Title: The Ties That Bind
Dedication: To my beta, Jamie, because she's been an angel to the last. This is the finale to the series I have been writing. I will be getting out of school for the semester soon, and won't have access to a computer regularly, so I must stop writing for now. Thanks also to all of you who've encouraged me to bring this series along as far as I have.
Posted: Not yet.
Archive: Yes to West Wing Slash, all others please ask first. Series: This is the fic that comes after 'For Better Or For Worse'.
Pairing: Sam and Josh
Notes: I don't think there are any spoilers here. If there are, I missed them, sorry. This is done in Josh's point of view.
The Ties That Bind by Nick
The eight o'clock meeting had almost started when the Vice President ran into the room. "Sorry," he panted. "I didn't want to be late."
"Why are you here, Mr. Vice-President?" I asked, feeling queasy all of a sudden. "Aren't you supposed to be on the Hill today?"
"My meetings got pushed back, and Leo asked me to come listen to the Bill Thirty-two proposal in final draft," he replied.
I looked at Sam, who raised a concerned eyebrow at me. I shrugged, and sat back in my chair. "It doesn't matter, it'll be common knowledge anyway," I replied, hoping Sam caught the double meaning in my words. Yes, everyone would know about the Bill; soon, everyone would know about Sam and I. I wasn't sure how to fit John into the equation, though. And it was making me ill-at-ease.
"Josh? Are you alright?" CJ asked. "You look a little worn out."
"I'm fine," I said, trying not to blush from her speculation. //Jeez, Lyman, get a grip!// I told myself sternly. "I've just been a little under the weather this morning."
"It would help if you slept better at night," Leo recommended. I noted the concerned smile he pasted on his face and fought the urge to flick him off. Instead, I looked at Sam, who was trying hard not to squirm in his chair.
"So, the meeting," I said, trying to get everyone back on track. "Bill Thirty-two."
"Right. You and Sam were working on that last night?" CJ asked. "Leo said you two were at it all night long."
Sam choked on the coffee he was drinking, tearing everyone's attention to him. It was a good thing, too, because that time my face did turn the color of a tomato.
Toby leaned over and patted Sam hard on the back. "Hey! What's the matter with you?"
"Sorry," Sam croaked. "Coffee went down the wrong way."
"Well take it easy," the President said. "I'm sure Josh wants you in one piece."
"What?" I squeaked.
"To draft the Bill? Wouldn't it be easier if Sam wasn't choking?"
"Oh. Yeah," I muttered.
"Well, we heard you both nailed it perfectly," Toby finished.
The innuendos were too much and too many to be coincidental; Sam was still as red as a beet, and I wasn't too far behind. "Leo, you told them, didn't you?"
"Uh-huh," he said with a grin. "It was more fun to torture the pair of you instead of letting you try to explain it."
"Explain what?" Hoynes asked.
Great. Out of all the people Leo didn't tell... "Sam and I are dating," I said. "We have been for the past few weeks."
His face went from horror to shock to anger and then back to neutral. "Well, I suppose it's better with Sam dating you instead of a hooker."
"Hey!" Sam said. "There's no reason for you to say something like that to Josh."
The sentence, though meant to be polite, came out as more of a growl from my lover. "Sam," I said, clearing my throat. "Don't."
Sam sat back in his seat, throwing daggers at Hoynes with his eyes. I sighed and pinched the bridge of my nose. "So are you all going to kill us now?"
"No," the President said, smiling. "We're going to discuss Bill Thirty-two. And we'll have this information tucked away for emergencies, just in case."
"You mean that's it?" Sam asked in disbelief.
"That's it," Toby said. "What, you think this is a shock? You two are practically inseparable. We're not blind, you know."
"And besides, now we can make suggestive remarks and embarrass you and you two can't do anything about it," CJ added sweetly.
"Thanks, CJ," Sam sighed.
The rest of the meeting went over without a hitch, though the suggestive remarks and teasing continued. I kept glancing over at John, who wouldn't look me in the eye. Half of me hoped he was jealous. The other half hoped he was pissed off.
Come to find out, they were both right.
At two pm, I was ready to run into the street and get hit by a truck. Nothing was going right in my work; Donna misplaced a file I desperately needed, I couldn't get anyone to answer my calls. It had nothing to do with the meeting; it just was a bad day all around.
It got worse with the knock on my door. "Come in!" I called, expecting Sam.
Instead, John Hoynes stuck his head into my office. "I didn't see Donna. I thought it would just be okay to knock?"
Since when did he ever ask? "What?" I asked, tiredly. "Is there a meeting and I'm late? Donna's disappeared to get some research done, so I might be a bit behind..."
"No, no. Nothing like that," he said. "I just wanted to talk to you about this morning."
Oh. That. "What do you want to know?"
"I just... I don't..." he paused. "I guess you know what I'm going to say about this... situation."
I started to laugh. "Wait, let me guess. You don't approve. Well, guess what John, the moment you gave me up is the last time you ever got to put your two cents into my life."
He winced. "You're not still mad about that, are you?"
"Mad? No. I've just moved on. Decided not to give a damn about you or your feelings or what you want. You may have control in the White House. But you'll never have control in my life again."
"Couldn't you at least have found someone other than that pretty idiot?"
"Funny. He said the same thing to me when I told him I'd dated you."
His face turned reddish with anger. "You insolent little bitch."
"Sticks and stones," I mocked. "We've got the support of everyone here, John. You and I aren't an issue anymore. Let it go."
He crumpled into a chair, letting out an exasperated sigh. "You always did have a mind of your own."
"If you would've respected it a bit more, we might not be having this conversation."
He didn't answer. How can you respond negatively to that kind of truth? "John, just be happy for me. Be happy that I'm happy. I'm not asking you to approve, I'm just asking that you respect my intelligence enough to let me make my own decisions. For once."
He was quiet a moment more. Suddenly, he stood up, grabbed me by the wrist and pulled me into a soft hug. "I will respect your decision. I will not yell or scream or antagonize you... or Sam," he added begrudgingly. "I will respect your decision, no matter how lousy it is, and mind my own business. Okay?"
"I don't believe you. All right, who are you, and what did you do with John Hoynes?"
He smiled and let me go. "See you later, Josh."
As he left, I realized something grand. I had just stood up to my ex - lover, stood up to the President of the United States and his staff, and proved to myself that this relationship meant more to me than a lot of things. And there was no way I was going to let go of it. Things were gonna turn out okay.
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