed on his back and watched through half-closed eyes as I took off my pants and my boxers. I finally climbed in next to him, and he turned so that we were facing each other. When our naked erections finally touched, a thrill ran through me. I kissed Sam deeply and wriggled against him, reveling in the friction I was creating. Unfortunately, I could see that, despite his raging erection, Sam was falling asleep. "Sleep now, Sam. We'll pick up from here when you're more rested," I whispered in his ear. I caressed him lightly as his breathing evened out and he fell asleep. Once he started snoring, I got out of bed, took a shower and jerked off, and then cleaned up from dinner. I came back to the bed, climbed in, and turned off the light. We'd pick up again soon. But for now, we had reached a new place in our relationship.

***

I was awoken the next morning by the feel of lips on my inner thigh. At first I thought I was having another dream about Sam, which have become standard at this point, but then when I shifted and the lips shifted with me, I woke up fully and realized that Sam was indeed in bed with me. I couldn't suppress the smile that came to my lips.

Sam looked up. "Good morning," he said with a grin. Man, what that grin does to me. When he grins like that....well, let's just say it does things to me that are best happening when we're alone. Then he went back to what he'd been doing when I woke up. He kissed his way down one leg and then back up the other. I couldn't lie still, but I was afraid to move too much, 'cause I didn't want to kick him in the head. By the time he got back up to my inner thigh, I was harder than I think I'd ever been before. Sam didn't fail to notice.

"Ah...good morning indeed," he said. Then he took me in his mouth. The heat and dampness of his mouth on my cock was an amazing sensation. But suddenly I was feeling his lips on my thigh again. I partially sat up and pulled my knees up to give him more maneuvering room.

I hadn't been with a man in a while. Hell, I hadn't been with _anyone_ in a while - not since Mandy and I broke up. But being with Sam was a unique experience. He kept moving - his hands and lips were everywhere at once. I couldn't process one sensation before another came along.

"Ohh, just like that," I said as he licked the underside of my balls. He repeated the motion and I repeated the groan. I could get used to waking up this way.

But Sam was just getting warmed up. Once he was sure I was awake to stay, he went back to sucking my cock. It only took a couple of minutes before I hit the point of no return.

"Sam..." It was an effort to get his name out. "I'm gonna..." But he knew. I could tell from the way he looked me straight in the eyes. He just kept sucking and licking and nibbling and then...I came hard and fast.

Sam came back up toward the head of the bed and cuddled up against my side. "Hey."

"Hey, yourself," I said, pulling him up for a deep kiss. I couldn't figure out what else to say. Here was a man I'd worked closely with for over a year, who was one of my good friends, and now we were lovers, and I couldn't form a sentence.

"You've got that thing with Peterson at 8, don't you?" He asked. Damn! I'd forgotten about my meeting with the Clean Air people.

"What time is it?" I asked, afraid of the answer.

"Almost..." he looked at his watch. "Almost 6:15. Leo's gonna wonder what happened to us."

Just then the phone rang. I looked at the Caller ID box and picked up the phone. "Hi, Margaret. Tell Leo w-- I'm on my way. No, never mind what I was going to say. Just tell Leo I'm on my way, OK?" I hung up. "Um...Sam..."

But he knew what I was going to say. "Look," he said, "I'll run home, shower, change, and see you by 7:15. If you run into Toby, tell him I called to say I'd be in at 7:30..." He was already climbing out of bed. I could tell when it occurred to him that all his clothing was still out in the living room. He ran out and came back with his clothes all wadded up and started pulling on his shorts and pants. Meanwhile, I was tossing clothing out of my closet onto the bed.

"Josh?" Sam said, "Uh...I had a good time last night...I mean...you know what I mean. But I really should go, or Cathy'll kill me for leaving her unprotected in Toby's path. He dropped a quick kiss on my lips as he started for the bedroom door.

"Sam?" I couldn't just let him run out, no matter how much of a rush we were in. "I'm not done with you, you know. I want to pick up where we left off last night...and this morning. We'll just have to work out schedules..." My beeper went off.

He nodded. "I know, Josh. See you later." He walked out the bedroom door, and a minute or so later I heard my front door open and close.

The number on my beeper was Donna's line. I called her back. "Hey, Donnatella. I'm running a little late. I'll be in as soon as I can be."

"Long night?" Donna asked.

"Not quite long enough..." I paused, remembering Sam's surrender last night, then regathered my thoughts.

"Gathering your rosebuds, Joshua?" Donna said.

"Donna, this isn't the time. I'll be in soon. Bye." And I hung up, dashing for the shower.

***

I finally made it to my desk around 6:50. Donna pounced almost immediately.

"So...Sam's not here yet. How was last night?"

I paused a minute, thought back over last night and this morning, and smiled. "Fantastic. And that's all you're getting for now. But...thanks...for watching out for me. For everything you do for me...and for your gift last night." At this, she had the decency to blush slightly. "Now can you bring me the file on the Clean Air people so I don't look unprepared at my meeting at 8? And can you let Margaret know I'm here? Thanks." I went to my desk and sat in my chair. I opened one of the files on my desk and attempted to read, but I kept thinking about last night and this morning. I shook my head, returning to my reading, but looked up when Donna walked in with the Clean Air file.

"Here's the file you wanted, Josh." She started to leave again but paused in that way she has when she's trying to decide whether or not to tell me something.

"What _is_ it, Donna?" I didn't have the time to deal with my distraction and the meeting and Donna's games this morning.

"Some people have noticed that both you and Sam were late this morning and have been asking me."

"What people?" I had worried about this - the rumor mill in the West Wing is very well developed, which can be good or bad.

"Well," Donna said, "Cathy asked me, and Carol asked her, and Margaret knows something's up, and Bonnie's suspicious, and, well, I have the feeling that Mrs. Landingham knows something, but I often have that feeling about her..." Donna stopped.

I was not thrilled with being the object of speculation. "Don't you have anything better to do than stand around and gossip about your co-workers?"

"Not really, no. It's a slow day, Joshua."

I didn't have time for this right now. "Donna," I said, "I need to finish reading that file you just brought me. I have a meeting at 8..." I looked at my watch, "...which is an hour from now, another meeting at 10 with Leo, and who knows what else will come up today. I really need you to leave me alone and let me do this. Also, hold all my calls." I looked down at the file on my desk and made a show of opening it. I hoped Donna would get the hint. Finally she must have, 'cause she left. But I knew she'd be back to pump me for information.

***

By lunch time, the rumor mill was in such full swing that I couldn't leave my office without getting strange looks. In my mind, I interpreted them as "Isn't he lucky to bed a stud like Sam Seaborn," but I was probably over exaggerating the sentiment.

When I came back from my last meeting of the day, Donna said, "Someone's waiting for you in your office, and another someone wants to see you when you're done with the first someone." Very useful, but I guess she was still holding it against me that I kicked her out of my office this morning.

I walked to my office wondering who the "someones" were and was shocked to find the First Lady sitting in my desk chair.

"So I hear you had an eventful night, and that you took my advice." That's the First Lady for you - she is nothing if not straightforward.

"Um..." I didn't know how to respond. I always turn into a tongue-tied idiot around Mrs. Bartlet.

"You know...that you finally followed through with Sam Seaborn." At this, I almost started to choke on my tongue. If only she knew how much I had followed through...and how much more I wanted to.

At my silence, the First Lady rose. "Just be careful, Josh. I care about both of you." With that, she turned to leave.

Thirty seconds after Mrs. Bartlet left my office, my phone buzzed. I hit speakerphone. "Yes, Donna?"

"Someone's waiting out here for you." Ah, yes, the second mysterious "someone."

"Send them in," I responded.

My door opened, and Sam walked in. "Hey," he said, closing my office door.

"Hey," I responded with a smile.

"You free?" He came over to my side of the desk and kissed me. I could get used to this sort of greeting.

I thought for maybe a second. There was nothing on my desk that couldn't wait until tomorrow. "I'm done for the day. Let's get out of here," I said.

***

That was a couple of days ago. And now we're off to L.A. for meetings and Ted Marcus' fund raiser. I don't relish the thought of flying out of Andrews at 3:00 AM, but sometimes President Bartlet is a sadist. I don't want to wake Sam, but it's almost 1:30, and we've got to get up and get ready to go.

"Sam..." I poke him lightly. "Sam...wake up. We take off in an hour and a half."

"I serve at the pleasure of the President of the United States, but I'd rather serve your pleasure." Sam is trying his best to distract me, but I won't let him. But I guarantee you I'm going to follow up on this later.

Just as soon as we get back from L.A.

----END----

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