Title: Maybe This Time
Author: Artemis
Feedback: Yes please good or bad, e. mail: Artemisa555@aol.com
Pairing: Josh/Sam
Rating: R - for implied M/M sex
Post Epi: The Midterms
Archive: Sure, just let me know.
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine, they belong to Aaron Sorkin, I’ve just borrowed them.
Summary: They’ve been in the White House for two years now. But not together.

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Maybe This Time by Artemis

“God bless America!” they all chorused

The bottles clinked together and they sat in thoughtful silence for a while till Donna shivered and looked up at Josh

“Okay, it’s time you went in.”

Josh made no effort to move from his semi recumbent position at the top of the steps.

“I’m not sleepy.” He countered

“Well I am and I want you inside before I go.” She glared at him meaningfully but Josh still didn’t budge.

Sam lifted tired eyes to look over at Josh sprawled out comfortably on the stoop, grinning defiantly back at Donna.

“It’s ok Donna I’ll stick around and make sure he goes in.” he said wearily.

She tutted menacingly, but realising that it was having no effect she surrendered with a sigh. “Okay, but don’t stay out much longer, you hear me Josh Lyman.”

“Okay Mom.” Josh smirked

Donna rose and brushed herself down.

“We ought to be going too.” Toby glanced sideways at CJ then emptied the dregs from his bottle and rose from the steps offering CJ his hand, she took it hauling herself up beside him. The three of them said their goodnights to Josh and Sam and walked off towards their cars. Sam watched them go, smiling sadly to himself as he saw CJ lean in towards Toby and take his arm, then he turned back to the man sitting above him on the steps.

 

Sam was in low spirits. The strain of the Midterm elections had really taken it out of him. There had been so much money and effort expended for no ultimate advantage, and he was still smarting over their abandonment of Tom Jorden. He was tired and beaten and he just wanted to end this day by spending a little longer alone with Josh but he was also aware of the falling temperature.

“Seriously Josh it is getting cold out here.”

“Sam you’re worse than Donna.” Josh laughed but nevertheless he scrambled to his feet. Sam collected the empty beer bottles and followed Josh up the stairs to his apartment.

 

Josh shut the door behind them and after dumping the bottles in the kitchen Sam attempted to help Josh out of his coat, Josh sighed but allowed him to do it anyway. When Sam returned from hanging it up he couldn’t help but smile at Josh still standing there in the grossly oversized pyjamas.

“Do you actually sleep in those?” he asked.

“Naah.” Josh grinned back “I just put them on tonight for CJ.”

“I think she was touched…Do you want anything?”

“Another beer would be good.” Josh suggested hopefully.

“I think you’ve had enough.” Sam frowned back.

“God Sam, you’re definitely worse than Donna!” he grumbled

“It’s just…I worry about you...” Sam said, then added hastily “We all worry about you.”

“You’ve no need, I’m doing alright now. … Really.” Josh reached out and patted Sam’s shoulder affectionately “So just stop it… okay?”

“Okay.” Sam tried to smile but his eyes met Josh’s, and he guessed that Josh could see the concern in them. His hand still rested on Sam’s shoulder and almost unconsciously he brushed his thumb across Sam’s cheek. It was the briefest of touches but Sam’s heartbeat quickened, it was the kind of touch he’d missed, the kind of touch he’d longed for and he was unable to stop himself from responding to it. He grasped Josh’s hand and drawing it to his lips gently kissed the palm.

Josh gasped and Sam raised his other hand to stroke Josh’s face.

“Sam….” Josh warned quietly, “Come on Sam…” he looked at him reproachfully.

 

Sam, admonished, blinked and obediently dropped his arms to his sides but instead of withdrawing his hand Josh stood for a moment as if undecided, then purposefully slid it behind Sam’s neck and drew the younger man gently but firmly towards him.

“Oh God Sam…” he murmured. “I miss you.”

Sam felt Josh’s breath on his face and his lips parted in anticipation of the impending kiss. Josh hesitated again, but only for a second, before finally covering Sam’s mouth with his own and Sam moaned as Josh slipped his tongue between the open lips. It had been so long, so very long, since they’d enjoyed this kind of contact. Their kiss was slow at first, tentative, reawakening familiar memories but as it intensified, Sam, craving more, put his arms around Josh and crushed him to his chest, his action elicited a yelp of pain from the other man. Sam sprang back.

“God! Josh! I’m sorry I didn’t mean to hurt you.” Sam was mortified.

Josh tried to catch his breath, “It’s okay…” he gasped raising a protective hand to his chest “Just tender…” he tried to smile reassuringly “Sam, I’m okay…really.”

Sam still looked stricken and Josh grasped his hand squeezing it tight. “Okay the truth is, you hurt me a little but it was totally worth it.”

“Josh!”

“You have no idea how often I’ve wanted to do that over the past two years.” Josh grinned.

“I think I probably have.” Sam replied hollowly.

Josh sighed, and moving closer again, he laid his head on Sam’s shoulder. Sam reached up and gently rubbed his back.

“What the hell are we doing Sam?”

“You mean right now or in general?” Sam tried to keep his voice even because he knew exactly what Josh meant by the question and he really didn’t want to have to answer it.

“I mean with us.”

Sam sighed, deeply “We’re trying to do the right thing Josh.” He said and because Josh was here, in his arms, in a pair of oversized pyjamas that concealed the livid scar on his chest, Sam somehow managed to keep the bitterness out of his voice. But Josh still knew he was bitter anyway.

“It sucks.” Josh murmured into his shoulder

Sam’s mouth curled into a half smile. “So, now you’re adopting my arguments?”

Because that was exactly what Sam had said when Josh had told him that they couldn’t take their relationship into the White House.

 

Sam had accepted that Josh was probably right of course; had agreed that they couldn’t serve the president and continue to be lovers; had agreed that they would instead be just good friends; that they would pursue other relationships, preferably with women; but nevertheless he had said ‘This sucks Josh!’ And he’d been right. And this time it had been worse of course because Josh was still there with him, almost every single day. Because previously when Josh had said to him ‘We really can’t do this any more Sam.’ Sam had left, he’d left because he couldn’t bear being around Josh and not having him, even occasionally.

 

And that was pretty much how it had been during the Bartlett for America campaign, occasionally. Sam had left New York and followed Josh to New Hampshire because whatever Josh had literally said when he’d turned up unexpectedly in Sam’s office at Gage Whitney, his face had said ‘I want you back Sam.’ And Sam had hesitated, because he knew, first hand, just how bad Josh was at relationships, but in the end he’d followed, he’d walked out on his job, he’d abandoned his fiancée and he’d followed, because he never had been able to refuse Josh anything. And occasionally was better than not at all.

 

At the time of course Josh had still been dating Mandy, but she spent most of her time in Washington so wasn’t much of an impediment, and naturally, the first couple of weeks had been pretty steamy. But they’d worked damned hard on the campaign trail and most nights it was a struggle to reach their own beds before they fell asleep, let alone summon up the energy to make out in someone else’s. But occasionally, Josh would catch his eye as they sat together in a meeting, or camped out in a hotel bar somewhere. And Josh would smile and raise his eyebrows questioningly and Sam would smile back his acquiescence and later that night they would go to Sam’s room and screw each other breathless, and when Sam woke the next morning Josh would already be gone.

 

And they were pretty sure that no one else knew, or even suspected. It was a game they’d played before; they were good at it. There was no surreptitious touching during the day; no stolen kisses; no whispered exchanges; they didn’t do that. And they’d taken the same game into the White House but without the screwing, so for two years now their only physical contact had been slaps on the back and congratulatory hugs because everyone did that, so it was allowed.

 

And Sam had managed, somehow. The pursuing other relationships thing hadn’t worked out too well, for either of them, but that was okay because the longer that Sam was around Josh, the more Josh was the only thing he really wanted, but he hadn’t let it show, even after Rosslyn.

 

He still had no idea how he’d got through those long hours after the shooting, when Josh was in surgery hovering between life and death. He’d felt numb, his brain functioning on autopilot. But something inside him had said that he’d be letting Josh down if he crumbled and he couldn’t allow that to happen, so he just carried on carrying on. In truth, everyone else had been too stunned to have noticed anything anyway; they’d all acted a little bit weird for a while. But if Josh had died, well, Sam doubted that he could have held it together, it would have been the end of his world. Some nights, even now, he woke up in a cold sweat because he’d dreamt that Josh had been killed that evening at the Newseum. It would be a very long time before the fear of loss subsided.

 

But Josh hadn’t died, the doctors had saved him, had patched him up brilliantly and sent him back to Sam. And now he was stood here in a pair of oversized pyjamas, looking somehow both sexy and vulnerable and he’d kissed Sam and he was saying that not having been lovers for two whole years really sucked. And Sam’s heart was pounding against his ribcage.

 

Josh put his arms round him and raising his head pressed his lips against Sam’s temple. Sam’s mouth sought his, their lips touched, their tongues thrust together and Josh’s hands slipped beneath Sam’s jacket, moving over his chest and then down to his hips as once again they surrendered to the want they both felt so deeply. Eventually, they broke apart again, gasping for breath. Josh took Sam’s face between his hands and staring deep into his desire filled eyes he said. “I always knew it would suck Sam, I just never knew how much.”

 

Sam fought back the tears he could feel pricking his eyes, what was he supposed to say. He’d let Josh back into his life, back into his bed and he’d known all along that it would mean heartache, it always did. He’d stayed on and joined the White House staff because it was an opportunity that might never come again, it was an opportunity to make a difference and also, in his heart, he’d hoped that Josh would change his mind. But Josh had held out. Oh sure he still flashed those dimples in Sam’s direction; still looked at him with eyes so full of passion that Sam had to turn away; still obviously cared about him; still tried to save him from himself; he just never fucked him anymore.

 

“You should have asked me Josh, I could have told you how much.” His voice cracked with emotion and the barely suppressed bitterness.

“I’m sorry Sam,… I just wanted you with me,… I never meant it to hurt.”

Sam already knew that. Josh never ever meant to hurt anyone, it was just that somehow it always happened anyway.

“Stay the night.” He pleaded, his breath hot on Sam’s cheek.

Josh was attempting to remove his coat and jacket. Sam sighed but let him do it anyway. He threw them over the back of the sofa and then pulled off the already loosened tie.

“I need you Sam.” Josh whispered taking his hand and pulling him towards the bedroom.

Sam needed Josh too, but he hesitated. “And what about tomorrow?” he asked heavily.

Josh turned back and smiled imploringly but Sam could see the all too familiar defensiveness in his eyes. “I don’t know Sam … maybe this time we can work something out.”

Sam wanted to believe him, he wanted, more than anything, to believe that this brilliant, passionate, complicated man, loved him enough not to let go, wanted desperately to believe that despite his almost overwhelming ambition, he would be willing to pay the inevitable price. Really, really, wanted to believe that maybe this time it would be okay. But he couldn’t. But also because he never had been able to refuse Josh anything, he smiled back his acquiescence and followed him into the bedroom.

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