Title: Political Practice
Author: Shoshanna Gold
Archive: To the main slash archive, absolutely. If you want it otherwise, please drop me a line to let me know where it's going.
Disclaimer: They aren't mine. Although I think Sam is up for grabs, so we should all pool our resources and make an offer to NBC.
Summary: It's all about gay male lust. Isn't it?
Spoilers: Third season, up to Arctic Radar.
Notes: Once again I would be nowhere without Julian Lee. How often does one find a beta and a kindred spirit wrapped up in one?
Feedback: Oh, yes, please. It makes the sun shine, the stars glow, and Rice Crispies snap, crackle, and pop. On list or to email@example.com
Political Practice by Shoshanna Gold
"You think you can bribe me into staying in the country?"
Sam looked up from the boxes he was packing to move over to the new campaign office. The DNC apparently felt that a mattress factory was an inappropriate place from which to run a congressional campaign. Once again, the DNC proved to be no fun at all. But what was supposed to be a terribly boring Thanksgiving weekend sorting out campaign matters was looking better since Will had decided to show up. "Hi!" he said brightly. "What are you doing here?" He moved to pull the other man into an embrace, but Will pulled back.
"Sam, I asked you a question. Do you think you can bribe me into staying in the country?"
Hmmm. So Will wasn't necessarily happy with the latest events. But maybe Sam could still turn this around. "Could we at least say 'hi' before we start fighting?" he asked, giving Will a once-over, his eyes lingering on Will's lips. Great lips. He licked his own, a move that stopped Will's imminent rant. Momentarily.
"Hi. Now, Sam, I'm serious " He was cut off by Sam's finger on his lips.
Sam moved forward and pulled Will close again. Will let him this time. "Hi," Sam said softly, moving his mouth over Will's, taking them deep into a kiss. A much-longed for kiss. A great kiss.
Not great enough, it seemed, because when it broke, Will moved away again and crossed his arms over his chest. "Sam. We have a problem that needs to be dealt with."
Yep, it was possible he had been hasty in his assumption that fun lay ahead just because Will had manifested in his mattress-defined office, even though he was supposed to be on a plane to France. Sam allowed himself a brief congratulatory moment for halting that particular development before turning to Will innocently. "I didn't bribe you."
"'Oh, Will, here's the speech-writing opportunity of a lifetime. But I'm sure the beach in Nice will be fine.'" Will said in deep tones. Switching back to his normal voice, he glared at Sam. "Not only is that bribery, it's manipulative bribery."
"As opposed to the other, non-manipulative kind of bribery." Sam was reasonably amused. It looked like they were going to be there for a while, so he sat down on his desk, motioning for Will to sit beside him. He was ignored. Sighing, Sam continued. "I never said the beach would be fine. It's November. The beach won't be fine. It'll be cold, and there won't be any pretty girls sunbathing nude."
"Yeah, because pretty, nude girls have a lot of weight with me."
"See, you aren't going to miss anything." He probably should try to at least meet Will in gravitas, but honestly, he was just so happy that the man was in front of him, and not on that flight to Nice, that he couldn't seem to muster the seriousness the situation probably warranted.
"I'm not worried about missing pretty, nude girls. I'm concerned that you feel the need to bribe me into staying in the country."
"Would you stay if I merely ask? If that's all it takes, no problem. Will, will you please stay in the country?"
"In fact, this is not the first time that I've asked you something along those lines. I asked you to stay and run my campaign with me. And you refused."
"Scott Holkem will do a very good job running your campaign. You need the DNC more than you need me right now."
"That's debatable. Regardless, that's not why you wouldn't stay in California, is it?"
"Sam." Will's tone was patient, but plaintive. Sam had him. So he pushed it a little.
"Will, the reasons you felt you had to leave California had nothing to do with Scott Holkem or the DNC, or my campaign."
"They had everything to do with your campaign!" Will exploded. He started to pace up and down the office-space, turning each time he reached the outer mattresses. "I couldn't be in California, with you, and keep my hands off you. God, right now, when I'm mad at you, I can barely keep my hands off you. And it's not good for your campaign for you to be sneaking a man in and out of your room every night. Somebody would notice, and you can bet the voters of the California 47th aren't going to be particularly sympathetic to gay male lust."
"Gay male lust?" OK, that was funny. And could possibly be used to change the subject. He would rather talk about gay make lust than the DNC any day of the week.
If only that were true. He could have a nice career working for The Advocate instead of running a losing congressional race. "I'm not sure that you still get to write the inaugural speech, if that's the best turn of phrase you can come up with to describe our relationship."
"Sam, this isn't funny. That my have been a bad word selection, but you know what I'm saying. You can't get elected if - "
Sam cut him off. "This has nothing to do with the California 47th. Nor does it have anything to do with your sudden overwhelming desire to see the Mediterranean. It does, however, have everything to do with gay male lust."
"I thought we'd decided to abandon that phrase."
"Your words. I'm just keeping them alive."
"Well, don't. It's time for them to die."
"As long as the sentiment doesn't. And stop changing the subject."
"You practically begged me to change the subject by using the term 'gay male lust' again."
"Again, just following your lead. And enough of your diversionary tactics, Mr. Bailey. Gay male lust isn't why you left California."
"Yes, it is."
"No, it isn't. Gay male love is why you left California. We're in it, and you're afraid of it. So you ran away from it, and from me."
"Well, you were pretty effective at stopping me at the border, weren't you?" Will stopped pacing long enough to glare at him, then started again, making a tour of the mattresses outlining the space.
Oh, Sam loved fighting with this man. There were other things he loved doing more with Will, but there was nothing like a good fight to convince him that he had made the right choice in revealing his heart to Will Bailey. Most people outside of the West Wing staff were boring to fight with. Will met him verbal thrust for thrust. "Will, I didn't tell Toby to hire you because you're my boyfriend. I told him to hire you because you are one of maybe nine guys in the country who could write this speech."
"The fact that it also keeps you in the country is a nice bonus for me."
"Sam, we're still going to be five hours apart." Will was giving a little ground. Sam let himself take a tiny mental sigh of relief. Despite his cocky words, despite his conviction that Will was the only chance to keep Toby from burning the White House to the ground while writing the speech, he knew his intervention could have been a deal-breaker. Since it wasn't, they could lay out further terms. Jesus. He knew he was in love when he resorted to lawyerese to couch emotion.
"That'll give you some time to get used to the fact that you're in love with me."
"Will, you flew five hours to have this fight with me. That speaks to a certain devotion, don't you think?"
"No, I don't. I think it speaks to the fact that I have a hell of a lot of airline credit since somebody tricked me into canceling a trip to Nice." Will ran his hands though his hair and glared at Sam again.
Sam grinned. God, he was stubborn. "Will."
"Fine. It might maybe speak to the fact that I didn't want to have this fight over the phone."
"Doesn't it feel good to come out and say it?"
"No, it doesn't." Will started to pace again. "I've been resisting you, Sam. Despite my initial instinct to take you into my bed and keep you there for the next decade, I've been resisting you mightily. I am not what you need right now. You need to win an election, and a relationship with me is not the way to do that."
"All I need to do is stay out of your bed, and I'll win the election? I'm already screwed then, aren't I? Because I fondly very fondly, in fact remember a few nights last week that I spent in your bed." Sam wasn't exaggerating the fondness of those memories. Will was electric in bed. It wasn't enough that the man was a political genius, and a sweetheart to boot. Oh, no. Some greater deity Sam suspected Aphrodite had blessed this man with a carnal touch that would melt ice caps if applied properly.
Caught in Sam's dirty grin for a second, Will stopped pacing and started to leer back before catching himself. "No," he said, shaking his head at Sam. "You do not get to distract me with sex. Nor am I going to distract you with sex. The plan was to get far away from you, so you stop thinking about sex, at least about having sex with me, and win the election. Or at least, not lose the election because you were handicapped by gay male love."
At least he'd stopped saying 'lust'. Sam decided to move the conversation along. "Will, I'm not going to win this election."
"You could. I lay down the groundwork for you very nicely. You could win the election, and you don't need your boyfriend hanging on to your coattails while you do it." Will's earnest tone bothered Sam. He was never, ever going to let this man think of himself as a liability to Sam's life. God, without him Sam would still be dueling windmills at the White House, instead of getting ready to take on the entire Republican Party in California. At the very least, the weather was better out here.
"Give me a break. Tom Bailey's son wouldn't know how to hold onto a coattail if it were glued to his hand. Will, do you know what would have happened if you'd gone to France?"
"Too young to sustain such great distance, this relationship would have died a natural death. I would have gotten very drunk and disgraced myself with the attractive Australian boy who inevitably waits bar at the L'Ambassade, and you would become a United States Congressman, the first Democratic elected to Congress from Orange County since Polk was president."
"Not even close."
"Are you sure? I'm usually quite adept at predicting these things. I can summon the rain, you know. That portends certain powers." Will grinned, briefly. Sam grinned back. Elsie had filled him in on Will's new control over Mother Nature.
"And yet, not psychic ones, because you are very wrong about that."
"All right, Sam. What would have happened if I'd gone to France?"
Sam walked pushed himself off the desk and walked over to where Will was standing by the mattresses. Touching his lover's clenched jaw, he said softly, "The day after the election, win or lose, I would have followed you to wherever you were and laid myself prostrate at your feet. Or, if need be, wrest you from the arms of a dissolute Australian."
"Oh." Will swallowed.
Sam slid his arms loosely around Will's waist, and held him lightly, keeping their bodies apart. Will let him, even leaned into him a little. "Yeah. Nothing would have died. We wouldn't have let it, no matter how many Australian boys you lined up. I've been waiting my whole life for this. Washington, Nice it makes no difference to me. I would have taken a bigger book for the longer flight. But I was always coming for you. This way, at least, your incredible talent isn't being wasted on Kiwi beach bums while I get this election out of the way."
"Kiwis are from New Zealand. And this election should be the most important thing in your life." Will looked into Sam's eyes. "I don't want you to not have something because of me." Still, he put his hands on Sam's chest, not pushing him away, but connecting with him.
"Will, I will repeat this all again and again until it sinks into your thick head. There is no way you are going to cost me the election. This is Orange County. You've already used up all the political miracles available to this part of the country. I'm not going to try to lose, but I'm not going to be broken if I do. I wish you had decided to stick around and do this with me, but I understand why you didn't."
"Yeah?" Will's hands moved up and slipped around Sam's neck.
"Yeah. Furthermore, upon further reflection, I think that it's a much better idea for you to help out at the White House for the next few weeks. Toby's already tenuous grip on sanity is slipping."
Will grinned. "I'd noticed that."
Sam smiled at tightened his arms around Will. "But if you decide that you need to go to Nice, go. Seriously. If you really feel that you should be in a French palace instead of writing the last inaugural speech of the greatest president of the last fifty years, I'll understand."
Will raised his eyebrows. "Only the last fifty years?"
"I hold a certain respect for the Roosevelts and Wilson."
"Ah. So if I go to Nice?" Will's hands were running through the hair on the back of Sam's head.
"I'll meet you there in a couple of weeks. I'd prefer you didn't pick up slimy bartenders until I got there, but I'd probably deal with that, too." Sam closed his eyes, taking in the feel, the scent, the strength, of the man in his arms.
"Look at me."
Sam opened his eyes. Will was grinning at him. "I'm not going to Nice," he said, caressing the nape of Sam's neck. "And even if I did, I would never expect you to deal with me philandering with some beach bum Kiwi," he said, suddenly serious. "I would never to that to us."
Sam knew that. "Kiwis are from New Zealand."
"Whatever." Will moved in to kiss him, and then pulled back a little. "I'm going to DC, and I'm going to stop Toby from doing whatever destructive things he might do in the course of writing this speech without you by his side, and I might even get a little writing in, too."
"The nation is grateful to you, Will Bailey. The President, the First Lady, Leo, Bonnie and Ginger-"
"Shut up." Will did kiss him now. Sam felt the promise in that kiss, the depth to which he was going to lose himself in this man, and emerge more whole and satisfied than he'd ever been. They both would. He kissed him, and thought about having this incredible man, as much a warrior as the generations of soldiers before him, by his side as they took on the world. They needed to come out. He wasn't going to do this hiding in the closet. They deserved better than that. Will deserved better than that.
"You're planning." Will's breath floated over his lips.
"We've got so much to do."
"Not right now." Will was kissing his neck, unbuttoning Sam's shirt and smoothing a hand over his chest. "Right now we've got 36 hours before I have to get back to the White House and you have to resume a campaign schedule. Right now this is all we have to do. Because God knows, there isn't going to be time for it later."
"You sure came around to my way of thinking, Mr. Bailey." Sam pulled Will's shirt out from his pants. Why bother with going back to the hotel when there were mattresses everywhere and Scott Holkem was still on the other side of the country.
"Now you know," said Will, after drawing his teeth over Sam's collarbone, "you can bribe me into staying in the country."
Sam just kissed Will again and pushed the mattress behind him to the floor, tumbling them both on top of it. It was possible that he had the makings of a fine congressman after all.
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