Title: Candy Hearts
Author: Hannah
Category: Josh/Sam fluff
Rating: PG
Email: hannahfmuk@yahoo.co.uk
Website: www.geocities.com/hannahfmuk
Archive: Help yourself – just let me know where it is
Disclaimer: If I owned them, I'd have more money and they'd have more fun
Spoilers: Refers to Season 1 Premiere, Celestial Navigation and What Kind of a Day Has It Been
Notes: This is my first time posting a story so I'd love to know what you think of it. Thanks to Jesse Morgan and Sue C for their beta-work. This story was written as a response to the challenge: "Candy Hearts: (That I just came up with) Have the characters communicate somehow by using the little candy hearts you get on Valentines' Day with the short messages (ie: be mine, love, etc) " found at www.squidge.org/~peja/behindthescenes/plotbunnies.htm

Candy Hearts by Hannah

The door to Leo's office was flung wide open and Josh Lyman sauntered in, hands behind his back, and bestowed a grin on those present at the staff meeting.

"Happy Valentine's Day to you all, my beloved colleagues," he said with a smirk.

"Oh, God, what's gotten into you today?" asked Leo. Fortunately, Josh was the only person who noticed the slight reddish tinge that crept onto Sam's cheeks as both men remembered just exactly what HAD gotten into him just a few hours earlier in the warm comfort of their bed. In his embarrassment, the speechwriter attempted to subtly hide himself in the cushions of the couch where he was sat.

"The spirit of love, Leo, the spirit of love," answered Josh breezily. "In honor of this fine day, I have gifts for you all - personally selected by myself after great deliberation."

Josh brought his hands forward and revealed four ring boxes, each a different color and tied with ribbon.

"Leo, this one is for you," he said. Josh walked toward the desk where the Chief of Staff desperately wondered how to salvage a coherent staff meeting from Josh's bizarre nonsense.

Leo reluctantly accepted the green box as Josh moved across the room to where CJ was sat and handed her a red box. He then crossed over to the sofa where Toby stood behind Sam and gave Toby a brown box. As he took a step back, in an attempt to distance himself from the force of the glare that emanated from the bearded man, Josh dropped the one package that remained. He knelt down on one knee, picked up the box, and offered it to Sam on his open palm with a slight smile. For a brief instant their eyes met and in that moment, Josh flashed a wink that Sam alone caught.

Toby was the first to unwrap his box and, when he saw its contents, he rolled his eyes and walked over to see what CJ had been given.

"Josh, what is this?" asked Leo, as frustration crept into his voice.

"It's a love heart, Leo," replied his deputy. "I went through a few packs and chose ones suitable for each of you."

"This says 'hug me'," commented Leo in a tone as dry as the Sahara. "That suits me how, exactly?"

Josh shuffled his feet and did his best to ignore the snorts of amusement headed his way from Toby and CJ.

"It's a reminder of when I misread the situation after I had that meeting with Hoynes last year," answered Josh. "When I was apologizing for pointing out the benefits of getting that soldier back from Iraq and then you..." his voice trailed off.

"Oh, yes. How could I forget that?" asked Leo sternly, although as Josh braved a glance at his boss, he saw a spark of mirth in his eyes.

"What do you two think of yours?" Josh asked CJ and Toby, in a desperate attempt to shift everyone's attention away from him.

"Well, I think I'm more flattered than Toby is," replied CJ.

"The message is true, CJ - you're a very 'bonnie lass'," commented Josh. "Although I have to say, you're never more stunning than when you've got your cheeks full of cotton balls.

The glare this comment raised from CJ made that coming from Toby seem fairly benign. Josh took a risk and turned his attention to Toby and raised one eyebrow questioningly.

"'Crazy'?" asked Toby, his voice a low growl. "Just why, exactly, did I get a candy with the word 'crazy' on it?"

"See, Toby, the thing is," replied Josh, as earnestly as he could, "I couldn't find any saying 'grouchy' or 'grumpy' so I had to go with that one."

CJ burst into laughter at the expression of annoyance on Toby's face.

"So, everyone else gets nice messages and I get an insult, is that it?" he asked.

"Erm, well, yeah. But see, the good thing about an insult message is that you and I get to share that great `New York sense of humor' so I knew you'd just laugh about it," hedged Josh.

"Except you're from Connecticut, not New York," Toby pointed out. "So it's not all that funny after all, is it?"

Leo, who enjoyed the sight of Josh as he dug a deeper and deeper hole for himself, decided to step into the conversation.

"You've not said much, Sam," he commented. "Are you okay?"

Sam started and pulled himself from his contemplation of his gift. His gaze flickered around the room quickly before it came to rest on Josh. Across the room, their eyes met and locked. For that moment it seemed to Sam and Josh that there was no one else in the room.

"Yes," said Sam, in a voice that trembled slightly.

"Yes?" queried Josh. A smiled slowly formed on his lips. "Did you say `yes'?"

"Yes," repeated Sam, in a stronger voice, as his expression matched Josh's look of happiness.

"What did your candy say?" asked CJ curiously.

"Oh, erm..." Sam paused for a second, and blinked rapidly as he tried to think of something to say - anything but the truth.

"'My pal'," replied Josh quickly. "He's my pal, isn't he?"

Leo rolled his eyes. "Could we possibly get back to slightly more important matters?" he asked wearily, determined to head off any more of Josh's ramblings.

As the senior staffers turned their attention back to the briefing notes they each held, Josh watched Sam as he glanced once more at the candy heart that sat in his box. A smile of pure contentment crossed the young man's lips as he once more read the words printed on it:

Marry me.

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