Title: Dreamt Of In Your Philosophy
Author: Candle Beck
Pairing: Josh/Sam (Kinda. More slashesque than really slash.)
Spoilers: After Sam has left, but no specifics.
Archive: By all means.
Disclaimer: Characters herein depicted belong to Aaron Sorkin, Bradley Whitford and Rob Lowe. The title is gleefully borrowed from Shakespeare. No money is being made off this story.
Feedback: Aye, well appreciated.
Summary: A phone call, a lightning storm, something that was almost Mars.
Dreamt Of In Your Philosophy by Candle Beck
One night in the middle of the summer thunderstorms, Josh thought he saw Mars.
Out the window of his townhouse, a spot of calm in the rushing struggle of the sky, there was an orange light glowing, steady and bright, positioned perfectly over a church steeple that pierced the soft obsidian fabric of the night. Josh was sure it was Mars, because there'd been news reports all month about how the fourth planet was closer to Earth than it had been for 60,000 years.
Things were falling into alignment, things were coming together.
Then Josh looked away for a moment, turned to the television to watch the Baltimore Orioles turn a swift, balletic double play, and when he looked back, Mars had tracked across the sky, and was moving on a clear, threading line over the city. Mars was blinking, heading into Virginia, and Josh realized it was a plane.
He called Sam, who was in town from California for two weeks doing some consulting on the president's speech to introduce his welfare reform package.
There was a pause, a cottony rustle of static.
"What's up?" Sam asked, sounding distracted, sounding like he was reading over a speech draft or something, most of his mind held far away from Josh.
"Nothing, I just . . . I saw Mars tonight," Josh said, scratching at the windowsill, pushing along the slick white paint with the pad of his thumb.
"Really?" Sam replied, still far away. "I wouldn't have thought you could see it tonight, with the lightning. With the storm."
There had been lightning all summer, every night like clockwork, no matter how blue the sky had been during the day, no matter how perfect the weather had seemed. Come five o'clock, the sky would burst open again, battering against itself as the everyday workers headed home, the streets chaos, all things a riot. By midnight, there was nothing but the jagged cracking shards of ivory, the ecstatic scream of electricity ripping apart the night, and it was as if the still, albino hole-punch of a moon had been replaced by the lunatic crash of light, the immense shattering fall of thunder.
Maybe this *was* perfect weather, though, maybe the blue pearl of the sky at noon had had it right after all.
"Yeah, you . . . you can. See it. I mean, well, you know, it wasn't really Mars. It, I guess it was a plane. But it was almost Mars." Josh felt kind of dumb, a little bit lost. He pressed his fingers to the window, all teared with rain, felt the give, knew exactly how much pressure it would take to push through the glass. When he pulled his hand away, there were smears of his fingerprints on the pane, and out on the street there was the fuzzy yellow glow of a streetlight, a brass halo shimmering around the fading mark of his thumb.
"Josh, why did you call me tonight?" and Sam's attention had funneled down, had bulls-eyed with Josh at his center. Sam had always been able to do that, flick on his focus like a light switch, all of a sudden be completely involved in whatever caught his eye, caught his ear, caught his mind. That had drawn Josh to Sam from the first, the way when Josh drifted into Sam's orbit, Sam grabbed him with his bright, eager eyes, made him feel like of all the people in all the world, Sam had decided Josh was the most important.
There had been a time, a brief hazy snapshot, a poet's winter when Josh had believed that look in Sam's eyes, had believed that he could possibly mean that much to another person.
Because Sam had put his hand on the back of Josh's neck and pulled him close, pressing their foreheads together, made himself Josh's center of gravity just when Josh felt himself begin to fall.
Because Sam had torn up a page of the Sunday comics into a million pieces, and flung a handful of newsprint colors against the wind, and pieces of the confetti had stuck in Josh's hair, stayed there for months.
Because Sam had stood in Josh's kitchen at four in the morning, both of them most of the way dead with exhaustion, trying to drag their minds towards the day ahead of them, leaning against counters, their elbows at messy irregular angles propping them up, and they had been passing a glass of orange juice back and forth wordlessly, weirdly lit in the aching silvery dawn.
Because there had been moments in between speeches, in staff meetings, during the campaign, there had been moments when all the history of the capital fled into them, all the fierce promise of the country. There had been moments when Sam had reached out a hand and held it up against the horizon, his palm curved, holding the gentle chalk white dome of the Jefferson Monument in the bend of his fingers. There had been moments when they were powerful and wise and as innocent as boys by the river, there had been moments when Sam's hair was wet-black with the rain, a glittering fringe trembling over his good clear eyes. There had been moments when Josh was overthrown, overcome, and he hadn't believed in original sin. There had been moments when Josh had stood out in the middle of the street during the storm and wished to be washed clean. Wished to be reborn. There had been moments when Josh had seen something in Sam that reminded him of redemption.
Because Josh knew what Sam had looked like with his face unlined and Virginia dirt in his hair, and Josh had dreams of sitting with Sam on a torn plaid couch in a patch of Californian sun, both of them dizzy and laughing and young, their eyes tearing up, scrinched shut, one of Josh's hands holding up his helium-light head and the other grasping Sam's arm like he would never let go.
Because there was a decade behind them, and a century ahead of them, and for months there had been a continent between them, and now it was after midnight, and they were in the same city, and Sam wanted to know why Josh had called him. "I just . . . I called. I wanted to tell you about how I saw Mars tonight," Josh said, watching Mars move behind the thick, rain- gray clouds.
"But you didn't see Mars, Josh. It was a plane," Sam replied patiently.
"I know. I know. But I . . . there was a . . . there was this time when I thought it was Mars. Like, for a little bit. A while ago, a . . . second ago, I thought it was Mars. So I wanted to tell you."
"Yeah, Josh, it's okay that you called me at one in the morning to tell me you thought you saw Mars." Sam paused, and was quiet for a moment, like the motionless space between the lightning and the thunder, and when he spoke again, his voice was clean, and honest, desperately sure. "You can still tell me that stuff."
"Good. I mean, good." And Josh was quiet too, and they were waiting on the thunder. "'Cause it was almost Mars. You know? It would have . . . I think maybe it could have been Mars."
"Yeah." Sam sighed, but it was a good sigh. It was something that Josh wouldn't mind remembering.
Out his window, Mars had disappeared, heading in for the landing, coming home, and the storm was starting up again, the pieces of the sky beginning to move again, beginning to shudder.
"All right, so. So I'll see you at work tomorrow, okay?" Sam said, and that was something that Josh didn't have to remember.
"Yeah, okay. I'll see you tomorrow." There was lightning, then thunder, then rain, and Josh said, "Night, Sam."
Josh hung up the phone and pulled the cord for the curtain, the beautiful square world out the window vanishing just as the night broke open on the street and revealed a shaft of light.
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