TITLE: To Plunder
SPOILERS: Minor mention of campaign staffer
DISCLAIMER: All characters are the sole creation and property of Aaron Sorkin. No copyright infringement is intended.
SUMMARY: A rare day off
ARCHIVE: List archives are welcome to take. Others, just please let me know where.
FEEDBACK: All welcome, all appreciated. firstname.lastname@example.org
THANKS: to Dalia for liking the pirates, and the and,and,and...
NOTES: This and another wee new slashy thing can be found at http://subtractions.homestead.com/
To Plunder by Abigale
His body extending the length of the bed, Josh looked up bemusedly at Sam, straddled across his hips, buck naked; except for the glasses. He thanked whichever god was on duty at the moment for the glorious view.
When Sam allowed the newspaper he was reading to sag a little, cutting off Josh's line of vision, Josh growled grumpily and nudged Sam's arm up enough to restore his line of sight.
"Pirates, Josh! Modern day pirates, swarming over yachts in the South Pacific, and one couple was attacked while sailing around Corfu Island." Sam smacked the newspaper with one hand, causing another slight droop, which Josh again corrected. "Two hundred twenty four incidents of piracy and armed robbery of ships. It's amazing," Sam continued undeterred.
"I'm sorry," Josh yawned drowsily. "How does this affect me again?"
Sam crumpled the newspaper to his bare chest in order to look down at his lover. "You?"
Ignoring the expression of incredulity on Sam's face, Josh raised an eyebrow. "Are you telling me this in no way relates to me? 'Cause if that's true, there are a number of other things we could be doing right now, all of them completely unassociated with pirates."
Shifting slightly, clammy skin sticking to clammy skin, Sam began meticulously folding his Sunday Washington Post. "I thought it was interesting," he pouted.
Feeling a slight twinge of guilt at having brought down his high, Josh beat out a soft tattoo on Sam's thighs. "Wanna play pirates?" he proposed with a mischievous waggle of his eyebrows.
Completely lost on Sam, who was staring at the ink stains on his hands. "I've never been into role-playing," Sam mumbled.
"Uh. Sam. I wasn't seriously suggesting we *be* pirates," Josh chuckled. Slapping a palm against bare skin. "I just meant... you're still naked. I figured, you must have a reason for sitting around naked."
Swaying a little, as if caught in a breeze across the bow of a ship on the high seas, Sam closed his eyes dreamily. "Yeah," he admitted. "Well, you stole my towel, as I recall." Josh's hand was causing him to list a little more to his right. "And... and... and..."
Sticky legs and creamy hands and panting and laughter...
"You are one clean son of a bitch," Josh declared, swiping at a trickle of water sliding past Sam's ear. "Three showers in one day. That's... that's excessive."
Sam, refusing to take the bait, but tempted to point out who kept getting him dirty, pulled a Henley over his head and squeezed out of the bathroom, past Josh in the doorway.
Following Sam out into the living room, Josh stretched his arms out to his sides and rotated them in lazy circles. "One clean son of a bitch," he restated.
Simultaneously shooting Josh a mock-scowl, Sam began pulling stray piles of papers into order. He replaced the cordless phone in its cradle, scooped up a plate and coffee mug and, ducking under Josh's flailing arms, moved into the kitchen.
Josh joined him at the sink, stood against the counter with arms folded confidently in front of himself. He watched Sam rinse off the plate, swish sudsy water in the mug, carefully dry his hands on a towel.
"What?" Sam finally broke down, a curious grin creasing the sides of his mouth. "What do you want from me that you haven't already taken today?" he wanted to know. "Twice." Mirroring Josh's posture with his own.
"Hey, If I want something from you, I'll take it," Josh declared. "Because I take what's mine, Baby."
Sam steadily held Josh's gaze.
"I... I ask for what's mine," Josh amended. Arms unclasping each other, digging his hands into his pockets. "I beg? I beg you?"
Josh's left eyebrow saluted Sam, who pushed away from the counter and went to the refrigerator.
Looking inside for a moment, Sam straightened and closed the door. "Do you know what we have in there, Josh?" he quizzed.
Josh shrugged, still contrite. "Beer," he ventured. "And I know you bought that vegetable."
Sam paused a moment, then opened the door again and glanced quickly around before securing it shut. "That vegetable?"
"Uh oh," Josh muttered. "You want to cook something." It wasn't an accusation, but it came out that way. Like there was something contemptuous in the idea that Sam would want to have a hot, fresh meal that hadn't come on a tray, or from a cardboard container.
"No, not particularly. But I would like to eat something." Sam ignored Josh's rolling eyes and exasperated sigh. "I think - and I know how you hate it when I suggest this - but I think, Josh, we might need to go shopping." Sam cracked the fridge open once more and looked inside a beat before slamming it shut. "Do you know what's in there?" he attempted again.
"Beer and - "
"No. There's no beer. Only that vegetable."
Now Sam had Josh's attention.
Sam stood at the cutting board, the phone cradled between his ear and his shoulder. Josh glanced up from the grocery bag he was taking his sweet time unpacking and momentarily thought about how nice it always felt to nestle his head in the crook of Sam's neck.
"...four paragraphs, that's a lot, Toby," Sam was saying into the phone. "I can easily loose the fifth and sixth. I thought they were superfluous to begin with." He caught Josh's eye when Josh leaned across him to set a new bottle of dish washing liquid by the sink. "How do you feel about - "
Josh noticed Sam's jaw tense and instinctively brushed a consoling hand across his back.
"Uh huh. Uh huh." The knife lay discarded by the mushrooms. "Uh huh. That's... Is that his call?" Sam huffed a little, and began slicing the mushrooms again. "...Because he's never sat in a meeting, he's never seen the process the President needs to be taken through to come to that kind of conclusion. He doesn't know him, Toby. And I have to say... that kind of thinking is like. Piracy."
Josh hung the canvas shopping bags from a hook in the broom closet and lingered there for a moment trying not to be too obvious about eavesdropping. Leaning back a little to catch a glimpse of Sam's profile. Set. Rigid.
"Fine. No, it's fine. It won't work though. The whole thing... I can't just cut and paste the thing together like a kindergarten art project. I'll do a rewrite. No, don't worry... Yeah... Yeah... Yeah... Bye." Sam disconnected the line and carefully set the phone on the counter. "Fine," he uttered to himself.
Coming up from behind, Josh placed careful hands on Sam's hips. After pressing a kiss into the back of his neck, Josh pulled Sam around until they were facing one another. "It sucks," Josh offered.
"Yes." Sam blew his breath out, leaned his head against Josh's solid shoulder. The moment passed quickly, Sam straightening, offering Josh a shy smile. "I'll work later. This is... I really want to fix this, have a nice dinner with you, relax a little before I start on it."
"What can I do to help?" Josh wanted to know, hoping Sam wasn't about to ask him to do anything that involved a knife. Or measuring. Or stirring.
"Get me a beer?" Sam suggested.
Josh could do that.
Twisting off the cap, he placed the bottle next to Sam and walked out into the living room. Sam had already done a clean sweep of the apartment, placing old newspapers and a mass of junk mail into the recycling bin, tossing discarded clothes in the washing machine. Josh momentarily calculated how many points Sam would give him for running a dust rag over the bookshelf, and decided he was already running at such a deficit it was hardly worth the effort.
His eyes stopped at the Mission-style dining room table, resting in front of the wide bay window at the front of the apartment. It was littered with an accumulation of work-related detritus both men tended to drag home with them. Sam's laptop sat at one end, ready for the assault on his Proactive Community Initiative speech.
And suddenly, Josh was inspired. Gathering up first his own, then Sam's piles, he moved them to the sideboard, taking great care to keep everything in order. Hoping to avoid the Wrath of Sam, when it came to shifting his life around.
Pulling on the hem of his T-shirt, Josh wiped it across the dark wood, then stood back to admire his handiwork. Swiveling his head around, he spied the ceramic candlesticks he'd displaced on the sideboard. Marveled that Sam, working under the same conditions as Josh, with the same pressures and commitments somehow managed to have a real home. Even if he was barely there. Josh didn't own a single candle, let alone a candleholder.
After first placing the candles in the center of the table, Josh scrutinized the setup, then moved them closer to one end. The word 'cozy' popped into his head, and he shuddered. He did want things cozy. He just didn't want to use that word. So he went with 'intimate,' and started searching for the placemats Sam's mother had given him.
Chicken with mushrooms simmering on the stove. Crusty bread warming in the oven. The vegetable Josh was eventually able to identify as asparagus waiting to be plunged into boiling water.
Sam had moved on to slicing juicy, plump hothouse tomatoes onto a plate, a bottle of Caesar dressing waiting to be drizzled over them. Slice. Slice. Slice.
"It's taking a long time," Josh observed.
Sam blinked at him.
"That wasn't criticism," Josh assured him, moving away from the flashing knife.
Slice. Slice. Slice.
Josh watched Sam reach for yet another tomato, the last of the four they had bought that afternoon. "Um, Sam?" Watching Sam carefully pull the knife through the meaty flesh of the tomato, again and again. "Are we supposed to eat all of them tonight?" he wanted to know.
Pausing for a second, Josh could see that Sam was only now aware of the pile he had amassed in front of him.
"Oh." Sam shot Josh an embarrassed grin. "I... I was imagining Bruno's fingers," he admitted sheepishly.
Shuddering violently, Josh laughed. "Mmmm, can't wait to eat." Grimacing, he began rummaging through a drawer for matches.
Five minutes later, asparagus pulled from bubbling water, two plates heaped with chicken, Sam noticed for the first time that the kitchen table was not set. Extinguishing a twinge of irritation, he stepped out of the kitchen, calling to Josh. "The least I thought you'd do is - " Spotting the gently lit, fully set dining table, Sam was riveted in place. "Wow," he exhaled.
Josh appeared at Sam's side, leading him by the hand to a chair. "Sit," he instructed. "I'll bring the plates out."
By the time Josh returned with their dinners, the lump in Sam's throat had subsided enough for him to speak. "This is really nice, Josh. Thank you for doing this."
"You did all the work," Josh countered, sweeping a hand over the fragrant food. "Thanks for trying to make our lives a little more... normal. I forget sometimes." In the flickering candlelight, the slight coloring of Josh's face wasn't noticeable.
Between mouthfuls of succulent chicken, and sips of aromatic wine, Josh got Sam to talk about his frustration over the impending re-write of his speech.
"This is going to sound really strange," Sam was saying. "A year ago, if anyone had asked, and quite frankly, even if they didn't, I was pretty pleased to say that I was moving more and more into helping with policy decisions." Pausing to dab at his mouth with a cloth napkin Josh had laid out. "And suddenly I'm feeling strongly... proprietary, about the President's speeches."
A slightly perplexed expression betraying him, Josh thoughtfully chewed a piece of bread. "It's your job, Sam."
"No. Well, yes. That's not what I mean." Putting down his fork, Sam reached for his wineglass, stared down into the velvety dark liquid for a moment while he collected his thoughts. "I don't write as much. I don't have time to... I just don't write as much." Seeing the look of skepticism on Josh's face, Sam continued. "I know, I know. We still do the major addresses, and anything that will get more than a thirty second sound bite. But I miss... I think there's a certain consistency missing since I haven't been involved in... god. How egotistical does *that* sound?" Sam scoffed.
Laying one hand over Sam's, Josh put his own fork down and leaned over a little. "It never occurred to me that you were being egotistical. I understand what you're getting at. And," Josh considered whether this was really something he wanted to get into at this moment. If it was something Leo would want him bringing up right now. But Josh trusted Sam. And if he misinterpreted anything, Josh was happy to stay right where they were until Sam was reassured.
"You have a very good point, Sam," Josh concurred. "In fact, Leo and the President and I have had a number of conversations about that."
Sam cocked his head slightly, and the effect of the candlelight dancing across his dark pupils gave them a wild, wanton glint that made Josh's blood tingle a little.
"They're not satisfied with what we've been coming up with lately." Sam almost sounded apologetic. "Or... is it me specifically?"
Slumping back in his chair, Josh scrubbed at his face briskly. "No, no, no. Sam. They - we're talking about the overall message. The fact that, if you lined up everything the President has said in the last few months, it's painfully obvious that there are vastly different voices at work here. You've felt it too, didn't you just say so? I swear, that's all I'm talking about."
Sam still looked a little unsure.
"Not quality. Not your writing. Or Toby's. But the overall consistency. Not your writing," Josh reiterated, because he knew how that mattered to Sam.
"No one said anything. Have you... have you already spoken to Toby about this?" Sam wanted to know.
"No," Josh didn't hesitate. Because that mattered too. "Honestly, we don't know what we want to do about it. Or even if we want to do anything. This has really only just come up. We have time."
Sam considered this for a moment, then began picking at a plateful of tomatoes with his fork. "I think you should discuss reorganizing a few things," he finally said. "Whatever you need to do." It sounded slightly defeated.
Looking down at the wonderful meal Sam had gone to the trouble of preparing for them, Josh resumed eating, even though his appetite had somehow scurried away during their conversation.
"You're not eating Bruno's fingers," Sam chided, making Josh laugh out loud.
"Sick. You are so sick," Josh teased, grateful that Sam seemed to accept the idea that changes might have to be made.
They continued their meal, Sam methodically filling their glasses, relentlessly prodding Josh to eat his vegetables. The candle flames danced across their faces, turned their wine sparkly. Whenever they made eye contact, Sam would offer Josh a warm, fulfilling smile. Sure and confident and full of certain love.
For his part, Josh made yummy sounds with every mouthful of tomato, and contemplated his gorgeous partner; a man who cared about crafting the message of the President of the United States, and gun control, and community initiatives, and pirates.
Reluctantly pushing their plates away, not really wanting to break the spell, Josh and Sam took hold of one another's hands, and sat contentedly watching the candles dwindle.
"You know," Sam broke the silence. "I think we should leave the dishes." He raised the now empty wine bottle and smacked his lips sleepily. "I'm feeling lazy."
Josh fixed a mock-surprised expression on his face. "My Sam? Lazy?"
"I like that."
Josh leaned in, voice lowered sincerely. "You don't do it often enough."
Sam stared at him a beat. "No. The 'my Sam' part."
"Really? 'Cause... I was kinda expecting to get punched for that."
After stacking the dishes in the sink, Josh returned to the living room and was momentarily shocked to find Sam scattering papers and his laptop across the dining table.
"Hey, I thought you were feeling lazy?" Striding over to Sam, putting a restraining hand on his arm. "What the hell are you doing?"
Sam held his hands out, palms up. Shrugging his shoulders. "I... I have a re-write, Josh." Slightly bemused. "Work *after* dinner. Remember?"
Josh swore under his breath, and flopped into a chair. "I was hoping we could..." He traced a finger along the waistband of Sam's jeans. "I was hoping you'd let me plunder you." A mischievous grin, so pleased with himself.
Sam laughed appreciatively and stepped closer to his lover. When his fingernails scraped Josh's scalp, a soft moan escaped the older man's lips, which Sam bent to meet with his own before saying, "Then plunder you shall, matey. But later." And he blushed when Josh called him corny.
'Plunder this,' Josh thought to himself as he brought his arms around Sam's waist.
While Sam ripped apart his own speech, then mended it back together, Josh slipped into the kitchen and did the dishes. Falling onto the sofa, flipping through dozens of uninspiring channels, sneaking glances at Sam, Josh finally slapped off the tv and headed over to look over the writer's shoulder.
"Another two hours, maybe three," Sam answered before Josh could speak. "It's good," he added, definitively.
" 'Kay," Josh sighed, and placed a loud, succulent sounding kiss near Sam's ear. Before he had fully turned to head into the bedroom, Sam caught his hand and pulled him closer.
"Thanks for doing the dishes," Sam said, in case Josh thought he hadn't noticed. "I love you." Tilting his head up, signaling Josh to bend to him. A solemn, passionate kiss sent Josh on his way, leaving behind the gentle clacking of the keyboard.
With only a few more hours until dawn, the bed finally dipped, warmth gradually spreading across Josh's back as Sam sidled up to him.
"Pirates, Josh," Sam slurred drowsily.
"I know, Sam. It's amazing."
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