Title: What Happened in Houston
Author: mellyjane40
Rating: PG –13 to R Some adult situations but nothing too graphic.
Spoilers: General spoilers for seasons 1-4
Pairing: Sam/Josh
Summary: AU – Post Bartlet Administration.
Author's Notes #1: In Thoughts of a Secret Service Agent I mentioned an incident in Houston and this is for all of those who asked if I'd written a story about what happened. This story comes in between Jamie's Halloween Surprise and Lyman For America - Old Wounds.
Author's Notes #2: As ever, to Vicki for letting me use her universe. To my good friends Mrs J, Coup, Abigale and Jen. This is also to those of you in various groups I belong to, who give wonderful feedback and spur me on with my writing.
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@virgin.net and mellyjane40@hotmail.com

What Happened in Houston by mellyjane40

Lyman/Seaborn Residence Washington DC August 2012

8am

"You hear that!" Josh exclaimed as he spread jam over his bagel.

Sam looked up from his paper, around the kitchen of their Washington town house, a mop of black hair was all could be seen of Jamie as he sat engrossed in his Superman comic.

"What?"

"Silence blessed silence," Josh gave a sigh of content and stretched his legs out under the table. "CJ promised me two weeks before Houston, complete rest and one of those we can spend with mom in Florida."

Jamie looked up from his comic.

"Not nana's?" he asked.

"No tiger, not every thing revolves around Nana and you like Josh's mom don't you? You've met her loads of times."

"Yeah but it's not the same as Florence and in Florida there are funny ladies who stare at me, they've got coloured hair and say `oh isn't he sweet`!"

Josh laughed. "Those are mom's friends who live in the same condo block as her. I thought you liked them? Last time we visited her they showered you with sweets."

"True," Jamie agreed turning back to his comic.

Sam and Josh exchanged smiles and Sam got up and walked over to the espresso machine and poured himself another coffee. "I'll have to go into the office sometime darlin and…oh shit who's that at 8am?" Sam exclaimed as Josh's cell phone rang.

"Josh Lyman…Toby!" Josh looked at the kitchen clock "What's up? You need to speak to Sam and me? Ok…." Josh exchanged a glance with Sam who nodded in ascent, "10am ok? Yeah…CJ too…ok right. See you then."

"What did Toby want?" Sam asked as he drained his coffee.

Josh finished his bagel and coffee, got up and walked over to his partner, whilst he put his mug and plate in the sink allowed one hand to roam over his lover's bottom in beige chinos.

"Hey wait where you are going?" Sam admonished his son as Jamie got up and with his head in his comic began to sidle out of the kitchen.

"Well, you and JJ look as if you want to talk important stuff or kiss." Jamie caught the tea-towel that Sam threw at him.

"Nice try mister! You can help by clearing the table and doing the drying up! The dishwasher's not fixed yet." Sam gave his partner a pointed look.

"Hey we've been in Maine, Michigan and Ohio there's been no time for little things!"

Sam smiled. "So it's my turn to put on the apron, play the house wife again and get a repairman?"

Josh leered at his partner. "Well with your legs and a …." He stopped as Sam thwacked him on the arm and gave him a not in front of Jamie look.

"Daddy, why can't I come to Houston with you and JJ?" Jamie asked putting the toaster in the cupboard.

"Now Jamie, we've been through this already."Sam gave a sigh as he filled the washing bowl with water and Josh squeezed his hand "Nana will be staying with you but you need to get ready for school and…"

"I know why you don't want me!" Jamie slammed the cupboard shut. "Uncle Toby say's it's because things are dangerous in Houston! But I'm a big boy now and it's not like I've not seen stuff before!"

Sam let the dish slip out of his hand and the water slopped over the side of the sink. Before his partner could stop him he was over by Jamie and shaking him gently.

"What's Toby been saying to you?" Sam almost shouted. "What have you heard? It's a golden rule that…"

"Sam!" Josh hurried over to his partner's side, "Jamie could have heard something out of context, and this house is like a campaign headquarters sometimes!"

"I'm sorry Daddy!" Jamie began to sniffle and Sam swept him up and began to rock him back and forwards. "It's just that I heard Uncle Toby on the phone and he was calling some people in Houston narrow minded…."

Sam picked up his son and sat him on the breakfast table. "Listen Jamie you're old enough to know by now that some people don't approve of me and JJ?"

Jamie nodded.

"Well." Josh stepped forward, "There are some states where perhaps people don't like seeing how happy we are as a family."

"But Daddy's going with you," Jamie replied hanging his head and swinging his legs. "And you've only just come back from Maine."

"I know Jamie," Sam kissed his son's head, "but were gonna have two wonderful weeks together and I promise you I'll speak to Mrs Moore about taking you to California with us."

"Ok!" Jamie's face brightened and he scrambled off the table and taking an opportune moment to run out of the kitchen as Josh was watching his partner take deep breaths to calm himself down.

"You ok?"

"Yeah!" Sam breathed in, "don't know why I reacted in that way. Gotta be careful he sees and hears so much now. Josh it scares me."

Josh kept a hand on his partner's back.

"I know, I know. Perhaps it would help if the staff didn't come to the house so often." Josh suggested as Sam sat down on a chair by the table.

"No! He loves them all! CJ, Toby and Donna he's known them since he was little!"

"Ok…" Josh knelt down by his partner. "Do you want to you want to stay here with Jamie and I'll go solo on this trip."

Sam shook his head and kissed the palm of his partner's hand.

"No, I promised you I'd campaign with you when ever I could and it seems that I've been lucky so far with the practice. It's just that…." Sam broke off with a sigh.

"What sweetheart?" Josh stood up pulled up another chair and pushed it as close as he could to Sam and took one of his hands.

"It's just that I have this recurring nightmare, I'm in court and either I get a note or you appear at the back of the court and I know…" Sam rubbed his eyes.

Josh squeezed his lover's knee. "Go on." He whispered, surprised at how cold his Sam's hands where and he rubbed them to warm them up.

"I know it's Jamie and that some nut who doesn't want to see two men whose crime it is to love each other sitting in the White House. It's what I read of Jed and Zoë Bartlet all over again; except this time I'm the distraught father and my son is holed up somewhere and I can't find him."

"I'd forgotten how eloquent you can be when you're angry. I remember you calling the White House and I…" Josh said trying to keep a normal voice, "Do you want to know what mine is?" He gripped his lover's hand.

"Go on."

"I've won the election, you've gone out to wine and dine a client except this client has a grudge and your drugged, somehow taken from a restaurant and then there are pictures of you…" Josh shuddered. "Well my dream stops there as I wake up."

Sam stared at his partner, stood up and helped him to his feet then clung to him as both men wept. Finally Josh broke apart.

"This won't do."

"No!" Sam agreed crossing over to the sink and whilst Josh wasn't watching dabbed his eyes on the dish cloth.

"We've just been on a whistle stop tour were a little strained." Josh replied as he picked up the remains of the breakfast china from the table and carried it over. "After all we are da men!"

Sam smiled at him pulled Josh towards him and gave him a deep kiss and began to explore his partner's lower regions.

"Darlin, I know something that could relax us. Jamie's upstairs but…."

"Sam I'm not trying the broom cupboard again, I got light-headed being cooped up in the confined space." Josh replied as he found himself pushed up against the sink.

"Awww…darlin' and I thought it's just the effect I have on you." Sam teased as his hands went further down his lover's pants.

"I'll show you what effect you have on me." Josh grabbed his partners hand and dragged him down the hallway. "Jamie!" He called up the stairs "Your Dad and I are gonna go over the draft for the speech for Houston."

"Yeah, whatever!" Jamie's disinterested voice could be heard.

"I'm gonna have to speak to my son about his manners!" Sam muttered furiously and made his way towards the stairs. "What the..?" he exclaimed as Josh dragged him in to the living room.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"We can't have the meeting in here" Sam commented from the sofa as he watched his partner climb into his pants. "I was hoping I could just feast on the cute ass a little longer."

Josh came over to the sofa and bent own and kissed his partner. "What's gotten into you?"

Sam grinned up at him and stretched out his hand which Josh took. "It's been two whole weeks of us falling exhausted into bed too tired for sex and all I saw of your butt was as it disappeared into the shower. Come here."

Josh released himself from Sam's grip and glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece and hurried over to pick up his Lyman for America tee-shirt.

"No sweetheart, it's 9:30, Toby and CJ will be over at 10 and this room," Josh wrinkled his nose "does have a funny smell."

Sam climbed off the sofa and wrapped his arms around his partner.

"It's hot sex," He murmured in Josh's ear then released himself and climbed in to his chino's. "I think mom's cleaner has left one of those fancy sprays behind. Thank god we closed the blinds this time round."

Both men finished dressing and Josh opened the door.

"Relaxed now?" Sam gave his partner a sideways grin as he went to go up the stairs.

"I'll see what Jamie's doing and we'll sort somewhere to take him out this afternoon."

Josh leaned back against the wall and watched Sam disappear upstairs. He was more relaxed but it was evident the way Sam had blown up over Jamie's comments about Houston, that his partner was edgy about the trip. Houston shouldn't be any different from any of the other states should it? Josh mused as he walked into the kitchen. So far any hostility they'd encountered had been through pockets of demonstrations, so should Houston be any different?

"I'll talk to Toby and CJ about it." Josh muttered to himself as he rummaged in the cupboard under the sink for the room spray. He looked at the can Fresh Lavender that would do. As he sprayed the can liberally around the formal living room Josh couldn't shake off a fleeting look of terror in his partner's eyes as he'd gently admonished his son.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

10:04 am

"We've the answer to your problems Senator." Toby said as he took his usual seat in the leather chair.

"Has someone been liberal with the French polish?" CJ asked as she settled herself on the sofa.

Both former colleagues and now senior campaign directors on the Lyman for America team were dressed casually. CJ wore a long linen skirt with a blouse and jacket, Toby in black pants with a brown and black checked shirt.

"She must have been," Josh replied casually with a sideways smirk at Sam who sat next to him on the other sofa. "Can I remind you that here in private I'm Josh not Senator Lyman.£

Toby opened his briefcase and handed Josh a document which was titled Arrangements for Secret Service Protection. Josh read it and handed it to Sam.

"I thought we'd discussed that Toby, I've been happy with the security arrangements we've made. I've made it clear I think black suited agents would get in the way of me meeting as many people as possible."

"Josh, this is only the first leg of the campaign and we've been lucky. I think we're gonna face facts that the reception we get in some states may not be just a few demonstrations and there's the hate mail…" CJ's voice trailed off as she was not anxious to bring up a topic which always generated a rant, from either Sam or Josh.

Josh considered CJ's reply for a moment and glanced at his partner who seemed to be studying the document intensely.

"Sam what do you think?" He prompted gently bringing Sam back into the meeting.

"I think you should go for it Josh." Sam replied emphatically.

Josh started at his partner in surprise. "Sam you've…"

"How do you think I feel every time you go out there with guards who are more used to guarding supermarkets and shopping malls?" Sam said in low controlled tones. "I remember Rosslyn and don't tell me you don't think of it any more! I saw your expression in Maine when we encountered a noisy demonstration; it haunts you every time we go out on campaign!" his voice finished on a high angry note.

"Sam! Why didn't you tell me this before? If you'd said something at the beginning of the campaign I'd have demanded protection!"

"Because we were at the stage of Sam's on a need to know basis, remember and as you've said we've been lucky so far. And…"

"I'm not going to bring up that old argument again Sam!" Josh shot back at his partner. Sam in an angry gesture shifted away from his lover to the far edge of the sofa.

CJ and Toby looked nervous at the marital argument that was brewing in front of their eyes.

"I was gonna say before you interrupted me that it's not for me I'm asking for protection for. It's for you so I can relax and do my job which is seeing you through this campaign."

"I have to say that I'm in full agreement with Sam on this." Toby took his opportunity to re-enter the conversation. "There's also your family to consider Josh, I know you want to bring Jamie and Francesca on the campaign."

Even though his partner was sitting apart from him Josh could feel his posture stiffen. He knew Sam was recalling their conversation in the kitchen and he picked up the paper lying between him and his lover. He took a good look at his partner's profile, tense jaw clenching, proud Sam, too independent to admit he was frightened for his family.

"Ok I see I now qualify for protection because of the $2 million in contribution money we've some how managed to raise."

"That's due to Roger Hamilton and Paul Walters." CJ reminded Josh "You met them in Maine at the rally on the final night."

"Yes. I'll write to them, Toby you'll get Kelly to draft an appropriate response?"

Toby and CJ stood up.

"Isn't there any thing more?" Josh asked in surprise as CJ tugged at Toby's sleeve.

"Not for now, it's too late for security arrangements for this trip but every thing will be in place for Dallas." CJ snapped her briefcase shut. "This is a two week break for you and Sam and we'll try not to harass you too often."

"Hang on," Toby was looking at Sam curiously and he rubbed his forehead. "I'd like a word with Sam in private."

CJ and Josh who walked towards the door turned to Toby in surprise and Sam from yeas of training knew he had no choice to sit and listen to whatever his former boss had to say.

"OK well CJ and I will go into my study as I have the draft for the Houston speech."

Josh almost pushed CJ out of the room.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Toby started to stride up and down in front of the empty fireplace.

"Now are you gonna tell me what the hell that little performance was back there!"

"Toby I don't think you…."

"Sam, this is not the time for, I don't think you can talk to me like that crap! Something is upsetting you and it's upsetting Josh and I need a focused candidate not one who's freaking' out over his partner!

"Toby!"

"He doesn't need you acting like a self centred Prima Donna on this. I know you when you're in a mood like this; you used to shut the door on every one in the White House."

"Toby we spoke before you came and we're both wound up after the whistle stop tours. You caught some residual anger and fears we'd discussed before you arrived."

Toby stood up. "It's good that you've sat down and talked. You need to be able to discuss every thing that troubles you and if there's any thing you feel you can't talk to him you come to me or CJ."

"Toby, I've…." Sam stood up and walked with his friend over to the door. "What I said earlier about the campaign. Sometimes I don't know what my role is!"

"You remember during the first Bartlet campaign the night of the Illinois primary and Josh's conversation with Abbey?" Sam nodded, "He's like that Sam though he doesn't want to admit it!"

"He's not he's…he cried before you came." He rubbed his face and a faint blush spread across his face. "We both did. Toby I'm so tired. I haven't slept properly since Maine. Jamie's asking questions and I've been sleep walking, Josh found me asleep on the sofa at 5am yesterday and I don't remember how I got there."

"The two days in Maine you weren't with him when you had to fly to Boston for that case. Well Josh didn't sleep, he told CJ that he doesn't sleep well without you and he was up for two nights."

"Jesus." Sam muttered.

"Your job is to keep him on track and god knows but despite your fancy flowery phases, I still value your input in drafting the speeches." Toby opened the door. "In the past it's been bad enough patching up heterosexual partner's problems. So the next two weeks are about you working through what ever issues and fears you have and I want a united couple to present to Houston." Toby walked into the hallway and turned opened the front door. "Oh yes and get some sleep!"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

10:30 pm

It's marvellous what a warm bath, a cigar and a glass of scotch and a good book can do for you. Sam reflected as he stretched his feet in the leather chair and put down his book. No dashing back to the hotel room which was always filled with campaign staff milling in and out, to get changed and to another fried chicken dinner. He pulled his dressing gown around him and stuffed his feet further in to the worn slippers; one of the first birthday presents Jamie had given him. Sam knew that Josh had brought the slippers for him but he smiled at the memory of the look of anticipation on his son's face as he opened his present.

"Hey!"

Sam smiled as his partner entered the room; his hair was sticking up from a shared bath and in his pyjamas, a crisp cotton pair from his mother. Sam stretched out his hand and Josh took it.

"I see you decided to follow my example and get in a more relaxed mode tonight." Sam said as Josh went to settle himself at Sam's feet. "I wish though you wore the silk smoking jacket…fits in with the plans I've got tonight."

Sam bent down and kissed his partner's head

"First time we've done this in ages. Jamie's asleep and you're taking him bowling tomorrow whilst I stay in to wait for the dishwasher repair man."

"I can just see his face when he turns up and the Presidential candidate is standing at the door."

"It's as I said in Ohio, I'm a family man with ordinary family responsibilities." Josh got to his feet and walked over to the drinks trolley, "I think I might join you in one."

He poured a small whisky and turned round to find his partner had decided to make himself comfortable on the sofa.

"Come here." Sam patted the sofa and Josh positioned himself so his head was resting on his lover's chest and that he was easy reach to pick up his glass. For a moment they lay quietly enjoying the silence.

"Darlin' Sam said innocently after a few moments, "You know I spoke to Toby today."

"Uh-huh. You know sweetheart when you say it in that tone of voice in a B movie you'd be telling me you're pregnant or something." Josh teased a he took a sip of whiskey.

"Joshua I need you to be serious for a moment. Ok?"

Josh turned round in his lover's arms. "Sam?"

"Listen. Toby told me that you didn't sleep those nights I was away in Boston. So…" Sam accepted a lingering kiss from Josh. "A few ground rules of my own on this campaign."

"Oh you're taking over are you?" Josh replied with a grin as he raised himself on his elbow and went to untie his partner's dressing gown. "I seem to remember you've tried that tactic in the past and…"

Sam removed his hand with a playful slap. "Who said you could touch but I do have a nice surprise, but for now just listen would cha?"

"Ok!"

"Ground rule one! I know our hotel rooms are like Grand Central Station but no interruptions until after 8am in the morning. I want us to have sometimes to ourselves, you know how you like to read the papers in bed or…" Sam took Josh's hand and guided it inside his pyjama top. "This; You need that time just to remember who you are and that I love you."

"Sweetheart!" Josh's hands began to explore further down his lover's chest but Sam sat up further against the arm rest of the pillow and wrapped his dressing gown around him.

"Awww." Josh pouted.

"Good things come to those who wait as mom always says." Sam shifted and said in a strangled voice "Rule 2, if I'm away for the night and you can't sleep I want you to…" With a sly smile at his partner Sam untied his robe again. .

"Jesus!" Josh exclaimed at the briefest of leather pants.

Sam smirked and wiggled back down on the sofa with his arms behind his head.

"You like! I've got an extra something…." Sam pulled Josh down and whispered in his ear.

"Sam that doesn't tell me much!" Josh sat up his eyes gleaming as Sam got up and crossed over to the door. He turned and with a glint in his eye held up his 5 fingers and left the room before Josh could reply. After a five minutes Josh trying not to thunder upstairs and wake Jamie, tapped on their bedroom door and his eyes where on stalks at the site in front of him.

"Fireman Sam!" Josh breathed as he was pulled inside.

The Next Day.

Sam awoke in the double bed of the suite of rooms Josh had booked for the duration of a week's campaign in Houston. Josh lay flat on his back snoring one arm laid against his partner's chest. Sam gently moved Josh's arm and all Josh did was grunt and move further down the covers. Sam smiled and swung his legs over the bed, the years few years of being on the road with his partner taught him at all time to wear a tee-shirt and boxers in case of sudden interruptions. Dressed in a very baggy Yale tee-shirt and pale blue cotton boxer shorts he padded gently over to the bathroom.

"Sam!"

At the sound of Josh's voice calling him Sam entered the bedroom and turned the kettle on and gave a grimace at the plastic cartons of milk and small sachets of coffee.

"What time is it?" Josh sat up in the bed.

"6.am." Sam went over to the bed and kissed his partner gently on his forehead. "Coffee?"

"Hmm and a cuddle?" Josh asked arching himself and settling back against the headrest of the bed, watching Sam as he made two cups of coffee and brought them over.

"Mom said she'll send us that coffee you like from Rome." Sam sniffed his coffee "If we're gonna be two weeks on the road we need something more than what passes for coffee in this hotel." He climbed into bed and pulled his partner in to his arms and tucked the sheets around them.

"You were so right to insist on a few ground rules sweetheart." Josh said appreciatively. "I love this; it reminds me of our Sunday mornings in bed."

"Yeah and no hurricane Jamie thundering in and crawling in between us!"

"You miss him though don't you?" Sam nodded and turned to pick the schedule up by his bedside table and reached for his glasses. "Wanna go over the schedule?" He said hastily brushing a few tears away.

What had gotten him to him today? It wasn't like he'd been to Fort Worth before twice during the Bartlet campaign or left Jamie with his mom.

"Ok we have a working breakfast with CJ and Toby at 9," Sam leaned forward and kissed his partner. "That means we have 3 whole hours together."

"Ok what time I'm I meeting the local chamber of commerce?" Josh sipped his coffee enjoying the site of his partner in glasses. "You know I'm so glad you decided not to go for that laser eye treatment like your mom suggested." Josh commented "As I just love to…"Josh went to take his partner's glasses off as Sam pushed him away.

"Will you behave? You wanted to hear the schedule for the day! Your meeting the chamber of commerce at 10am and then it's back here for a lunchtime de-brief with the staff then the rally at 1pm. Oh yes don't forget tonight is tux time as we do a little buttering up of delegates from the local party office.

"Tux's!"

Sam smiled. "Yeah! I know how you love to strut and preen so you can do so to your hearts content tonight."

"You make me sound like a peacock!" Josh grumbled as he removed Sam's glasses and put them on his side of the bed.

"Well darlin' you do sort of have that kind of a walk, mighty pleased with yourself, head up." Sam accepted a kiss and slightly pushed his partner away and turned back the sheets to reveal his bulging pants. "Now if we're gonna do what we usually, can you use a Tic Tac or something first."

"You and your dental hygiene!" Josh grumbled as he took the book of peppermint sweets from his bedside cabinet.

"Yes but you love me for my freakish ways!" Sam teased as he positioned himself over his lover. For a while, tangled in the sheets, sticky with love, Sam allowed him self to shake an air of general disquiet that refused to go away.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

4pm.

Sam sighed and tugged at his tie as he entered their hotel room. Josh was in Toby's room conferring with the staff before a wash and change before the evening's black tie meet and greet the local democrats of Houston. Then there was a televised breakfast speech in the morning at the conference centre of their hotel.

He opened the door with the card and after putting his jacket and tie away went and turned the 20inch TV on in the corner of the room. As he went to sit down on the bed the phone rang and Sam picked it up.

"Sam Seaborn." He said automatically, his eye on the television which was showing coverage of Josh's rally earlier that afternoon and half expecting it to be Jamie on the other line.

A few minutes later Josh charged in through the door and sent it flying against the wall and pieces of plaster landed on the carpet. CJ Toby and Alex followed.

"How the hell did that call get through?" He exploded and sat down heavily on the bed next to his partner who was still staring at the receiver in his hand. Josh took the receiver from Sam's hand and placed it back on the base.

"Sam." He said softly keeping his hands in his partner's "do you wanna tell me what exactly that caller said?"

"Senator Lyman." The head of security for the trip John Redman appeared at the door way. A tall, dark, imposing no nonsense man, he entered the room as Josh waved him to come in.

"Sam." Josh tried again but his partner sat staring into space the blue eyes dazed. "Sam its Josh, I'm trying not to freak here…" Josh put his arm around his partner and looked up at John. "Look can you…" his gaze travelled around the room, "all of you give us some space for say half an hour. I need some time alone with Sam."

"You're gonna need to apologise to the hotel manager about the door." Sam finally said in a shaky tone voice after everyone had left the room and shut the door behind them.

"Yeah," Josh took Sam in his arms and held him tightly then released him and stared in to the pale features of his lover. "Let's get you a drink. I think there are some of those miniature bottles in the fridge."

"Scot…ch…whisk…y" Sam managed to get the words out as he watched his partner hurry across the other side of the room and come back with a small bottle of whisky.

The hot fiery liquid restored his sense of equilibrium and Josh wrapped his arms around his partner.

"Tell me every thing sweetheart, John will need to know and he'll see if they hotel can get a trace on the call."

"It's not like we've not heard it before." Sam stared blankly at his hands "this time…Jesus….I've never heard such sheer venom. Darlin' they said it was best for you and your campaign if I disappeared. Funny isn't it…"Sam began to laugh "They can accept you on your own but I'm the fly in the ointment and should be squashed. Well that was the metaphor."

Josh for a moment simply stared back at Sam, then Sam found himself almost suffocated in an embrace.

"I'm not gonna let you out of my sight." Josh vowed stroking his partner's hair his voice near to tears with anger and shock. "What have you ever done to them? All you've ever done is be your brilliant geeky, passionate self. "

"This person said…true southern gentleman, know how to deal with…." Sam released himself from Josh's arms. "Lawyers who defend murderers and rapists, so least darlin'," Sam gave a shaky laugh. "We know it's not us together…." Sam turned an unhealthy shade of green, "think I'm gonna throw up!"

Josh watched as he partner made a hasty retreat into the bathroom and shivered at the retching sounds Sam made. He picked up the phone, aware that his own hands trembled violently and he difficulty in dialling Toby's room number.

"Toby, has John come up with any thing? Got hotel reception working on it good? How am I? Toby my concern is Sam…" Josh rebuked Toby and looked up as Sam walked back into the bedroom. "Yeah…" he said in softer tones "I know what I'm like and yes I know…yes he did work with you…what!"

Sam raised an eyebrow at the alarm in Josh's voice as he went to the wardrobe to pull out his tux.

"What the fuck!" Josh continued "How was leaked to the press? Ok… right well I want you Alex and CJ in here now! Christ Toby if this gets out on national TV…yeah well Francesca for one and Jamie."

"Press got it?" Sam mouthed at his partner.

Josh nodded.

"We'll fix it sweetheart." He mouthed back as Sam began to climb out of his pants and pad softly around the hotel room. "Toby we'll need you and Sam to amend the speech for tonight. Ok see you in 15 minutes, yes Alex too. Kelly…" Josh gave a sideways glance at his partner for some reason Kelly Preston a tall, confident redhead and Sam had not hit it off. "No get her working on the speech for the breakfast tomorrow morning; I want something about…yeah…crime. Ok… thanks."

"So I better phone mom and warn her to keep Jamie away from the news." Sam said in resigned tones as he climbed out of his blue shirt and let Josh wrap his arms around him.

"Oh that's so good darlin'" Sam arched his body back against Josh as his partner began to relax his tense muscles with gentle rubbing movements around his shoulder blades and down in to the small of his back.

"If we had time sweetheart I'd take you to bed and show you that I'm….Sam!"

Josh found frantic hands tearing at his cream shirt, a caramel coloured tie Francesca had once picked out for him, ripped to shreds. He sort of remembered his partner pulling him on to the floor and words of "they're not taking this away from me!" The next time he fully came to his senses he was lying on the floor with Sam beside him heaving himself on to one arm bent over Josh.

"God I'm not on drugs or anything, but that was a trip there sweetheart, flashing colours, I think I must have blacked out or something. Not that I'm complaining sweetheart but I know anger can make you randy sometimes but…" Josh's face travelled down to his partner's lower regions "but you're still…"

"What the hell's going on in there? Josh we have a meeting!" Toby rattled the door handle.

"Shit!" Josh sat up rubbed his hair as Sam dived in to the bathroom muttering to himself.

"Just a moment Toby!" Josh shouted back as he scrambled back into his pants and grabbed the nearest shirt from the wardrobe. He hurried over to the door and opened it.

"I know you two have always had this knock before you enter rule. I called three times and…" Toby took in the scene in front of him. Sam standing in the bathroom scrambling in to his pants and Josh looking slightly flushed but pleased with himself.

"Sam it's good to see your taking the advice I gave you before this trip" Toby remarked dryly as Alex and CJ entered the room. "Now about the statement."

Sam and Josh joined Toby and CJ and Alex and CJ noticed with a smile that Sam slipped his hand in his partners and kept it there throughout the meeting.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

12 Midnight

"Christ!" Josh threw himself on the bed and closed his eyes "I was about to throttle Dave Wilkins when he approached asking my stance on increased rights for divorced father's."

Sam smiled as at his partner as he sat on the edge of the bed and began to take his shoes off.

"You had that look on your face, you know the one were you stare into space with a slightly disinterested look. I thought it was best to come and rescue you at that point."

"Sweetheart!" Josh stretched himself out on the bed, "what did Toby say to you before this trip?"

"What do you mean?" Sam replied blithely as he took off his bow tie and crossed over to a chair and once he'd taken off his shirt laid it neatly on top. He came back to the bed and sat so he was leaning over his partner.

"Well this afternoon he said something about you taking his advice." Josh wheedled "and after this afternoon I wanted to take care of you… but you've been all over me. Not that I'm complaining….ohhh….do that again!"

Sam gave his lover a seductive smile as his hands began to explore the zip on his lover's pants and he slowly opened and closed Josh's pants.

"Josh if you were to spend the whole campaign running around after me I'd have Toby and CJ after me! It's all part of my keep my partner happy and focused on this trip. Darlin' I saw you after Maine when you went solo and you were a wreck!"

"Yes but I…." Josh was silenced by whisky, cigar kiss.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

6AM

"We must talk about it though sweetheart." Josh said as climbed out of bed and padded over to the coffee making machine and switched it on.

"Talk about what!" Sam replied sleepily as he pulled the covers over his head. "Darlin' can't I have half an hour extra shut eye!"

"I'm sorry Sam but I wanna talk!" Josh banged the coffee cup on the tray in his frustration.

"Having you been stewing about that call all night!" Sam sat up in bed and rubbed his eyes. "Where did I put the Advil?" He muttered as he rummaged in the bedside drawer.

"Got a headache?" Josh asked tenderly as he put a cup of coffee own on Sam's bedside drawer and kissed his partner's forehead.

"Slight one." Sam admitted sitting up and laying back against the pillows "didn't help that Toby and I enjoyed a large glass of whisky on top of the wine as we dodged Dave Wilkins, he was making a beeline for Toby and I, so we headed towards the bar and decamped there, whilst you were being nice to the mayor's wife."

"Yea but he got me in the end. You know there's nothing more I'd like to do for single fathers and the issue of late payments, you were one yourself." Josh muttered as he perched himself on bed beside Sam sipping his coffee.

"Yea but I was fortunate Josh. I had a successful practice and mom's support when Geena died. Some of these guys don't have that level of support."

"I know, I know," Josh sighed as he put his cup down and picked up his partner's copy of the schedule. "Are you still going to that education thing after the breakfast?" He asked casually.

"Yes." Sam replied emphatically looking determinedly at his partner. "Don't look at me like that! I know what you said yesterday but I'm going and if it makes you happy Toby's coming with me and about six other security guards."

"Good!" Josh stood up, "at last we are talking about it! You've apart from straight after the call been so bloody calm!" Josh's voice wavered and Sam sat up and leaned forward reaching for his partner's hand.

"Joshua listen!" he urged "If I'm calm its because this is not the type of stuff we've heard before, sometimes though you go for months and it's quiet as it has been. You can kid yourself that people accept yourself for what you are…" Sam squeezed Josh's hand, "then Wham! Bam! There's one front and centre and it knocks you sideways!

"Sam…"

Sam leaned forward and kissed his partner on the lips.

"Listen darlin' what that guy said it was an insult to every one that I've tried to protect, yeah some of them have been guilty but every one has a right to a trial."

"Ohh I love it when you're in lawyer mode, makes me…" Josh was interrupted by another kiss as the coffee cup floor fell out of his hand and bounced on to the floor.

"Shower darlin'?" Sam suggested as he helped his partner sit up a few moments later and threw the ripped tee-shirt on the floor.

"You and a shower?" Josh gave his partner an appraising look as he ran his shaking fingers through his hair. "I'll pass, I have got this breakfast speech and…Sam, there right there, ok you're on!"

10am

Four words, four words that meant so much which had him Joshua Lyman a master strategist and successful politician, sitting at the breakfast speech in the conference room of the hotel, feeling more like a love struck teenager. Oh Christ! Josh put his head in his hands as he stared down at the speech, focus Lyman focus! Economy, welfare, not, hot soapy urgent lovemaking. Then, Sam had him wrapped in a huge fluffy towel with whispered words of love and encouragement, and planting kisses in places that left him bouncing off the walls.

It was almost like the famous Kennedy breakfast, but now his Sam was sauntering in with apologies that he'd had Jamie on the phone "ahhs" from the women delegates. Josh's groin ached as the Mayor's wife stood and almost slobbered at Sam immaculate, in a black Armani, with a dark blue shirt and silk tie. After a quick squeeze of his partner's shoulder Sam sat down and turned with a devastating smile to the Junoesque lady as Josh turned his attention to what the Mayor was saying.

Four words, "I love you focus!" as Josh went to stand he felt a press of the hand on his knee and the blue eyes gazing up encouragingly. He'd delivered the speech turning now and again to acknowledge passages written by his partner then a thunder of applause had erupted around the room. A quick kiss of the hand under the table, and a "you were fantastic, I'll see you later." whispered in his ear. Then in a whirlwind of aftershave and the smell of fresh coffee Sam was gone off to his own meet and greet session.

Now here I am, Josh reflected as he stared around the silence of their shared hotel room, slightly listless hung over with love. He glanced at his watch and gave a sigh of relief only thirty five minutes and they'd be on the campaign bus heading for home. It was stupid to be concerned but after the episodes in the kitchen, with the phone call, he knew his partner's insecurities, burning the candle at both ends, and an over-active libido. Josh sat down in an arm chair and closed his eyes, it was not that he minded feeling as if he was constantly stepping off a merry-go-round but he longed for his own bed and…

"Come in!" He called the smile on his face draining at the look on CJ's face. I knew it he'd go first Josh thought irrationally as he heard himself say "Sam?"

CJ nodded and Josh felt himself being pushed in to a chair.

"Do I look that bad?" Josh tried to joke.

"Yes. You look as if you're about to…Josh there's no way I'm gonna sugar coat this but Sam was…."

"CJ!" Sam's voice could be heard down the corridor and before CJ cold stop him Josh was on his feet and hurtling towards the door. He stopped dead in his tracks at the sight before him, Sam being supported by two security men with Toby bringing up the rear.

"Jesus! What the…!" Josh hurried down towards his partner.

"It's ok!" Sam began reassuringly knowing it looked any thing but. He held his arm awkwardly and there was a cut down the right side of his forehead. Sam whipped out a handkerchief from his the pocket of his pants and dabbed the wound which had started to bleed again.

"No it's not OK!" Toby yelled causing Sam to wince, "We were coming out of the education centre and suddenly I hear this whizzing sound and he's hit but some sort of flying missile!"

"Toby…."

"Then the little fool insists he's coming back here to reassure you that….Sam there could be glass imbedded in your scalp."

If he wasn't so frightened Josh would have time to reflect on the fact he'd never heard Toby speak to his former deputy in such a warm, but panicked tone. Instead, he focused his seething rage on getting his partner into their suite settled on the bed. Josh stared at his shaking hands as he summoned the hotel doctor.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

2.pm

"Thank god!" Josh got his feet as the pale and shattered features of Sam and Toby entered the hotel suite.

Sam's right arm was in sling and a bandage covered his forehead and he flopped down on the bed and closed his eyes. He still wore the white shirt stained with a couple of spots of blood, one sleeve hanging lose.

"Well that's him safely delivered Josh." Toby rubbed his forehead and sat heavily down in a chair. "His arm is badly sprained so it needs the support of a sling for a couple of weeks. The gash to the forehead has been cleaned and stitched and…" Toby fished in his jacket pocket, "here's some anti-biotic, and pain killers for the headache I'm sure is brewing away," Toby gave an almost brotherly look towards Sam.

"I can't see why you didn't let me go with him!" Josh mentally kicked himself for rebuking his lover as he helped him to take off his jacket.

"You know why Josh." Sam sat up against the headboard. "We wanted you to work on the announcement to the press."

"I still think this is a bad idea Sam! I wanna get you home safe then we can make a statement to the press. And it's we now is it! I don't like it when you and Toby start ganging up on me."

"Joshua!" Sam swung his legs over the side of the bed, gave a hiss of pain and sat back down. "What does it look like if we shuffle away with our tails between our legs? We announce to the people of Houston that I'm fine, if a little battered and we'll be back."

"Sam you've been watching too many Arnold Schwarzenegger movies." Toby muttered as he took a legal notepad out of his briefcase and handed it to Josh. "This is what Sam and I came up whilst we were sitting in the ER."

Josh read it and stared at Sam in surprise and admiration. "You and Toby wrote this? In the hospital?"

Sam nodded with an aside smile at Toby

"Well the wait was long Josh and as Toby reminded me he was always good at keeping me occupied."

"I don't know ho you to can joke about this! I want a report from the so called apology of a security team we hired and then…" Josh realised his finger was pointing as he shook it at Sam "if you don't want to leave tonight you're going straight to bed!"

"Toby" Sam stood up and took his partner's arm and put it around his waist "Can you give us an hour." Sam kissed Josh's cheek. "I need to calm him down a bit."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Next Day.

So here we are again, Josh reflected as he sat at the family breakfast table with Sam and Jamie with Francesca completing the family picture. Everyone was trying to pretend that Houston was a vague nightmare, but the site of Francesca cutting her son's pancakes and Jamie laughing as she did was a stark reminder.

"So what are you doing today darling." Francesca's question to Sam broke in to Josh thoughts as she gathered up the plates and carried them over to the sink.

"Here mom let me help!" Sam got up and with his good hand collected two glasses with a surprised look at Josh who leapt up and went to take the glasses from him. "Darlin' I can carry two glasses." He protested and walked over to the sink and his mother gave him a warm smile.

"That's my son! Not going to let a sprain get in the way of helping out."

Francesca turned to Jamie who was trying to sidle out of the kitchen

"You young man can help clear the rest of the table before we go in to Georgetown."

"You don't mind driving do you mom I can't drive but I'll have one hand free for helping with the shopping. I'd like to take Jamie…."

Josh stood observing the scene and as his partner and mother had their backs to him they would have been surprised at the look of astonishment on his face.

"I don't know how you can…" Josh found the words coming out in gulps of anger, "How can you Francesca treat Sam's injury as a simple slip in the driveway!" Josh rang his fingers through his hair. "They… they!" Josh began to wheeze slightly and slumped down on a chair.

"Samuel go upstairs and help Jamie to find a decent coat to put on and not that apology of a fleece I've seen him wearing." Francesca instructed.

"Mom I think I…" Sam began casting an anxious glance at his lover.

"Samuel!"

"Yes mom." Sam hurried out of the kitchen and Francesca rummaged through the kitchen drawer and pulled out a paper bag. "Thank god you still have the sense to keep some of these in the house." She pulled out a chair opposite to Josh and handed it to him and watched as Josh puffed in to it. Slowly some colour returned to his cheeks and he handed back with a sheepish look on his face.

"Sorry." He muttered and to his surprise found himself being hugged by Francesca.

"No don't be sorry! You want everyone to be running around making a big deal out of it so you deal with it in your way but…" Francesca released Josh and crossed over to the fridge pulled out a bottle of water.

How is that woman, manages to look self-possessed in twin-set and rubber gloves Josh wondered as he watched her pour some water in to a glass and return to her seat.

"Think about it, Sam had to deal with telling me to keep Jamie away from the television." Francesca handed him the water, "Just gentle sips Josh. I forget you had that operation a few years ago."

"I'm fine Francesca honest." Josh tried to reassure her, "It's just sometimes if I get upset or agitated my lungs protest a bit."

"Well let someone fuss around you for a change and from what I hear my son did a bit of that in Houston."

Josh smiled and tried hard not to blush at memories of early morning sex and showers.

"Joshua, I don't need to know the details but Sam knew he had to present a calm image to get you through was gonna be a tough week. He then had to put on a brave face to Jamie when you arrived home. Would it help either of you if I told you Jamie howled on my lap and it took Donna and I a while to settle him to sleep?"

"No it wouldn't help Sam. I know he was freaking in the hotel about telling Jamie and when I think about it he was late in the ballroom for the breakfast." Josh replied.

"He was on the phone to me and together we spoke to Jamie and by the time I got him off to school we'd convinced him that Daddy was OK and there are some mean people in this world."

Francesca leaned over and squeezed Josh's hand and studied his tired features intently.

"Donna and I decided to let him watch your press conference and Jamie got a kick out of seeing his Dad and JJ fighting back."

"Did he?" Josh yawned and dropped his head on the kitchen table and Francesca heard a mumbled, "I'm so scared but tired at the same time. Sam and I used to say sometimes we are nowhere and it feels like that now."

"You are somewhere Josh far further than I expect you'd ever dreamed you would be." Francesca surprised herself by standing up and gently massaging Josh's hair. Slightly thinner, but her hands could be lost in it and the auburn tones now slightly faded glinted in the early morning sun. "But if you go on the way you are you'll be no use to your family that loves you."

"You just can't see the wood from the trees at the moment. Go upstairs, have a nice relaxing bath, not one of those horrid showers, close the blinds and get some sleep. I'm taking them out and I won't be back till late afternoon."

Josh's face emerged and he gave Francesca a warm smile.

"I think I ought to have made you my campaign manager. You're good at marshalling the troops."

"I'm getting too old and tired. Now here they come…" Francesca opened the kitchen door as Jamie looking smart in a black zip up jacket and black cords appeared with Sam.

"You ok?" Sam asked his partner as they walked towards the front door.

As it was sometimes between them, a look said it all; Sam kissed his partner's cheek.

"Ok I'll see you later."

Josh smiled and watched them drive off with Jamie waving from the back of the car. For a moment he stood in the hallway admiring the light that flooded in through the stain glass window and enjoying the peace and silence of the house, before heading upstairs to take Francesca's advice.

__________________________________________________________________

Josh closed the door to the bedroom and did as Francesca suggested closed the blinds and drew the curtains.

For a moment he stared at the picture of Sam and Jamie on his side of the bed, taken on their first holiday at Hilton Head. Jamie and Sam sat on the beach; Sam's arms were wrapped protectively around Jamie as he dug his spade into the sun. The photograph captured the triumphant grin as Josh had instructed him to smile for the camera.

Well, Sam could protect Jamie but he'd failed to protect Sam and Francesca was right the image would gnaw away at him till he was no use to his family. Josh pulled out his mobile and put a smile on his face as he chose three on his speed dial.

"Hey CJ! Yes I'm fine. Sam? He's gone out with Jamie and Francesca; yes he seems to have got over…yes…" Josh swallowed any moment he'd be babbling like a girl and he took a deep breath "CJ I want you to get in contact…yes you have the number and arrange Secret Service protection…" This wouldn't do the tears where streaming down his face. "Just do it…am I ok? Yeah sure…look CJ I've gotta…go." Josh abruptly finished the call as tears cascaded down his face.

Caught up in his misery he didn't hear the door open and for once stealth like Sam creeping across the floorboards. All Josh knew that his partner's good arm was protectively around him and he was sobbing on Sam's chest.

"I'm sorry I'm sorry! I couldn't protect you." Josh repeated between tears which mingled in salty kisses.

"Hey! It's ok darlin'" Sam soothed, "You were there for me and I love you for it. It's what we said before the trip we each have our own nightmares. It's how we deal with them and I think we dealt with the situation as da men. Don't you?"

Sam held Josh at arms length, who stared at his lover in surprise. Sam broke in to a wide smile at the look of realisation of how his lover was dressed.

"A wounded Fireman Sam! Wait a moment how did you…?"

Sam smirked as Josh began to slowly undo the gold buttons and explore inside his partners jacket. "I love to dress you and…Oh Sam you didn't ask your mom!"

"I tell you darlin' that's the last time I go skulking around looking shifty with a carrier bag!"

"I saw you drive away! Jamie was waving in the window."

Sam gave a broad grin.

"Mom and I had it all worked out last night after she found the fireman's uniform in the wardrobe in the spare bedroom. Mom drove about two hundred yards then dropped me off and I crept back and let myself in through the backdoor. You had the curtains to the bedroom closed just as mom suggested and for once I didn't trip up over my own two feet!" Sam announced with a pleased look on his face.

"So who dressed you? Oh Sam, not your mom!"

Sam didn't reply another knowing look said it all as the fireman's helmet was tossed to one side and rolled down on the floorboards. Both men watched it and burst in to laughter.

"I think this was well worth $299 don't you?" Sam said as he pulled his partner back into the circle of his arm and set about restoring the confident Senator Lyman of Virginia to the public arena.

The End.

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