Title: The Wooing of Sam Seaborn
Author: Axolotl Goddess (axolotlgoddess@maddsupporter.com)
Pairing: Josh/Sam [no, really this time, with kissing and stuff]
Date: 17 January 2002
Rating: R, I would say PG-13, because there's really nothing in here, but I did say fuck in some form 8 … I mean 9 times.
Disclaimer: I would be truly impressed if someone was reading this off of either this list, or an archive site, and didn't know that it was a WEST WING piece, therefore the characters belong to the person who created the West Wing, and the people who own the West Wing. I'm really just a poor college student who frequents late night coffee houses with the dimes I find in my desk.
Archive: Just let me know, I can provide the story in whatever format your heart desires, including recently released AmberScript (*.ams). I like to visit too.
Series info: The third (and final!) in the arc that began with _Your Cheating Heart_, then _And Maybe Then We'll Have Coffee_. Those can be found at my now blog-free website http://axolotlgoddess.tripod.com/inflict.htm.
Spoilers: I accepted a while back that this pretty much lost all realm of reality with the show. It is however, Pre-Amy. Or at least, I don't talk about her.
Author's Notes: I thank Nomi for her help making this readable and coherent, seeing as I have little of no grasp on the concept of commas. And thanks to Anne, who encouraged this and helped me out in the coffee shop when writing fan fiction on napkins. And helped me figure out what a good time machine would have, and most of all for the kick ass mouse pad with Josh groping Sam on it. And Norma, who threatened to come to DC to find me and threaten me if I didn't finish this. And all the people who e-mailed me because they wanted me to continue this and make sure the boys were happy in the end.
Final Note: A fair number of people liked the unusual idea of breaking Sam and Josh up. A fair number of people wanted them back together. If you thought that it was high time someone break Sam and Josh up, I suggest you stop reading now, re-read _We'll Have Coffee_, and just accept that as the end of this story.

The Wooing of Sam Seaborn by Axolotl Goddess

Sam rested his head back on the pillow in his apartment. It had been three months since Josh had fucked Darren while Sam was in their house waiting for Josh to come home. Three months since Josh had been so stupid as to talk about what he had done right in front of him. And then Sam had taken the high road for once in his life, he had taken initiative, and he had left. Josh had tried to plead for forgiveness, but thinking about it, Sam couldn't forgive him; he couldn't get the image of Josh fucking CoffeeBoy out of his mind.

Josh rested his head on his own pillow, across town. It had been three months, rather 2 months, 3 weeks, 4 days...he looked at the clock, 10 hours and some odd assortment of minutes since he had made a mistake that really couldn't be topped by any other mistake ever. Not even calling Mary Marsh the Antichrist could top this. He had tried so hard, so very hard to make Sam forgive him, to get Sam to understand that he really didn't know what he was doing that one time. But it hadn't worked. Sam left, and they began to 'date' again. Starting over, because Sam didn't know if he could trust Josh again.

***

In those three months they had gone out approximately twice, with a smattering of lunches. Sam thought about the months that had led up to Josh's little extracurricular activities. They hadn't been the greatest months: they had been busy with work, and with the campaign and all the other things, but they hadn't been the worst months either - the sex was always good, or so he'd thought, anyway. But obviously he'd been wrong, something had been wrong, because Josh had decided he needed more, or needed to experiment with someone else. God, he'd been pissed when he found out about Josh's little fuck session. And now, now they were living apart, having quasi-dates and not fucking anymore. It was what it was like just before ... just before it all happened. There was no fucking, there were no good night kisses, and there were no 2 AM ice cream sundaes. He wondered if this is what he wanted. He'd been the one to leave, albeit mostly because of Josh. If he wanted to fix it he would need to forgive Josh, and he wasn't so sure he could really ever get the image of Josh and CoffeeBoy out of his mind.

Josh, meanwhile, wondered how he could fix it. He'd messed up, and he knew that he had really, really hurt Sam. He wanted to go up and kiss Sam's pain away, like his mother had done when he scraped his knee when he was little. But he couldn't; he'd followed Sam's decision, he hadn't objected to Sam when he said "I'm moving out." Well, he had objected, but he hadn't lay down in front of the rental truck to move Sam's stuff to his new apartment. He just had to fix this; he had to prove to Sam that even though things had been bad, he hadn't been looking for an escape; he didn't want to carry out some big extra-relationship affair behind Sam's back. But it was hard to say that when they were in separate bedrooms in separate parts of town.

Josh's mind drifted back to all of the old relationships he'd tried to salvage. There was with ... what was her name? Some girl, way back, that he'd wanted to make up with to sleep with in college. He'd tried flowers and candy. That'd worked, for a while. And then there was ... that other girl in college. He'd contributed to her teddy bear collection, or possibly started her teddy bear collection when they'd had a fight. And, there was, damn, some other girl that really liked dinner out and trips to theatre, not just movies, but theatre, if he'd wanted to fuck her. He couldn't actually remember ever trying to salvage relationships with a guy…those he'd mostly let go of. But he'd convinced girls to stay for at least a little while with flowers and stuff, so how hard could it be to get Sam to at least pay attention to him again?

***

"Bonnie," Sam called from his office.

"Yeah?"

"Here, these are for you," Sam said, handing her a bouquet of flowers. Bonnie stood in the bullpen looking a little confused. "For your desk or something."

"Sam, they're nice, but ..." Bonnie started.

"They don't mean anything other then that you are a great assistant, and you deserve some nice flowers for your desk."

"You just decided that my desk needed a little more color?"

"You don't like color?"

"Sam, did these come from Josh?"

"No..."

"Sam."

"Maybe a little, but I don't really want flowers and they would look so nice out on your desk, brightening up the bullpen. They can't brighten from my desk."

"Let me go find a cup or pitcher or something to put them in."

Sam set the flowers down on Bonnie's desk. Josh had begun some strange process of wooing that involved some sort of strange gift appearing in Sam's office every morning. Usually he had been able to deflect the gifts: nearly every female in the building had received flowers over the past few days, and multiple boxes of chocolates had gone to Ainsley and Donna.

***

As Josh returned from his meeting on the Hill, he noticed that Donna was munching away at her desk.

"Hey Donna, what'cha got there?"

"Shocklaaat," Donna answered, just after she bit into one of the little creamy ones, a little bit of caramel cream dripping down her chin.

"Where did you get them?"

"Sam had a box. He gave me one two days ago, too. And I think he gave some to Ainsley. And I think he bought every assistant in the communications bullpen flowers over the last few days."

"He did?"

"Everyone has had flowers, and Sam seems to be the gift guy now."

"Really?"

"Yeah, and you know, he was so sweet. Toby's little nephew had his tonsils removed last week, and Sam sent him a great big teddy bear. Isn't that so nice?"

"Yeah," Josh mumbled as he went into his office.

Setting down his backpack and taking off his coat, he wondered if Sam had been reading the notes attached to the flowers and the chocolates and even the stuffed teddy bear. He'd have some explaining to do if Toby's nephew read /that/ note. The plan had worked back in college when he was trying to get -- damn, what was her name? Some girl he thought he'd been completely in love with, trying to get her back. He'd succeeded with a constant barrage of flowers and candy. Eventually they'd both gotten past it and broke up, but it had worked for a while.

When he reached the communications bullpen he saw that every assistant's desk did in fact have flowers on it. God, there must be two hundred dollars worth of flowers adorning the bullpen. As he walked past Ginger's desk he mumbled something about them being lovely flowers. She agreed, saying 'Sam gave them to me for doing such a great job lately.'

"Hey, Sam," Josh said, poking his head into the office.

"What?"

"How are you?"

"Fine, what do you need?"

"I wanted to talk to you."

"About?"

Josh sat down in one of Sam's chairs and looked at him. "I was thinking we could do dinner tonight."

"Where?"

"A restaurant?"

Sam sighed. "Which restaurant, genius."

Josh tried to let the hostility roll off. He knew Sam had every right to be angry with him, and probably would be for the rest of his life, and probably even beyond. "Marcels?"

"We were there last week."

"Taberna del Alabardero?"

"And we were there the week before that."

"Bis?"

"I don't really like French food."

"Inn at Little Washington?"

"We have to come to work tomorrow."

"Where do you want to go?"

"Pizza Hut. Takeout. I'm tired of business dinners where we have to put on a show of briefcases when we sit down and make it look like we're working. Because that's what we are doing, we're working to try and have a relationship and make it look like we're working so that it doesn't look like a date, and we wind up talking about the campaign or a bill or something like that. So let's get take out - pizza, Chinese, whatever, but let's stop this charade."

"I didn't think of it as a charade; I thought we were trying to reestablish our relationship, remember, that whole trust thing, big conversation before I helped you pack everything?"

"Josh, when we first started dating, did you ever buy me flowers? Did you ever get me chocolate, did we go to fancy restaurants for dinner?"

"No..."

"That's right, we just sort of fell into bed one night on the campaign trail and we let inertia take over, and we didn't talk about what we wanted from the relationship."

"So tonight, we can do pizza and we can talk about what we want now."

"Yeah."

"So, what time are you leaving tonight?"

"Probably 10, 11."

"I'll be here; grab me when you get ready to leave and we can go together."

Sam nodded as Josh got up, tapping the doorframe and looking back to confirm that he was really serious about the pizza.

***

"It's midnight. It's too late to get pizza," Sam said, leaning on the frame of Josh's office door.

"Sam, there are seven colleges in this city, there are going to be pizza places open this late."

"So, you ready to go?"

"Yeah, just let me grab my coat."

In the car, Sam used his cell phone to call a pizza place close to his apartment, and they stopped in to pick the pizza up before heading to Sam's apartment.

After they got into Sam's apartment, Josh tried making small talk about how much he liked the new prints on the wall, wondering where Sam found them. Sam brought plates and napkins into the living room.

"I've got papers all over the kitchen table, so I thought we could just eat out here," Sam said, indicating the couch and the coffee table. The coffee table that once sat in our living room, Josh thought.

"So," Josh started uncomfortably.

"Yeah?" Sam said, taking a bite of the pizza, cheese stringing down on his chin. Josh looked at the cheese stuck to Sam's chin. Taking a napkin, he leaned over to wipe it off, and a second later he leaned a little closer and brushed his lips against Sam's. Crumpling the napkin into a ball in his fist, he moved his hand to the back of Sam's neck and pulled him closer.

Sam jerked his whole body back, catching Josh off guard and causing him to fall forward a little.

"You can't just fix this with time, some pizza and kiss, Josh!" Sam yelled, standing up.

"I don't know how to fix this. I really wish you would tell me how I fix this so that I can do that and I can make you happy. That's all I want - I hate seeing you this mad at me all the time. I hate going to bed and not feeling you next to me, cold feet and all. I hate the weekends when I have nothing to do but office work because you aren't around to watch a movie. I hate knowing that I was the one that caused you to be in pain. I just want to make it better, please, please let me make it better Sam. Tell me what to do and I'll do it."

"You want to know what you can do to make this better? You build yourself a time machine and you go back to that night when you decided fucking CoffeeBoy would be such a great idea, and instead you come home. You get in bed with me, and we make love."

"Sam..."

"Yeah, I know, it's impossible, and maybe it really is impossible that you can fix this."

"Can I try?"

"I think it would be better if you left."

Josh stood up, collected his coat, and making sure he had his keys. "I really wish I could do something."

Sam had already turned his back and started cleaning up the pizza.

Forgetting which turn was his, Josh found himself maneuvering the turns in Dupont Circle on his way back to the house. On the second or possibly third trip past the 24 Hour CVS, he pulled off to one of the side streets and went inside.

"I need the biggest box you have and all the aluminum foil in the store."

***

The next morning, Sam went into the office at 5:00. He hadn't slept much the night before, thinking about Josh's plea the night before. He'd spent the night cleaning and wondering if he ever really could look at Josh without thinking of what he'd done. If he wanted to get back together with Josh - which he did - he would have to eventually come to grips with what Josh had done.

He got into the bullpen before anyone else was there. Usually Ginger or Bonnie was there and had at least gotten the newspapers and wire reports together for him. There were a couple of late reports that had come in the night before. He grabbed them and flipped through the pages. He opened the door to his office but didn't hit the main light switch. He was about halfway through the office when he hit his foot and stumbled. The papers scattered as he dropped them.

Looking down, he saw what looked like a silver refrigerator box with a pair of TV rabbit ears on the top, and blinking Christmas lights taped around the edges. Moving back to the door, he flipped on the light to get a better look at the box. He kneeled down to inspect the side of the box. A little cardboard dial was attached to the side, reading "Present day." A movable pointer was switched over to "Four months ago - Josh being an idiot." Attached to the front of the box was a plastic steering wheel. Moving around to the other side of the box was a little time line running the entire length of the box. Towards the back, "March 29, 1998 - Dinner to celebrate Sam joining Bartlet for America. March 30, 1998 - Our first time together." He moved down the side of the box. "September 8, 2001 - We found the house on R Street. September 30, 2001 - Got the last box moved into the house on R Street." Right down to "November 24, 2001 - Josh royally screws up."

Finally, taped to the back of the box was an envelope. Inside was a single sheet of paper, reading "Sam - I built the time machine, but I'm not really sure if it's gonna work. Maybe we could test it out sometime? -- J."

"Well?" said a voice from behind Sam.

"How did you get this past security?" Sam said, turning around to look at Josh.

"Well, I had to bring it inside in pieces, and assemble it inside your office. I don't think the box would have fit through your door."

"When did you do this?"

"After I left your apartment. You said that the way to start fixing things would be to build a time machine, so I built one. And I thought maybe now we could have a real conversation about fixing things, because the time thing isn't fixing anything."

"Josh, you have no idea how much this hurt me, how hard it was to look at you without thinking about what you did. You can't fuck up like this again, I'm really not sure I could do it again."

"Please trust me Sam. Please let me back into your life. Please, please, please."

Sam looked down at the letter he was holding, and over at the time machine, and finally over at Josh.

"You really built a time machine right here in my office, all night long? And no one said anything?"

"Yeah, well, I uh, I thought maybe it would help a little…" Josh mumbled, looking at his feet.

"I appreciate it, I really do," Sam said, stepping closer to Josh.

"So maybe we can really try this all again … really this time. I promise not to get fresh with you on the couch this time." Josh grinned and cocked his head to the side.

"Maybe it's not such a horrible thing," Sam said, brushing his lips softly against Josh's.

"And you know, maybe you could move back in the house. It's just such a little place you have, and the house is big and empty. And the mattress in the guest bedroom needs to be replaced."

"Huh? The guestbed?" Sam asked, confused.

"Well, I tried sleeping in our bed, but it was big, and all weird without you there, so I moved into the guestroom, and I don't know how we subject our guests to that."

"We don't have guests - ever. I think these last few months were the first times that that bed has ever been used."

"Yeah, well, it's for the best. I like our bed, with both of us in it," Josh said, leaning over and kissing Sam again. "Will you come home? Please?"

"On one condition-" Sam started, before being cut off.

"Anything, absolutely anything you want, I'll do it if it will get you to come home," Josh said, hugging Sam, and nearly knocking him off of his feet. "What is it?"

"I want to take the time machine home; you have to help me get it out of here in one piece. And as an addendum, I need you to let go a little - I can't breathe here..."

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