TITLE: In the Shade
AUTHOR: Ellen Milholland [radiant@bluelikethat.com]
URL: http://www.bluelikethat.com/radiance/
DISCLAIMERS: Standard disclaimers apply.
NOTES/CODES: Josh/Amy, post "The Two Bartlets"
SUMMARY: "It's Tahiti, Josh. Ninety-seven degrees in the shade."

FOR: Marie-Claude.


"You're staring at me again, Josh."

Lights twinkle in from the living room, pink and orange puddles on the rumpled sheets. She's forgone the pajamas, but she's still wearing at least the bra and panties she came over in. She turns to look at him, cheek against the pillow. Her hair falls across her face, and he pushes it back behind her ear, his fingers just barely grazing her cheek.

"That I am," he says. He's up on one elbow, and she rolls her eyes. When she looks back, she doesn't stare at the scar on his chest or throw it strange, awkward glances. She acts like it's not even there, doesn't ask, "Does it hurt?" and he could almost fall in love with her just for that, but instead he says, "You're looking pretty naked there. You cold?"

"It's Tahiti, Josh. Ninety-seven degrees in the shade." She pushes herself up, and she sits cross-legged, looking over her shoulder at him. "I liked the fake palm tree best."

"You didn't even give me the chance to ply you with the many bottles of rum I picked up on the way home." Her skin glows in the strange lights, and her eyes shine when she looks down at him, still wearing what she's sure is his best pair of boxers. Josh is saying, "The guy at the liquor store, he was all, 'Hey, I know you-'"

"Spare me," she says rising to her knees and pushing him back against the bed, hands on his shoulders. "John Tandy was a lot more famous than you are, buddy."

"I thought we weren't going to talk about him," Josh says, dragging a hand from her waist to her knee. She moves to straddle his hips, and her muscles move under his fingers. He likes it.

She shakes her head. "No, you're not going to talk about him anymore. I can pretty much feel free to talk about whatever I'd like."

"Here we go, starting with the double standards, already." He likes this view, her stomach and her breasts and the little birthmark just above her navel.

"Absolutely," she says, and after a moment, "Josh, you're staring."

He doesn't blink when he says, "You're beautiful."

"Flattery will get you nowhere," she says, but she drops her chin just the same and leans down towards him.

"That's a shame. I was hoping I could fool you into sleeping with me. " He smiles his most winning smile, and she rolls her eyes but lets her forehead rest against his. Her bra is white satin, and her nipples, through the thin fabric, brush against his chest, and her muscles tighten everywhere.

"You're an inelegant bastard, you know that?" she says, and in it, he can hear her breath.

One of his fingers slides down her arm. "Actually, they had the kindness to elect me king of the inelegant bastards."

She looks at him without blinking, their faces close like that, and says suddenly, "Was a shitty thing to do, canceling on me like that." Her voice says more than she means for it to. He kisses her and dips a finger into her navel.

"How do you know this wasn't my plan all along?" His voice is a little lower than usual, and she notices it, and moves her hips, but just a little.

"Please, don't insult my intelligence," she says. "You had every intention of whisking me off to Tahiti when whatever it was came up, and you had to do this to apologize for being an asshole." She's almost whispering, and the ends of her hair tickle across his face.

He says, "No, seriously, it was this thing, Vieques--"

She cuts him off, "It was about John, right?"

He's going to protest, but then he says, "Yeah."

"You got mad," she says.


"Even though this isn't a thing."

Josh smiles, holds her more tightly. "Yeah."

She sits up, too quickly, and the blood rushes out of her head. But she was already so lightheaded, she hardly notices. "Well, as an apology, this is a start."

"Start?" His forehead wrinkles. She thinks he's beautiful.

"Let's have a drink. I'll hula dance." She lifts an eyebrow.

Josh holds her by the wrists. "That's definitely Hawaii."

"You going to complain if I start hula dancing, wearing nothing but my plastic lei?" She moves her hips again, more deliberately, a mimic of a dance. Her satin panties are slick against him. He notices.

"Got a point there." He's afraid that if he stops touching her, she'll disappear. She doesn't complain when he says, "Maybe later." He'd fall in love with her, for not noticing the scars, in or out, for not calling him an asshole straight out, but he just puts a hand to her chin and pulls her down to kiss her. She doesn't complain, just lets her mouth brush over his.

"I can't believe you'd turn that down, Josh. I don't know what to think. It's entirely possible I'm grossly offended."

She's easily distracted by his fingers creeping down her spine, his palms on her ass, the way she can tell he's getting a little hard. "I thought of something more fun."

"More fun than plastic flowers and suggestive dancing?" she asks, grinning.

"I'd like to think so. If you disagree, well, I think we have much bigger problems here."

"Yeah, like your overactive ego," she smirks, but her nipples are hard, and his hands are so warm.

"Ego, huh?" he says, and then shifts so she goes sprawling onto the bed. She does it more dramatically than she has to, only because she likes the way she ends up, arms above her head, legs just spread. He kisses her stomach and laps a path around her navel and across the birthmark. Her eyes are big and liquid when he moves to kiss her mouth, this time in earnest.

A light filters through his hair at a strange angle, and his mouth tastes like warm water and mint toothpaste. Her eyes flutter closed so that she can concentrate on how his fingertips trace lines against the curve of her waist and the dip of her stomach.

He moves to kiss her forehead, his lips wet, and she says, "We could've done this in college."

"You and Chris and all the sex, wasn't exactly the right time for me to put the moves on you."

"Oh, and when you put it that way, it seems a real shame," she says, laughing through her eyes as she looks at him. He brushes one of her nipples, and her breath catches. He smirks.

"You're the one who brought it up," he says.

"You should've said something. How was I supposed to know you were interested in me?" He likes the way the satin feels under his fingers, and he slides his hand back and forth across the slick material until she whimpers.

"Who says I was interested in you?"

"I was," she says, her voice catching as he touches her, "a brilliant, attractive, charming young woman. Of course you were interested in me."

"And I'm the one with the ego?"

"Don't question me, J," she says, and then hisses as he dips his tongue into the curve of her earlobe. "And, oh, you can feel free to do that again."

"I didn't think I needed to ask permission," he says, and bites down a little on the flesh at the base of her neck where it meets her shoulder. She doesn't respond, just puts her hands against his back and tilts her head back to let him see her throat. She has no reason to trust him, but she does, and he kisses the hollow of her throat in thanks.

It's been years since the first time he saw her naked, but accidentally, stumbling across her and Chris in a compromising position and swearing he'd never mention it again. This time, he can take his time to memorize the exact color of her veins under her skin and the perfect shape of her breasts in his hands. When he touches her, her lips part and her hips move.

She looks up at him suddenly, eyes sharp. "If you do this, and forget about it, I'll kill you."

He smiles at her, touches her leg. "I'll keep that in mind." He bends over, kisses her belly and then each of her thighs, and he can feel all those hours at the gym in the carefully sculptured muscles hiding just beneath her skin. He plays the flat of his tongue against the inside of her thighs, and she makes a sound like a whimper. She doesn't protest when he hooks his fingers in the waistband of her panties and pulls them down her legs.

She thinks that he hesitates for just a moment, and she almost hopes its because he's nervous, just before his tongue touches her clit, and then she doesn't think anything else. "Oh, J," is all she says, and he's not in love with her, but he could be, because the taste is nice, not sweet but nice, and he likes that she calls him that, because she's the only one who shortens his name to the first letter. It's more intimate than his fingers when they slip inside her.

When she gets close, she grabs him by the hair not delicately and almost growls. He practically laughs, because it seems so ridiculous, but her eyes are dark and her shoulders are flushed, so he reaches over into the bedside drawer for a condom. She doesn't seem to mind the fact that he fumbles with the wrapper because his hands are wet or that the latex glows in the dark. She waits for him, fingers brushing her own nipples, and when he's ready he laughs a little sheepishly and pushes into her.

She's exactly what he thought she would be, all the way back in college, wet and tight, and she wraps her legs around him to pull him closer. When she comes, she calls him J again and grabs at the sheets, and when he does, he enjoys the way her name sounds in his mouth.

He tosses the condom into the trashcan and nuzzles at her neck, unexpectedly affectionate. It startles her, and she says, "You don't have to prove anything to me."

He doesn't respond, just kisses her jaw and says, "You want a drink?"

"Only if I can wear your big pajamas while you mix it."

"Drive a hard bargain, Amy, but okay." He swings his legs over the edge of the bed, stands, pulls her up with him. She's kneeling on the bed, and their faces are close to equal, and he kisses her again and says, "I'm not trying to prove anything except that fact that I'm not really as much of an asshole as you take me for."

"Going to take more than good sex to do that," she says, but she's smiling.

"But it's a start, right?" he says, his hands on her hips.

"Absolutely," she says, and he falls in love with her laughter.

Back to West Wing fiction.