Bodies In Motion

by: Abigale

Character(s): Josh, Sam
Pairing(s): Josh/Sam
Category(s): General
Rating: MATURE
Summary: These things don't always happen overnight but sometimes they do.

"She called it 'Mylanta of the urethra'," Sam said with absolutely no sign of irony. "So if you're still thinking this was you...." He paused and looked over his glasses at Josh, who was sitting attentively on the edge of Sam's guest chair.

"That sounds too much like some sci-fi deity for me to take seriously."

"Hm. I thought it had a medieval ring to it myself." Sam dropped his eyes to the notes he'd been outlining on his legal pad. The sun brightened his office with a yellow radiance, and he glanced over is shoulder to check the position of his blinds before scratching out a few more phrases.

"You seem awfully unconcerned about this, Sam." Josh's body relaxed in his seat, his legs swinging back and forth rhythmically.

"Antibiotics. Ten days. Lots of cranberry juice," Sam told him distractedly. He'd had his momentary anxiety attack in his doctor's office that morning, and wasn't planning to put on a repeat performance for Josh.

"And, uh, the other thing?" Josh quizzed tentatively, head turning towards the closed door.

"The pain'll clear up in a day or so, or I can keep taking that stuff."

"And the other other thing?" Josh pushed. His eyes were wide and hard, and his hands twisted in his lap nervously.

Sam sighed, and leaned away from his desk, his pen dipping to and fro between his fingers. He had expected some measure of concern from Josh, but couldn't say he was entirely at ease with it. "Like I said, the burning is from the lining being raw, and the bacteria in the urine." He noticed Josh flinch from the words, but continued on. "And since ejaculate moves through the same tubes, some men report that the viscous, silky consistency can help soothe the stinging."

"So your doctor wants you to get off more often?"

It was Sam's turn to flinch; from Josh's apparent enjoyment of being included in this part of the conversation, all talk of fiery pain ripping through the most sensitized organ of Sam's body forgotten in the adolescent image of Sam beating off.

"Sorry to disappoint you, but that wasn't her professional assessment. She was just giving me all the information she had at hand." Sam scooted up to the desk again, hoping it signaled his desire to get back to the business of the day.

"But...." Josh's arched eyebrows conveyed the rest of his question well enough for Sam.

"It wasn't anything we did. God. It's a urinary tract infection, and the reason I didn't feel it when I came was because of what I just told you. I had been feeling some... discomfort all day, and it would have shown up when it did no matter what we did last night. Now, please. Josh? Could you go away?" Sam rubbed at his temple with short stabbing motions. "I have work to do."

Slapping his palms on the arms of his chair, Josh pushed himself up, then slid his hands into his pockets. His upper body swiveled towards the door, but at the last second, he veered back and walked to the other side of the desk until he was standing next to Sam. He went into a creaky crouch, and put a hand on Sam's arm.

"Hey, I'm sorry you're feeling so lousy," he said, his tone intimate. "I wish you'd go home, but I'm not gonna insist, if you want to stay. But Sam, you gotta know...." Josh bounced a little to maintain his balance, his hand gripping Sam tighter with the action. "I was scared to death. I've never seen anyone in that much pain. It was... it was frightening, even though it turns out to be exactly what your doctor told you on the phone last night."

Sam's eyes softened when he recognized the apprehension the other man was showing, and he placed his own hand over Josh's. "You did everything right to make me feel better, Josh. If you weren't there, that would have been unbearable." He struggled against a grin that was fighting for control. "And for a guy who's claimed -- proudly, I might add -- that he's never bought tampons for a girlfriend, I have to say that when you talked to the pharmacist, and got that stuff for me in the middle of the night, it was...." The smile broke through when the words failed him, and they grinned at one another for a moment before Josh stood. Rolling his pen between his fingers and the desk, Sam watched Josh move away.

"I'm just thankful it's not a kidney stone. So I'm gonna go. Let you work, I guess." Josh laid one more appraising look on Sam, and then left for his office.

As soon as Sam saw Josh's form disappear from the Bullpen through Toby's window, he picked up his pen and tilted his head back against the chair. He was feeling a little pressure above his pelvis, but aside from that he was simply tired. It had been a hellish night, and the fact that Josh insisted on staying with him really had been the deciding factor in getting Sam through it.

He hadn't asked for it; hadn't expected it, even. But Josh's dogged concern was as much a balm to Sam as the pills Josh brought back from the pharmacy. He'd sat with Sam, bundled in blankets on the sofa, holding a hot washcloth to Sam's groin. His voice was as soft and comforting as the gray and lavender patchwork quilt wrapped around Sam's shoulders. And each time Sam swooned in agony in the bathroom, Josh stood just on the other side of the door, huddled against it in solidarity.

It was ironic, Sam pondered, as he reached for a bottle of water behind him. For as long as he could remember, he'd been haunted by a question, until time itself wore away the necessity of an answer.

And now, when he'd reached a point in his life where Josh's unvoiced feelings for him seemed to be making themselves known... he felt oddly discomforted. Sam wasn't looking for any declarations. The thought of that scared him as much as he was sure it did Josh. But he wondered if it wasn't a bit of cosmic confusion that landed them here, at this point in time, just when Sam had turned serious about developing a more rounded life outside the West Wing.

It wasn't until the steady inquiries CJ got about his personal life during their first few months in office began to slow to a trickle that Sam felt secure enough to dip his feet into the dating pool of Washington. He almost drowned in Laurie, and nearly sank to the ocean floor trying to correct that blunder by developing a more appropriate relationship with Mallory.

By the time it was all over, Sam decided that retreating back onto dry land, which consisted of nothing but work and commitment, was probably the safest place for him.

He'd made a few tentative noises about dating lately, and had even gone to dinner once with CJ and a friend of hers in a kind of clumsy, covert, feet-wetting exercise. But it always seemed to Sam as if the women he met were either too aggressive or too passive. CJ told him, in as sage a manner as she could muster, that if he was still making the same old excuses, maybe he wasn't that serious after all.

It wasn't as if he could tell her about Josh.

Their arrangement met their basic needs. But suddenly it seemed to Sam that things had shifted on them, and he wasn't too sure yet what to make of it. Like the kissing.

Gnashing teeth and slashing tongues had always been a part of their lovemaking. Sam loved the way it felt to mix his hot breath with Josh's during vigorous sex, and Josh had a clever penchant for nibbling his way around Sam's jaw that drove the writer crazy.

But twice now, Josh had leaned in to kiss Sam as the younger man had entered his apartment, and once he did it just as he was leaving Sam's. That kind of easy, natural gesture wasn't an element of their usual interaction, and each time it left Sam baffled.

Sam got out of his chair and went to his open doorway. "Hey, Ginger?" he called to the redhead sitting across the Bullpen. "Don't I have an eleven o'clock?" he asked, checking his watch against the clock on the wall.

"Rescheduled," Ginger told him, barely looking up. "Senator Coffey isn't available, and she forbade anyone on her staff to talk to you." Her quick fingers slapped rhythmically against the keyboard, and her hair gleamed under the florescent lights like a newly minted penny.

Sam stood where he was, puzzlement spread across his face. "Am I really that bad?" he finally asked, to no one in particular.

"Yes!" came Toby's voice from around the corner.

Sam walked into the adjacent office and stood with his hands on his hips, the look of bewilderment evident. "I am in no way -- "

"You drive Coffey's staff batty, Sam. You confuse them with logic, and they always end up giving away both her position and the store. She doesn't trust them because they're stupid, and you're smart, and never the twain yadda, yadda." Toby folded down the top of his computer and beckoned Sam to sit. "Where were you this morning again?" he asked, petting his tie with affection.

Sam sat somewhat gingerly and unconsciously matched Toby's hand motion. "Doctor. Just needed a refill on allergy stuff," he supplied before the older man could ask. "So, she's not going to let me meet with anyone from her office unless her highness is in the room?" Sam cracked a crooked grin and rubbed the back of his neck briefly. "She's hemorrhaging support so fast I'd think she'd need as many hands as she can get to staunch the flow." He looked around the room vaguely. "Looks like my day just opened up. You have anything you need help with?"

Toby swung his chair around to peer at a collection of briefs on the floor, then turned back. "I've farmed out most of it, but if you'd be so kind as to go next door and crack the whip in front of the team working on the transportation address, that would be jolly good, to say the least."

"The least," Sam echoed with insincere amusement. Shit. He could do without the walking. His legs felt like withering stalks, but he wasn't about to complain to Toby.

"Hey," Toby said, a sly smile inching across his face. "Did you hear what Lily Mayes said this morning at the First Lady's press briefing?" There was a devious twinkle in Toby's nearly black eyes, and Sam was intrigued.

"No, what?"

"She said, in answer to whether Dr. Bartlet would be attending the Family Action Council conference, quote, 'she's going to be stopping in on them, after she sees the guy about the thing at the place whenever,' unquote." Toby chuckled with satisfaction.

"What the hell?" Sam laughed, joining Toby in his delight. "Heads or tails?" he asked, making a show of reaching into his pocket. "Which one of our shoulders is she gonna come crying on?" Sam was startled to actually find a quarter in his fingers, and stared at it openly.

"Too late, my sympathetic friend. Here and gone. And she had a great excuse, one that I'm not about to argue with." Toby eyed Sam, who was still enthralled by the coin in his hand. "Female trouble," he whispered with exaggerated understanding. "Something with the plumbing. I mean, what the hell am I supposed to say to that?"

Sam felt his smile falter for a second, and was just about to manufacture some excuse for slinking back to his office, when Bonnie appeared at the door. "Fellas, Leo wants everyone over there. And don't ask me why," she commanded, turning on her heels and strutting away.

Sam told Toby to head over without him, while he ducked into his office to grab his notebook. The wobbly feeling hit his legs again, and he plopped into his chair for a moment to collect himself, making a visible show of arranging files and cleaning his glasses. When he felt the rubbery sensation abate somewhat, Sam got up and made his way to the office of the Chief of Staff.

"Don't take the lid off," came Josh's instructions near Sam's ear, making him jump just as he made it to Margaret's uninhabited desk.

Sam looked down at the carry-out coffee cup in Josh's hand, and shook his head. "Hey, man, thanks. But I can't do caffeine with this thing I've got. I appreciate -- "

"It's cranberry juice," said Josh, pushing the container into Sam's hand. He walked into Leo's office, leaving Sam staring after him in silent shock.

A thump on the back startled him into motion, and Sam felt himself being propelled into the next room. "Stalled there, did you, Sam-a-lam-a-ding-dong?" CJ chirped, breezing ahead of him, leaving him in the wake of her perfume.

"What is she saying?" Leo asked Toby, as he took a seat with his back to the window.

Josh snickered and beckoned Sam further into the office with a smile. "So, fearless leader; you summoned us?" he asked Leo, scooting over for CJ.

Leo shook his head wearily, but a grin pulled at his lips. "The President has just gotten off the phone with Lance Sluszkiewicz."

"Better him than me," Toby mumbled, tapping his fingers against the arm of his chair.

CJ rolled her eyes and said, "That's just because you always mangle his name, you wimp. Sluszkiewicz. Sluszkiewicz. Senator Sluszkiewicz." The remaining staffers laughed, causing Toby's fingers to speed up their tattoo.

Sam, sitting slightly apart from the others, sipped at his cranberry juice carefully. When he looked up he found Josh, still smiling broadly, looking directly at him, and he offered a slight nod of his head in response.

"So," Sam spoke up, tearing his eyes away from Josh's. "What does the distinguished senator want this time? Reserved parking for life? A date with our CJ? Josh's mouth sewn shut?"

After another round of chuckles, Leo sat back expansively and eyed each aide cautiously. "Actually, Sam, he seems to have finally run out of demands." Even Toby's fingers stilled, and Sam watched as realization dawned on each of them one by one.

"He's ours?" CJ asked quietly. "Seriously, seriously ours?" The awe in her voice was reflected on Josh's face.

Leo nodded solemnly, but his eyes danced with merry accomplishment. "Ours. CJ, you and Sam may announce in a joint statement with his office tomorrow morning that the Democratic party has just given birth to a brand-new bouncing baby senator."

"Wouldn't it be more like a sex-change?" Josh asked, his grin still aimed Sam's way.

Sam couldn't resist. "How do you fig -- ?"

" -- From Republican to Democrat. We like sex, they don't," Josh supplied.

After working out a strategy for maximizing the humiliation the announcement would cause their illustrious friends in the Republican party, Leo dismissed his staff and Sam began walking back to his office.

"Hey, wait up," Josh called, coming up alongside of him. "Um, how're you doing?" He looked at Sam expectantly, shallow frown lines between his brows.

Sam raised his cup in greeting, and came to a slow stop. Lowering his voice, he leaned in towards Josh. "Honestly? I need to take a piss." He saw Josh's expression darken in understanding.

"Do you think... I mean, are you expecting...?" Josh placed one hand on his hip, his other flat against the wall above Sam's head. "Do you want me to cover you?" he asked, unease in his dark eyes.

Sam barked out a laugh, then quickly checked up and down the hall for anyone who might have heard. "No, I'm just...." He laughed again. "I think it'll be fine. I don't feel anything like I did so I think, yeah. It'll be okay," he assured Josh.

"I just thought, if you're gonna scream like a girl -- "

"You know what? I'm good," Sam said briskly. "But you've gotta watch what you say to me, Josh. I'm solid with the Sisterhood now." He made a fist, and held it by his face, pumping it once.

By lunch Sam felt a little queasy, and the tingling that had signaled the beginning of his bout with pain the night before was back. A clandestine call to his doctor assured him that taking his antibiotics on a full stomach would prevent any nausea, and the Uristat Josh had bought him could be taken as often as needed.

After looking over CJ's statement for the announcement, then making a show of standing over the shoulders of the speechwriters working on the president's remarks on infrastructure for half an hour, Sam returned to his office more tired than ever, but feeling much better in every other way. >He stayed at his desk for the rest of the afternoon, guzzling juice, returning calls, and thinking about the night before.

As someone who didn't encounter illness very often, Sam felt typically vulnerable when it did hit. But he was used to taking care of himself, and realized with a resigned smile that in his relationships he'd always been more comfortable nurturing than needing.

So it struck him as doubly perplexing that he hadn't put up even a rudimentary resistance when Josh had offered to stay with him. From locating Sam's doctor's phone number, to going out to the all-night pharmacy, to microwaving a damp washcloth to hold to his crotch, Josh had marched through each helpful task with calm competence, never making Sam feel weak or infantilized.

When Sam awoke in the morning to find Josh already holding a glass of orange juice out to him, he'd felt dislocated. Granted, they'd spent the night at each other's place on enough occasions that it wasn't a shock. But a pre-dawn getaway was always part of the bargain, and it had thrown Sam to see Josh standing there in his bedroom, morning light dappling the bed.

A knock on his partly shut door wrenched Sam's mind back to the present, and he looked up to find Josh's head floating, seemingly disembodied, in the opening. "Hey," it said.

"Hey," Sam answered, shaking the odd image free. "I understand you get to be the welcoming committee for Slasstrinikovitch. Schran. Ski." Sam squinted and let his eyes drift to the ceiling. "Well, that didn't sound right."

Josh's body appeared under his head, and he walked into the office, a similar look of consternation on is face. "Yeah. CJ's gonna come up with a way for me to remember it."

Sam suggested writing it in indelible ink on his cuff, but Josh vetoed that idea because it didn't help with the pronunciation.

"Look," Josh began, leaning heavily on the back of a chair. "I was thinking I could come by tonight." His voice sounded casual, but he was eyeing Sam carefully.

"Whul..." Sam drawled. "You mean to... um." He wasn't sure what he was being propositioned with here. Surely Josh didn't think Sam was up for sex? And two nights in a row wasn't something they'd ever done before anyway, so it seemed like Josh's timing was a little questionable to begin with.

"In case. You know," Josh jumped in, moving around the chair. "In case you need something, or something."

Or something. Sam stared uncomprehendingly. "In case I need...?"

"Me, Sam. What if it gets bad again?" Josh said, and he almost sounded defiant.

"You." Sam suddenly sat up straight, determined to break his cycle of stupidity. "You mean, if I get sick or that kind of something?"

"Yes!" Josh said with obvious relief.

Feeling a sudden need to be on equal footing, Sam rose from his chair and came around to Josh. "Well, see, that's not gonna happen," he began reasonably. "The medication is working, and the stuff you bought is great, and I feel okay." He watched Josh's eager expression fade a little and stepped closer. "I appreciate your concern, Josh...."

"My concern?" The word was laced with derision. Josh brushed his hand through his hair and huffed. "Last night I was concerned, Sam. I was, yeah, just a little bit concerned that you couldn't pick yourself up off the floor. I see you're fine now. I'm talking about...." He stepped to the glass separating Sam's office from Toby's, and stared through it into the empty room. "Listen," he said, clearly intending to start the conversation anew, "I'm guessing you aren't gonna feel like cooking, am I right?"

Sam had been following Josh's movements with growing alarm, but the switch in tactics reduced his uneasiness somewhat. "I wasn't planning to, no," Sam conceded. Before he could elaborate on his decision to order in and fall into bed, Josh turned back to him and was talking once more.

"Let me bring something over. I'll stop and pick up dinner, and you don't have to think about anything except taking it easy tonight." Josh's expression had turned hopeful again, and Sam couldn't help but be tempted by the idea of a hot meal and a little quiet downtime. But it was the prospect of Josh, doing that able, caring thing again that pushed Sam's hesitancy over the top.

"Yeah," he heard himself agreeing. "That sounds good."

It was relief and maybe something else that Sam saw on Josh's face, and he checked his watch as an excuse to look away from it; save himself from having to identify exactly what was happening there.

"I was planning on getting out of here early, around six," Sam said, sheparding Josh towards the door. "I gotta find Toby and see what he wants me to do about writing some remarks for Senator Slushymoto -- "

"Doesn't he have his own staff to do that?" Josh wanted to know.

"Not for long. Massive defections, apparently. Anyway," Sam continued, "I want to hear what he and Leo want to convey, but I was going to take that home. So, I don't know what time you -- "

Josh stopped a few feet from the hallway, and smiled brightly. "I can get away. Little after six-thirty? I have a meeting that won't run long."

They nodded at one another in tacit agreement, and Sam watched Josh strut down the hallway, dipping to the side in his cocky way every few steps.

After going back for his notebook, Sam headed to Leo's office, hoping to get what he needed and actually be able to follow-through on his plan to leave at six. Margaret held him at bay when he reached the closed door to the Chief of Staff's office, telling him Leo was finishing up, and offering him coffee while he waited.

"Those Promise Keepers," Margaret said without preamble. Sam did a small double-take and waved off the mug she held out to him. "They're a crafty bunch."

"Okay."

The door opened to his left, and Sam was relieved to see Toby standing with Leo in the threshold. "Hey, Sam. What's shakin'?" Leo asked gaily, obviously still on a high from the exhilarating events of the morning. "You come to talk about what's his name?"

"Yes," Sam said, following both men back into the office. "For starters... what's his name?"

An hour later, after being holed up with an increasingly giddy Toby and Leo, and a twenty minute speakerphone discussion with the Senator himself, Sam left with three pages of notes and a distended bladder. He sensed the need for another of Josh's magic pills, and after a long stop in the men's room, he walked back to his office, mindful of his hesitant gait.

Once he'd gathered up his things, Sam stopped at Bonnie's desk to let her know he was taking off, giving the excuse of a headache. He wandered over to Josh's office, slightly unsteady on his rubbery legs.

Just as he entered Josh's bullpen, he was nearly run down by Donna, who was darting incessantly between desks, flittering like a moth while calling to Josh, in his office. "Your generosity approaches sainthood, Joshua!" she yelled, just past Sam's ear.

"I know," came Josh's response. Sam stood off to the side, not sure his eardrums could withstand another blast.

"I changed my plans twice already," Donna was complaining, disappearing into Josh's inner sanctum, only to reappear with a stack of files.

"I'm letting you go early!" Josh whined. "How can you possibly hold that against me?!"

Stopping in her tracks, the lithe blond twirled to face the open doorway. "Every time I call to rearrange my date, it makes me look wishy-washy, Josh! Men like stability in women and because of you, I appear ditzy and inconsistent." Turning back to her desk, she spied Sam, cowering against the file cabinets. "Right, Sam?" she asked pleadingly.

"Sam's out there?" Josh appeared at the door a moment later, eyes searching until they found his friend. "Hey."

"Hey," Sam answered back. "I'm just, I wanted to say I'm going now," he choked out, still somewhat afraid to give up the solid security of the wall.

"Ahkay," Josh said, an intuitive smile playing near his lips. He gestured for Sam to come into his office, and Sam followed hesitantly. "Is there anything in particular you want me to get?" Josh asked when they were in front of his desk.

Sam shrugged, too tired to give it much thought. "Anything but Chinese," he suggested, and left it at that.

As he headed to the lobby, he could hear Josh pick up the argument with Donna right where he'd left off.

"So you have to call Donald. Big deal."

"David."

"Right. The... baker."

"The BANKER!"

A hot shower left Sam feeling even more lethargic than before. He'd changed into light sweatpants and a threadbare Sag Harbor Yacht Club tee-shirt. His skin felt flushed from the scalding water, and he realized with surprise that he was getting hungry.

Standing in the middle of his room, Sam eyed the bed in resignation. Even before he'd started to feel sick, the sheets had been pretty rank after he and Josh were done sweating them up. The low-grade fever Sam had been running made him warm and clammy all night, and there was no way he was climbing back under those linens now.

Stooping with effort, feeling more drained by the minute, Sam started pulling off the covers, sending them into a growing pile on the floor. He was puffing with exertion when he heard rattling coming from the other room, and Josh banging incessantly on the door.

"Hang on!" exclaimed Sam, walking across the apartment. "How long were you there?" he asked, as Josh brushed past him.

"Like, five minutes," Josh complained, looking over Sam warily. "Or one. Everything okay?"

Mumbling an apology, Sam nodded, and lead the way into the kitchen. "That smells good," he offered, by way of lessening the expression of unease Josh was wearing. "What is it?" Sam began opening cupboards, retrieving plates and glasses.

Placing two large brown grocery sacks on the table, Josh took off his suit jacket and rolled up his sleeves. "Peruvian chicken," he said, reaching into one of the bags. "I got rice, beans, yucca, salad, bread; the works."

Sam grunted in appreciation. "Where did you get it?" he inquired. "I don't know of any Peruvian places around here." Sam's mouth was already anticipating the smoky taste of the crisp, crackly skin on the fire-roasted chicken.

Josh placed container after container in a row, and then began folding the empty bag. "Well, no," he conceded. "Not here. This place was in Clarendon." He looked around the kitchen for a place to stash the bag, eventually landing his eyes on Sam. "What?"

Sam stood in wordless surprise, still holding the utensils in his hands. "You went all the way to Clarendon for this?" he asked, impressed.

"It's fifteen minutes away," Josh said dismissively. "Virginia isn't some third world country, Sam. They have roads, and restaurants, and I wouldn't mind ending up in McLean one day."

"Great Falls," Sam replied reflexively. "I like Great Falls, but my point is -- "

"Sit down," Josh interrupted, taking the forks and knives from Sam. "You want cranberry?"

"Shit," Sam said. "I forgot to stop and get some." He shook his head in frustration.

Josh laid the cutlery down, and swung the remaining grocery bag onto a chair. "I got some," he said somewhat self-consciously. "I took the liberty of stopping to get a few bottles." Sam noticed Josh's ears blush slightly and he watched, fascinated, as it spread to his neck. "I picked up some other stuff; wasn't sure what you might, uh. Some more Uristat, and bagels." He reached into the bag again, withdrawing each item in turn, and Sam inspected them as if they had been pulled from a magician's hat. "They had coffee filters on sale, so I got you a few boxes, and, yeah; some gum."

Sam laughed. "Gum?"

Josh looked down at Sam with a bruised expression. "It's new. It's supposed to be good."

"Thank you," Sam said, chuckling some more. "Can we eat now?" Josh bought him gum. And coffee filters, a toothbrush, and a package of chopped, frozen onions. Sam desperately wanted an explanation for that one, but the pungent smell of the chicken was crowding out all thoughts of everything except filling his stomach.

When they'd finished eating, Josh insisted on clearing away the dishes and packing up the leftovers, reminding Sam to take his medication in a tone that sounded suspiciously paternal to Sam. After swallowing the bitter capsules, he returned to the bedroom, and faced down the partially stripped bed.

"Need some help?" came Josh's voice from behind him. It was the second time today he'd done that. Sam looked briefly over his shoulder and nodded his head.

"Would you mind? I don't know why this seems like such an insurmountable job to me right now." Sam went to the bed with the intention of pulling the rest of the bedding off, but instead found himself sitting heavily.

Josh joined him, one hand covering Sam's knee. "You're beat. Let me, okay?" The hand kneaded Sam's leg comfortingly, and Sam found himself leaning into Josh's shoulder.

He was beat. His stomach was full, his bladder was empty, and his head was swimming with signals he wasn't sure he was interpreting right. Turning to face Josh, Sam sighed deeply. "Thanks for coming over. And the food, and the juice, and the gum."

He saw Josh bend closer, and for a brief moment he thought he was speaking; Sam watched Josh's lips open, but didn't hear any sound. It was only when he felt them press against his own did he become fully aware that he was being kissed.

As Josh pulled his mouth away, he reached a hand up to gently cup Sam's jaw. "Tell me where the sheets are and I'll finish this for you," he said quietly, his brown eyes unreadable.

Sam felt the breath return to his lungs, and he looked in the vicinity of the door. "Closet behind there," he directed. He stayed where he was as Josh rose and went to investigate the closet by the dresser, returning with a stack of fresh linens.

"You have a lot of sheets, Sam," Josh commented as he pulled Sam to his feet. "Can't you just wash the ones you have?" He spoke as he snagged the rest of the bedclothes and deposited them on the floor. "Let me guess. You like clean sheets, and you don't have time to wash them as often as -- "

"I like clean sheets," Sam echoed vaguely, only partially aware of being moved by strong hands from where he stood.

"Expensive clean sheets," Josh clarified, snapping one open above the bed.

Sam contemplated answering that, but found his mind still stuck on that kiss.

He was just getting his bearings back when Josh proclaimed he was done, and looking down, Sam realized he was. "Thank you," he managed to say, as Josh trundled past him with an armload of laundry. "Uh, the utility room is...." Sam wandered out of the bedroom and watched Josh disappear into the storage room behind the kitchen. "...At the end of the hall," he finished to the empty air.

When Josh returned, he wore an expression of accomplishment, and threw himself onto the sofa. "Come here, Sam," he beckoned with his hand.

Moving stiffly, Sam did as he was told, and joined Josh. The only words that would come to him were 'thank you', which he knew he'd already done to death. Josh reached around back and snatched the old quilt Sam's mother had packed Sam off to college with, and draped it over his shoulders.>

"Good?" Josh asked, letting his arm remain across Sam's back.

He recognized that the word 'thanks' was on his tongue once more. But unwilling to repeat the sentiment yet again, Sam turned his head and found Josh's lips. He placed two tiny kisses there, then lingered for a third. As the warmth from Josh's arm spread through him, Sam felt his muscles unwinding in a sumptuous release of tension.

"You're good at this," Sam told Josh, then pulled back a little in concern. "I meant taking care of things." Josh's eyebrows did a jig, and Sam relented. "The kissing isn't too bad, either," he added somewhat self-consciously.

The smile that teased at Josh's mouth made Sam relax even further, and he felt the arm around him tighten. "You wanna watch them leaking the story about our good Senator Stravinsky?" Josh asked while reaching for Sam's remote control. "You gotta hope Ainsley mangles his name enough times for you to use it against her forEVER."

When Josh leaned back against the cushions pointing the device at the television, Sam sighed and struggled out of the embrace. "I need to write the 'good Senator's' remarks for tomorrow's joint press conference, Josh." He scooted to the edge of the sofa and was about to stand when Josh placed a hand on his leg.

"Do you, are you asking me to go?" he asked somewhat coolly. "I wouldn't want to get in your way."

Sam blinked at him. It hadn't even occurred to him to ask Josh to leave, and that surprised him almost as much as Josh's reaction. "No." Sam continued staring at Josh, until he realized he was holding his breath. "You should stay. You can help," he said, shrugging off the quilt and going to his briefcase. "There's, in the walk-in closet, there's some sweats. Shirts in the drawers, if you want to get out of those clothes," Sam offered.

After Josh returned, Sam sipped at a glass of juice while balancing his notes and his laptop. Sitting next to his friend, their bare feet were propped side by side on the coffee table. Between pauses to listen in on the discussions raging on CNN and MSNBC, Sam scrawled another page of notes before opening his computer.

"If you were a Republican, which would you find more offensive?" Sam asked, giving his glasses a push up his nose. He held out his pad to Josh, and took the opportunity to switch the channel to Fox News.

"Depends," Josh said skimming over Sam's handwriting. "Do we want to offend them for good, or just for the day?" Sweeping the pen from behind Sam's ear, Josh checked off a couple of sentences and replaced the pen, adding a brush of his lips to Sam's temple.

When Sam took a short break, he was surprised when his hand found Josh's, and they watched tv, fingers entwined comfortably. Their wrists were pressed together, pulses merged into one steady rhythm.

At just after nine, Sam removed his glasses and brutally rubbed at his eyes. "I never should have left the office," he grumbled. "If I'd stayed to do this maybe...." In lieu of a period, Sam punctuated his thought with a shrug.

Josh leaned over and pivoted the laptop so he could read from the screen. After a few moments of head nodding, he sat back and looked at Sam. "You're done," he told the younger man. "It's great."

"Yeah, well, it's good. But -- "

" -- You're just too tired to see it. Trust me," Josh implored. "That's why I stayed, remember?"

Sam fixed his eyes to the screen, but his vision was blurred by fatigue. After grazing his fingers over the keys, he slowly closed the computer, and hugged it to his chest. "Is that why you stayed?" he asked wearily. "Just so you could give me a pep talk?"

He knew Josh was looking at him. Sam could feel him watching, could sense his body so close, he was aware of every inch that was touching him. He placed his glasses and the laptop on the side table, and brought his feet down from the coffee table.

Sam turned to face Josh, eyes straying to his lips before looking up. "I'm not sure what's going on, Josh. I don't even know where to begin to try and figure it out." He dropped his head and rubbed once more at his face.

Josh's hand met Sam's and pulled it away, coming to rest in Sam's lap. "I think that would be pretty hard to do without some input from me, mi hombre." His dimples appeared, blinding Sam to his words for a moment.

"You said, what?" Sam furrowed his brow in confusion. "What were you trying to say there?"

"I -- okay. Spanish is your thing. My friend, right? Or did I call you my house or something?" Josh's self-deprecating smile faded a little, and to Sam he looked years younger than he was. "It couldn't have been that far off."

"You called me your man," Sam informed him, and felt his face flush at the phrase.

"My man." When Josh said the words, it sounded as if he was tasting them for the first time, testing them on his tongue. "Well."

"I think, I'm pretty sure you meant 'amigo'," Sam corrected quickly, as he smoothed down the lettering on his tee. "If it was friend you were trying to -- Josh. You don't know amigo?" Sam pulled back to get a better view of his amigo. "You Connecticut Jews; what an insular life you've lived."

Josh's laughter sent the tension in Sam draining away, and he joined in with a light chortle of his own. Sam finally admitted that his draft was in good shape, and willingly sank into the sofa, grateful to put his workday behind him. Changing the channel to an unremarkable action movie, he threw a questioning look Josh's way.

"No more news?" Josh inquired. He slouched towards Sam, one arm along the back of the sofa, the other draped across Sam's legs. Before Sam could answer, Josh said, "'S'okay. We'll make more tomorrow." His arm fell onto Sam's shoulders, and he pulled him closer, while at the same time leaning back against the arm of the sofa.

A few swift movements later, Sam found himself reclining against Josh, and he lifted his legs onto the cushions and squirmed his way between Josh and the back of the sofa. "All right?" Josh asked helpfully. "Everything all right?"

Sam smiled his response, and allowed his head to rest on Josh's shoulder, arms snug around his waist.

It felt right. Natural and comfortable and it was amazing to Sam that they had never lain like this before. Even more incredible was the fact that he hadn't even been aware it; of how their relationship was compartmentalized into either the bedroom or the office or as friends hanging out.

Sam didn't think of them as lovers. He'd never put a name to what they had at all. Which made putting a name to this even more difficult.

"Josh?" he ventured, when Josh's hand began stroking Sam's arm under the sleeve of his tee-shirt.

"I know," came the hoarse response. "I... I...." Josh's chest rose in a magnificent sigh, nearly dislodging Sam's head. His fingers played at the hem of the tee, prowling under it and skimming along the skin up to Sam's shoulder, then sliding back down again. "I never realized how your skin felt," Josh said in a voice muted by wonder. "It's like I've never touched you before now." He breathed onto Sam, causing a rippling effect through his hair.

Sam nearly said he'd never been touched like this before, but bit back the words before they escaped to humiliate him. Instead, he summoned the sense to repeat his earlier question: "Josh?" Withdrawing from the embrace, he planted an elbow and pushed himself up on it so he was looking down on Josh. "What's going on? Do you have any idea... what's happening here?"

Josh swept a hand over Sam's brow. "I have some idea. Except for the fact that I don't." He snorted mildly, and closed his eyes dreamily. "I know that last night, I felt something more than I felt before." He turned his head and opened his eyes, staring at the space above the television. "I haven't tried to put it into words, Sam. I haven't attempted to put it into context, or explain it to myself, or figure out what it means. I was kind of hoping to have more data before I reached any conclusions." He turned back to Sam and offered an uneven smile.

Easing himself up further, Sam forced a matching smile onto his face. "I think I can help you out there." He dipped his head down until his hair brushed against Josh's cheek, then he looked back up. "You wanted to fix things for me last night; you probably felt really helpless and scared, and I know you felt responsible. I think, I'll bet that's what you were feeling. You couldn't think of what to do to make me stop hurting, or something, and it twisted your perception of what you felt into...."

It made sense to Sam, because he figured that's what he'd been doing as well. Reaching out to Josh because he was there, and Sam would have clung to a cockroach, if it had skittered across the bathroom floor to offer comfort at that moment.

It made sense, but he didn't believe it for an instant.

There were the kisses, for one. The memory of each had been dogging him since they'd happened, and Sam could still remember the tantalizing sensation each one had brought to his lips.

Looking back, there were other things; hints of a growing intimacy that Sam had been eager to chalk up to stress at work, and a bunker mentality that working in the White House seemed to inspire.

But tonight was something else entirely, and Sam could see Josh knew it too. What they planned to do with that acknowledgment was what continued to elude Sam.

"I suppose there's something to that," Josh said, knocking Sam out of his reverie. "I like feeling as if I can take care of you. Not that you need taking care of," he added quickly. "But I wanted your pain to stop, and I also hoped that... I liked that you were relying on me, Sam." Josh spread his fingers through Sam's hair, letting them remain there as he massaged gently. "I just like feeling capable of taking care of you."

"So, it's all about you?"

"Well, yeah. Isn't it always?" Josh asked with less humor than Sam would have expected. "There was something so... exciting. Feeling needed like that." Josh withdrew his hand and let it fall off the side of the sofa. "For you to trust me to take care of you made me feel like I was up to the task, and I liked it. But that's not when I started... you know, I've been feeling differently, lately. I've felt different about you."

Sam scrambled around awkwardly until he was straddling Josh. "You surprised me as much as anyone," he said honestly. "And I found it easier than I would have thought, to let you in like that." Sam's cheeks flamed a little at the image of what he must have looked like, sweating and cowering in the bathroom, whimpering in agony as he tried to get to his feet after that first wave of pain crashed him to the floor.

If he'd had to paint a more humiliating picture of himself, Sam didn't think he could come up with anything worse. But Josh had never made him feel self-conscious or shamed, even the time he stood behind Sam, his forehead nuzzling the back of his neck in encouragement, when Sam was too skittish to try and urinate again.

Moving quickly off the sofa, grabbing up his glass into his hand as he hurried off to the kitchen, Sam felt Josh's eyes on his back. He tipped the remaining scarlet liquid into the sink and swished some water around the glass before setting it down. He had to use the bathroom again, but was reluctant to go back into the living room; unsure what the next word out of either his or Josh's mouth might be.

As it turned out, the word came from Sam, and it was "Shit!" He turned and found himself face-to-face with a stealthy Josh, standing close enough that there was little maneuverable room between them. "Okay, that's three times you've snuck up on me today. I'm, I'm...." Josh moved even closer, his head tilting down as he seemed to be examining Sam's chin. Sam's voice faltered, and he felt his legs give a little. "I'm not a well man." The rest of his protest was cut off by Josh's mouth, settling against Sam's, and tasting like coffee.

When Sam felt Josh's hands come to rest on his hips, he thought they were the most steadying things he'd ever felt. Where a moment ago he believed his legs might buckle, now he felt secured in place by a force stronger than he, and he leaned into Josh's body.

Sam's right hand rested atop Josh's hand, and his left drifted up to Josh's shoulder. He parted his lips, inviting Josh inside, his own tongue awaiting the sleek presence.

It was a real kiss; not an attack, and not a thoughtless extension of the grinding sex they usually engaged in. Besides the lingering coffee, Sam tasted spices from their dinner, and a soft, subtle flavor he now recognized as Josh. Lost in the feel of his teeth scraping Josh's tongue, Sam sobbed his abandonment to the sensations, freeing his mind from the complex reality he'd left behind.

"Sam, Sam," Josh sighed in answer. "Let's not do this here." He took the hand at his waist, and began drawing Sam behind him. Stopping suddenly in the archway, Josh spun and took Sam strongly in his arms. "I want you," he moaned against Sam's neck. "Like never before."

Sooner than Sam could react, they were moving again. But it was too much, and too fast, and Sam couldn't seem to keep up, in any sense of the words. His bare feet stuttered on the hardwood floor, and when Josh stopped this time, it was inertia that threw their bodies together.

Sam gulped down a small yelp, and stood dazed and hesitant in Josh's arms. "Sorry, Josh," he slurred. "I'm just so tired...." His voice trailed away into a soulful expression, and Sam could see a faint flare of realization cross Josh's eyes.

"Of course you are!" Josh agreed immediately; solicitously. "God, Sam. I'm a selfish prick."

"No."

"I knew you were wiped out."

"It's okay."

"I'm supposed to be taking care of you."

Sam freed himself and took a step back. "Stop it. I don't like this, this... you have taken care of me. I don't need 'taking care of' now though, Josh. I just need some sleep. If it's a turn-on for you to see me weak and needy, you're gonna have to -- "

"Sam." Josh closed the distance, and silenced Sam with a gentle touch to the lips. "Be quiet. Are you going to be quiet?" When Sam nodded, Josh drew his fingers down from his mouth. "Look at you. You can barely stand up." Taking Sam's hand, he led the way to the bedroom, and switched on a lamp while Sam went into the bathroom.

When he came back, Josh helped remove Sam's shirt, speaking quietly, as though afraid of being overheard. "I'm not turned on by seeing you weak, Sam. I'm turned on by seeing you, period. Being in the same room as you, and watching you get ticked off in staff meetings."

Sam glanced up in surprise.

"Okay, yeah; I've been checking you out at the office," Josh admitted. "I've done it discreetly, haven't I?"

Sam left the question rhetorical.

He bent to remove his sweatpants, and realized quickly that he wore nothing underneath. Instinctively, he brought them back up to his hips, and then wished he hadn't. The amused look on Josh's face made him feel foolish, and he stripped down with determination.

"Do you want me to get you something to put on?" Josh asked helpfully.

Sam shook his head and slipped between the sheets. "That toothbrush you bought. Was that for you?" He arched one graceful eyebrow at Josh as he pulled up the comforter.

It was Josh's turn to blush slightly, and his eyes darted around in avoidance. "Uh. Well, yeah. I hope that's. That you don't mind. It's okay?"

Sam wet his lips and smiled back sleepily. "If you had asked, I could have told you I have a drawer full of ones I've grabbed from hotels." He scooted over and eyed Josh carefully. "Are you coming to bed?"

Within minutes, Josh had returned from turning off the television and all the lights in the apartment. He switched off the lamp and undressed in the dark, his silhouette dancing around as he tried to free a foot from the tight cuff of the borrowed pants.

Sam watched as Josh slid into bed, thumping his pillow and tugging on the covers. He finally came to rest on his side facing Sam, emulating Sam's position.

Halting fingers brushed Sam's shoulder, tucking the sheets around him lovingly. The tip of Josh's pink tongue darted out from between his thin lips, and Sam was momentarily struck by a primal divide working inside of him. Desire sparked in his belly, but sleep was pulling hard and fast against it, teasing Sam a little closer with heavy lids and the comforting warmth of a close body.

With little gobbling noises, Josh went to work on Sam's neck, kissing and nipping until Sam wriggled away. "Don't leave marks, Josh!" he beseeched, then drew back into Josh's arms with a resigned sigh.

Their legs became intertwined, squishy groin pressed against squishy groin, and they lay nose to nose in the cloistering dark. "You use cinnamon mouthwash," Josh remarked after swiping his tongue through Sam's mouth.

"Mm hm. Free sample."

"But mint toothpaste."

"Mmm."

Josh's hand crept under the blankets, and skirted Sam's hip as it came to rest on his ass. "Sam. I've got that whole touching thing going on again, you know?" he rasped, finding Sam's earlobe with his teeth.

An unintended moan got past Sam's defenses, and he found his own hands begin to explore Josh's body, from nipples to navel. His mind was completely disengaged from the movements of his fingers, instead concentrating on the push of Josh's hips against his. Sam became aware that the soft bulk Josh was presenting him was gradually becoming a hardening erection, and he found Josh's mouth in an eager kiss.

"Look, Josh," he mumbled. "That's nice. Mmm, really nice. But I can't, I'm sorry." Josh pulled his face away, but his hand continued to find and fondle Sam's rear end. "Believe me, if I wasn't so tired...."

"But, I thought," Josh stammered. "Uh. Mylanta."

It took Sam a brief moment to understand Josh's allusion, and when he did he laughed noiselessly. "For one thing, I don't need any, 'uh, Mylanta'. I'm not in any pain." He saw relief flicker across Josh's face, and continued. "But mostly, I'm just too tired for anything more than -- "

Josh's kiss cut him off, an impatient gesture clearly meant to shut Sam up. "That?" Josh asked when he relinquished Sam's mouth.

In answer, Sam brought Josh to him with a hand to the back of the head, and they slipped back and forth into each other's mouths, tasting and teasing until their breath became labored.

When Josh lowered his attention to Sam's shoulder, the younger man's head lolled back, and he panted until his tongue felt dry and swollen.

It was a rich and intoxicating feeling, to have Josh alternate between Sam's mouth, and his neck, chest and shoulders. Sam's own hands had ceased their exploration, even that small effort too much for him to aspire to in his deepening state of relaxation.

Every time Josh returned for a kiss, Sam felt himself seep a little further into bliss, sure he'd be lost to it forever.

Between mouthfuls of Sam, Josh muttered unintelligible things that soothed and sedated Sam even further. In the haze of his tranquility, Sam's mind snapped back to the first time he and Josh had ever kissed. A hot, sticky night of few words and many questions, and he was stunned when he realized how long it had taken them to look for the answers.

"Is this too much for you? Too little? Talk to me, Sam," Josh pleaded between nibbles.

It was both, Sam realized foggily. Way too much, and not nearly enough. He tried to speak; to tell Josh that. But before he could, he fell off the edge of consciousness and was consumed by sleep in mid-kiss.

~~

It happened again. That bewildering feeling of being out of place in his own home. Waking up with sunlight streaming through the window and Josh Lyman molded to Sam from behind, skin hot with awakening, arm flung over him.

A wet swipe against his ear, and a poke to his posterior were the final touches to Sam's disorientation.

"'Morning," Josh creaked. He gave a quick squeeze, and lifted himself up so he was peering over Sam's shoulder. "Welcome back."

"Back?" Sam asked, puzzled, trapping the arm around him against his chest. He scraped his fingernails over the hairy forearm and determined it was real.

"From wherever the hell you left me for last night," Josh said, letting his head fall back to the pillow. "One second I've got you moaning my name, and the next you're dead weight, making those cute little snuffling sounds you make when you're getting comfortable."

Sam smiled to himself, but made certain his voice sounded appropriately surly. "I don't snuffle. And no grown man should ever use that word."

Snorting and huffing against the back of Sam's neck, Josh held him tightly until Sam stopped trying to turn around. "I, um, took the liberty of resetting the alarm clock," Josh said, once Sam had calmed his flaying.

"You're taking an awful lot of those with me lately," Sam teased. "First the gum, then the...." he dragged his fingers up and down Josh's arm, eliciting a low growl of approval from the man pressing against him.

"You could have kicked me out at any time." Josh finally allowed Sam to roll over onto his back. "The fact is, I was waiting for you to. You really surprised me last night."

Sam frowned in confusion. "Why would you think that? Did I say something to make you believe I didn't want you? Here," he finished after a split-second hesitation. Bringing his hand to his eyes, Sam pressed his fingers to the sensitive spots on either side of his nose. "God, Josh; you know, I really don't remember clearly what I might have said to you last night." He tried to shake the cobwebs free, suddenly fearful of what he might have told his friend while feeling so done in.

Josh combed back Sam's dark hair with his pale fingers, and bent down to nuzzle his cheek. "You didn't say anything, Sam. And that's... we kinda need to do that, don't you think?" He pulled back and looked deeply into Sam's eyes. "There're some things we need to say to each other."

Josh shifted his weight so he was covering half of Sam's body with his own, one leg falling between Sam's, his eyes locked securely in place. "I know you were fast asleep all night, but I wasn't, Sam. I spent the whole time going back over every minute with you, everything you said. And I know you had some valid points, when you said you thought I was just feeling needed, and that was a turn-on for me. But that's not what's going on here." Josh placed his forehead down on Sam's chest, and Sam could feel the moist breath collect on his skin.

"Josh, please tell me that when you reset the alarm, you set it back, so we have more time than I think."

"I set it forward, so you could sleep longer," Josh admitted, and duplicated Sam's groan of disappointment.

Throwing back the covers, Sam began crawling out of bed. "I have a press conference this morning, Josh. Meetings with Slobbakovich's people, and probably an entire rewrite, since I don't even remember what I came up with." He found his wrist caught in Josh's hand, and sat back on the bed. "We don't have time for this," he said more softly, caressing Josh's shoulder.

"Let me, just let me say this, then I'll go, okay?" Josh begged, scrambling to a higher position, and pinning Sam down with a stare. "I want to tell you what I think happened."

"I can't be late."

"You won't be."

"I just really can't be late, Josh."

Josh's mouth opened and closed a few times in consternation, and Sam saw doubt descend over his features. "Are you trying to avoid talking about this?" Josh asked with disbelief.

A long sigh escaped from Sam, and he bowed his head. "Yes. As a matter of fact...."

"Oh."

"It's not that I don't want to, Josh." Sam worked himself free of Josh's clutch and stood away from his grasp. Feeling just as naked as he was, Sam searched around for a pair of wilted boxers, which he saved from the folds of his jeans, on a chair. He turned his back to Josh, shimmied into them as he kept speaking. "I do. I don't know exactly how I'm going to do that, though, considering I have no clue what I want to say, or even, really what's going on." Facing Josh once more, Sam scratched distractedly at his areola.

"No clue?"

"Not a one."

Josh rolled gracefully from the bed, and came toe-to-toe with Sam. "It's what you said to CJ," he said, ignoring Sam's backward step. "It's when she told me you were thinking about dating her friend, how you felt like you were finally in a place where you were ready to put yourself out there."

Sam scrubbed at his face in frustration. "What are you talking about now, Josh?"

"Look." Josh reached for Sam's hands, and directed them away from his face. "I understood better than anyone how you were afraid of becoming the object of endless social speculation, when you came to D.C. And I'll let you in on something, Sam," he added with a Lyman twinkle. "No one was more relieved than Toby, when you wanted to concentrate solely on your job, and not take advantage of the attention you were sure to draw when you started dating."

Sam shook his head slightly, but knew it was true.

Josh's hands were at his hips now, resting contentedly against the waistband of Sam's shorts. "No one, that is, except me."

"Master of Disaster?" Sam snorted, reviving the old nickname Josh had given Sam back when they'd first met.

"Mi hombre," Josh amended with a furtive glance at Sam's reaction.

"Josh, I told you, it's amiiiii.... oh." Sam's brain clicking into gear was almost audible. "Ooooh." Was that true, he mused? His talking about dating; then the kissing? One followed the other by a matter of only a week, Sam recalled.

He really needed to think. And that wasn't going to happen with Josh standing there, face full of expectancy. Putting Josh's motivations together was great, wonderful, a relief. But Sam still hasn't figured out how he felt about this metamorphosis they seemed to be going through.

And now, with the minutes ticking away, and people already at the office waiting for him, it just wasn't the time.

Plus, Sam really needed to pee.

Groaning, he bounced a little on his toes, and looked at Josh plaintively. "Josh...."

"Go! Go!" Josh said with a wave of his hand and a perceptive smile.

Sam ambled out of the bathroom a moment later with a relieved expression, and to find Josh tucking his shirt into his slacks. "I left the toothpaste out," was the only thing he could think to say. Squeezing his arm affectionately as he passed, Josh ducked into the bathroom.

Emerging a few short minutes later, he walked up to Sam, who still stood clad in only his boxers, arms wrapped around himself. "So, I'll see you later. At work," Josh said, rubbing Sam's upper arms briskly, as if warming him.

"Josh?" Sam's arms dropped, and he hooked both hands into the waist of Josh's pants. "Last night was...."

"Nice."

"Yeah." Sam's grin was bashful and boyish. "It was also cut short by my falling asleep on you."

"The fact that you literally fell asleep on me kinda made up for that, but yes; it ended prematurely," Josh agreed.

Sam tugged Josh a little closer, and stared longingly at a button on his shirt. "And I think, although I'm doing much better today, I'm pretty sure I won't feel up to cooking tonight. You know?"

Josh's dimples emerged like the sun from behind clouds, and he allowed his hips to press up against Sam in a little leaning dance. "Would you like me to bring something over again?" he asked, his voice a sing-song of hope.

"Well... I suppose we could finish our discussion over some, uuum, Thai," Sam said with the reasonableness his position as deputy of communications for the White House expected of him.

And it would give him a day to try and work out what exactly he would be bringing to their chat. He glanced out the window, and took note of the way the sun was bright and beaming in the early morning air. Maybe he'd take a walk at lunch. Being out in the sun, his body and mind clear of the White House, could be just what Sam needed to help him sort out his thoughts.

And then he'd be ready to come home and hear this intriguing theory Josh had presented, and maybe offer one of his own.

Josh was staring at him with growing amusement. "You went somewhere again, Sam," he said warmly. "Want to invite me along next time?" They rocked in place, arms coming around one another in a loose, comfortable clinch.

"Before you go, do one more thing for me?" Sam asked, cocking his head to one side suggestively. "Would you kiss me?" He saw Josh squint slightly in understanding, and as he leaned in to comply, Sam closed his eyes and concentrated on nothing but the feel of tender lips on his, and their bodies swaying in motion. The answers would come later.

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