Title: Rings and Things
Author: mellyjane40 & dizz2002uk (Vicki)
Rating: PG –13 to R Some adult situations but nothing too graphic.
Spoilers: General spoilers for seasons 1-4
Summary: AU – Post Bartlet Administration. A trip to London should be romantic…shouldn't it?
Author's Notes #1: Another pre-Lyman White House story. Set around 2 years before Sam in Black 1. Jamie is 8 now.
Author's Notes #2: We want to thank our good friends Mrs J, Coup, Abigale and Jen for their encouragement and help with this story.
Disclaimer: The West Wing and its characters belong to Aaron Sorkin and NBC. Anyone else belongs to us.
Archive: Our website http://www.angelfire.com/ok5/samnjosh. You can find the previous stories there too.
Feedback: Please! We would love to know what you think, good or bad as long as it is constructive. Our addresses are v.aldridge@v... and mellyjane40@h...
Rings and Things by mellyjane40 & dizz2002uk
Dulles International Airport
"Are you sure you're ok to fly?" Josh asked Sam again as they waited for their flight to be called in the busy departure lounge.
"Josh, I wish you'd stop asking Sam that, you've asked him about four times in the past hour," Francesca admonished as she tried to keep Jamie from running towards the bookstore. Francesca, with Jamie now fascinated watching the luggage go by, took Josh's hand and led him to one side.
"He's a big boy and can take care of himself," she chided.
"I know," Josh replied, then lowered his voice and glanced anxiously at the pale, watery-eyed features of his partner. "What if he says no?"
"He won't. Now stop worrying," Francesca assured him as she gave Josh a gentle push towards Sam and Jamie.
"Josh, Mom, we'd better be going to the gate," Sam called from where he was standing with Jamie, who was more interested in staring at the information on the boards about flight times than saying goodbye to his father.
Sam took hold of Jamie's hand and they walked further into the departure lounge. Josh and Francesca followed them. They sat down to wait for the flight to be called.
"So, tiger, are you looking forward to your trip to Rome with Nana?" Sam asked as he straightened his son's jacket down and tucked in his shirt, which was escaping, from his jeans.
"Yeah, I'd like to go to London though."
"I know you would, we'll take you one day." Sam sneezed into his handkerchief. "This time is just for Josh and me, ok?"
"Ok." Jamie put his head to one side, "Are you still sick?"
"A bit, I don't have the flu like you and Josh did," Sam replied reassuringly. "It's just a nasty cold. I'll be ok."
"Will you get me a book from the Tower of London? I want to take one to school for our history class."
"Sure, I'll get the best one there is."
Josh came over to them, ruffling Jamie's hair as he came to stand behind them. "They just called our flight."
Sam nodded and sneezed again. "Ok."
"Samuel, are you still sneezing?" Francesca tutted as Jamie scrambled on to her lap.
"Well, technically no." At her disbelieving looking he sighed, "Mom, I'm ok. Josh and Jamie have had this and it's been gone within a week. It'll go in a couple of days."
"Mmm, well, just remember that Josh ended up with a temperature of 103 and was in bed for 2 weeks." Francesca set Jamie down on the floor. "But I suppose you know best. Joshua, I am relying on you to make sure he takes care of himself properly."
"I will. I always do." Josh slipped his arm around Sam. "We should go."
"Ok," Sam bent down to Jamie. "You be good boy for Nana, ok? Call us when you get there."
"Yeah, have a nice time with JJ," Jamie said as Sam hugged him. "Are you going to be kissing a lot?"
Sam looked at him, shocked, and then laughed. "I think we'll probably be doing that quite a lot." Sam lifted an eyebrow at Josh, who smirked.
"Ok, we're going. Be good, ok?" Josh said as Jamie gave him a cuddle and went to stand by Francesca.
"Mom, call me when you get there."
"Yes, Samuel, and I have your cell phone numbers too. Now go before you miss the plane."
Josh picked up their hand luggage while Sam hugged and kissed Jamie again and Josh found himself warmly embraced by Francesca. The two of them made their way to the correct boarding gate, turning back to wave before disappearing from view.
Sam groaned and pulled the covers over his head as Josh pushed back the curtains and the winter sunlight streamed in through the window of the Savoy Hotel.
Josh chuckled and gently pulled them away from him. "Good morning, sleepyhead."
"Go away," Sam muttered, "Let me die in peace."
"Come on, sweetheart" Josh coaxed, "You'll feel better once you've had some breakfast inside you."
"Don't wanna," Sam mumbled, sounding just like Jamie. He buried his head in his pillow and went to scuffle further down under the sheets, their fresh crisp smell soothing his body which he felt was still somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean.
"After the horrendous flight, Josh, can't I just lie in bed for a little while...?" Sam went to sit up as Josh helped him up against the pillows. "I know this was meant to be a romantic break and I know I've spoilt it," he finished apologetically.
"No, you haven't," Josh assured him, perching on the end of the bed. He was dressed in brown casual pants and a lighter brown shirt with a chocolate coloured jumper wrapped round his waist. "Let's have some breakfast and we can decide what we'll do today."
"Josh, what is it with you and food all the time?" Sam grumbled.
"You didn't eat anything on the plane or last night. You need something, sweetheart."
"Ok…Ok…But give me few minutes will you?" Sam grabbed a tissue and sneezed into it. "God I thought I was over this!" He grumbled and let his head flop back against the pillows. "This was going to be so romantic," he continued as Josh consulted the guide books. "A nice walk along the River Thames, a boat ride to see some of the sights."
Josh looked up from his book.
"We can still do that, sweetheart, and still be romantic," he assured his partner with a kiss on the nose.
"Joshua!" Sam sneezed again. "You know what else we had planned and I..." Sam spluttered in to his tissue, "not up to that."
"Well, today we'll have an easy day. Once you've eaten and feel up to it, I thought we'd take that walk along the river," Josh suggested, "Maybe look around the Tower of London and a walk over Tower Bridge, perhaps a meal this evening. How does that sound, sweetheart?"
"You remember the first time we came here?" Sam said as he swung his legs over the bed.
"I remember it so well. We were so unsure weren't we?"
"You were. I knew exactly what I was doing." Sam joked as he reached for another tissue and blew into it. "This time we were going to be in perfect harmony. I've just spoilt..."
"Stop that. You've not spoilt anything;" Josh assured him, turning his attention back to the book. "Isn't it enough that we finally have some time to ourselves? No campaign, no appearances in court or Jamie. Adorable as he is, just sometimes I like it when it's just you and me."
"Of course it is. It's...I know you had this all planned out."
"Yes, well I always like to have a back up plan as well," Josh replied, "But plans can change."
He kissed Sam's hand, "Let's write off the plane ride as an unfortunate start to our vacation."
"Darlin', I puked all over the aisle and collapsed over the trolley in the arrival lounge at Gatwick," Sam reminded him as he walked over to the wardrobe for his clothes, "I'd call that more than unfortunate."
"Well let's just call us evens shall we," Josh remarked, "after all it was me who gave you the flu."
"It's not flu, it's just a cold. I'll take some Advil at breakfast. That should dry this up," Sam said as he pulled out a pair of pants and a thick cable cream jumper.
Josh looked at his watch, "I think we've missed breakfast, sweetheart. Instead of having something sent up here why don't we find a cafe outside?"
"Yeah fine," Sam mumbled as he went into the bathroom.
Forty five minutes later the two of them were seated in a small café in a side street that Sam and Josh found themselves continually lost in.
Josh watched Sam in amusement as he demolished a plate of scrambled eggs and a large mug of coffee. Sam drained his coffee and sat back against the headboard of the padded seat.
"Hungry now, sweetheart?" Josh gently teased taking his partner's hand and squeezing it gently.
Sam took two Advil, drained his coffee and sat back against the headboard of the padded seat. "I guess I was hungrier than I thought. You were too." He nodded towards Josh's plate with traces of scrambled eggs. Josh nodded.
"Ok, so where to first?" Sam picked up the guidebook on the table and began to rummage through it.
"The Tower of London? Before it gets too busy?" Josh suggested.
"Oh yes, British history, Kings and Queens, beheadings and the crown jewels," Sam enthused.
"You're going to be like one of those annoying tour guides, aren't you?" Josh asked smiling at him.
"I'll try not to..." Sam studied the bill that the waitress placed on the table as she made eyes at the two good-looking Americans who were totally absorbed in one another.
"Hmm we'll see. You know I like it when you get all geeky on me," Josh stage whispered as he casually draped his arm around his partner. The waitress looked disappointed and muttered to her friends about the "good looking ones being gay."
"God, look at this darlin, $10 for a breakfast!" Sam replied ignoring his lover's and the waitress' comments.
"Well, I'm sure it would have been more in the hotel," Josh replied as they made their way out into the street.
Sam stopped Josh just outside the door and turned to face him. Josh's overcoat was open and his scarf was tucked into the pocket. "Sam, what are you doing?" Josh asked as Sam started rummaging through his pockets.
Sam gave him a tender smile, "It's freezing out here. Where are your gloves?"
"I think I left them in the hotel."
"Joshua, its London and its like 40 degrees! Honestly, you're worse than Jamie." Sam took his own gloves and gave them to Josh to put on.
"Hey, I am not the one recovering from flu, sorry, a cold." Josh protested as he gave Sam back his gloves "Here, you wear them."
Sam reluctantly put on the gloves before taking Josh's scarf and putting around his lover's neck and tucking it lovingly into his coat and buttoning it. "Give me your hand." Josh did, "Put the other one in your pocket. There now you'll be warm."
"All set?" Josh asked, Sam nodded. "Ok, Tower of London here we come."
Sam studied the tourist map and they set off hand in hand, two happy tourists until Sam discovered they had turned down the wrong street and had to retrace their steps.
"Give me the map," Josh ordered. Sam handed it over.
"That's the last time I am letting you do the map reading," Josh grumbled. "Look what happened when you and Toby went off to Wesley."
"Remind me why we didn't see the Tower of London when we were here in 2002?" Sam asked as they finally joined the queue of tourists for the Tower.
"Because you were too busy seducing me on the London Eye," he murmured in Sam's ear. "We just wanted to be alone."
"Hmm yes," Josh's arm made its way round Sam's waist. "Josh, we're in a crowd of people, I don't think this is the best place," Sam hissed, glancing around but nobody was paying any attention to the two men.
"Sweetheart, relax, this is London, and they're quite liberal, unlike certain areas of America."
Both men emerged from the Tower with a guidebook for Jamie and walked down towards the water's edge. Sam sat down on a bench to watch the activity on the River Thames.
Josh sat beside him. "I think our walk did you some good," Josh commented as he gazed fondly at Sam. His partner's eyes were bright but Josh couldn't detect whether it was from the fever or excitement.
"You've got some colour in your cheeks and you haven't sneezed in a while."
"I feel better, thank you darlin'."
"What for?" Josh asked in surprise.
"You always know what's best for me," Sam replied sincerely.
Josh looked around and kissed the tip of Sam's pink nose
"And you always bring out the best in me. Now let's go, shall we?" Josh suggested as he helped Sam to his feet "Where to next?"
"Across the bridge, we've just seen it being raised," Sam replied as he stared back in wonder at the old palace/fortress.
"Yes and who forgot to bring the camera," Josh grumbled as he and Sam, hand in hand, made their way out of the confines of Tower Wall.
"You can come back to the bridge tomorrow and take your damn photos," Sam groused good-naturedly as they made their way to the bridge. Josh stopped to consult his guidebook.
"Right." He turned to Sam who had stood patiently beside him but was now shaking his head to one side
"Sweetheart, what are you doing?" Josh asked, thinking Sam was playing around.
"I...my ears...ringing." Sam shook his head again. "Its ok darlin', perhaps my ears will begin to pop, they've been bunged up for so long."
"Are you sure you want to keep going? You don't want to go back to the hotel?" Josh took Sam's hand as he studied his partner's face anxiously.
"No I'm ok, just a little bunged up," Sam replied, shaking his head at the high pitched buzzing in his ears. "Let's take a walk over the bridge."
"Ok well, it's not far over," Josh assured him, "CJ read a Good Food Guide to London and has picked out a nice restaurant. We can get a taxi the other side of the bridge if you want."
"Josh, I don't need a taxi. I'm perfectly able to walk over the bridge." Sam took his hand again. "Come on." Both men started walking across the busy bridge with the curious tourists on the pavements and the traffic crossing over.
Sam consulted the guidebook as Josh followed him, stopping now and again to peer at the boats crossing underneath. He looked up at the Victorian structure of the building, marvelling that the ingenuity of the builders.
Josh wrapped his arm around Sam who leaned back against him and kissed his partners hair, "I love you."
Sam snuggled closer and whispered back, "I love you, too."
"I just wanted to say that. Just in case I don't say it often enough," Josh replied earnestly.
"You do, but its nice hearing it anyway. But," Sam moved out of the circle of his partner's arms "You're shivering and its cold so shall we make our way to the restaurant."
"Sweetheart, it's not the cold that's making me shiver," Josh whispered teasingly.
"You say the nicest things," Sam quipped. He pushed himself away from the side of the bridge and started to walk away.
Sam started walking along the pavement, Josh having to walk slightly behind him because of the sudden crush of people. Just as they reached a quieter section, Sam stretched his hand out forward to steady himself as the ringing sensation in his ears set the Victorian wrought iron work dancing in front of his eyes.
Josh turned round to see his partner lurch sideways almost into the oncoming traffic.
"Sam!" Josh reached out a hand trying to catch hold of his sleeve to stop him from falling onto the road. He managed to grab hold of the fabric and pull Sam back into his arms and steady him. "What happened there?" Josh took Sam's face in his hands and studied him closely.
"I...don't know." Sam replied weakly. "Felt dizzy, can you stand still because, whoa!"
"Dizzy," Josh held on to Sam, afraid as his partner began to slide down in his arms.
"Yeah…" Sam placed his head on his partner's chest, "my head spun and I just went sideways."
"Ok, well, lets get you off this bridge and into a taxi. I'll get you back to the hotel."
Josh kept his arm round Sam, worried by the now pallid features of his partner.
"Josh, its ok. I feel better now," Sam tried to reassure him and went to walk, releasing himself from his lovers embrace but stopped. "Actually I don't feel like eating, breakfast is churning around a bit."
Josh felt his partner's forehead, worried at the little beads of sweat forming and the unfocused gaze back at him.
"Hmm, I think your fever is starting up again. The Advil must be wearing off."
He handed Sam his hankie as Sam sneezed into it apologetically and gave his partner a remorseful smile. "Come on." Josh put a guiding arm around his lover, "Let's get back to the warmth of the hotel."
They walked slowly to the other side of the bridge and a taxi soon appeared which Josh waved down and he propelled his partner into, giving the order for the driver to take them back to the hotel. Sam's eyes were closed as his head rested on his partner's shoulder, as the cab sped through the streets of London and the rain that had begun to fall.
"How're you doing?" he whispered lovingly.
"Well," Sam gave a sigh and sneezed again. "I wish you'd stay still. You keep tilting now and again."
Josh had to smile at Sam's comment of his situation and kissed his head.
"Ok, well, keep your eyes closed and we'll soon be there." Sam nodded and dutifully closed his eyes and allowed himself to snuggle down into his partner's embrace.
When they reached the hotel Josh quickly got out and paid the fare before climbing back in to help Sam. As he started to lead Sam to the entrance, Sam groaned.
"What is it now?"
"We left the guide book in the cab…Atchoo."
Josh gave an exasperated sigh - his lover was turning an unhealthy shade of green and all he was concerned about was his guidebook.
"Sir," The doorman, smartly dressed in a camel coat with gold braiding came to Josh's aid before he could give a sarcastic response to his partner. "Would you like some help?"
"Thank you," Josh replied. "Could someone help me get him to our room?" As he tried to keep Sam upright, as he held onto the lapel of Josh's coat, red-rimmed, dazed blue eyes gazing up at him.
"Jamie really wanted a guide book of the Tower of London."
Josh's irritation faded. Sam could sometimes look so young and although at this moment he was pale, his eyes watery with a fever and his nose slightly pink, he'd never looked more adorable in Josh's eyes.
"I promise you, darlin'. I'll get one of the best guidebooks to the whole of London. Tomorrow if you're feeling better, we'll go shopping for one."
The doorman signalled to a porter who came over and helped Josh by taking hold of Sam's other arm. They got him in to the lift and seated as Sam's head flopped against his partner's.
"We're nearly there now," Josh assured him.
Sam's eyes snapped open. "Darlin'," he announced, "I really don't feel well."
"Yes, well, I can see that, sweetheart."
"I don't think I'm going to make it into our room," Sam continued looking at the floor speculatively.
"Oh thank god!" Josh muttered as the lift open and for once door swipes worked and he deposited Sam inside. Sam charged across the room and into the bathroom where retching sounds could be heard.
Josh apologised to the footman, who'd seen it all and took the tip Josh offered him with an apologetic smile. Once the footman had gone, Josh hurried over to the bathroom as a slightly greenish Sam wobbled out and leaned against the wall.
Sam nodded as he staggered over to the bed and flopped down on it. As Josh went to help his partner undress, there was a knock on the door.
"Come in," Josh called.
Another footman entered the room with a large bunch of red roses and a small card. Josh stared at them in surprise and gave the footman another tip. He opened the card as Sam heaved himself upright against the headboard.
"Who are they from?"
"Dear Sam," Josh read what was on the card,
Just to let you know that Jamie and I arrived safely in Rome and are well. Samuel, I know that this is a romantic break so this is a reminder to say don't forget to say it with flowers!
Give my love to Josh, and Jamie and I will be waiting for you at Dulles.
Love Mom and Jamie.
Sam groaned and laid his head back against the pillows, and with Josh began to laugh at the absurdity of the situation.
7PM – The same Evening.
"Yes, well, its not going as I planned, Francesca. I have the ring and every thing."
Sam awoke to the sounds of Josh on the telephone to his mother.
"Yes, well, the doctor said he had an inner ear infection which caused the dizziness and gave him a course of antibiotics…He'll have to get it checked out when we get home…Temperature? 103, but its coming down…Yes, Francesca, I know he was ill when we left, I did keep asking him if he was ok to come..." Sam heard Josh laugh, "Yes, I know our Sam, Francesca…Yes; I'll give him your love. Ok. Right… Bye."
Sam leaned back on the pillows - whatever the doctor had given him had knocked him, now he felt totally weird, almost as if he was floating.
Josh who was watching British television and trying to follow what was happening in London Capital turned round and smiled.
"Hey there, sleeping beauty!"
"Were you talking to Mom?" Sam asked, struggling to sit up a bit more.
"Yeah, she called to see we were ok. She says to tell you next time you feel ill before a flight, not to get on the plane."
"I was fine," Sam complained. "Why were you talking about rings?"
Josh looked at him. "What do you mean?"
"I heard you say you'd got the ring. What ring? Because there was…" Sam looked confused, "can't remember now," he muttered to himself.
"I think you're still a bit drowsy, sweetheart. I said she would have to ring back later."
He gently brushed some of Sam's hair back from the totally faraway expression on Sam's face.
"Why don't you sleep some more? I'm happy watching the TV, there's CNN and I've had the newspapers delivered."
"Hmm, no, I don't think so. Can I just lie here with you?" Sam replied weakly.
"Sure, can I get you anything?"
"You?" Sam replied hopefully.
"I'm right here," Josh reassured him as he climbed on to the bed and gathered Sam so his head was resting on his chest.
"Yes, I know," Sam repeated, slightly impatiently, "but I want you!"
"I don't think so," Josh answered in puzzled tones "Not right now. Do you remember almost collapsing on Tower Bridge?"
"No," Sam stared dazedly around the room, "Did I? Mustn't do that again," he slurred.
"I wouldn't advise it, no."
Sam tried to sit up and swing his legs over the bed. "Whoa," he licked his lips, "I don't know what the doc gave me."
"What do you think you are doing?" Josh cried.
Sam stood up swaying from side to side with a bemused look on his face, "I feel as if I'm walking on air, and by the way darlin'..." Sam announced with all seriousness before stopping, "I am going out to get Jamie's book," he said decisively.
At this Josh leapt off the bed and grabbed Sam's hand.
"I don't think so. Have you looked at yourself?"
Sam stared down at tee-shirt and navy blue boxer shorts.
"Just got to get dressed, is it still raining?" Sam mumbled.
"Sam, look at me," Josh commanded. Sam did with an unfocused look. "How many fingers am I holding up?"
Sam swayed slightly and tried to focus. "Josh, if you kept them still I could tell you. Oh darlin' you look very strange...what… was...I doing?"
"Getting back to bed." Josh muttered grabbing Sam as he fell backwards into his arms.
"Weeee! That was a bit of a trip…where did you go?"
"I am still here! You have a temperature of 102 and you're a bit woozy so stay in that bed for a while."
Josh padded into the bathroom and came back with a damp cloth and wiped his lover's head. Sam was muttering about pink elephants, then he suddenly sat bolt upright in bed.
"I do love you," he said earnestly.
"And I love you," Josh replied. "So this is just a cold, huh?"
"No…No..." Sam tried to sit up as Josh pushed him back against the pillows.
"Sweetheart, please...just get some more sleep."
"NO!" Sam sat up with surprising force. "I need to ask you something."
"Ok," Josh replied patiently, taking his partners hand.
"Want...I…oh…yes…" Sam screwed his eyes up in concentration, "Marry me?" and before an astonished Josh could answer, Sam had fallen asleep in his arms and was snoring gently.
The Next Evening
"Sam," Josh called from the bathroom. "Do you have your best suit?"
"Of course," Sam replied, from his place on the bed. "Why?"
"Would you wear it tonight?" Josh said coming back out to the bedroom.
"You look really good in it. For me, sweetheart, please."
"Ok," Sam got up, found the suit in the wardrobe and headed into the bathroom.
He quickly washed and changed. When he came out, doing up his tie, he noticed a red rose on the bed. Josh stood smiling at him.
"Take a look."
Sam went closer and found two tickets with the rose, for a nighttime dinner cruise on the River Thames.
"Your cold seems better now. I thought we could enjoy the rest of the evening. What do you think?"
"Mmm darlin', this sounds wonderful."
Josh pulled him into his arms, "I want to see how romantic I can be, I am a strategist and I always get what I want." Josh nibbled Sam's ear.
"Well, you're doing well so far."
"Ok, well, I am all dressed up." Sam moved his hands up and down his lover's crotch. "You're not going dressed like that though." He frowned at Josh's jeans and casual shirt.
"Of course not," Josh reassured him.
"Well, it wouldn't be the first time." Sam began to undo the buttons on Josh's shirt slowly and sliding his hand inside, stroking Josh's chest.
"Sam, I have to get dressed."
"You are. I'm helping you." Sam raised the full heat of passion in his eyes at Josh then lowered his long eyelashes. "We'll finish this later. Go get dressed," he pushed Josh in the direction of the wardrobe.
"I'll teach you to…" Josh rather roughly sized Sam by the arms and pinned Sam up against the wall and began to kiss him thoroughly.
Sam kissed him back hungrily before moving his mouth away to whisper in Josh's ear, "You make me dizzy."
Josh immediately backed away. "Come and sit down, sweetheart." he replied contritely, "Do you want to forget the cruise?" Josh took Sam's hand and started moving him towards the bed.
"Josh…darlin', I'm not dizzy…I said you make me dizzy when you kiss me like that. I feel fine and I'm looking forward to going out, so will you get dressed?" Sam quickly opened the wardrobe and pulled out a suit carrier bag and handing it to Josh, "and put this on, will you?" he instructed.
"Sam, where? What?"
Sam silenced him with a kiss. "So many questions! Now hurry up, I want to enjoy tonight before this medication wears off and I turn in to a pumpkin." He gave Josh a little push towards the bathroom, "Now go!"
A few minutes later Josh emerged from the bathroom in an Armani chocolate brown suit, with a dark brown shirt and a silk beige tie.
"Very nice," Sam sauntered over to him and looked down at the shoes and then straightened the lapel of Josh's suit. He brought Josh's head down to his, "God, you look so good tonight," and kissed him lightly on the lips.
"Thank you, sweetheart, this is lovely," Josh said of his suit. Sam beamed at him.
"Its very presidential, darlin'."
"Sam, are you sure you're ok with that, I mean...we've discussed it but we'll have to declare my candidacy soon."
"Not tonight, darlin', you know how I feel, we've discussed it but let's not go over it again tonight." Sam helped Josh on with his coat and waited while Josh did the same. He took Josh's hand and led him out of the door and along the corridor, "Tonight is for us."
The other diners on the boat looked up as two smartly dressed men entered the boat. Women sat up at the sight of the taller man in a dark brown suit with expressive dark brown eyes and then started fluttering eyelashes at the sight of the classically handsome companion with startling blue eyes.
"Oh, they're holding hands," two disappointed sisters remarked who had come on board for a celebratory birthday meal.
"I think we've made an entrance sweetheart," Josh murmured in Sam's ear as they were shown to their table.
As the boat wended its way down the Thames, the two sisters watched as both men fed each other food and held hands in between starters and the main course.
"They look so in love," one sighed.
Sam had overheard the conversation and gave one of his devastating smiles to the two ladies.
He took hold of Josh's hand again and whispered, "We're being watched."
Josh smiled at the two ladies and leaned forward to Sam. "I want you for myself. Feel like going up to the main deck?"
"Ok," Sam stood up, smiled at the ladies once before he and Josh headed out of the dining area and upstairs to the main deck. He leant against the rails as they sailed past the Houses of Parliament.
"Enjoying yourself, sweetheart?"
"Hmm yes," Sam murmured as Josh came up and put his arm around Sam's waist. Sam turned round so his back was against the rail and he was in his partner's arms.
"You look seriously good in that suit." Sam played with the lapels of Josh's jacket and then with some strands of his lover's hair.
"So do you. Sam…yesterday you said..." Josh stopped as Sam put a finger to his lips.
He brought Josh's head down to his and gave him a slow deep lingering kiss. "What did I say? I was dopey, remember?" Sam said, his eyes sparkling.
"You were drugged up, sweetheart, you rather stole a march on me, I'm afraid."
Sam look puzzled, "Did I?" He started to shiver.
"You mean you don't remember?" Josh asked, wrapping his arms around him tighter than ever. "Do you want to go back downstairs?"
Sam shook his head. "It's nice up here. Let's stay here a while." He looked around the deck and led Josh over to a seat and sat down.
"Sweetheart, it's like 20 degrees out here and you've just had the flu," Josh pointed out. Sam smiled and kissed his partner's hand.
"That's my Josh, making my cold seem worse than it is, will you never change?"
"My Josh, am I your Josh?"
Sam thwacked him gently on the arm. "Well I wouldn't be sitting up here freezing on this boat if you weren't."
"I knew it, you are cold!" Josh drew Sam closer to him.
"I'm fine!" Sam insisted.
"Samuel, I am trying to be romantic!"
Sam gave a knowing glance at Josh.
"I know," he whispered. "In fact I knew there was something I was going to…"
Josh sighed, it was now or never and he fumbled in his pocket for the ring box and went to get down on his knee.
"Joshua what are you doing?"
"Sam, will you be quiet and let me do this," Josh said starting to feel rather silly.
"Well you look an idiot on the floor..."
"Samuel, I am trying to ask you to marry me!" Josh cried as the ring box slipped out of his hand and rolled across the deck. Both men stared at it and Sam rose to his feet and picked up the box and handed it Josh.
"Well?" Josh raised his eyes to see the full force of love in his partner's eyes.
"Get up, you fool." He leaned forward and helped Josh off the floor and both men leaned back against the set laughing at the absurdity of the situation.
"Well?" Josh asked again apprehensively.
"Well what?" Sam teased, as he found himself swept up in another embrace.
"Marry me," Josh whispered in his ear.
The Next Morning
Josh woke up hearing Sam rummaging around, across the room.
"Where did I put the damn thing," he heard him mutter. Josh turned over in bed, opened his eyes and blinked. Sam was at the wardrobe, pulling out their cases and bags.
"Sam it's…" he checked the clock. "Eight in the morning. What in God's name are you doing?"
"Looking for something," Sam replied, his head in the wardrobe.
"It's nothing," Sam reassured him.
"Well, if it's nothing you can come back to bed," Josh told him, all the while enjoying the sight of Sam's body in just his boxers. They had returned from the river cruise last night and had spent many hours celebrating before falling exhausted into sleep.
"I'll be there in…aha! Found it." Sam stood up and turned round to Josh. His eyes were sparkling. "I…err…you know what you asked me last night?"
"I recall something yes. Why?"
"I…was gonna…" Sam held up a ring box and grinned. "You know what they say about great minds. I was going to ask you."
"You did." At Sam's puzzled look, Josh continued, "When you were sick you said 'marry me' before falling asleep."
Sam smiled. "Not the most romantic of proposals."
"It was good enough for me," Josh shrugged.
"Well, let's see if I can do better." Sam started to walk over to the bed, but as he reached the side he tripped over a stray shoe and fell onto the bed on top of Josh. Josh groaned and Sam started to laugh.
"I'm sorry…did I hurt you?"
"No, I was just surprised."
"I don't seem to be very good at this."
"I don't know," Josh said, putting his arms around Sam. "It's worked out quite well."
Sam looked down at him and kissed him. Josh reacted hungrily and rolled Sam over so that he was on his back.
"Now, what was it you wanted to ask me?" He looked down at Sam whose eyes were the most amazing blue and his hair was tousled. He'd never looked better.
"I don't remember," Sam giggled as Josh began to tickle him.
"Are you sure about that?"
"Wait…it's coming back to me," Sam gasped between bouts of laughing.
"I thought it might." Josh raised himself up onto his elbows.
"What was it again…oh yes? Marry me?" Sam almost whispered.
"Mmm, ok," Josh leant down for another kiss.
Sam reached out and picked up the ring box and Josh lay back down beside him as he opened it to reveal a gold band with a diamond set in it.
"Sam…" Josh breathed.
"Is it ok? I wasn't sure if it would be to your taste…" Sam told him, worriedly.
Sam took it out of the box and took Josh's hand. "Let's see how it looks." He slid it onto Josh's finger and smiled. "Perfect."
Josh pulled Sam down and kissed him, running his fingers through Sam's hair. When Sam pulled away breathless he looked at him.
"Can you believe we're leaving today?"
Josh shook his head, "No, I could easily stay another week."
"Jamie's going to be excited about our news."
"You don't think he'll mind?" Josh asked, suddenly apprehensive.
"No…he loves you, Josh. He'll be ecstatic. You have nothing to be nervous about." Sam kissed Josh again, his hands moving their way down Josh's chest towards his lower areas. A knock at the door interrupted them.
"Ah, sweetheart, breakfast." Josh sat up and pulled the covers around them.
"Hmm, let's skip it," Sam said as he went to pull the sheets away.
"No, I don't think so," Josh replied as he playfully slapped his partner's hand. "We have a long flight and I do not want a repeat performance of the flight here."
"Josh, I'm all better now, are you seriously telling me you'd rather eat than do this?"
"Yes, we need to have breakfast before we leave…Samuel, do not pout!"
"Because when you pout you are...Oh...god. Ok have it your way. Don't blame me if you pass out in Gatwick Airport again…although there's something pervy about you unconscious in my arms."
"You're never going to let me live that down, are you?"
"No," Josh replied cheerfully as he called to the waiter to come in and both men waited for him to depart, leaving a tray with two hot plates, coffee pot and china cups and saucers on the table.
Sam raised himself on his elbow to look down at Josh.
"Didn't you say something about breakfast?" He said, before leaning back down and kissing Josh hungrily.
The Next Day
"Nana, I can't see them."
Jamie pressed his nose against the glass of his vantage point, his bedroom window ledge which overlooked the driveway.
"Jamie, what have I told you about standing up on that ledge!" Francesca exclaimed as she walked past her grandson's bedroom door.
"But I wanna see them arrive Nana!" Jamie wailed.
"Yes poppet, I know," Francesca remarked as she lifted Jamie off the ledge. "But think what Daddy would say if you had a fall."
"Can I go and wait in the garden then?"
"Yes, but put your coat and hat on, it's cold out there."
Jamie put his head to one side, "Oh I think I'll wait downstairs then." He followed his grandmother out of the bedroom.
"Do you think Daddy remembered my book?" Jamie asked for the hundredth time that afternoon.
Francesca gave a sigh; it was proving to be a long afternoon.
Half an hour later Francesca was still being bombarded with questions from her grandson, who despite her warnings was sitting at the window of the sitting room waiting for the car to arrive. He gave a shout, startling her from her attempt to read. "Nana, they're here!"
He raced across the sitting room and was out of the front door before Francesca could put his coat on.
"Daddy! JJ!" he cried, tearing across the driveway to his father who knelt down with his arms stretched out, with a beaming smile.
Josh who was paying the taxi driver watched fondly as father and son hugged each warmly.
"Daddy, did you remember my book?" Jamie looked at the bags, which were on the driveway.
"Jamie!" Francesca exclaimed, coming out the greet them. "Where did your manners go?"
"I don't know, Nana." Jamie quipped, causing Josh to burst out laughing.
Jamie turned to Josh and hugged him and then broke away in surprise.
"Jamie, what's up?" Sam asked.
"JJ has a ring on his finger."
Sam smiled at him, "I know."
Francesca looked at the two men; something had changed since before their holiday. Josh had come to stand beside Sam, although they were not touching each other.
"Daddy's got one, too!" Jamie's eyes zeroed in on Sam's hand.
"Is there something you two would like the share?" Francesca enquired, her face showing her delight.
Josh felt as if the ground would swallow him up. He felt incredibly proud, yet at the same time, almost bashful. He felt himself going red in the face.
"Go on, sweetheart." He nudged Sam in the ribs, "You tell them."
Sam reached for his hand. "Mom we, err, I…I mean Josh and I..." Sam stammered.
"Samuel, for a former speechwriter and a lawyer you are not making a good job of this." Francesca enveloped her son in a hug. "You're engaged and I am delighted." She turned to Josh and held out her arms. "Joshua. Welcome to the family."
"Daddy, you and JJ are getting married?" Jamie asked looking up at him, his tone unclear.
Sam looked at Josh before bending down to his son, "We are, is that ok with you tiger?"
"Oh yes, now I can be like my friends I have a family!"
Sam frowned. "Jamie, listen to me." He took Jamie's hand, "You know this is different to friend's families. Remember how upset you were a while back when others teased you about not having a proper mommy or daddy?" Jamie nodded.
"My new best friend, John, has two daddies, what's wrong with that?"
"Ok, I think we have some champagne in the house," Francesca said diplomatically as she took Jamie's hand. "Lets go and get the best glasses, shall we, Jamie?"
"But I want to stay with Daddy and JJ," Jamie whined.
"They'll be right behind us." Francesca looked at the two men whose hands were straining to touch each other.
"Well, we're engaged. How do you feel?" Josh countered in between light feathery kisses.
"Good," Sam affirmed.
"Good! Good!" Josh stepped back and went to stalk into the kitchen but felt himself being pulled back by his partner.
"Darlin'," said Sam, "this tired partner is worn out and needs a shower, but is incredibly happy and..." he kissed his partner's forehead, "tonight, I have the Revised Joy of Gay Sex," he whispered in his partner's ear and put his arm around Josh to steady him.
"Weak at the knees darlin'? You'll be more than that when I've finished with you tonight," Sam continued with a grin at Josh's almost goofy look.
"Daddy, JJ come on." Jamie grabbed their hands and started pulling them towards the kitchen. The two of them burst out laughing and followed him to join in the celebrations.
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