Author: Anne Marsh
Title: I Want the World To Know
Rating: PG-13 to R
Sequel to 'Reune'-- second story in the reuniverse.
Summary: It's time for Sam to come out.
Notes: Sam's POV. Oh, and thanks to Carmen, who pointed out a little problem which I am now more vigilant against. =^_^=
I Want the World To Know by Anne Marsh
"Um... Senator? Sir, are you sure this is-- You want to address thi--"
I turned around, fixing him with a look. "Is there a problem?"
"Sir, the memo I got from Eleanor says you've arranged to give a speech on a-- a Coming Out Day?"
"Carter, I'm pretty darn sure that I have gay and lesbian constituents. Maybe not as many as they have over in San Francisco, or even West Hollywood, but I'm sure I have some." I told him. "And the Human Rights Campaign is organizing a series of rallies on Coming Out Day, addressing a myriad of social issues, including hate crime protection, health care, and the right to marry. And there is a rally going on, conveniently enough, in Sacramento, and I would like to speak to them, as a friend."
"Well, it's not a question of-- I mean, I'm sure they'd love you! It's just--"
"I hope you're not going to end that sentence 'political suicide', because-- You're confused, aren't you?" I sighed.
"Somewhat. You want to take a stronger stance on gay rights? Okay, no, that's fi-- good. That's good. You want to give a speech to the gay and lesbian community at their rally to do it."
"I'm giving a speech to a much broader community than gay and lesbian, Carter. I'm giving a speech to everyone. I will, however, be giving it at the rally, yes."
"Have you talked to any PR people about this? Anyone at all?"
"Frankly, I don't think I need their permission. Or, really, yours." I flashed him what I had been informed was a charming smile. "Anything else?"
"You want *me* to write the speech?"
I laughed, clapped him on the shoulder. "Carter, I'm sorry... Eleanor should've told you. No, you won't have to write a difficult speech on short notice. I'm writing it myself."
"Sir, are you--"
"Carter, I worked as a speechwriter to a former President of the United States." I reminded him. "I write a fairly good deal of what I say. And because this was my idea, I've done all the research I need. In case you're curious, the speech is about more than Coming Out Day, it's about building bridges. Uniting the 'gay and lesbian community', as you've called it, with the-- the 'straight community'. About having one big community, where we can all just treat each other like regular human beings with equal rights. Trust me, Carter, it's good stuff. You'll hear it at the rally."
"My speech guy was gonna have a fit." I smiled, turning back the covers and slipping into bed. Josh slipped in after me.
"He thought-- Well, he didn't think it was a sound move, I think. And, maybe it's not, but you know, I can live with that. I mean, we've thought this out."
"Yeah..." He draped an arm over my midsection, his head resting against my shoulder, on my pillow.
"He thinks I should let him read it over before I give it. Like he doesn't trust me to write it by myself, I guess." I chuckled. "Really, he's just paranoid. And-- well, it's hard to blame him. I mean, his job is to write speeches, for a man who wrote speeches for the President. *That's* pressure. He doesn't like feeling expendable."
Josh let out a soft laugh and kissed my shoulder. "Yeah."
"That all you're going to say tonight?"
"Better." I kissed his forehead. "Mm, you're cute."
"He's not completely off the deep end." Josh said reasonably.
"Yeah?" I grinned over at him. He laughed softly again and nudged my shoulder.
"He's right not wanting you to give a speech that hasn't been gone over by someone else."
"I thought-- Maybe you'd go over it for me?" I looked at him. A smile melted across his face.
"You want me to do the read-over? Aw, Sam..."
"This is your speech, too." I told him. "I mean, I'm doing this speech for us, as much as I am for anyone else. You should get to know what I'm saying before I say it."
"I'm not really a--"
"Josh, it's proof-reading, not rocket science. You can do this for me?"
"Yeah." We kissed, his tongue sliding leisurely over my lower lip before he pulled away. "And no one on your staff is going to see it before you give it?"
This time, it was a full laugh. "You're evil! Also, very sexy. C'mere, Sexy..."
I was pacing back and forth 'backstage' before my speech. Josh was there, and he came over to knead my shoulders, pushing me into a chair.
"Thanks." I sighed.
"Mm, that's what you said last night." I joked, voice low.
He snorted. "Sam, just one day and you forget who topped who last night." He volleyed back, softly enough not to be overheard. "What am I supposed to think, I ask."
"Mmm... don't think, just keep doing that thing. That feels wonderful." I groaned.
His fingers dug into the muscle, loosening the knots. "That's what *you* said last night."
"Senator, you're on in ten minutes." A page informed me. He paused and looked at Josh. "Are you-- on the staff somewhere?"
Josh laughed. "No, I'm-- I'm an old friend. And-- I'm the Senator's personal attorney."
The page nodded. Apparently, that was good enough for him. I smiled, leaning back into the massage. I was fighting the good fight, equal rights for same-sex couples, but as for myself, I had already found the ideal set-up. Having both come through years of legal training, Josh and I had each other's power of attorney now, and even without our relationship officially recognized, if anything happened to me, I was secure in the knowledge that Josh would be allowed to make the decisions I wanted him to make.
It worked both ways, but I couldn't stand thinking too much about anything happening to Josh. I never could, and having been through it once after Rosslyn, I really didn't need to live it over again.
Of course, I still wanted our relationship to be officially recognized. I wanted a wedding, one our friends could come to. I wanted us to make the first slice in a huge cake, to drink a champagne toast in front of a couple hundred people, and kiss every time the crowd tapped their spoons against their glasses. I wanted to dance to our song, and have an old-fashioned receiving line where everyone who mattered to us gave us their best wishes. I wanted a honeymoon-- and if I can't have a very long one, the minute I'm not a State Senator, I'll whisk Josh away on a nice, *long* second honeymoon and worry about what's next when it's over...
"How do you feel?" Josh asked, jolting me back to now.
"I feel great. Unstoppable." I grinned, tilting my head back to look at him.
"Go get 'em, Tiger. Knock 'em dead, or-- in the aisles, or something. Break a leg. Preferably someone else's."
I laughed, and he gave me a handshake and a quick hug.
"This one's for you." I reminded him.
"I'd say 'make me proud', but..." He shrugged. "You know. I loved the speech, Sam."
"You read the speech?" It was Carter-- he'd been close enough to overhear.
Josh straightened up and went all business-like. "Of course I read the speech. I happen to be Senator Seaborn's personal attorney, who the heck are you?"
"Josh, this is Carter Astin, he helps write speeches for me. Carter, Joshua Lyman, brilliant legal and political mind. From the Bartlet administration..."
"I happen to trust his judgement more than I trust anyone's-- and I know he's not just toadying to me, because the title 'Senator' has never impressed him as much as it should have." I joked. "And he's smarter than I am, anyway. Any questions?"
"No, Sir." He scurried off.
"Five minutes." The page said in passing.
"Five minutes." I echoed. Josh squeezed my shoulder.
"You'll do great."
"Yeah. Yeah, I hope so."
"Hey, I know so." He grinned.
"Don't do that. It makes me want to kiss you in front of all these people." I whispered. His grin widened.
"After your speech?"
"After my speech." I smiled softly, eyes locked onto his. I felt so much calmer, reassured. "You just wait, I'm gonna knock your socks off."
"Speech like yours? You're gonna knock the whole crowd's socks off."
"Yeah, but there will be different means to the end." I cuffed the side of his head gently. "Hey, we're going places, aren't we?"
"All the way to the top." He confirmed. He looked the way I felt-- about to explode from sheer happiness. I really was going to kiss him if something didn't stop us. After a long moment of grinning dopily and obviously at each other, the page came by again.
"Two minutes, Senator."
"Two minutes, thank you." I nodded. "Well, this is it."
"This is it." He nodded back. "I told you, you'll do great. Just great. I know it."
I nodded again, feeling gratified. "I'm glad I've got your vote of confidence."
"Always." He smiled. Then he reached over and tweaked my tie. "There. Perfect. You look good, I must say."
"Well, I was told that this shirt made my complexion look particularly stunning, and that the blue suit and tie made my eyes look particularly bright..." I preened.
He laughed. "I hope someone told you that the whole shebang makes you look dead sexy."
"I have people to tell me I'm sexy, yes. It's an important job..."
"... but somebody has to do it." He finished. We shared a sigh and another long look.
"They're ready for you, Senator."
And to the kind of applause I may never get used to, I mounted the stage and found my place behind the podium, feeling Josh behind me, watching me. I could do this...
"I am honoured to have been asked to speak at this rally." I swallowed down a renewed wave of nervousness. "I am very pleased to have been thought of, and I am gratified that a equal rights group out of Orange County thought I was doing a decent enough job that they asked me here today. My name is Sam Seaborn, and I'm glad to be here."
"My message today was written with you in mind, but it is not a message to the 'gay and lesbian community'. It is a message to the community in general, gay and straight. It is a message to all those who believe in living in harmony, and a message to those who never before considered it. I sincerely do believe in building bridges. Let's not have a 'gay and lesbian community', and a 'straight community'. You're here in the capitol of a great state, one that I would like to think is by and large tolerant of all walks of life. Let's just have *a* community, a community of acceptance, of tolerance for all, of friendship without boundaries like gender, and sexual preference. We as a nation have made great strides in the past, and continue to strive for, a community that looks past race, or religion. Let's take that further. For all the differences that we may have, our similarities are greater. And remember-- stereotypes are increasingly misleading! I've known straight men who enjoy musical theatre, gay men who watch sports and drink beer... there is a broad, broad spectrum, and we fill it, from one end to the other. We only need to reach out.
"That's my message, for everyone, about bridge-building. But I was asked here to speak on a National Coming-Out Day, and that is also something I want to address. First, to all those who have not yet come out-- Maybe today is your day. Maybe it's not. That's okay. Come out when you're ready, today is just an option. A day to feel supported, to remember that you are not alone. You aren't, and you never will be. I know it can feel that way sometimes, for all of us. But you're not. There is always someone out there who's been where you are. If today is not your day, that does not make you alone. Know that there will always be someone, *someone*, who will support you."
"For those who have come out, remember also what it was like for you. If you have the opportunity to make it easier for someone else, please, take it. And please, if you're listening, and you're not gay at all, remember that the person who may come out to you, is still the same person they were. The same person you know. They weren't lying to you by being in the closet. A person's sexuality is just a fraction of who they are. Remember, you don't introduce yourself to everyone by declaring *your* sexuality. If someone chooses to come out to you, remember, they are the same person, and they trust you enough to bring something like this to you. Support them."
"I-- I have another message, on this Coming Out Day. Everyone has to choose their own time, and gay or straight, we are all part of the same community, we are here to support each other, whatever our choices in life. Many people take courage from Coming Out Day, to come out to the people who are important to them, and while that doesn't make it the right choice for every closeted person, it is the right choice for some. It-- it's the right choice for me. I am glad that I was asked to speak to you today, because I am gay. I have spent a long time looking for some way to come out of the closet, and-- Thank you, all of you, for giving me a sign. An opportunity. It's a bigger honour than you know, to be here, to say these words, in front of people... Some of you voted for me-- I got a lot of support from the Orange County Gay Lesbian Straight Alliance, actually. Some of you may not actually know who I am, which is, um, fine, and some of you are reporters. I want to thank all of you for hearing me today, because it's a very important day for me. I was never in the closet merely because of my own political career, but I had others to think about. I am proud to stand here today, because while my sexuality is only a part of who I am, the man I love is very important, and I believe that no person should be afraid or ashamed of who they love, for any reason. I am in a committed relationship, to a wonderful man, and I spent six years wanting to shout it from the rooftops. I'm shouting now, and I'm proud. And I hope you are, too, whoever you are. Thank you, again, for inviting me to speak, and for hearing what I have to say."
The applause was thunderous, even louder than it had been at my introduction, the crowd cheering. My staff, when I finally turned around, was gaping at me in total shock. There were still flashbulbs going off. Josh was beaming at me, and my eyes lit upon him. With a sudden laugh of pure joy, I threw my arms around him, felt his encircle me, and we spun each other around in a circle. The cheers and applause still hadn't stopped, the flashbulbs and gasps and all the noise still hadn't stopped. But when Josh held fast to me in the middle of it all, the whole world stopped.
"Do you know what today is?" Josh asked, still grinning-- he'd been grinning all day, we both had-- as he lifted his glass in a toast.
"It's National Coming Out Day." I answered, lifting mine. The staff was still buzzing as we waited for the celebratory dinner to be served. Josh had arranged a private room at a nice restaurant, and we were treating a large group of the people I worked with.
"It's the last day before Newsweek goes to print." His glass clinked against mine. "The very last day. I don't know if they were paying attention..."
"Newsweek is at my beck and call." I said grandly. They weren't, of course, but they might have had someone covering the rally.
"Newsweek was there." Eleanor said. She was at my other side. "As well as all of the major gay publications with offices on the West Coast, and a few papers. San Francisco Chronicle, Orange County Register, LA Times, and of course, Sacramento Bee. Anyone else will get it secondhand. Also, there were a couple of television crews. Some local news, and I think one national."
I clinked glasses with her as well. "Thank you, Eleanor. You are a wonderful and valuable assistant."
"So..." Carter still looked dazed.
"Yes." I smiled. "This is the guy. This is my guy." I took Josh's hand. I was still walking on proverbial air, it just felt incredible. I could hold his hand anywhere now. I could introduce him as the man I was going to marry.
"So he's not your personal attorney..."
"He is." I nodded. "We've got it all worked out-- we are both lawyers after all, before we became politicians."
"We have each other's legal back." Josh added.
"I have his power of attorney, and he has mine." I rephrased. "So that if anything happens, no one can screw us over because we're not legally wed."
"It'll happen." He grinned, squeezing my hand. "I mean, it will happen. Someday. I swear, if it doesn't happen within my lifetime, I'm totally gonna start taking guys out."
"Yeah." I looked at him, softening. Ignoring his weird ending comment. "It will. Until then, we're covered anyway."
"We should set up a charity to send all gay couples to law school. That way there'd be no screwing with any of us."
"The Lyman-Seaborn Fund." I smiled broadly at him. "We'll do that."
"I'm on board." Eleanor raised her glass, and the cry went up.
"To the Lyman-Seaborn Fund!" Everyone chorused, and all up and down the table, glasses clinked merrily, and people shouted their support and offered to toss in ten bucks. And we all laughed.
Josh shot me a look over his breadstick, and I nudged his knee under the table.
"Behave." I whispered.
"I can fit this whole thing in my mouth." He whispered back.
"I know you can, now behave. I work with these people."
He grinned and toyed with it. I made myself strike up a conversation with someone on the other side of the table. Then I felt the curve of an instep along my calf... That's it, I'm never letting him wear slip-on loafers out to dinner again...
I saw a group of waiters bringing our food in, which would offer me some respite from the attentions of a very giddy Josh Lyman. When we got home, I'd let him re-enact his breadstick display...
When we did get home, Josh dashed upstairs while I hung up my coat. As I entered the bedroom to see him standing by the stereo, the sounds of Billy Joel's 'This is the Time' filled the air.
"Dance with me." He smiled, reaching out, and I couldn't be in his arms fast enough.
We swayed, nobody in particular leading. Sometimes, I'd turn us, sometimes, he would initiate a step. Mostly, we just swayed in each other's arms.
"Is this my CD?" I asked, smiling-- I'd been smiling so much this evening that my face ached, but I couldn't stop.
"Yeah," He breathed.
While we were apart, Josh had compiled all the songs that had made him think of me, and he sent me a couple of CDs he'd burned that first Christmas we'd spent alone. I got a couple more on my birthday. He'd compiled quite a library of 'our songs'. The CD he'd put on was the slow dances, but there was also one he'd entitled 'All The Songs That I'd Cry To-- If I Wasn't So Macho-- Because I Miss You'. I don't doubt that he did cry, I know I did. Two CDs of songs that just made him happy when he heard them and thought of me to balance that one out, and then; 'The Songs We Are So Going To Make Out To Once I Get There'. Some of the songs I recognized-- some were probably on the list just because I liked them. Others, I had no idea where he'd found them, but I loved them all.
I could pick out which songs were about being together, which were about being apart, which were the way he saw me, or the way I saw him, or how he saw himself with and without me. I knew which lyrics reminded him of the campaign trail, which reminded him of Rosslyn... and which made him think of the future.
We danced through 'This Is The Time', then through 'Just the Way You Are' and 'While The Night Is Still Young'. As it started to switch over to Harry Nilsson's 'As Time Goes By', Josh spoke again.
"I think in a bit I'm going to change the CD."
"Aww, I love my CD." I squeezed him.
"I know... but you've got another CD... that I made you..." He blew on my ear. "Which might be less condusive to the dancing, and more condusive to the lovemaking..."
I tingled, just a little, when he said 'lovemaking'. I probably always will. Once the song ended, I let him switch CDs. He spent some time cueing up a particular track, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear the opening of MeatLoaf's 'You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth'-- the exact song I would've picked to start with.
"On a hot summer's night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?" Josh asked, along with the spoken word intro.
"Will he offer me his mouth?" I played along, leaning forward to nip at him playfully.
"Yes." He pulled me towards the bed.
"Will he offer me his teeth?"
"Yes." We were nearly horizontal, Josh supporting himself on his elbows and me leaning over him.
"Will he offer me his jaws?" I held his face, locked my eyes to his.
"Will he offer me his hunger?"
"Yes." His hand came up to curl around the base of my skull.
"Again, will he offer me his hunger?"
"Yes." He said, hitting just the right notes of mild irritation.
"And will he *starve* without me?" I asked breathlessly, almost laughing but holding back.
"YES." He sighed.
"And does he love me?" I tilted my head, gazed at him through my lashes.
"Yes." Everything about him softened, and I read a world of devotion in his eyes.
"Yes." I stroked his cheek and jawline, smiling.
"On a hot summer's night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?" He asked again, still perfectly in synch with the recording.
"I bet you say that... to *all* the boys."
We laughed, and tumbled to lie flat against the mattress, kissing deeply. When we pulled back to breathe, the world had slowed in its rotation, slowing everything in turn, slowing the way we moved as he reached for my tie, as I reached to move fingers through his hair.
We made love reverently, first undressing each other, then worshipfully remapping ever-familiar bodies, our mouths caressing, tongues sliding and tasting... one broad, long-fingered hand ran up and down my back, in perpetual movement. The other slipped between our bodies, to take both of us into one tight grip, sweat-slicked friction of my hardness against his, against his palm, bringing me to stunning completion as he kissed the breath out of me, a moan building between us.
I was able to watch his eyes as he came-- as we came, pulling back to look at each other at the last second. They were dark, wild and tender both, too incredible, so that I felt a person shouldn't be able to look into them too long, like the sun. My name fell from his lips, his from mine. It was perfect. It was poetry and art and life itself.
For several drawn-out moments, we lay curled into each other, pulses slowing, breath evening. 'Some Like It Hot' had just come into rotation. I struggled up to turn it off, deciding the Power Station wasn't what this moment called for. 'You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth' had been followed first by 'I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)', which was orchestral and suitably romantic, and then by 'I Want You Around', a surprisingly tender offering from the Ramones. But 'Some Like It Hot' was more of a down-and-dirty makeout session, and tonight... tonight was one of those really important, romantic nights, and I wanted it perfect.
Josh sighed when I returned to wrap myself in his arms. "Hey, there..."
"I should've gotten a damp washcloth." I mentally slapped my forehead. "We're sticky..."
"Yeah, that's what happens when you have really great sex." He chuckled. "It's okay. We can be sticky."
"Josh... tonight was incredible." I exhaled, still in a state of mild disbelief as to the immense goodness of the whole evening.
I felt him swallow hard. "Yeah. Yes, it was. Sam..."
"Hsh... it's okay." I turned to bury my face against the curve where his shoulder met his throat. "You don't have to say everything... I know."
"Good. I'm not the word guy. Sam... I love you. Maybe too much... is tht possible?"
"Nah." I smiled, raising my head to look at him. "Maybe you love me just enough. And I love you, exactly the right amount."
"No, you definitely love me too much." He grinned. Then the overwhelming tenderness washed back over his features. "Oh, Sam..."
Then, suddenly, he swore under his breath, body jerking as though deciding at the last possible second not to sit bolt upright.
"I-- I never called my mother! I never told my mother! We're getting married, and I never told my mother!"
"We talked it over-- you said you were going to wait to tell her, until we were out. We've only been out since the speech-- it's completely understandable that you got caught up in the excitement."
He leered at me briefly. "Sure did."
I laughed and kissed his cheek as the leer disappeared. "We both did."
"I should call my mom..."
"It's too late now. Call her in the morning, babe."
"What's she gonna say? What will she think?"
"I don't know. But she loves you... Josh, she's going to be happy *you're* happy."
"Yeah." He relaxed. "Yeah, I-- I'm sure you're right. I just-- This is kind of big. And-- Wow. You know?"
"Yeah, I haven't talked to my mother, either. I should-- I should call her tomorrow, too. I should definitely call my mom before she reads about it in Newsweek."
I got up and grabbed the washcloth I'd been thinking of, cleaning Josh off first, and taking a little more time than was necessary. When I got back to bed again, he'd pulled the covers back and was waiting under them, smiling softly at me. With an answering smile of my own, I turned out the light.
After toast and orange juice, I handed the phone to a nervous Josh.
"Here. You go first-- I'm sure it's a better time where she's at." I squeezed his shoulder. "She loves you. It'll be all right. And hey-- *I* love you."
"Yeah." He calmed marginally, kissing my cheek. I thought about going for the mail, but decided to stay nearby for moral support. Far enough so as not to crowd him, but on hand in case he wanted me. I moved from the breakfast nook into the kitchen, ostensibly to put away the things we'd had out and wash the few dishes we'd used.
"Mom... hey. Hey, Mom, do you read Newsweek?... Only at the doctor's. Okay... Oh, it's not-- No, Mom, nothing's wrong." He laughed. "I promise, nothing's wrong... No, everything's right."
I smiled, drying the juice glass he'd used.
"Hey, Mom, you remember Sam..." He leaned around the doorframe to grin at me. "Yeah, I know... Yeah, that was-- that was a great time... No, no, Sam's not in any trouble with Newsweek... It's not impor-- Newsweek was just there at a rally he spoke at, so if you, say, got Newsweek this morning, you might've read about it... The speech?"
He peeked around at me again, and I nodded encouraginly.
"Well... Sam was speaking to a gay rights rally... it was Coming Out Day... Yeah, I was... California's great, Mom... Yeah, a lot of time... You'd be surprised, actually... Good... Like-- good... Oh, sure." He placed the receiver to his chest and came around the corner.
"Neighbor came by, she'll be right back. Mom says she was happy to hear you got the job. She remembers that time I brought you back for a weekend. Also, she, um..." He laughed softly. "She says it's nice, me being out here now, because I get to spend time with you. She-- she knew a little about how I missed you when you left the White House, I guess. Also, she says you're such a nice young man--"
"If she only knew." I grinned ruefully. Josh laughed.
"She even said that that time you stayed with us was kinda like having a second son. I, um, I only hope she'll be able to handle the, you know, reality of those words."
I smiled. Then he was back on the phone.
"Yeah, Mom, I'm here... Well, are you sitting down? This might be sitting down news... No, Mom, I swear it's not bad news!... Just sit down, okay, Mom? Please?... Thank you." He gave me a 'Moms are crazy' look and I just smiled at him some more. "Yeah... Well, in the speech, Mom, Sam kind of-- came out... Yeah-- No, that's not why I-- Well, yeah, it *is* why I'm calling, but- - Yes, I knew. Mom, see-- Mom, I'm getting married!... No, I didn't just say that so you'd stop interrupting, I-- Yes, it's true!... No, it's not a non-sequitor, Mom, I'm getting married to Sam... Yes, that's right... So, I hope you meant what you said about having a second son... Yeah... Yeah, Mom. He does..." His expression grew dreamy.
I mouthed 'I love you', and he winked.
"We've been together since just after I-- after Rosslyn, Mom..." There was a tense pause, and then he cringed. "Well, Mom, I couldn't tell anyone!... No, not even my own mother... I was working in the White House!... Yes, I know I've been out of the White House for-- but-- Mom, Sam is still in public office, I had to wait for him to come out!... I know, but-- Look, Mom, I'm sorry I couldn't have told you earlier, but-- would you mind terribly just telling me how you feel about this? Because I've been really, really nervous about telling you, and--" He let out a sigh, became visibly relieved. "I am so happy to hear that... No, we-- we still need to find a wedding planner. We couldn't really get one before he came out... Yes, we'll have a real wedding... I promise, Mom, and you're going to be sitting in the front row... Yes, and-- Yes, Mom... Yes, Mom... I love you, too... Thank you."
He hung up the phone and slumped into a chair.
"How'd it go?" I asked, putting an arm around him.
"As long as I'm happy, she's happy. Also, as long as we have a real wedding. A big one. It's her only chance, and the woman's not getting any grandchildren, so I guess I owe her this."
"You owe her?"
He shrugged. "It's a Jewish thing. I owe her a real wedding with a rabbi. Luckily, Mom loves you."
"Like a second son." I mock-preened.
"Yeah, but-- that was different. We weren't even lovers then, we were just in school. And we weren't lovers yet when she came to DC, either-- But it's okay. I think she'll be very happy-- I mean, when you think about it, it's a dream come true, right? Now she gets to say 'My son the lawyer' *and* 'My son the Senator'."
"I'm also a lawyer."
"See, she'll be on cloud nine!" He kissed me. "I feel good about this, actually. Mom-- Mom's pretty happy."
"Good." I was about to say something more, but the ringing of the phone knocked it right out of my head. "Hello?"
"Mom! I was just going to call you! I didn't want to call too early, but-- Wow, this is, um, quite the coincidence."
"Sam, dear, have you seen this morning's Register?"
"No, I haven't gotten the paper yet-- any paper, actually. I was just going to, but I was doing the breakfast dishes. Why?"
"You're in it."
It clicked-- Eleanor had said the Orange County Register was one of the papers at the rally. "Oh... Mom, I--"
"I'm not asking you to explain, Sam. Heavens knows you don't have to explain your lifestyle to me."
"Mom, I was going to tell you... I wanted to call you before you read about it to tell you myself, but--"
"It's all right, Sam." I wasn't convinced, but I really didn't want to argue with my mother right now. "I do wish you had, but--"
"I wanted to." I said quickly. "I meant to, but--"
"I know, you've said."
"Mom, I was going to call you this morning. I only just came out yesterday, and I was so busy since then-- I had a lot of explaining to do after I gave the speech, I hadn't told anyone I worked with, but I thought I'd be able to tell you first."
"You couldn't have called me before the speech?"
"Um..." Now I felt stupid. "I didn't think to, actually. Right then I was running on a lot of adrenaline."
"Well, you might as well tell me about it now. It's not really a very in-depth sidebar they gave you."
"I'm gay." I exhaled the words. It might've been cathartic, under different circumstances.
"Yes, that much I gathered from 'State Senator Seaborn Comes Out Of The Closet'. I read it over twice, I thought maybe they meant some *other* State Senator Seaborn, some State Senator Seaborn who had called *his* mother prior to-- Just... tell me how it happened."
"I-- I have been-- gay, I mean-- at least since college, but you don't have to worry or anything, because I wasn't, you know, promiscuous or anything. In fact, I never really acted on it until-- well, until pretty recently, in the grand scheme of things."
"Acted on it? Were you safe, Sam? Do you know his medical history?"
"Mom!" I blushed. "Yes, we-- Yes. For pete's sakes, Mom, don't ask me that! It was-- I'm a rational adult!"
"You're still my son."
"Yeah. Don't worry, okay? I promise he was given a clean bill of health before we-- did anything. I am, too, I'm fine, please don't-- don't *ever* do the 'talk' thing again?" I pleaded.
"I'm being a parent, Sam. We don't just grow out of it. When did it happen?"
"It happened-- I was in the White House, Mom. That's why I could never say anything about it. I couldn't jeapordize the administration. It happened-- six years ago, after the-- the Rosslyn incident." I swallowed, looking down at the floor.
"Rosslyn... Wasn't that where the-- Was it the KKK?-- they shot at you? I remember they hit the president. And that friend of yours-- Josh, the one you were always talking about. He was on the news."
"Yeah." I swallowed again. The lump in my throat kept coming back.
"Sam? Sam, dear?"
"I'm here, Mom. Yeah, it was after that. It-- it made us-- all of us-- put things into perspective. I couldn't-- I couldn't ignore what was important after that... and I told him... that I loved him."
"Told whom, dear? Samuel, speak up, sweetie."
There was a pause, and then, "Ah. I see. And-- are the two of you--?"
I smiled. "Yeah, Mom. Josh is here now. He's a legal expert in Constitutional law here, and he-- he's living with me, now that the administration's over. We've been together ever since, even-- even when we had to be apart. He means the world to me, Mom, and we-- We're getting married."
"Married?" I could hear the shock."
"Yeah. Now that we finally can? Yeah. We-- we still need to get a wedding planner, and get everything put together, but we're doing it. You-- you'll come, won't you? To the wedding? When we have it. You--"
"I-- Well, I could hardly miss my son's wedding... I just-- I hardly know what to say!"
"He's good for me, really good for me, I promise, Mom, we're very happy."
"Good. You know... once you told me, once I knew you were-- Well, I just-- I wasn't *surprised* when you said it was Josh. You always did mention him a lot, even before the shooting." I cringed, and Josh squeezed my shoulder. Mom kept talking. "If you'd mentioned a woman's name with that kind of regularity, I would just take it for granted you would be-- Samuel, I'm not *disappointed* in you, you know that, don't you?"
"Yes." I nodded automatically, wondering who's benefit those words had been for. She didn't sound entirely convinced, but she was making an effort, and for that I was grateful. "Thank you, Mom."
"I'll talk to you later-- You remember to call, now."
"Of course. We-- we should-- Mom, we are going to take you out to dinner this week, some time when there's a good night free and I don't have to be in Sacramento. You never really got to meet Josh, but you'll like him. I'll call you later, and we'll figure out a good night."
"That sounds nice, dear. I can't wait to see you. And-- I'm looking forward to meeting your fiance."
I blushed a little. "Yeah. I-- I have to go, because I really should check in with the office, but I promise I'll call you later."
"All right. I love you, Sam."
"Love you too, Mom."
We hung up, and this time, Josh put his arms around me.
"How'd it go?"
"Good. Later this week, we're taking my mom out to dinner-- she- - she says she can't wait to meet you. And, she's surprisingly unsurprised-- I mean, she was really surprised to find out I was gay, but not to then find out that we were lovers. I think... it's gonna be all right. She says she'll come to the wedding. She just needs to get used to it a little."
"Sam..." He whispered, brushing my hair back. "Are you going to tell your father?"
I didn't really have an answer for that right now. Dad and I-- our relationship was only half-repaired. Sometimes I'd e-mail him with news, but we didn't talk. I really didn't relish talking to him about this, of all things. When we did correspond, it was never about important things, or at least, never about personal things.
"I know things are still difficult." He was holding me now, stroking my hair and back. "You should invite him to the wedding... you don't have to do it *now*, I mean, but-- Your father screwed up monumentally, and he managed to hurt several people in the process. But he's still your father. You should invite him to the wedding. If he doesn't want to come, that's his decision--"
"And we all know how good he is at decisions." I snorted.
"--but you'll have made that step. Please." He tilted my face towards his. "Do it for me. You don't realize how precious your relationship with him is-- There's no excusing what he did, he was wrong, but-- He's your father. By that same token, you're his son. There was that one thing he did wrong, and it was a big one, and it really crippled your relationship with him, but that doesn't mean he didn't love *you*. You're his son, Sam. He-- he has to love you. Besides, how could anybody not love you?"
"I don't know..." I sighed. "But-- for all your talk about not being good with words, Josh, you make a compelling argument."
We held each other tighter.
"I know." I whispered, kissing the side of his head. "I-- I'm not ready yet, but I'll talk to him, really talk to him, and-- I'll ask him to come to the wedding. For you."
"Atta boy." He managed a smile. "I'm-- I'm just really glad you-- I don't want you to wait until it's too late, before you repair this rift between you and your father. I know you've made some small steps, but--"
"But I've only got one father." I nodded. "Thank you, Josh. You really do put things into perspective for me."
"One of my many spectacularly useful functions."
"A function is, by definition, useful." I ruffled his hair, then patted his butt as he moved out of my arms. "Where're you headed?"
"Shower, shave. Put on something comfy, because I planned ahead and got today off to spend with you."
I smacked my forehead. "Day off... can I get a day off?"
"I talked to Eleanor last night at dinner. She said yes, she'll call if there's an emergency, but for pity's sake, take a day off to celebrate the wonder of me."
"She did not say that. The wonder of you. She didn't say that."
"No. She did say that we should have a day, though."
Then, the phone rang again. I groaned. "Please not Dad, please not Dad... Hello? Sam Seaborn speaking."
"Good morning, good mor-ning!" A too-cheery voice sang. It was both female and familiar, but it was not Debbie Reynolds, and the crackle of a cell phone kept me from immediately recognizing it with any certainty. "And how are you on this lovely day?"
"According to the cover of Newsweek, you're feeling quite gay."
"Uh..." Cover? How'd *that* happen? I wasn't supposed to be the *cover*.
"This from a man who used to put words into the mouth of the President of the United States? Come on, Spanky, get that first cup of coffee into your veins."
"CJ? Why are you calling my house?"
Josh swung back around the doorway, jaw dropped. 'CJ?' he mouthed exaggeratedly.
"Why, Samuel, why else would I be calling your house? I am back in California, and what do I see on the cover of Newsweek this morning, but my old pal Sam 'the Man' Seaborn; he's here, he's queer, he's a State Senator. Not only that, but according to the LA Times, which I also read this morning, he's in a committed relationship-- Now how long has that been going on, I ask myself. Because if he was keeping that from me while he was working in the White House, I will either wring his neck, or admit that he can, in fact, keep a secret."
"Keep a secret, please."
"Little late for that, Spanky. You're already on the cover of Newsweek."
"I mean-- option two. I vote option two."
"You were gay in the White House?"
"CJ, I've been gay since Princeton. Or at least, I've known I was."
"I mean, in this relationship."
I nodded. Of course, she couldn't *see* me. "Yes. It-- it happened while we were working in the White House."
"Part two of the reason I called you-- I have a bet, and I want to win ten dollars. There is a *lovely* picture in Newsweek-- not the cover picture, but it should have been-- of you, and a man whose back is to the camera, in what I would term an 'ecstatic embrace'. He is wearing a grey suit, his hair is brown. Now, I realize I've just described several men, but is that the guy?"
Since I had only embraced Josh after the speech, I could respond without hesitation. "Yessir, that's my baby."
"Now, the ten-dollar question: Is that Josh?"
I was momentarily stunned. "Come again?"
"Is that the back of Josh in the picture? Look, I'm not going to lie to you, Sam, I want my ten dollars. I only get that ten dollars one way."
"Yeah, it's Josh, how--"
She whooped. Joyously.
"I just won ten dol-lars! I just won ten dol-lars!"
"Sorry, I just won ten dollars."
"You-- you just-- you jumped to the conclusion that Josh and I were lovers? I mean, you're not-- more surprised?"
She snorted. "Are you kidding? Sam, the only surprise is that the two of *you* managed to keep something like that under your hats all that time. When did the two of you get together, anyway?"
There was a long pause. Apparently, CJ was not unshockable, though this was an odd part of the story to have shock her.
"Wha--? Oh, I'm sorry. I was just expecting-- you know, like 'in college' or something. Or at least on the campaign trail. Not until Rosslyn?"
I gaped. "You-- you thought--?"
"Well, in retrospect, yeah. Knowing you were gay, it was a short trip to suspecting Josh, and from there I just assumed... that the two of you had always been together."
"CJ, I-- Hang on, I'm flabbergasted."
She chuckled. "I mean, you guys were sending out sparks from the beginning."
"Well you could have told us! It might've saved us a lot of trouble, you knowing before we did and all!"
She was laughing now. "Oh, I'm sorry, Spanky. I just wish I could see your face right now... his, too, for that matter. Is he there?"
"Yeah. He-- he is. CJ-- I tell you what... we should have dinner."
"I'm free tonight. And if you're in Orange County, Sam, I can be there."
"As it turns out, yes. I-- Great. Um... I guess, come over, and it'll be like old times, and we'll hang out and have-- Chinese sound good?"
"Sure. Chinese sounds great. You know what... I'm going to bring you boys a surprise, on this ausipicious occasion. Make sure you have plenty of food-- I mean, plenty. More than you might think for three people. Just-- a *lot* of food, okay? I mean it, Sam, order more than you think we'll need. And chicken chow mein--"
"The stuff you like is lo mein, not chow mein. It's a common mistake perpetuated by a lot of American Chinese restaurants. Chicken it is."
"Okay. Lots and lots of Chinese food. Is that it?"
"That's it. I'll bring your surprise at-- What's a good time?"
"Seven-thirty's good for us. Hang on a sec, and I'll get you directions."
There was a knock on the door at seven thirty, and I opened it to CJ. She just stood a moment on the doorstep looking inordinately pleased.
"Would you like to come in?"
"Not yet. I want to see your faces together when I bring out your surprise." She was still grinning.
"Josh, CJ's here!" I called. He bounced into the entryway.
"CJ! I hear I won you ten dollars?"
She laughed. "Yep, sure did." Then she turned to call over *her* shoulder. "Okay, 'Surprise', you can come out now."
Someone stepped out from around the corner of the hedges, and a moment later, my eyes refocused.
"Toby!" I whooped. "What are you doing here?"
"CJ convinced me to come out to California." He mumbled. I took his coat. "I don't really know what I'm doing here."
"Well, as the French say, 'that's life'. Come on in, the food should be here soon."
We all sat down, and chatted aimlessly over beers for a while before The Subject came up.
"So the two of you are all couple-y?" Toby asked. "I mean, obviously yes, but... Mind if I ask?"
"Ask away, Toby." Josh waved a hand majestically. "And I will regale you with the story of how I won this beautiful creature."
"Won me?" I lifted an eyebrow. "That's not the way *I* recall it..."
He just shrugged.
"We-- talked about it, after Rosslyn." I took Josh's hand, squeezing softly. "Before that, it wasn't a thing. That was the first time we'd told each other how we really felt."
"We made the decision not to come out during the Bartlet administration." Josh picked up the tale. "After the last term ended, I came out here to be with Sam... we wanted to be a real, open couple. We wanted to get married. The right time presented itself, and-- after we talked about it for a *long* time--"
"It wasn't really that long."
"Anyway, Sam convinced me that it was as safe a time as any, and it was the perfect opportunity. I mean, a speech at the gay rally on National Coming Out Day? We couldn't have *asked* for a better opening. So I said go for it. And he wrote a beautiful speech... He wrote that speech all by himself, he wouldn't let his speech guy *look* at it even."
"Who proofread?" Toby frowned.
"Josh did. Don't roll your eyes, he did a good job!"
"Not really." Josh shrugged. "I mean, there was nothing to correct. He went over it, like, twenty times before giving it to me."
"Ah, yes. We all remember the anal-ness of Sam." CJ smiled.
Josh snickered, darting me a look that made my face turn crimson. Toby coughed and shifted uncomfortably in his seat, and CJ looked back on her wording with an embarrassed laugh.
"Well, *I* do." Josh grinned, unabashed. "It's one of my favourite sub--"
"Josh, behave!" I interrupted, feeling faintly scandalized. Toby was looking studiously at an empty corner. CJ, at least, seemed amused.
"So you said you wanted to get married." CJ finally steered the conversation back to more comfortable chairs, much to the relief of Toby and I.
"Yeah." Josh's expression melted into one of fondness as we looked at each other. Mine probably did, too, come to think of it.
"We've been talking about it a lot. I-- there was a proposal, of sorts, before I left for California. It's been a long time coming."
"We can do it now." He reminded me, squeezing my hand.
"I think that's great." CJ reached over to pat our joined hands. She also wore an expression of general fondness. "I really am so happy for you two."
"Actually, CJ, this would be a great time to ask-- See, one of the things we'd talked about already was the wedding party. And since you brought Toby..." I turned to him. "Toby, would you be my best man?"
His expression had slowly been losing its discomfort since the change of topic. It was now blank of all discomfort, but also of anything other than shock. After he opened and closed his mouth a couple of times, he let out a breath and smiled.
"Sam, I would be honoured."
I grinned, disentangling my hand from Josh's grip long enough to clasp Toby's in a hearty handshake. He patted my shoulder warmly.
"Thanks, Toby. It means a lot to me."
"Yeah, well... Ah, come on, how could I say no, Old Chum?" He smirked.
"Holy Matrimony, Batman." We laughed. Meanwhile, CJ and Josh exchanged puzzled glances. I turned to CJ next. "In addition to having a best man, Josh and I decided we should also have a second attendant in the party, and... Well, CJ, would you be my best woman?"
"Aw, Samuel Seaborn, I--" She tried to keep her tone light, but she was getting teary-eyed. She hugged me, hard. "Of course!"
"Josh wanted you, too, but then I reminded him that he was going to ask Donna, so I got you."
"Yup, we fought over you." Josh added glibly. "We fought over you, too, Toby, but in the end I won and Sam had to take you."
"Oh, funny." He grumbled. We were interrupted by the doorbell.
"Chinese food!" Josh hollered, getting to his feet and going to the door for the food.
"I really have no idea why he feels the need to be so loud." I shrugged apologetically.
Josh returned with the food, and we moved into the breakfast nook-- really a small room adjacent to the kitchen, with big floor- to-ceiling windows out onto the back yard. The table in the dining room was just too big and formal for this gathering.
Conversation continued, sometimes boisterous, sometimes ferklempt-- mostly on CJ's part-- sometimes about Josh and I, sometimes about politics, or about CJ's somewhat-grudging return to the world of the showbiz spin doctor, or Toby's prospects. It felt like old times.
"So..." CJ started, pausing to swallow her bite of lo mein. "So. Josh. Who've you got slated for best man duties? If Donna's your choice for female attendant?"
"Leo, if he'll do it." Josh answered around a pot sticker. "I haven't called him yet. Night's still young... I could give him a call after dinner. Sam?"
"I'll get the number for you." I sighed. "If you didn't have me, you'd lose everything!"
"Well, yeah." He shrugged. We were, at this point in time, giddy enough that we all laughed at this. Except for Toby, but even he smiled.
As I got back into the room with the number, the phone rang. Inside my head, I repeated my litany of 'not dad', but this time I was quiet as I picked up the phone.
"Sam Seaborn." I greeted, stomach roiling once.
"Heya, Sam. It's Ainsley."
"Oh." I nodded, somewhat unsure of what to say next.
"Saw your picture in Newsweek. Quite a surprise, I might say."
"Um... yeah. Well," There was a long pause. "Yeah."
"California's Senator Seaborn Out of Closet." She quoted-- it sounded like she was quoting, anyway. "How come you never told any of us about this?"
"For difficult political reasons?" It came out as a question-- I hadn't meant for it to come out as a question. "Um... How are you?"
"Oh, I'm fine. Just-- fine and dandy."
"Good, good. Have you, um, kept in touch with anyone, from the old White House?"
"You're trying to distract me from the issues, Sam."
"Well, firstly, I'm not an issue, I'm the guy you called, and secondly, I figured if you were going to ask about me, I ought to ask about you. You know, like in a conversation? And thirdly, I was actually wondering about the people I used to work with."
"Well, actually, Donna's here right now."
"Really?" Quelle coincidence-- After I finished with Ainsley, maybe she could put Donna on and I could put Josh on, and we'd get that situation hashed out.
"Yeah. We're havin' a girls' night." She said casually. "How 'bout you?"
"Well, I wouldn't call it a girls' night, but we're having Chinese food. CJ and Toby came over-- CJ's Californian, and I'm still not exactly sure what Toby's excuse is. Oh, and Josh is here, of course."
"Oh. Well, Donna's gonna wanna talk to him." It sounded like her mouth was full. "Mm. Sorry. I'll put her on later."
"Yeah, I was thinking." I nodded.
"So you're gay."
"I won't lie to you, Sam. Came as kind of a shock. I mean, I always got the-- Well, *I* was under the impression-- I never woulda guessed you were that way."
"Um, can you not call it 'that way'? I'd kind of prefer it if you didn't."
"Well, quite frankly, I'd kind of prefer it if you weren't. Heck, I woulda gone out with you-- like that. But, that's life. What do you want me to call it?"
"Gay's fine. Um... it's not that I didn't want to tell people."
"No, that's fine. I understand why you did it. You got a boyfriend?"
I sighed. "Newsweek doesn't even mention the part where I say I'm in a committed relationship? That was the best part of the speech! Well, maybe not the best part of the speech from a writing standpoint, but it was the best part of the speech."
"I never would've guessed you'd have a boyfriend and *I'd* be single, I'll tell you that. Girlfriend, maybe, but... Is he cute?"
I turned to look at Josh, a smile pasting itself across my face. "Very."
"Mm. Cuter'n you?"
"Well, that's a matter of opinion. I'd say yes, but my taste is questionable." I joked.
"Hang on a sec-- DONNA! He says his boyfriend's cute!"
I blushed. "Um... yeah. Hey-- where did you find my number, anyway?"
"Nah, I think Donna found it... Okay, back to the boy: What does he do?"
"He's a lawyer."
"Yer braggin', Sam. And in this case, you're braggin' to the wrong girl. Unless he's really, *really* cute."
"Not a trial lawyer. A consulting expert. In Constitutional law."
"Lovely. Come on, tell us more about him-- Donna, the boyfriend's a lawyer!"
"Well..." I grinned again. "He's very smart..."
"No, really? I thought he was one of those dumb lawyers."
"But he's a political genius."
"Oh, he's into politics?"
"He was. Very."
"Hm... Now, is he Californian, or did you meet him in Washington?"
"No, and no. But, he did work in Washington."
"DONNA! He worked in Washington! Sam, do I know him?"
"Well, I suppose a guessing game wouldn't be much fun if you didn't."
"So I know him?"
"You know him." I affirmed.
"DONNA! I know him!"
"Donna knows him, too."
"Right. WE know him! Did he work for the House Minority?"
"Oh, once upon a time." I answered, feeling somewhat sneaky.
"Hmmm... Huh. You know, I can't even remember if I knew any guys from the House Minority..."
"Well, that's not all he's done. Politically."
"DONNA! Who used to work for the House Minority? Yeah, sure, make me another. House Minority? Because Sam's boyfriend did! No, he did somethin else, too! Hang on! Okay, Sam, Donna asks what does he look like?"
"Well..." This was going to be my favourite part. I took a good, long, roving look at Josh. "He's tall... with dark eyes..."
"He's tall, Donna!" I heard her shout. "Dark eyes! Okay, go on."
"Gorgeous smile..." I paused, letting her repeat the information to Donna. "He has dimples. And very nice lips."
"HE'S GOT DIMPLES! How nice are his lips, Sam?"
"Exceedingly nice. He's got a good nose. Slight curl to the hair... Dead sexy hands. Really nice calves..." I paused again, and she relayed the information.
"Does he have a cute butt?"
"I cannot say yes emphatically enough." I grinned. "I tell you truly, there has never been a more magnificent sight. It's a work of art. I'm only sorry I'm so possessive, because I feel I'm truly denying the world a look at something great."
"HE'S GOT A CUTE BUTT!"
I stifled a laugh. "I think anything else would be too personal."
"Ooh. Do tell."
"No, it really would be too personal. Sorry, ladies."
"Sam, who are you teasing?" Toby asked irritably.
"Ainsley and Donna are trying to guess who it is I'm utterly and irrevocably in love with."
"Okay, Sam, we want more to go on. We're not giving up. You didn't even tell us hair color. Of course, we're kind of leaning towards blond, something within the 'fair' range, because you're brunet, and the contrast would be nice."
"The contrast would be nice?" This time I did laugh.
"Yeah. You'd look good together, if you didn't have the same color hair."
"Well... hair colour. That depends, Ainsley, that really depends."
"What? How does it depend?"
"Right now... his hair is a soft auburn colour. It gets darker, during the winter. With the changing of the seasons, bringing a veritable cornucopia of varying shades."
"He says it changes with the seasons, Donna!"
"Like a deciduary tree." I added helpfully.
"You're a nerd, Sam." Josh grinned.
"And I think he mighta said red to brown!" I heard Ainsley shout. There was the sound of something dropping, and the next voice I heard was Donna's.
"Josh?" She demanded. "It's Josh, isn't it, Sam?"
"Yeah." I nodded. "It is."
"I knew it... I mean, I thought, and-- Wow."
"You wanna talk to him? He's here."
"No. Yeah. Yes, I do. I would. Thanks."
"Josh, it's Donna." I said softly. He took the phone.
"Hey, Donna... No, I couldn't, not until-- I'm sorry I didn't tell you, but I couldn't tell *anybody*. I didn't even tell my own *mother* before today... Good, I'm glad... Donna, Sam and I are getting married... Yes... Donna, I was hoping you'd be part of the wedding party-- And you don't have to decide right this moment, but-- Well, aside from a best man, we're also each having a second attendant, and Sam's is CJ, and I was hoping you'd be mine... I promise the dress will be tasteful... So you'll do it?... That's great, Donna! I'll keep in touch, and when it's closer to the time, we'll fly you out-- No, I can't wait... Yeah, it'll be great to see you, too... I'm glad you said yes, Donna, it wouldn't have been the same without you... Yeah, yeah, I do... We're very happy... Okay... See you. Bye, Donna."
He passed the phone back to me, smiling. "She said yes. Here's Ainsley."
"So Donna's in the wedding party."
"Um, yeah. So you're totally invited."
"Yeah, I better be." She said. I laughed.
"You're cool with this, right?"
"Honey, it better not matter whether or not I'm cool with this."
"Well, okay. You're right, it doesn't. But it would be nicer if you were, because you're a friend."
"Well, I am. Now. Besides, with Josh, I can kind of see it... I couldn't really, you know, understand, before you said it was him, but... the two of you have always been a little... you know, close."
"Well, we'll keep in touch with you, too-- I hate to cut things short, but Josh still has to call Leo-- he was about to, before we got your call."
"To be his best man."
"Looks like the two of you're just getting a late start on your phone calls."
I laughed, somewhat self-depreciatingly. "Yeah, well... truer than you know. But I think it's completely excusable, since we've only been out a day."
"Two days, Sam."
"It won't be two days until tomorrow at... two-fifteen."
"You're a nerd. Bye, Sam. You take care. And tell Josh he better treat you right."
"He does. Bye, Ainsley." I hung up the phone. "Well, Ainsley sends her love. Actually, Ainsley sends mild and vague threats. But they were loving threats."
"It's a Texas thing." Josh nodded sagely.
"Call Leo." I said, swatting his backside as he crossed the room. He shot an exaggerated leer back at me, and Toby snorted.
"I can't believe you guys were ever *in* the closet."
CJ nodded, smiling mistily. "It does seem eerily normal, the way the two of you are, all domestic and loverly."
I raised an eyebrow.
"If I think about it, I could almost see you doing the exact same thing in the White House." She continued.
"Funny," Josh called, sticking his head back around the corner. "So can I."
"We didn't--" I started hastily, blushing. "I mean, when we were in the White House, we behaved ourselves. Josh, Leo?"
Toby just snorted again, but he was smiling. I moved over to the doorway to listen to Josh.
"Leo! I'm glad I caught you at a good time. It is a good time, right?... Glad to hear it... Oh, yeah? How are they?... That's great, Leo, you'll have to tell them 'hi' for me... Um, hey... Leo, I know you're in this whole semi-retired place at the moment, but-- I assume you still keep up with the news, yeah?... So, you probably saw Newsweek, yeah?... Well, actually, Leo, I-- I'm looking at him right now," Josh flashed me a grin.
I waved, leaning against the doorframe and watching him warmly.
"You should've heard the speech, Leo, it was his best work ever!... Well, yeah, I heard the speech, I got to read over the speech, I-- Okay, see, there's a reason I called, Leo, and it's not actually just to gossip about Sam..." He waggled his fingers at me and winked. "Nah, Leo, see-- Newsweek I guess didn't maybe put this thing in that was pretty important, but-- in the speech, Sam mentions being in a long-term monogamous relationship, and, well... I'm the relationship... Yeah, me and Sam... I know... You-- uh, oh. Okay... We're getting married... Yeah, Leo, married... well, we still have to plan everything, but-- I was kind of hoping, maybe you'd want to be my best man?... You will?... Oh, thanks, Leo, that means a lot to me!... It means a lot to Sam, too... Oh, I-- Sure, I-- Hello, Sir... Yes, you heard right, Sam and I are getting married... Leo owes you ten dollars?... That's particularly eerie, Sir, as CJ and Toby made the same bet when they saw the picture in Newsweek... You made the bet seven *years* ago?... Sir, Sam and I weren't even-- Sam and I have only been together *six* years!... No, I'm not sure who wins in that case... You have a pretty good argument there, Leo hasn't ever been leader of the free world... All right... Thank you, Sir... You have a good night."
He hung up the phone and leaned heavily against the wall. "Can you believe it?"
"I had trouble following it." I admitted.
"Leo's staying the weekend with the Bartlets, one of whom-- a former *president*-- made a ten-dollar bet with Leo seven years ago that we-- well, you know."
"You mean to tell me the *President* knew about us before we did?" My knees buckled. "That's... that's a little unnerving."
"He says congratulations, though. He looks forward to the wedding, and he said he couldn't wait to pass the good news on to Abby, so... can't be bad, right?" He grinned weakly.
I stepped forward and kissed him. "Not bad at all, Josh. Not bad at all."
The next day, the phone rang, and without so much as a thought, I answered.
"D--dad!" I nearly dropped the handset. In an instant, Josh's hand was between my shoulderblades. "I-- I wasn't... expecting... you."
"I saw Newsweek."
"Your mother called me... she's-- trying, Son. I don't think it's easy for her, but she's trying."
I nodded numbly. Josh was rubbing my back now.
"Yeah, Dad, I'm here."
"You all right?"
"I guess so." A hollow laugh escaped me. "What about you, Dad? Are you okay? With-- this. I mean, I'm getting married to a man, Dad, and I don't know how much it matters, but-- do I have your blessing, or am I being disowned, or-- Where on the spectrum do we fall? What-- Mom's trying. What do you have to say about it?"
"I have one question."
I nodded, and braced myself. I was certain that whatever he said was going to be like a blow to the gut. "Okay." I managed.
"Do you love him?"
Do I love him? That's *it*? What kind of question-- "Do I love him?"
"Dad, I-- Of course I love him! More than life itself, I-- We're getting *married*, for-- Yes, Dad, I love him."
"Then I want you to be happy. And-- Sam, I'd like to see you. I know, our relationship is still... strained, but-- I'd like to see you. I'd like to meet him. And-- you're getting married? A-- a private commitment ceremony, or are you having a...?"
"A big wedding." I nodded, mouth dry.
"Am I invited to this wedding?"
"Yes, Dad." Tears were stinging my eyes. "Of course. And-- you should maybe... visit us, sometime. I-- I'd like that, too. I really would."
"Well, I'll be in touch." Dad said softly. "It was good talking to you, Son. I mean that."
"Yeah, Dad. Take care."
We hung up and I collapsed halfway, Josh's arms coming up around me and guiding me to a chair. I was shaking and crying, and I wasn't entirely sure why. Josh was stroking my hair and making gentle sounds, his head bent near my ear.
"How's your dad?" He asked, when I'd calmed down.
"Dad's-- he's amazingly fine with this. He-- he said he wants me to be happy. If-- if I'm in love with you, I guess he agrees I should marry you. He wants to come, to the wedding, and he wants to see us before then, too. He wants-- I guess, he wants to be a part of my life again, to fix things between us. And I didn't think it'd ever really happen, but-- Josh, he's *supportive*..."
Josh kissed my cheeks, then my lips. "Good."
"He says my mom called him. She's trying, but he says it's not easy on her. She-- she probably wanted grandchildren. But she said she'd like to meet you, so... Oh, Josh, I didn't even tell Josh it was *you*!"
"Well, I used to write about you." I blushed. Josh smiled. "When I wrote my dad, if you had done anything-- I mean, anything at all-- I'd put it in. You know, bragging about my man."
"Your man." He echoed, taking my hand in his.
"So, I should've said it was you. You're the-- you're my man, 'cause he knows about you, he just doesn't know you're... my fiance."
"Hey, Fiance." He tugged me up to my feet and led me from the dining room chair he'd put me in back to the breakfast nook. "Finish your breakfast, wash your face, and get ready to face the day."
"You've got a pretty light load today, all things considered. It'll be all right." He ruffled my hair.
"What about you?"
"Call me when you're done for the day, and we'll get together."
"Ugh, I'm done with this... Josh, you want any more coffee?"
He swallowed the last of my mugful and dropped a kiss to my cheek. "Thanks, babe. Speaking of ready to face the day, I need to get some stuff together... don't run off without giving me a kiss goodbye?"
"Never." I grinned, standing. A quick squeeze, and Josh dashed up to the office to amass the necessary files, and I headed up to brush my teeth, wash my face, and choose a tie.
As I was looking through ties, Josh bounded in, gave his teeth a perfunctory brushing, and skidded to a halt in front of our closet.
"Little blue diamonds." He said, pulling me into a kiss. "Brings out your eyes like nobody's business."
"Little blue diamonds it is." I smiled. "I'll call you."
"Do you have your files?"
"Have a good day at work!" I called.
The house was quiet as I straightened my tie and grabbed my suit jacket, but the minute I stepped outside, I was assaulted with another quick kiss.
"You have a good day at work, too." Josh grinned, sauntering over to his car.
"I will now!" I waved, climbing into my own. Well... today is off to a roaring good start.
"Sam!" Josh's voice, ebulliant, over the phone.
"Ah, you knew it was me."
"You gave your name to the secretary."
"Right. So. What do you want for dinner tonight? My mom called... we'll be taking her out tomorrow. Tonight, my dear Joshua, is all about you."
"Me?" He sounded pleased. He was probably preening, if I know my Josh...
"You." I affirmed. "Tonight is All-About-Josh night. I got you something special, too."
"I really hope my something-special is something you can't talk about over the phone..."
"It's a surprise." I laughed. "Come on. What do you want for dinner? If it's something I can make, I'll make it. If not... well, I am well acquainted with many a delivery place."
"Non-vegitarian lasagna." He said quickly. I smiled, remembering a time long ago when we'd had the same thing.
We were young, best friends, and for one summer, we had a cheap apartment, on a three-month lease, before we'd be going off to seperate schools in the fall. Josh couldn't cook at all, and the fact that I could boil water was the height of my culinary expertise. I brought home a frozen lasagna, and Josh had stared at the box for a long time.
'Please tell me you like lasagna', I'd said, and he'd stammered a 'yes, but'. Finally, beet red with embarrassment, he'd explained that his mom never *ever* had a non-vegitarian lasagna in the house-- they hadn't been *strict* with the kosher thing, didn't have the whole two-seperate-sets-of-utensils, but they still never had a meat-and-cheese lasagna.
'Well, you've eaten meat and cheese before, right?', I had asked, and he'd nodded. 'On pizza', he'd said, it had been when he'd got sick of picking off all the pepperoni halfway through freshman year and decided it couldn't kill him. But the non-vegitarian lasagna represented the ultimate taboo, at least to Josh. He wasn't easily convinced it was no different than pizza, with which he now had no compunctions. Something about the lasagna was *different*.
So with the lasagna already in the oven, I was filled with guilt and remorse, and immediately set about trying to make something different for Josh. Which I promptly ruined. As tears of frustration built up behind my eyes, Josh laughed and said he would love my goy lasagna, so long as I swore on all that was good and holy to never tell his mother. By then, the edges of the lasagna were darker than I had intended, but Josh liked his lasagna dark around the edges. And it *hadn't* killed him, and he liked it. I had felt kind of bad still, as though it was some sort of treyf entrapment, but Josh told me he wasn't that observant anyway and I shouldn't feel guilty. Since then, I have observed a definite... irregularity, in his observance of Jewish dietary laws. Just one of the many weird things that make him Josh.
"I'll make you a non-vegitarian lasagna." I cooed, already picking out a wine in my head.
"I like it--"
"Dark around the edges."
"Burnt." Josh said. "I want the corners to be dark brown, Sam. You can eat the middle, but my corners have to be dark and crispy."
"I promise dark, crispy corners. See you tonight."
"See you tonight."
We both counted to three silently and hung up. It was a long- standing agreement we made back when he was working in the White House and I was campaigning, and we were on the phone once until two in the morning. We swore we were hanging up five times at least, but...
I sighed and finished up my work. More than anything-- well, almost anything, I wanted to get home and make Josh a lasagna.
As I was checking the oven, I heard the door open.
"Honey, I'm ho-ome!" Josh called, bouncing into the house. Probably leaving his coat draped over one of the dining room chairs... Well, we usually eat in the 'nook' anyway, when it's just the two of us.
"Hey," I called back, grinning in spite of the image of coat and tie and shoes scattered willy-nilly throughout the first floor. "Have a seat, I'll have food in front of you in about five minutes."
In five minutes, the corners would be just the way he likes them. For now, there were carrot sticks in a bowl on the table. Nutritionally, it's not the same as green vegetables, but at least it's vegetables and he'll eat them. If I set out a salad, he'd just push it around his plate and play with the cherry tomatoes, eat a couple bites to appease me, and then on to the entree. No, if the main course is lasagna, or any non-vegetable intensive casserole, the best bet is to have raw carrot sticks sitting out before it's ready.
Josh paused in the kitchen to wrap his arms around my waist from behind, reaching around to sneak a kiss on the cheek.
"How was your day?"
"Light. I don't have to be back in Sacramento until Friday, too, so that's more time I can spend with my guy."
Another smooch. Josh released me and went to the table. "Good. Your guy happens to like spending time with you."
"I'm going to get the wine..."
"When's my surprise?"
I heard him sigh exaggeratedly, and peered around. He was grinning and chewing on a carrot stick when I caught his eye.
"You want a glass?" I held up the bottle.
"Half of one for now, more later. Ooh, the best Raley's has to offer, I see."
"Screw you." I kicked his ankle lightly. "I'll have you know I got this from an actual vineyard. I *went* there, and got this wine. This is a Silver Fox wine, grown, crushed, and fermented in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. It is six years old, and so are we."
"Sam, I don't think six year olds are allowed to drink."
"You can be such a bastard sometimes." I laughed. "You're lucky I love you."
"I'm very lucky you love me." He tilted his chair back. "Silver Fox, huh?"
"It may be a relatively young vintage, but I swear, the air up there just *does* something to the grapes... you get an excellent wine. I know Napa and the central valley are more prolific as far as wine production goes, but for my money... You don't really care, do you?"
"No, but I'm enjoying watching you talk."
"There are two vintners in that area-- Silver Fox and the Radanovich family." I handed him his half-glass.
"Radanovich? You mean, as in George Radanovich?"
"His family's vineyard, yes."
"He's a republican!" Josh whined.
"That's why I go with the Silver Fox."
He laughed. "Your wine purchases are a political statement?"
"My local wine purchases. I also buy the occasional bottle of something old and French, but not so often. Also, not so much with the politics. I've got to go check on the lasagna."
Perfect... I grabbed the oven mitts and carried it in, setting it proudly upon the trivet.
"Baked to perfection." I announced. "Your edges are dark and crispy."
"Did Eleanor come by?"
"This is a glass dish... Sam, did you-- *make* this lasagna? >From scratch?"
I smiled and nodded. Josh got up and pulled me into a deep kiss.
"I love this man!" He released me, taking his seat. "You made me a lasagna!"
"Yup, it's my All-About-Josh night, and I *made* you a lasagna."
"You are amazing." He pronounced, making me blush. I served us, and sat.
The lasagna had turned out well-- I had been slightly wary of the recipe when it told me I wouldn't need to boil the noodles beforehand so long as I made sure to surround them with enough sauce, but they turned out soft. Everything was done just fine.
Josh said 'delicious' about five times-- and always with his mouth full-- making the appropriate sounds of contentment. I poured him another half-glass of wine when he ran out, and we talked and laughed about nothing in particular.
With dinner but a fond memory, I led Josh upstairs, and instead of heading into our bedroom, I made a quick turn and steered him into one of the guest bedrooms, where my old bed resided-- Josh and I had bought a new, bigger bed for our room shortly after his arrival.
I had hung various big batik tapestries and spare bedsheets on the walls and ceiling, turning the room into a big indoor tent. The bed was piled with pillows from all over the house-- our pillows, the guest pillows, the living room throw pillows... I had moved the oriental rug from my library/study in to adorn the hardwood floor.
"Wow..." Josh breathed. "Sam-- This is my surprise?"
I grinned. "Yup. This is your surprise. I had to use the guest room because I was doing this in increments, over the past couple of days, and if I had been transforming our room, you would've noticed."
"Come with me... to the Casbah..."
"And we will make beautiful music together?" He cocked an eyebrow at me. "Sam, it really is-- This is so awesome."
"Lie down." I whispered, pushing him to the pillow-strewn bed and unbuttoning his shirt. I undressed him slowly, worshipfully, and then wrapped him in my silk bathrobe, and laid him back down.
Josh's eyes were on me as I stripped to my shorts. I wrapped a towel around my waist, and with a snazzy little maneouver I'd perfected, the shorts dropped to the floor around my ankles, towel firmly in place. Josh gave a little 'impressed' look.
I had hidden the portable stereo over in the corner, draped beneath bedsheets, and I turned it on, filling the room with the quiet sounds of exotic, bellydancer-esque world music. Then I opened the drawer of the bedside table-- Josh looked expectant. I drew out a book, sitting on the edge of the bed.
"Please be the Kama Sutra, please be the Kama Sutra..."
"It's not the Kama Sutra." I chuckled. "Lie still, I'm going to read to you."
He wriggled a little, and then, obediently, lay still.
"This is Sir Richard Francis Burton's translation--"
"I thought Burton *did* translate the Kama Sutra." Josh interrupted.
"Hush. He did. He also translated the Thousand and One Arabian Nights."
"You're reading me *fairy tales*?"
"This, my dear, dear Josh, is Burton's *original* translation, banned by the Victorians for bawdy content."
And so I had his complete attention. I read him some of the more titillating passages, and when I noticed a certain... stirring, I set the book aside and opened the robe.
"I see you're ready to move on to part three..."
"I am totally ready. Your wish is so my command."
I opened the lower compartment of the bedside table and came out with a small bottle of oil. I heard Josh's breath quicken.
"What's it smell like? 'Cause you know I don't really like that sandalwood-patchouli stuff--"
"Cherry almond." I drizzled a line down his abdomen, using my fingertips to rub little circles on his skin.
Josh moaned, stretching out beneath me. I rubbed in firmer circles, massaging the oil into the skin of his chest and stomach. He glistened, the oil lending his skin a rosy sheen.
"It's not just scented..." I slipped one finger between his lips, and he sucked eagerly at it. "It's flavoured."
He moaned around me, releasing my finger with a slurp. "Oh, Sam... you sure know how to treat a guy, I'll give you that..."
"You'll give me more than that." I promised him, coating his full, firm erection with the clear, pale red liquid. One viscuous drop rolled down the underside of his shaft, clung briefly in the nest of dark hair, and spilled over onto his sac.
I started up at his chest and shoulders, licking him clean, moving over his chest, nipples taut under my tongue. Licked down his scar and over his belly, licked the dribbles along his ribs, and everywhere else.
Josh laved over my oil-slicked palm with his own tongue, hot and rasping, sucked my fingers clean as I worked his body. When he had finished, I was nearly ready to claim my prize...
First, I ran my tongue over his hipbones, clearing away sweet drips of oil. Then, I took his balls into my mouth, felt him jerk and groan at the sensation, tensing up in my mouth. I licked the vein that ran up the underside of his aching cock, tasted the mingling cherry almond and precum at the tip, took the whole thing in... Josh urged me on with half-lost words, hands restless on my shoulders or stroking absently over my hair. His hips rocked forward, and I let him thrust deeper into my throat, swallowing around him, first just the love oil, and then finally his release.
He lay gasping and heaving, whole body still glistening, with sweat and saliva now, instead of the soft red fluid. It was an image I knew I'd remember, store away and recall during private, lonely moments, see before me when I closed my eyes in bed... Josh, utterly spent and debauched. Kneeling over him, I waited until his eyes opened, focused on me, and then, I slowly undid the towel from my waist.
I gripped the headboard of the old brass bed, erection jutting out, not even inches from his lips. He smiled up at me, sly, cocky... I felt the heat of his mouth engulf me.
It didn't take long before I was screaming his name, head thrown back, and Josh swallowed convulsively around me, pulling another spurt from me, and my body trembled, slowly softened, sank down to lie atop him.
He held me-- his arms were still slipped through the sleeves of my robe, the contrast of cool silk and heated skin adding another layer to his embrace. My skin was already overly-sensitized from our lovemaking.
"All-About-Josh night, huh?" He grinned, still panting slightly.
I just blushed-- from exertion as much as any embarrassment.
"When, pray tell, is All-About-Sam night?"
"You'll tell me... when we get to it..."
"What is it, babe?"
"Do you wanna move 'cross the hall to our big sleigh bed, or d'you wanna sleep in our 'tent' tonight?"
"Tonight? I wanna sleep in my freakin' awesome tent." He murmured against my hair. "My Casbah Sam-tent."
"Music off or on?"
"Off now... 'm sleepy, Sam."
I crossed the room and turned off the music-- Josh pushed the extraneous pillows from the bed and took off the robe.
"This stuff doesn't stain, does it?"
"I wouldn't mind if it did. I'd remember tonight every time I saw it..."
"I'll remember tonight every time I see it anyway." Josh laughed, welcoming me back into his arms. *That* was my favourite place to fall asleep-- not the sleigh bed, or the brass bed, or his old bed in DC. Josh's arms. That's all I need.
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