AUTHOR: Ellen Milholland
RATING: Strong R.
CODES: Semi post-ep. Josh/Sam.
SPOILERS: Two Cathedrals, some.
ARCHIVE: Ask first.
SUMMARY: "It wasn't the first time it had happened like this."
It wasn't the first time it had happened like this.
Sam was wearing his coat, long and black around him. His suit was dark, and his shirt was white, and his eyes were cloudy. And his coat was black, and it was unbuttoned, and he walked with his chin down.
He was angry, and it was not the first time. Sometime, long ago, he had realized that his voice was smaller than he expected it to be. He realized that they would listen to him, and that they would nod, and that they would take what he said under consideration.
And then he knew that they would ignore him, that they would shoot him down. But they would do it smiling, or they would do it frowning, or they would do it yelling. In the end, it didn't matter, because Sam was still left standing beautifully and awkwardly alone, wondering why he'd bothered to waste his breath in the first place.
And so he shouldn't have been surprised when he was the last one to find out about the President's illness. They hadn't wanted to distract him, he was told. They hadn't wanted to knock him out of his zone.
They had told him last, and they added a spoonful of sugar, hoping it would go down without a burn. But it hadn't, and Sam was fighting the ulcers from the bitter acid of being the last to know.
It had gotten worse, as these things usually do. He had tried to tell them, again and again, to reconsider. He had made opened his mouth to speak, and CJ had thrown things, and Toby had looked down his nose, and Josh had been withdrawn. He had opened his mouth, and they had stuffed more sugar down his throat.
He was sick of it, and so he occasionally yelled. And CJ's eyes had widened, and Josh shook a little, and Toby suavely ignored the whole issue. Sam knew that he was supposed to feel better now, knowing that there was no possible way they could act on his opinions, anyway.
But he didn't. His stomach ached, and his throat burned with the acid and the bile of their casual dismissals of him. He wondered why crises made him twelve again, and not the highly qualified, brilliant man he was. He wondered if it was because his hair was too dark or his skin too flawless or his eyes too bright.
Maybe during crises, he became just a china doll to them. A talking doll, who yelled sometimes. He stalked around, he slammed doors.
But he followed them, in the end, and he shut his mouth, and he felt the electrical buzz of powerful men with direction. He'd caught rain on his eyelashes. He had been quiet, because that was what he had to do.
He'd accepted the cloying, nauseating sweetness on his tongue.
And he had gotten his answer with the rest of them, with the President on the podium with his eyes sparkling. But then CJ had turned to Josh, her teeth flashing, and Toby had looked grimly to Leo. And Sam stood there, for one moment, alone and biting his tongue inside his mouth to help him concentrate on the implications of the President's words.
They meant late hours and no sleep and take-out dinners at 2am. They meant a year of meetings with every Democrat in the nation. They meant campaigning, and stumping, and learning to spin spin spin everything so that the White House ended up looking even more immaculate than usual.
They meant not ruining anything, and they probably meant months and months more of Sam talking and CJ disapproving and Toby ignoring and Josh shuddering like that, behind his eyes.
There was really only a split second between the moment CJ looked at Josh, and the moment Josh had turned to look at Sam. And Sam could see that there was something haunted in Josh's eyes, and his head buzzed with the implications of everything that was going on around him. Toby was clapping Sam on the back, rather discreetly, and Leo was grinning like there was no tomorrow.
And Sam was looking at Josh, and Josh's eyes were smoldering.
There were flashes everywhere, and there was the press conference going on around them, and there were bodies, and Sam felt sick because he had all these words and ideas stuffed inside of him, begging to be let out. He was strategizing from every organ in his body, and it was like a hemorrhage. He wanted to cut himself open to let all of it out, and so he got a little angry, because he knew that no one would want to see him bleed like that.
Josh's eyes were smoldering.
The press conference was over soon enough, and they were back at the White House, and Josh was in his office when Sam found him. Sam was still in his coat, but his hair was wet and his cheeks were flushed. He said nothing, because his tongue was sluggish. He said nothing because it was Josh, and because he was standing with a hand on his hip.
He said nothing because it had happened like this before. Not exactly like this, of course, but the hemorrhage was the same, thick and swift inside Sam's belly.
And so Josh looked up at him, licked his lips, and nodded. That was all. He nodded, and Sam went back for his briefcase. When he returned, Josh was swathed in his own coat, and he was already fidgeting in that way he always did when he knew that it was going to happen like this.
They took Sam's car, and they didn't speak. Sam was angry for things that had been done and for things that hadn't. Sam was angry with himself for the beatings he hadn't yet taken.
And Josh was silent, and still, except for his hand on Sam's leg, which was almost more than Sam could take. He was clutching the steering wheel at ten and two, holding so tightly that his knuckles were white. He was out of breath from nothing but Josh's still fingers against the inside of his thigh.
They went to Josh's apartment, because it was closer. Josh locked the door behind them, turned the deadbolt, and Sam hung their coats up in the closet. It was slow, and it was silent.
And it was Josh, touching Sam's cheek, and Sam's chest hurting from the pressure of his heart and from not breathing.
It was Sam saying, "I hate this," and Josh replying with his mouth against the back of Sam's hand, which was his way of saying that he knew, that he knew more than he let on.
It had happened like this before, and Josh knew that kissing Sam's wrists made him whimper. And this time was no different, and Sam's little noises were bright against the cool, stagnant air.
They were standing in Josh's living room, and Sam was shaking already. "I get so angry," he said, as a way of protecting himself against the way Josh was unbuttoning his shirt.
And Josh said, "Yeah," and kept unfastening the little buttons until he could push the shirt back off Sam's shoulders. And he was untucking Sam's undershirt, and Sam was looking at him through half-lidded eyes.
"I feel powerless, Josh."
Josh nodded. "So do they, and that's why everything's like this."
And then it was Josh pulling the tee-shirt off over his head, and it was Sam's messy hair. Josh was touching his lips to Sam's shoulders, and he was letting his hands touch Sam's smooth arms.
And Sam was moaning, already, and he could feel Josh's erection pressing into his hip, and he was touching Josh's cheek. They kissed, and their tongues were sharp and slick, and Sam found that Josh's mouth tasted like sugar and bile, too.
Josh was pushing him against the wall. Sam's spine was flat against the wallpaper, and the edge of the wainscot dug into the small of his back. One of Josh's hands was against Sam's shoulder, one was against Sam's slim hip, and his lips were pliant.
And then Sam said, "He said yes," and there was hope, and fear, and desperation, and anger in his voice. And Josh's hands were fumbling at Sam's zipper, and Sam's pants fell. Josh dropped do his knees, and Sam was saying, "I'm supposed to be happy, Josh. I'm supposed to be happy about this."
It'd happened like this before, so Sam wasn't surprised when Josh was licking at the head of his cock, wasn't surprised when Josh was suddenly sucking him off. Wasn't surprised that he was pushing Josh's head towards him, or that Josh never gagged.
And when Josh swallowed, like he always did, and swallowed and swallowed, and Sam slumped back against the wall, Sam opened his eyes. Josh was standing, watching him, and usually, at this point, Josh would shake his head, kiss Sam's cheek, and Sam would look at him, shaken, and ask for a beer.
But this had been a special day, and the next year was going to be harder than anything Sam had ever been through. And so he reached out, took Josh's hand, touched one of Josh's fingertips to his mouth. This was new, and Josh gasped, and Sam smiled. Somewhere inside of him, if only for a moment, the bleeding stopped and the sugar-sweetness faded.
There was darkness, and there was Josh, and there was a single moment
of clarity when he didn't need to say anything to be heard. And that
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