Title: Sam and Josh's 12 Days of Christmas
Author: Hannah
Rating: PG-13
Summary: The fic that does excactly what it says in the title
Website: www.geocities.com/hannahfmuk
LiveJournal (hello 21st century!): http://www.livejournal.com/users/hannahfmuk/
Notes: Thanks to Jesse for the last-minute beta job, and to Kathi for requesting so many Christmas fics - they've all been brilliant and I just hope mine doesn't lower the standard.

Sam and Josh's 12 Days of Christmas by Hannah

#On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...#

"Josh?"

Sam's slightly concerned-sounding call brought Josh trotting into the sitting room, dishcloth still in hand, dripping water all over the carpet.

"What...? Huh?" Sam was standing by the Christmas tree, having apparently just picked up the last thing left under it - a plain white envelope with his name on it.

"Very eloquent, dear. No wonder President Bartlet hired you as a speechwriter."

"You've given me a postcard? In an envelope?"

"Yeah."

"A postcard of Capitol Hill?"

"Uh-huh."

"Josh? I'm trying to have a conversation here. Is there any chance you feel like giving me some answers in the form of full, non-sarcastic sentences?"

"It's a Christmas present for you. It's your first-day-of-Christmas present. You'll spot the theme," Josh assured him, smiling gently at the look of puzzled happiness on Sam's face. "At least, I hope you spot the theme," he added worriedly. This first gift hadn't exactly been met with an over enthusiastic reception. Or, even a vaguely enthusiastic reception. And it had seemed a pretty weird idea to begin with. Suddenly, the thought of sharing it with the man he loved more than anyone or anything in the world seemed a little scary.

But when Sam walked over to Josh and kissed him softly on the cheek, his worries faded. With each of the twelve days of Christmas would come a new gift for Sam - a new clue to the theme. And on the twelfth day... Josh wrapped his arms tightly around Sam at the thought of what was to come on the twelfth day of Christmas.

#On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...#

To say that Sam was mildly disturbed by his second present would be an understatement.

"Josh, what the hell? And do I even want to know how you got hold of this?"

A sign, proclaiming their hallway to be "Grenston Street" was standing against the door to the utility closet when Sam got home from work that evening. Josh had left early, refusing to say where he was going. And now here was a street sign, still slightly damp from where that evening's snow had fallen on it.

"It's exactly what it looks like. And you really don't want to know how." Josh unwrapped Sam's scarf and slid off his coat before leaning in for a long, steamy, passion-filled kiss that spoke of the frustration of a day in the office with no chance to grab even a second alone together.

"This is part of the theme?"

"It is indeed. Any ideas yet?"

"Not a one."

Josh frowned at this. "Really? Not at all?"

"Nooo. Why?"

"That street doesn't mean anything to you?"

Sam shook his head. "Not that I can think of, no."

"Huh." Josh wandered off to hang up Sam's coat and scarf. How could Sam not remember? This was not good.

#On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...#

The next day, Josh cooked dinner. He set the table and served the food out onto plates then carried it into the dining room, where Sam was sitting in clear admiration of the effort.

"How's the food?" asked Josh eagerly, the second Sam's fork had reached his lips.

"Good."

"Does it need salt or pepper? Anything at all?"

Sam shook his head. "No. It's perfect. Just like you, babe."

"Really? No salt or pepper? We've got new shakers for them." This was terrible - with each day, Josh's twelve-day plan was going more and more badly.

"We do?" Sam reached over for the pepper shaker and examined it. "Hey! These are just like the ones they have at Ciao Roma - the ones I love! Where did you get these?"

"Ciao Roma." Yep. The three days of gift-giving had so far involved two days of theft. At this rate, Josh could seem himself ringing in the New Year behind bars.

"You went there without me?" asked Sam, sounding slightly hurt. "But that's our place. It's been since our first date there way back when... Hey! That's the theme!"

Josh smiled hopefully. "What's the theme?"

"Us. We're the theme. Grenston Street's the place we had our first kiss, on the way home from that party. And the salt and pepper things are from the restaurant we had our first date." He frowned slightly. "But I still don't get the postcard."

"Capitol Hill? We met while you were a congressional aide - we were working on the hill."

"Aah. That's sweet, Josh."

"I'm a sweet kinda guy, Sam. Wanna head up to bed and taste just how much of me's sweet?" he leered.

Sam wrinkled his nose slightly and smirked a maddening smirk. "In a bit. We've still got dinner to eat first."

With a resigned sigh, Josh vowed to himself that this would be the last time he cooked.

#On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...#

Keeping his promise not to cook any more meals for Sam, Josh spent the next evening plying him with alcohol.

"Enjoying your wine?" he asked pointedly, after the third glass was coming to an end.

"Definitely. It's been years since I had this one."

"You remember the first time we had it?"

>From the way Sam put his wineglass down on the coffee table and curled

into Josh, who was sitting right next to him on the couch, it seemed pretty clear he remembered.

"Our first night together," murmured Sam. "I was so nervous - it was only the wine that calmed me down enough to go ahead with it."

"We both were," Josh reminded him softly. "It was so long since I'd been with a guy I wasn't sure I'd remember what to do. Plus, well, it was with you - and I've spent years wanting everything in your life to be as perfect as it can be."

This comment earned him a kiss and several caresses of the type that hinted at a possible reenactment of that first night in the not-too-distant future.

"I love you," Sam whispered, as he brushed feather-light kisses across Josh's face. "And I love this present-giving scheme of yours. And, you know, as long as you're in my life, I know things are as perfect as they can get."

#On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...#

When Sam stepped out of the shower the next morning, he found a new bathrobe waiting for him. Its logo seemed somehow familiar to him.

"Josh? Tell me this isn't another felonious gift of yours."

"Um..."

"Josh?! You know, I'm receiving these stolen goods of yours. I'm an accessory."

"You're pretty enough to be one," agreed Josh, trying to tug the robe apart to gaze at the glorious body it was hiding. "Maybe an emerald necklace. Or a diamond ring."

"Hey! Those are pretty girly things, you know. I hope you're not implying anything here."

Josh grinned. "Oh, you're all man, all right. Although if I could just confirm that..." He reached forward but Sam batted his hands away.

"No way. We have to get to work."

"Not until you tell me you know why I gave you this."

Sam laughed briefly, but one look at Josh's earnest face gazing up at him from his seat at the kitchen table assured him that Josh was serious.

"The Hideaway Inn. The hotel we went to for our first weekend away together." He smiled at the memories. It had been the middle of winter, and the snow had been so deep outside that they had ended up spending most of their time in bed. It had been a good weekend.

"It was good, wasn't it? Maybe we could go back there someday. How about sometime in the spring?"

"I'd like that." Sam headed out of the kitchen, ruffling Josh's hair on the way. "I'd like just about anything with you."

#On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...#

Having been kept up for most of the night by Josh's enthusiastic "memory remaking", Sam was a little bleary-eyes when he turned up at the office on December 30. He had filled his coffee mug almost to the point of overflowing, and was keeping such a careful eye on the scalding-hot liquid that he didn't notice the package sitting on his desk chair, and so promptly sat on it.

There was no way he was ever going to admit to Josh just how many minutes it had taken his early-morning self to realize that the cause of his discomfort was the parcel under his butt, but eventually he caught on and stood up to find a thin rectangular package wrapped in shiny silver paper with a pale blue bow stuck on top.

He opened it to reveal a set of expensive envelopes and notepaper, the latter of which had his and Josh's names and address embossed in the top right-hand corner. The top sheet had been written on, in Josh's unmistakable penmanship.

'My darling,

I know we live together now, and no longer write to each other as we did while you were at Duke, but still I treasure each and every one of the letters you sent me over the years. Even after our relationship ended that first time, you still wrote, and my heart still leapt each time I saw your handwriting on the envelope.

You mean the world to me, and I pray every night that letters never become our only way of staying in touch. I don't want our relationship to end again, Sam. Not now, not ever.

With all my love, Your Joshua.'

It was sappy, and over-romantic, and totally unlike Josh to put his feelings into words in such a way. Sam brushed away the tears of happiness that had formed in his eyes. This would be a letter he would keep for the rest of his life, there was no doubt in his mind. And by the sound of it, he got to keep Josh for the rest of his life as well.

Sam smiled to himself. The future was looking good.

#On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...#

Tacky was the only word Sam could think of to describe the present Josh had given him just before they had kissed in the New Year and toasted it with perhaps one glass too many of champagne. He prodded the gift with his finger, trying to turn it to an angle which might possibly hide its innate cheapness, but to no avail: there on the dresser, along with the best china and some beautifully framed photographs of the couple and their families, stood a ten-inch high plastic model of the Statue of Liberty.

"Sam, stop playing with your new toy and come tuck me in," came Josh's plaintive cry from upstairs. "It's cold. I need you. And it's the New Year - don't make me see it in on my own."

With a roll of his eyes at the 'new toy' comment, Sam trudged up to the bedroom and snuggled down under the covers next to Josh, who immediately rolled over, apparently anxious to get as much of their bodies in contact as possible.

"Did you like it?" Josh asked eagerly.

"Erm..." Sam paused for a moment, trying to work out a way to be tactful and truthful at once. With a gift that hideous, it wasn't going to be easy. "I love what you're doing with this whole thing. Today's is for when you came and got me in New York, isn't it?"

"It's for the day I stole you away to my evil lair of lust," confirmed Josh.

The unmistakable odor of alcohol hit Sam. It hit him hard. "Josh, you drank too much tonight and you haven't brushed your teeth. You're gross."

With a petulant pout, Josh allowed himself to be prodded into the bathroom, then prodded back into bed. "But did you like the gift?" he asked, the second his head hit the pillow. "Not the overall plan. Today's gift."

"I love today's gift," Sam assured him. "Now get some sleep."

Without allowing room for any more argument, Sam rolled over. He hoped he had told the truth - technically, since he had been given the model before midnight, and it was now one-thirty in the morning, the plastic Statue of Liberty had been yesterday's gift. With luck, he really would like "today's" gift. He crossed his fingers and drifted off, nestling into Josh's sleepy embrace.

#On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me...#

Sam looked good in today's present. Really good. Josh was practically drooling at the sight of Sam in a shiny new black silk bow tie and very little else.

"See, now this is the kind of present I like," Sam told him, as he prowled over to the bed, a feral gleam lighting his eyes. "Wanna help me get it off?"

"Baby, I'll help you get off any day of the year." Josh sat up and slid his hands down Sam's bare arms, holding hands with him for the briefest of moments before moving back up to undo the bowtie. "You look so hot."

"You've got me feeling hot too," replied Sam. "But before we go too far down that route, can I ask you something?"

"Anything." As he reluctantly pulled his hands away and lay back down, Josh sighed. When Sam looked that good, talking really wasn't the activity he wanted the two of them to engage in.

"We've been to so many formal occasions. Is this for one in particular? Sorry, I just don't get it. And I was doing so well too."

To Josh's mind, there was no sight more heart-rending than an aroused Sam in black silk boxers and a formal tie looking all confused and upset at the thought that his question might offend Josh after all the thought he had put into choosing the gift.

"Don't worry about it," Josh reassured him. "It's for the inauguration balls - the ones the first time around. Because that's when we decided..."

"... to stay together no matter what," finished Sam. "I should have guessed."

"Ach," Josh brushed away his concerns with a flick of the wrist. "I'm a complex guy - you can't expect to figure out my logic all the time." He paused for a second, hoping against hope that it would be long enough to justify changing the subject. "Can we have sex now?"

Sam laughed and tumbled into bed. Apparently, they could.

#On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me...#

Today's Christmas present appeared to be Sam's favorite to date. Josh had to admit that he was enjoying it as well, mainly because it had involved very little effort and tasted great.

"I'd forgotten how good these chocolates are," said Sam through a mouthful of the most meltingly delicious dark chocolate money could buy. "I can't believe you're making me share them."

Josh blinked innocently. "Making you share them? I only suggested..."

"You suggested that if you didn't get any chocolate, I wouldn't be getting any for a very long time. And when you said 'getting any' I kind of got the impression chocolate wasn't on your mind."

"Maybe." Yeah, the innocent act wasn't working.

"And I know what these are for," continued Sam, apparently happy enough to overlook Josh's unsubtle sugar-gaining ploy in the face of such fantastic confectionary. "We had these with coffee at the end of the dinner party where we told the others about us."

"We owe these manufacturers big time," replied Josh. "I think the fact that CJ had just sneakily stuffed three of these into her mouth at once was the only thing that stopped her yelling."

"Didn't stop her laughing, though," muttered Sam, apparently still embarrassed at what had followed their announcement.

Josh smiled at the memory of CJ's none-too-innocent questions about the details of more aspects of their relationship than Sam had wanted to share. Really, was the White House press corps honestly likely to come up with questions about positions? Or sex toys? Josh had found CJ's interrogation hysterically funny. Sam hadn't - cutting the line of questions short with a the comment that for the sake of the future of journalism the world over, Sam sincerely hoped the reporters in D.C had better things to do with their minds.

"You're cute when you blush," whispered Josh, as he leaned across the table to wipe a smudge of chocolate off Sam's lips.

"You're cute whenever," came the reply and Josh felt all warm and fuzzy inside, deciding there was a lot to be said for the twelve days of Christmas.

#On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me...#

Following what Josh had cringingly described as the previous day's "candylicious" gift, Sam was pleased to discover that his present for the day was unlikely to rot his teeth. Or make him sick.

It was an address book - a very expensive one, into which Josh had taken the time and effort to write in all the details they had in their old books. While Sam was sure it had some hidden meaning that Josh would explain to him later that evening, it was very special to him for another reason: this was the first address book they would share as a couple. Up till now, they had each kept their own old books, deciding that neither could spare the time to copy every relevant piece of information into a new book.

And now Josh had done just that. Sam couldn't help but wonder how much extra paperwork Josh had been farming out to his deputies in order to make time to do all this. He liked that thought, though - it made him feel so good to know just how much he meant to Josh. Sam knew how much Josh loved him - he could see it in every look, feel it in every touch. But this gift... this gift was something real, something he could touch. It was a tangible reminder of that love. It was perfect.

"You like it?" Josh's voice broke Sam's reverie and Sam stood to hug him, glad to see him back home after another long day at work.

"I like it," he replied. "And I love you. It's something else that's ours - it was never just yours or mine."

"Like this house," Josh pointed out, with a raised eyebrow. Sam knew from experience that this meant there was a hidden meaning for him to notice in the words. He thought for a while. Then it came to him.

"Ah! The house! Our house - this is for when we moved in together and got to share the same address."

Josh nodded. "Happiest day of my life so far."

"Mine too," agreed Sam. "It's been a great ten months. Here's to many more."

#On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me...#

Sam was beginning to worry slightly - Josh's presents to him had been portraying the timeline of their relationship and it was getting awfully close to the present day. If he failed to understand the final two gifts, he had a feeling Josh would be terribly hurt.

As it turned out, there was no need to worry on account of today's gift - the event it symbolized was pretty obvious. A headline reading, "America's Sweethearts" was splashed across the front page of the Washington Post from November 3rd of the previous year. The photograph accompanying the article had left no room for denial - Sam and Josh were shown in a tight embrace, their lips touching and eyes closed.

The shockwaves of the article were still pretty strong - he and Josh were now officially out to the world, but some of the less open-minded people they had to deal with in their line of work were now refusing to attend meetings where both of them would be present. A few even smaller-minded people were refusing to attend meetings with either of them. Josh had shrugged it off, but from the way he had been sleeping poorly for the past couple of months, Sam knew he was taking it harder than he was letting on.

Still, this gift showed that Josh didn't appear to regret being outed.

"Where do you think we should hang it?" Sam asked, holding the frame up against various walls of the lounge.

"Anywhere you want," Josh told him. "How about on the outside of the front door? Then the next time some piece of shit journalist tries doorstepping us, they'll give up quick because they'll know we're not ashamed. We're not, are we?" he added hurriedly.

"Of course not. I love you, Josh, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. It's going to be a heck of a lot easier to do now that we're not keeping our relationship a secret." Sam's voice trailed off at the starry-eyed expression on Josh's face. "Josh?"

"You really want to spend the rest of your life with me," asked Josh softly.

"I really do."

Josh shook his head, as if to clear it, then grinned cheerily. "Cool."

#On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me...#

January 5th was a strange day for Sam. He woke up alone, finding a note on Josh's pillow explaining he'd had to go in to work extra-early that morning and that Sam looked so 'cute' asleep that he hadn't had the heart to wake him up. But each time Sam had tried to speak to Josh in the West Wing, he had been brushed away.

As the day went by and meeting followed meeting, Sam noticed Josh looking more and more tense. When he had finished the first draft of a speech the President was due to give at the end of the month, Sam glanced at the clock and saw that it was seven thirty-five in the evening. He called Josh's office and was surprised to be informed by Donna that Josh had headed home half an hour earlier.

The sight that met his eyes had his jaw in the floor in seconds. Josh, in his tuxedo (and neatly-tied bowtie) greeted him at the door with a loving kiss and the whispered order to, "Go get changed."

Fifteen minutes later, Sam was back downstairs and being guided into the dining room. Just as on the third day of Christmas, Josh had set the table and from the smells wafting in from the kitchen, it appeared he had cooked another sumptuous feast. The Christmas decorations were still up - it was Sam's last chance to enjoy them until the following winter, so while Josh bustled between the dining table and the kitchen table, Sam sipped his wine and gazed dreamily around the room.

Eventually the food was eaten and the dishes cleared away. Josh returned to the room and sat down, pulling his chair closer to Sam than it had been before. He took Sam's hands in his own and, with his head tilted ever so slightly to one side in a way that allowed the light from the candles to be reflected in his eyes, he began to speak.

"I've been planning this for ages, Sam. Your twelve days of Christmas thing. I wanted to show you how much our relationship means to me - how much you mean to me. And, you know, I had this whole speech planned out for tonight, for this moment. But now the time's come I'm so nervous I've forgotten it all. You see, I'm nervous because I have to ask you something. It's something I've never asked anyone, and something I don't plan on ever asking anyone again. You've made it much easier for me, with what you told me last night about your hopes for the future, but still... I'm really scared here."

Sam smiled softly and squeezed Josh hands. He could see what was coming - he knew exactly what the question would be, and he was beginning to shake slightly at the intensity of the moment.

As Josh slid from his chair to kneel on the floor in front of Sam, the trembling in his body grew stronger and it took Sam a moment to gain enough control of his hand to let go of Josh's.

Josh reached into the breast pocket of his tuxedo jacket and pulled out a ring box. He opened it to show two rings - both gold with a single square diamond in the middle.

"Will you marry me?" whispered Josh as he pulled out one of the rings and held it towards the third finger on Sam's left hand.

"Oh, my Joshua. Yes."

Sam slid off his chair to join Josh on the floor and they embraced, kissing through the tears streaming down their faces. They pulled back from each other long enough to slide the rings on each other's fingers. Then they kissed again. And again. And again.

"Good present?" asked Josh eventually.

"The best," Sam assured him. "You're the best Josh. Merry Christmas."

Josh smiled in reply. "Here's to a very happy New Year. Together, Sam. You and me together."

"That sounds like the best present ever."

FIN

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