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Kissing in the stairwell

Chapter Text

Toby’s POV

It was just bad luck that sam was in the last place I looked. Well, technically it was the first place I'd looked but I hadn't seen him. It was only after an hour prowling around the building that I had bothered to look under the desk, where I found my deputy hunched in a tight ball, eyes Glazed and unfocused. How the hell he had gotten by Ginger, I wasn’t sure, but I’d be sure to ask her about that later. I should probably start from the beginning, though. Tell you the story of how I came to find my deputy, one of the toughest men I know, under my desk.

An anti-gay marriage bill had just passed. We were all worn out, tired of watching people lose rights one at a time, but I was worried about Sam, because it had seemed to hit him the worst of all. He'd been quiet and withdrawn over the last week. And although I was loathe to admit it, that damn brotherly instinct was rearing it's head again and I wanted to make sure he was alright. Donna told me he and Josh had left for lunch. I had hurried on my way to join them when I found them kissing in a stairwell. The panic in both of their eyes when they saw me, just for a moment before they bolted, was heartbreaking. I tried to tell them to stop running , but both were gone before my brain caught up.

I decided to go after sam, after telling Donna to find Josh. The terror in the eyes of my deputy made me worried that my finding them would knock him off the precarious Perch he had been on all week, and I was determined not to let sam break.

Donna’s POV

Toby didn't tell me why I needed to find Josh, but there was so much unusual concern in his eyes that I didn't question it. I find him within five minutes, Having coaxed him out of every hiding hole he has at some point or another, when his ptsd gets bad. This time I find him in Leo's closet. Clever, since Leo is in a meeting and doesn't mind when he finds Josh here. He's actually pretty good at calming him down, though they both claim i'm better. I sit down next to him, listening to his raspy breathing before he whispers “Toby caught Sam and I kissing he's going to tell everyone we're going to be fired.” his voice is barely a whisper as he buries his head against my neck. I wrap my arms around him, holding him close as he sobs quietly into my chest. “Oh Josh.” I murmur gently, my heart breaking at his pain. “Oh Josh.”

Toby’s POV

In my defense for why I took so long, I DON'T have to find sam on a weekly basis. And I'm glad too, because my heart can't take the look in his eyes as I crouch next to him, one hand on his shoulder. His eyes shift towards me, unfocused and terrified. “T-toby?” He stammers softly, the fear in his voice making him sound childish. I nod, sitting and pulling him against me. His whole body tenses, true panic finally hitting him. “Let me go, please, let me go I'm filthy disgusting wrong you're clean let me go please God let me go.” His sobs are heart wrenching as I tighten my arms around him, holding him gently yet firmly. “Shhh it's ok, Sam. It's ok. I don't give a damn who you kiss but you've gotta calm down. It's going to be ok, Sam. I've got you.” I rock gently, glad when he finally begins to relax against me, the shaking easing slightly. I don't truly relax until he falls asleep, or passes out, from sheer exhaustion. I sigh, running one hand through his hair before gently getting my arms under him and carrying him to the couch, casting ginger a grateful look when she brings a blanket. I gently tuck it around him, sitting down next to the couch, content to let the instinct in my chest that demanded to know that my deputy, and little brother, was alright.

Donna’s POV

I don’t know how long we sit there until Josh pulls back slightly, shifting so his head was on my shoulder, my arms still around him. I sigh, running a hand along his back for a moment, before I speak. “How long?” Josh tenses for a moment, then goes slack. “Nine months.” Josh rasps softly. I chuckle softly. “I thought it was seven I was close.” He looks up at me in shock, and I snort. “You’re quite easy to read, Joshua. Now cmon.” I stand and offer a hand to him. He looks at me suspiciously for a moment, but doesn’t resist when I pull him to his feet, though he does lean on the wall for a moment for balance. “Where are we going?” I open the door, blinking at the sharp light, glad that Leo doesn’t seem to be back yet. “Toby was going to find Sam and calm him down. So, we are going to call Toby and find out where they are.” I have to move and grab Josh’s arm, to get him to stop when he starts rambling about how Toby was going to think he was disgusting or fire him. I swear to god, Toby, if you don’t take care of them, I will end you.” Leo coming in, unfortunately, doesn’t end Josh’s rambling.

Leo’s POV

I come into my office and find Josh and Donna slipping out of the closet. That’s not uncommon, Josh’s favorite place to hide during a panic attack has become my closet. I let him do it, because I think it’s better than him ending up in random corners where Donna has to find him, and as good as she is, it takes a while. I can’t say I’m all that surprised when I hear what he is ranting about, but the moment he finally sees me, true fear hits his eyes. “L-Leo.” He stammers softly, and I quickly step forward and put my hands on his shoulders. “I don’t care, Joshua. Nobody does. Ok?” Josh nods, resting his head on my shoulder for a long moment before straightening up. Donna has crept behind my desk and borrowed my phone. She finishes talking to someone, Toby I think, and comes and grabs Josh. “Wish me luck keeping him sane for the walk over there.” She mutters, leading Josh to the door. “And thank you, Leo. I nod, sighing and sitting behind my desk, hoping that I won’t regret letting them handle this.

Toby’s POV

Josh hesitantly enters my office, hands twitching slightly. Donna hangs back by the door, as Josh slumps into a chair in front of my desk. Sam is still sleeping soundly on my couch. Josh actually whimpers as I stand to stand in front of him. I kneel, looking him straight in the eyes. “Nobody here, least of all me, gives a damn about who you date. Ok? As long as you’re happy and nobody here has to beat someone to a pulp for hurting you, I’m good with whoever it is I find you kissing.” He laughs softly, then glances over at Sam. “Is he ok?” I nod, glancing over at Sam again, just to check that he’s still there and ok. “He’s fine, Joshua. He needs the sleep.” Josh nods, glancing over at Sam longingly. I exchange a glance with C.J., who is standing in the doorway of my office, knowing Josh wants to sit with him but he still looks too terrified to ask for a glass of water, much less anything else. “Joshua, go sit with your boyfriend. I have a meeting now anyway.” I say gently, lying through my teeth. He gives a grateful look and sits down next to the couch where Sam is, slipping one hand around Sam’s. I give C.J. a sharp look, and we both duck out into the hallway. It takes her less than two dozen steps, in the safety of a hallway, to be up in my face. “What the hell is going on, Toby!” She demands angrily. “I clearly missed something, so please, tell me, what the hell is going on!” I shake my head, refusing to tell her. It was their secret to share.

C.J.’s POV

I glare furiously at Toby, eyes locked stubbornly on his. Toby may be the only person who can resist my glare, his eyes locked furiously on mine. “Toby I am the press secretary I have to know what is going on!” He shakes his head sharply. “No you don’t. And if you do, go ask them yourself. Because I’m not telling, CJ. It’s their lives.” He takes two steps back, turning sharply on his heels. I don’t follow him. When Toby is in this kind of mood, nobody is getting anything worthwhile out of him. I stalk back towards my press room, praying to God that I didn’t get a question about something with Sam and Josh that I wasn’t aware of. So... I basically just needed them not to be mentioned. The reporters are positively rabid today, and Danny moves to intercept me before I am able to reach the podium. He grabs my shoulder, and I catch something in his eyes that makes me stop. “C.J. Listen to me. You do not want to go up there and do this briefing. They have...information, about Sam and Josh. You do not want to answer these questions.” I freeze, staring at him. “My office, now, Danny.” He nods, following me to my office. I sit behind the desk, Danny standing in front of me. “What do you know that I haven’t been told, Danny?” Danny sighs, then says quietly, “There’s a rumor that Sam and Josh are in a relationship, C.J. And while I don’t give a damn, and think it should be private, the others….don’t agree. They’re out for blood. Josh and Sam’s blood.”

Chapter Text

Toby’s POV

I stomp back to my office, angry at C.J. How dare she try to make me share private information about Josh and Sam. There’s no way in hell I was going to tell her. I didn’t care if this was a media disaster waiting to happen, they were my friends. My brothers, even. And the media would be a pool of hyenas if there were even a HINT of the relationship between them. When I finally reach my office, I see that Sam is sitting up next to Josh. Josh has his head on Sam’s shoulder, while Sam has wrapped his arm around Josh. I’m about to enter when Donna pulls me aside. “Toby, there’s a rumor the media knows. I thought you should know. I have to go home and get a new shirt.” She turns to show the gash on the back of hers. I nod, cursing inwardly. They both tense up when I enter, Josh looking ready to jump away if required, but I just give them a small smile and sit behind my desk. They visibly relax, Josh leaning back against Sam, but I can see there is still true fear in their eyes. “C.J. is demanding to know what’s going on, guys. And Donna says...Donna says the press knows” I say, trying to keep the usual sharpness out of my voice. It doesn’t change their reaction though, both look up at me in absolute terror. Josh is shaking when he stands up to face me. “We can’t tell her then she has to tell the press they’ll rip us apart please, Toby.” He whimpers softly. “Please, Toby.” I stare down at my feet, unable to comment without my heart breaking for my terrified brothers. “I don’t know that you guys can get out of this.”

Josh’s POV:

I can’t stop shaking. Sam has slumped back against the couch, unable to hide the fear in his eyes, but I can’t stop shaking. Toby moves forward, one hand on my shoulder, but I can’t help from flinching away. Toby starts to speak, but I can’t hear him. I barely feel myself as I spin around and take off, not sure where I am going. Not caring. Have to get away have to get away have to get away oh god help me please help me where am I please please we can’t tell them we will be destroyed Bartlet will be destroyed.

Toby’s POV:

When Josh takes off, I am completely torn. I glance at Sam, who looks far too broken for me to want to leave him. But I can’t forget the raw terror in Josh’s eyes when I had touched his shoulder. Sighing, I grab my phone and call Leo. “Leo? I Need you to come to my office right now.” I kneel in front of Sam, forcing him to look at me. “I have to go find Josh, Sam. Leo is going to be here in a second, alright? You good?” Sam shakes his head slightly, but it’s the look in his eyes that breaks my heart. “I know Sammy. I know.” I stand, hurrying in the direction Josh had gone. I ask every other person I see if they know where he is, but apparently none paid attention to where he was going. I suddenly wish I had Donna, or at least her Josh finding skills. But I don’t, so I just keep looking, till I finally find him curled in the corner of a file room, cradling his left hand to his chest, the look in his eyes terrifyingly defeated.

C.J.’s POV:

 

I pace around my office, growing more agitated by the minute. Danny has taken a seat on my couch watching me, and I am surprised by the genuine sadness in his eyes. I had forgotten, for a few moments, that he was Sam and Josh’s friend, too. He was clearly hurting for them. “C.J., There is NOTHING I CAN DO! It was NOT me who leaked this, you know I never would, but everyone has it they have to say SOMETHING. They have a photo, C.J.!” I sigh, collapsing next to him on the couch as he moves over to make room for me to sit. He slips one hand onto my knee, and I’m just plain too tired to move away from him. “This is off the record?” Danny gives me a sharp nod. “They don’t deserve this, Danny. SOMETHING has been going on with them today, Toby refuses to tell me what, I can’t even FIND Josh and Sam, and now that I have a vague idea of what’s going on I wish I didn’t have to find them but I do because it’s my job to know about this and I hate it.” Danny sighs, leveling his eyes at mine. “Firstly, this isn’t your stop, so stop blaming yourself in whatever distorted way you’re managing to, C.J. Put your anger into finding who it was who took a damn picture of them. I’m going to go try and find Josh, I saw Donna leaving before which means he’s in a corner alone somewhere if he’s heard that the media knows about this.” I study him for a moment, trying to figure out what seems weird to me before something clicks in the back of my head. “You knew!” Danny hesitates for a long second, then deflates slightly. “Yea. Josh...accidentally mentioned it a few months ago.” I stare at him, trying to hide my level of shock. “You didn’t report it. You had to report it, not...you risked your job for them, Danny.” He nods, standing. “Go find Sam, C.J. NOT to interrogate him.” He says quickly, seeing my expression. “To comfort him.” I stand, letting Danny pull me into a hug quickly, hands resting gently against my back. “It’ll be alright.” He says softly, turning and ducking out of my office.

Sam’s POV

I don’t even feel anything. My brain is empty, refusing to think as I stare at the ground, mind lost. I’m jerked back to reality when a hand gently rests on my shoulder. I spin sideways to see Leo sitting next to me. He sighs when he sees my face, and I’m surprised by the worry in his. Leo isn’t someone you expect to worry about you. It isn’t that he doesn’t care, cause he does. It’s just that he typically hides it. He doesn’t speak, just rests one hand gently on my shoulder as we sit there in silence. I glance down at my lap, where my hands are sitting, trembling violently. “It’s not fair. We did everything right. Everything. We hid everything right, Leo. We did everything right and they still know.” Leo nods, sighing. “I know how that feels.” I shift, raising one hand to wipe at the tears in my eyes before burying my head in my hands. Leo shifts so his hand that was on my shoulder is rubbing circles on my back. “Easy, Sam. You’re going to be ok. I swear.”

Danny’s POV:

I find Josh in five minutes. It’s not luck though. A few months ago, on one of my very, very rare days off, he had called me, desperate and terrified, all but begging me to come. That was when he had told me about him and Sam. I’d found him in the same place, curled in this corner of the room, which was full of old desks and file cabinets and stuff. Toby in kneeling in front of him, far enough back to let him have space but close enough to comfort the younger man. I kneel next to them, ignoring the very surprised look that Toby sends me and putting a hand on Josh’s leg, rubbing my fingers gently over his skin. He launches himself at me, his left arm catching me in a tight hug. I’m not terribly surprised as I hold him close, soothing him gently. “Shhh, you’re ok, Josh. Calm down man I don’t want you to end up further hurting your hand.” Josh slumps against me, completely spent as I slump against the wall, holding him close for another moment. Finally he sighs, turning away from my offered embrace and leaning against the wall. I silently take his injured hand to examine it. “What the hell did you do to yourself?” He shrugs, but I’m relieved when he finally speaks. “Had a fight with a wall.” I laugh dryly. “Who won?” He chuckles softly, and Toby and I both relax. “I totally won.” I roll my eyes, pulling off my sweater to make a sling for the wrist. Josh mutters thanks as I help him into it, which tells me he’s definitely in a lot of pain. I have a feeling the wrist may be fractured, but saying that isn’t well going to make him feel any better, so I don’t. He looks better now, much calmer than he had a few moments ago. His eyes are still shaky, but there’s a definitely less terror in his eyes. I try to distract him for a moment. “Josh, do I have two heads? Cause Toby is staring at me like I do.” He actually laughs here, a flash of the normal Josh showing through. “Nah, he’s just surprised you can find me. I don’t know how long it took him but I think it was longer than it took you.” “Well, I have found you here before.” He nods. “Ready to get up?” Josh nods shakily, so I reach out and help him to his feet. “You didn’t punch it, did you. You ran into it?” Josh sighs, nodding. “Cmon, lets get you back to your office Donna is probably worried sick.”

C.J.’s POV

I creep into Toby’s office, surprised at the relief in Leo’s eyes when he stands up. “He hasn’t moved in ten minutes. I have to go get a security briefing C.J., take care of him, alright?” I nod, sitting down, not speaking as I pull Sam into my arms. He deflates, finally letting himself break as he buries his head into my chest and just shakes. He has no tears, he probably ran out of them already today. I’ve pieced together a vague idea of what happened, but sooner or later, I need to know everything. But it can wait, I think. It can wait. For a moment at least, till I have some catastrophe to deal with, or Sam does, I’m pretty content just to sit there comforting him as he grips my arms like I’m the only thing in the world that can keep him in one piece.

Josh’s POV

Danny and Toby lead the way on the way back to my office. Toby is still shooting Danny confused, somewhat hostile, looks, but I don’t blame him. He has no way of knowing that this isn’t Danny’s first, and probably not his last, time helping me out. Toby is pulled aside by his secretary, so Danny and I enter my office. He fishes out my medical kit and I close the door, settling back into the routine we both know too well. I offer out my hand, and he wraps the wrist tightly. I struggle not to cry out, it’s insanely painful. This seems to confirm what he had already thought. “It’s at least fractured Josh you need a doctor.” He shakes his head firmly, and I sigh. “IF you haven’t gone by the time C.J. lets us press loose today, I’m taking you myself. Understood?” He nods. C.J, and Sam, enter the room a moment later. Sam looks shaky, but more confident than I had expected. C.J. just looks... sad. “You boys ready for the hardest week of your lives?” C.J. asks gently. I nod, standing next to Sam.

Danny’s POV

I hesitate, unsure on if I can be here, but knowing that there is no way in hell this is going on the record. Josh is gripping Sam’s hand so tightly that there is no way it doesn’t hurt, but Sam doesn’t even seem to consider pulling away. They share a quick look, before Sam nods, somehow keeping his voice level despite the flicker of panic in his eyes. “Yea, C.J., we’re ready. Just don’t let them kill us, ok?” She laughs, a little sadly, nodding. “How are we going to do this?” It’s Josh who speaks this time, his words the most surprising thing I have heard in...a long while. Since he had told me The Secret, probably. “Hey, Danny, want an exclusive on the relationship between two male senior staffers at the white house?”

Chapter Text

Danny’s POV

I don’t know who was more surprised, me or C.J. Probably her, from the expression on her face. Sam takes a hesitant step back, actually putting Josh between C.J. and himself, which would be funny if the fear on his face wasn’t there. It was obvious the young man still hadn’t fully recovered from earlier in the day, even if I hadn’t been there, I could see it in his eyes. C.J. studies them for a long moment, then exhales with a sigh. “I don’t know that this is the best method in the world, guys. If you don’t mind my asking, why not just have a press conference and get it over with?” She asks quietly. I have a guess as to why, so I’m not terribly surprised when Josh softly says, “Because we want the first time the story is told by the media for it to be told the right way, and there’s exactly one reporter we would trust to do that. I’m strangely touched by that, so I give half a nod. “Just let me call my publisher, ok? I need to make sure he will agree to print this how I write it.” They nod and I duck out of the room, pulling out my cell and preparing to convince my boss to let my article support them.

Sam’s POV:

I relax slightly after Danny leaves the room, moving from my spot behind Josh. I’ve never been too fond of his office, it’s a little small for my taste, and dark, but today I’m too tired to argue as I slump down in the chair behind his desk. This probably isn’t allowed, but nobody in the room seems to give a damn, so I don’t move. It’s then that C.J. grabs Josh’s hand, causing him to howl in pain, jerking away from her. She groans. “Joshua, what the hell happened to your wrist?” Josh shakes his head rapidly, letting out a soft whine. C.J. sighs and drops the hand she had had up. “Sorry, Josh. But seriously. What’d you do to yourself?” Surprisingly, it’s Danny who ends up answering, ducking back into the office. “He ran into a wall. Accidentally. And he WILL be going to a doctor, after Sam and him give me an exclusive interview.” Both Josh and I glance up at him, seeing the relief in his eyes. “Boss man says they won’t change what I write on this. They trust me enough to let me write it how it should be written. Well, may be cause I told them this was how we get the exclusive, but does it matter?” We all laugh, even C.J. I’m the only one who bothers to talk, though. “We have to ask Leo’s permission for this, don’t we? As a courtesy at least.” I’m not surprised by the anxious looks we all share.

 

Leo’s POV:

 

I was slightly apprehensive when i went to Joshua’s office. I had been glad when a meeting had taken me away from having to help Sam, because I had been doing a truly awful job of it. Side effect of not being good at the touchy feely stuff, or probably why I ended up divorced. So when I enter the office and find Josh, Sam, C.J., and Danny Concannon, I’m fairly surprised. They all seem to sort of be in halfway decent spirits now. It’s C.J. who explains what the boys want to do. I’m apprehensive to say the least, but the fact of the matter is that this is their life, and I can’t well dictate how they tell people about it. Well, as their boss, and with where we work, I probably could, but I won’t. There is one glaring issue they seem to have forgotten, though. “Guys, you should probably run this by President Bartlet, don’t you think?” Sam and Josh visibly pale at these words, clearly not looking forward to telling the president of the United States that they were gay, and I didn’t blame them for that. But the fact of the matter was he HAS to know ahead of time about something like this, no matter how much the boys were too afraid to tell him.

 

Donna’s POV:

I get back from getting a new shirt from my house, smiling sadly at the situation I find in C.J.’s office. The boys are sitting next to each other, Danny and C.J. are on the couch, and Leo is leaving the room, saying something about having a meeting. I check the clock, sighing when I see that it’s already two in the afternoon. Traffic had been absolutely awful. I go to sit behind Josh’s desk, since the floor doesn’t look too comfy. Josh weakly smirks up at me, but I gasp when I see his wrist. “WHAT DID YOU DO?” I demand. He quietly explains, and Sam and Danny both jump in to promise me at least one of them will be taking him to the doctor as soon as they talk to the president. I nod in approval, glancing at their exhausted faces. Danny is the only one who even looks alive by now. “You all should sleep. I’ll be here to wake you up.” They try to argue, at least, C.J. and Josh do, but none of them manage to stay awake except Danny. Sam falls asleep gripping Josh’s good hand in his, and Josh is asleep minutes later, as close to Sam as he can possibly be. I have a sad feeling he’s terrified he’s going to lose him. I make a mental note to get every person who works in the West Wing to sign something promising that they wouldn’t treat them any differently. C.J. is too exhausted to protest when Danny gently pulls her so she’s got her head in his lap, running his fingers through her hair, putting her to sleep within minutes. I hear him ask softly, “How long since you slept?” Her response is weak, muttered. “Two days, maybe.” They’d be cute together, if they ever decided to stop the constant flirting and actually try going out. Danny and I both sigh as I open up my laptop, starting writing, Danny and I both keeping our eyes locked on our friends.

Toby’s POV:

I finally get to Josh’s office after hours of people deciding that things urgently needed me to work on them, including writing a ten page speech, but nobody is there. I groan, searching around till I find them all in C.J.’s office, in a very strange scene. Josh is leaning against one wall with Sam, who’s head is on his shoulder and is pressed as close to Josh as he can be. Josh’s right hand is gripping both of Sam’s, his left still resting in a sweater-turned-sling. C.J. is laying on her couch, her head on Danny’s lap as the reporter silently runs his fingers through her hair, glancing up, eyes daring me to question his presence. Donna, who must have gotten home at some point, is sitting behind the desk, silently typing and keeping watch on the rest of them. I beckon her, and she glances at Danny, who gives half a nod, before following me outside. “The president will be home in an hour, at ten, so they wanted to stay to talk to him, but none of them lasted five minutes. Given they all spent the day in less than stellar mental states it’s probably for the best.” I nod, but still have several questions. “Couple of questions, Donna. Firstly why does Joshua have a sling that isn’t a sling? And why is C.J. also asleep? And why the hell is Concannon in there?” Donna sighs. “Josh broke his wrist hitting a wall and is still refusing to go to a doctor. Danny, or Sam, or probably both, are going to drag him after they speak to the president. C.J. is asleep because she hasn’t slept in two days and Danny offered his lap as a pillow so, she fell asleep in like, a moment and a half. And Danny is there because Sam and Josh have decided to give him an exclusive. He’s going to tell the story how they want it told.” Finally understanding, I nod, glancing back at the room where the people who are practically my family are asleep, jerking my head to let Donna head back into the room. She nods, and I move inside after her, sitting with my back next to the door. None of us speak, although Danny casts me a grateful look. I won’t ever say it, but I think he and Danny are good together. He clearly cares, by the way he runs his fingers softly through her hair, the soft humming under his breath. I shift so my head is leaning against the wall, content, for an hour, to watch the only people I consider family sleep.

Josh’s POV:

 

I’m awoken by a hand gently shaking my shoulder, and a sharp stab of pain in my wrist. I groan, forcing my eyes open and seeing that it’s Donna who is crouched in front of me. “President Bartlet is waiting for you and Sam, whenever you’re ready.” I groan, kicking off the blanket on my lap, not bothering to wonder how it had gotten there. Sam is in a conversation with Toby, the older man has one hand on Sam’s shoulder, clearly trying to convince him of something. I stand and go over, unslinging my arm and unwrapping my wrist. Danny grabs my elbow in annoyance. “WHAT do you think you’re doing? I Know you wanna look better than you are in front of the President, but I mean, Josh, it’s at least staying wrapped man.” I sigh, nodding, and letting him wrap it tightly again. I can hear Sam now, he’s saying something about how everyone is going to dislike us now. Toby is shaking his head. Leo comes to the door, glaring at us. He doesn’t have to speak, we just nod, Sam impulsively grabbing my right hand. I let him, for once. We both briskly follow Leo, ignoring the stares, till we are let into the oval office. Bartlet is studying us. “Leo said you needed to talk to me, urgently?” I glance at Sam, us having a silent conversation for a few moments before he decides to speak. When he does, it’s fast and rambling and scared. “Josh and I...We’ve been in a relationship for nine months. Toby, and other people, found out today, and now we think the media knows. We’re going to let Danny do an exclusive first, he promised to tell it how Sam and I want it told in exchange for being the only one who gets it. We just...wanted to tell you, since you probably need to know ahead of time, Sir.” Sam and I can’t even look up, neither of us, hands locked firmly together, refusing to be separated even with the still-building fear in our chests. I am not alone. I realize, when Leo makes his presance known next to me on the other side and Toby, who has suddenly appeared behind us, puts his hand on Sam’s shoulder. We are not alone. I raise my head, calmly, as I look the president in the eyes and await his response.

Chapter Text

Toby’s POV

I had crept into the room when I heard them start talking. I knew I was probably breaking a lot of rules, official and unofficial, but there was a sound in Sam’s voice that made him sound completely and entirely alone. And while rationally I knew he wasn’t, knew that he had Josh, and to a lesser extent Leo, I couldn’t stop that damn brotherly thing in my brain from rearing it’s head and half forcing me into the room and behind Sam. He flinches slightly, then relaxes when he feels my hand on his shoulder, leaning back slightly against it. I let him, letting him take the slight physical comfort I can give while standing there, silent. I don’t move, not even when the president moves to sit down, then begins to speak. “So let me see if I understand this. The press knew that two of my senior staff members were in a relationship before I did? Before anyone outside of TOBY knew?” They glance at each other, before both nod. “Um...yes, sir?” Josh offers meekly. The president audibly sighs, and I feel Sam tense up. I move to speak, till Leo gives me a deadly glare that causes me to reconsider that plan. “Were you ever going to tell us, boys?” Sam nods slightly. “In three months. On our anniversary.” The president waves his hand to dismiss the boys, and I feel Sam sag in relief. He hurries out of the room with Josh, and I follow close behind, leaving Leo to talk to the president. I hurry after them, till we reach Sam’s office. He fumble with the latch, but I shake my head and beckon them into my office since I have a couch. They both slump onto it, neither of them speaking as I go behind my desk with a sigh, watching them intently. Josh looks pissed off, which doesn’t overly surprise me, but I can’t read the look on Sam’s face. When it becomes obvious neither of them are going to speak, I turn to my laptop, opening up a speech I have to work on, but not really paying attention. The footsteps behind me surprise me as Sam moves to read over my shoulder. “Toby, you just spelled “democrat” wrong.” He mutters softly. I snort, chuckling when I realize he’s right.

Sam’s POV:

It’s obvious to me that Toby has no idea what to say, as I hover off to one side of his desk, watching him write the speech I’m supposed to be helping with. Josh is sitting on the couch with a legal pad open on his lap, probably figuring out how to sue if we got fired. He wasn’t terribly positive on how the day was going to go. In the end, we all just grab our bags, deciding that we should head home for the first time in forever. Toby all but forces us to go home with him, so we trek out to his car, slipping into the back seat. I fall asleep within five minutes, lulled to giving into my exhaustion by the rocking of the car and whatever the soft music that Toby likes to listen to is, the melody soft and gentle.
C.J.’s POV:

I yawn in exhaustion, struggling to avoid falling asleep again. Danny was discussing something about his interview with the boys the next day with me, but I could barely hear that he was talking. He sighs, moving to grab my arm. “Cmon, C.J. You’re going home and sleeping.” I open my mouth to protest, but his eyes are telling me I’m not getting out of this and I am pretty tired… “Fine.” He grins, leading me downstairs, glaring down everyone who looked at me suspiciously or who looked like they were going to ask me to do something. I make a mental note to ask him how he looks like a guard dog so well, because usually I’d have a dozen people telling me not to be near him as I slump down in the passenger seat of his car, head resting against the window. I try for a moment to stay awake, but the cold glass against my burning skin is too good for me to resist.

Danny’s POV

I sigh when I see that she is already asleep, struggling over what to do since I have no idea where she lives. I could wake her to ask, but knowing she's basically not slept in two days makes that seem like a bad idea, so I reach over her to buckle to seatbelt, then start my car and drive off towards my house, seriously hoping she wouldn’t yell at me for this when she eventually woke up. To my surprise, the ten-minute drive goes quickly. However, the moment I reach my apartment I find problem number two: do I wake her up or carry her. I groan, sizing up the situation before shaking her gently. To my annoyance (and amusement) she doesn’t even stir. So with a sigh, I carefully unbuckle her seatbelt and lift her up, carrying her inside. It isn’t even a debate on where to put here; I carefully ease her down on my bed, tossing a blanket over her before grabbing myself one and going to curl up on the couch, hoping my back didn’t hate me too much the next day. The couch isn’t horribly comfortable, but at least it wasn’t cold.

Leo:

I sigh, watching the president pace in circles around the couches and trying to resist the urge to yell, since I don’t think I am allowed to yell at the president, no matter how long I have been his friend. I stopped listening to whatever he was saying twenty minutes ago, on his fifth comment about what the bible says. Finally, I just get up, snap in his direction “Well then I’m glad we run the country on the constitution and not on the bible.” and exit the Oval Office, grabbing my coat and briefcase on the way out before going down to my car, smirking when I see the note Toby left on the hood telling me to come over to his place. I hesitate, since it is almost midnight, but in the end, I set my GPS for his house.

Toby:

It is midnight by the time I get Sam and Josh asleep in the bed in my guest bedroom, and myself on the couch with a beer, having changed into a long sleeve shirt and jeans. The sharp knock at the door makes me stand, letting Leo in without even looking to see that it was him. We settle down on the couch, me with my beer and him with a glass of milk. It takes him a few minute to tell me what had gone down, before I end up pacing around swearing. Leo grabs my arm, half dragging me out of the apartment and down to the bench outside. “You were going to wake the boys up.” He scolds softly. I chuckle, rubbing my cold hands together. Leo sighs when he sees that I’m not dressed for the chilly weather, pulling off his coat and tossing it over my shoulders. I open my mouth to protest, but seeing his face I don’t. It is a nice warm coat. I slump closer to Leo, who glances around to make sure that nobody is there before slipping an arm over my shoulders and pulling me closer. I sigh, leaning my head on his shoulder for half a moment before standing and pacing angrily in circles. Leo watches, amused, until I finally run out of things to rant about and collapse next to him again. “Run out of things to be mad about?” He questions, standing and dragging me to my feet, too, helping me upstairs. We settle down together on the couch, drinking homemade milkshakes. Leo made them, and to my surprise, they were amazing. It’s almost one thirty by the time he drags me to bed, after I go and make sure that Josh and Sam are sleeping soundly still. I kick off my shoes and pants, curling up next to Leo. “They’re gonna find out about it, Leo. If they can find out about them they can find out about us.” Leo sighs, nodding, though he doesn’t speak. “I know, Toby. I know.”

Bartlet POV:

I pace slowly around my office, struggling with the conflicting arguments in my head. The part of my mind that were full of religion wanted me to listen to the bible. But the rest of my brain made me hesitate. This was Sam and Josh, two people who were practically my fourth and fifth children. I wanted to be happy for them. I spin around, punching the wall of my bedroom in the residence angrily, before slumping to rest my head against it with a muffled sigh, I’m surprised when I feel Abi’s hand on my shoulder. She takes one look at my face and leads me to sit down on the bed. I hesitate for half a moment, then quietly explain what had happened that day. Abi sighs, resting one hand on my arm as she says gently, “Jeb, I love you, but I swear to god if you hurt those two because of this, I might just end you.” We both laugh. I don’t mention that I have a feeling I already did hurt them, earlier in the night, when they had come to my office. All I can do is pray that I am wrong.

Chapter Text

C.J.’s POV:

I stretch, yawning before opening my eyes and jolting fully awake, trying to figure out where I was. The room is unfamiliar to me, with it’s dark, dull black walls and small window. I stand, wobbling for my footing on the unfamiliar carpet for a moment before going slowly to the doors and peeking out, unable to hide a slight smile when I see Danny curled up on the couch, half under a blanket, head resting on his hand with his thumb in his mouth. I shake him, trying to get him awake, snorting in amusement when he barely stirs. Finally giving up, I turn the TV on as loud as I can on the news channel, and chuck a bowl of water on him. He half stirs, blinking blearily up at me for a moment. “Oh, good morning, C.J. Why exactly am I wet?” He questions, sounding thoroughly amused. I don’t bother to answer, going to rummage around in the fridge. “I Think the better question is how I ended up in your apartment, Danny.” I don’t have to be looking at him to know that he shrugged. “Well, you were asleep and I have no clue where you live so I dunno what I was supposed to do.” He chuckles, moving over to my side. “Also there is literally no food here, C.J.” I roll my eyes at him, deciding to not mention that my kitchen was just as bad, since the only thing I used my apartment for was, well, sleeping. I study my clothes, sighing at how wrinkled they are but a quick glance at my watch tells me I have no time to get home before I need to be at work. “Alright cmon, Concannon, you’re driving me.”

Toby’s POV:

I wake up curled next to Leo, head resting on his shoulder. I shoot upright when I remember that Sam and Josh are in the same apartment, silently cursing Leo and I for being so stupid. I can hear him stir behind me, propping himself up against the wall and stretching out his arms. “What’s got you so stressed out?” He mutters, causing me to smirk. He sounds like a tired dog when he’s waking up. “Sam and Josh are also in the apartment, Leo! What, am I going to tell them you showed up at,” I check my watch to see what time it is, “FIVE AM?” He snorts, swinging his legs around so he is sitting next to me. “No, you’re going to tell them I slept on the couch. Or your floor. Stop worrying, Toby!” I roll my eyes, not dignifying that with a comment as I pull myself to my feet and go downstairs, sighing when I see Sam and Josh rummaging around in my kitchen. “Guys, the only thing I have that isn’t VERY expired is the coffee, cream, and sugar. They both glance over at me, Josh looking bemused and Sam looking slightly concerned. “Toby do you EVER come here?” I consider this for a moment, knowing I can’t well tell them where I actually spend my time, and shake my head. “Nope, not really.” Josh trots across the kitchen to the coffee pot, and I watch him, confused. “How the hell do you have so much energy, Joshua. It’s five in the morning and you haven’t had coffee yet!” A sharp laugh from Sam draws my attention, his eyes full of amusement, through the obvious exhaustion in them. “Apparently, not everyone needs coffee to function.” I just stare at him for a moment, then give a weary shrug, crossing the kitchen to pour the coffee. Sam watches me intently. “Why four cups?”

 

Josh’s POV:

Short, weary steps down the small flight of stairs draws my attention, and I can’t hide my surprise when Leo appears. “Oh, hi, Leo, what are you doing here?” I question, a tad confused. He shrugs, grabbing a cup of coffee and settling down at Toby’s small kitchen table. I’ve noticed that although this apartment has two floors, and two bedrooms, it’s tiny, and almost entirely bare, like nobody even lives here. It saddens me slightly. Leo finally speaks after a few gulps of coffee. “Had some business to discuss with Toby so I came over last night, and he all but forced me to sleep here. I was on the couch, just went upstairs like an hour ago to return his blanket and wake him to see if I could borrow a tie.” I shrug, accepting this answer, mostly, and turn my attention back to forcing a second cup of coffee into Sam’s hands. He still looks basically comatose, even with the first cup, but I can see him starting to actually wake up by the time the second is in him. Leo and Toby are sitting at the little table sipping their coffees. “So..my and Sam’s thing with Danny is today. D’you guys want to come? For moral support, I mean.” Toby and Leo exchange a glance that has more emotions than I can read, which surprises me, but what surprises me even more is when Leo gives half a nod. “Already on my schedule, Josh. Pretty sure C.J. is there too, to make sure you don’t create another secret plan to fight inflation.” We all laugh, as Toby herds us outside. We take his car with him, while Leo takes his own, setting off on the short-ish drive to the white house that is never actually short with D.C. traffic. I slip my sleeve down over my throbbing arm, praying that they’ve forgotten.

 

Danny’s POV:

 

The ride to the white house is silent. I can tell that C.J. feels awkward about kicking me out of my own bed, even though I had told her I didn’t mind. Because I didn’t. Finally, I speak up, tired of the silence. “You know, I’m pretty sure every single senior staff member but you thinks we are secretly in a relationship.” I feel her eyes on me, but without looking I can’t tell if she is amused or annoyed. I don’t know which I want, what I want, except for them to be right. Why can’t they be right? That’s something I haven’t been able to figure out yet, so I’m more than a little surprise when she speaks. “You know, I wish they weren’t wrong, sometimes. It’s a good thing that my hands are locked on the wheel, because I would probably have grabbed her and kissed her if they hadn’t been, thinking back to the first year, when she had a fun tendency to do that to me. “M-me too, C.J. Me, too.” I glance down when we stop at a red light and remember something. “Oh fuck, did we forget Josh was supposed to go to the ER for his wrist?” I demand. She audibly groans. “Yep. Guess I know where I am forcibly marching him to, after we let you have him and Sam for the morning.” I nod, knowing that C.J. still is scared about this plan. “You know, nobody is going to publish this story till they have something other than a picture. They all want the exclusive.” I don’t need to glance over, although I do, to see that she gives a slight nod.

 

Sam’s POV:

We walk silently into the building, trying to ignore the glances and glares we get from some of our less intelligent coworkers. Toby sends them all glares that could make anyone run and hide, and solves that particular problem fast, even though Leo verbally admonishes him for using fear as a tactic. Toby just shrugs. “So...where are we having this interview?” Leo shrugs. “Wherever C.J. and Danny tell you that you are going to have this interview, alright?” I glance over in surprise at him, studying his face to try and figure out why he is so tense today, given Leo typically has three emotions: Neutral, sorta almost happy, and furious. Tense was new, even in the worst things, Leo never looked...tense. Moments later, C.J. and Danny meet up with us, the rest of us obediently following C.J. when she jerks her head in one direction. We duck into C.J.’s office, Josh and I taking the couch, Toby and Leo awkwardly leaning against the wall, C.J. behind the desk and Danny off to her left. “So, I got the press room for THREE hours this morning.” We all look over at C.J. in surprise. “How the hell did you manage that?” C.J. grins fairly happily. “The others are going to listen to the president give some speech at some college somewhere about some thing.” Danny snorts. “We’ve got it starting in...five minutes.” I feel Josh stiffen up next to me. Danny glances over at him. “Oy, Joshua, and when we are done, C.J. and I are dragging you to the emergency room by your EARS.” I can’t hide a laugh, Danny looks a lot like C.J. does when she is defending one of us. Josh visibly deflates, leaning into me, shifting so I can tuck an arm over his shoulders. Danny comes around the desk and grabs his left arm, rewrapping the wrist tightly. “It should be in a sling, Joshua.” Josh just shrugs half-heartedly, burying his head against my shoulder with a whine. I just laugh softly.

Leo’s POV:

We all half-heartedly follow Danny down into the press room, sitting down in the first row of the seats. Danny plops himself down on the stage thing in front of us with his notebook. “Can I video record this? Because three hours of writing would break my arm.” All five of us exchange looks, then shrug and nod. Danny grins, turning on a camera that was already next to him. He aims the first dozen questions towards Josh and Sam, mostly about how they had met and how long they had been together, that kind of thing. Toby and I sit silently, although we glance at each other every few minutes, a silent conversation that has Danny glancing at us in confusion a few times. Finally, he turns to ask me a question. “Leo, you’ve known the president for a long time, correct? How did he respond to this information about two of his senior staff member becoming public? Will he be asking for their resignations?” I hesitate, trying to decide what to say. “Well I haven’t really spoken to the president yet on this issue.” I shoot a glance at Toby, silently asking him a question. He gives half a nod, although the fear in his eyes makes me almost decide not to do it, until I summon some all of my courage. “And if he has a problem with it and wants them fired he’s going to have issues, because they aren’t the only lgbt people working in the west wing.” A flash of surprise fills Danny’s eyes. “Oh? Toby, do you agree with Leo’s saying that there are others?” Toby gives a sharp nod, shifting slightly closer to me. “Yea, Danny, there are definitely others.” Danny studies us for a moment, I can feel his eyes are calculating. “You say definitely? You know that how? I don’t imagine it comes up in everyday conversation.” Toby makes a harsh noise, somewhere between a laugh and a growl. “I can tell you there are at least two more, Danny.” I’m surprised when his fingers silently grasp mine, but even more surprised when I feel the tremors running through his fingers. “There are at least the two of us.”

Chapter Text

President Bartlet’s POV:

I am not usually a man to pace, but now, I was confident I would be doing nothing else for the rest of the day. Concannon’s story had come out at around four pm, an hour ago, and I was still reeling in absolute shock. Half of my brain wanted to go find Leo and pummel him for not telling me, while the other half just wanted to go give my oldest and best friend a hug. I know him, and the rest of them, have been locked in Toby’s office for the last few hours. I have no idea what they’re doing but when I wandered past to try to see, all the secretaries gave me looks that could kill, so I decided against asking. Giving up on pacing, I slump down into my chair and rest my head on my arm with an exhausted groan. A sharp knock on my door draws my attention, causing me to glance over at it. “Come in.” I’m more than surprised when Mrs.Landingham, Ginger, Donna, Margaret, Bonnie, Carol, and Cathy all enter the room. The secretaries, plus Carol, who isn’t technically a secretary, all come to stand in front of me. It’s Donna who steps forward, with Carol, who is holding a stack of papers. “As all of our bosses are currently locked in an office figuring the likelihood of keeping their jobs, we decided to start a list. This is every person who will quit if you fire any of them, or treat them different than before in any way shape or form. Also, they all wrote a thing for you, which is the top few pages.” Carol drops the papers on my desk and they all file out of the room.

Toby’s POV:

Amusingly, or not, today it’s me who wanders off. Well, I say wander, Leo says bolt, but who gives a damn either way I wasn’t in the office with everyone else. They were “Planning things,” Meaning hiding from the media. CJ hadn’t briefed the press in over twenty-four hours, so they were absolutely rabid, and she was unwilling to let the rest of us anywhere near them. She finally left the room at five PM, briefed them for twenty minutes, and took no questions before retreating back to the room. I had gone looking for some food, we were all starving, but had been found by reporters and had kind of just bolted.

CJ’s POV:

The press room is screaming at me for the entire twenty minutes I am doing my briefing, but I point blank refuse to take questions and just stalk back to Toby’s office, where the rest of us are hiding. Josh has a legal pad on his lap and a pen balanced in his right hand, the left back in a sling I assumed Danny had made him. His eyes are absolutely raw with pain and fear. Sam sits next to him, two legal books open on his lap. He’s conversing with Leo. Danny follows me back from my briefing to the office, but I hesitate. Josh glances over and makes a sharp noise. “Let him in, CJ. Please.” I sigh but nod, and Concannon grins happily as he moves to sit on one of Toby’s chairs. Leo is behind the desk, clearly not listening to anything. I scan the room, then snap, “Where the hell is Toby?” They all shrug and I swear, hurrying out of the room. I eventually find him wandering the lower halls, clearly miserable. “They cornered you?” He nods. “Just wanted some food.” I sigh, grabbing his arm. “C'mon, Toby. Let’s go get some food so our legal team can be fed to keep us from being fired.” He snorts and nods, trotting after me.

Danny’s POV:

 

I take one look at Josh’s face and see that he is in pain. “Ok, Joshua? Come. We are getting your wrist checked out.” He opens his mouth to complain but I shake my head. “We have a room full of competent lawyers, and I’ll even let you call them from the car so you can stay in the debate. Ok?” He nods, which lets me know just how much it hurts, and I help him to his feet. “Sam, you coming or staying?” He hesitates, moving to stand, but Josh shakes his head. “Stay here with Leo. Work on a plan for if you guys get fired.” Josh doesn’t add what he wants to say, I think, that he doesn’t want Leo alone. He looks...scared. Lost. Sam nods, and Josh follows me out of the office. I see reports coming and groan, shoving him behind me and moving to block them. “Get the hell out of here, guys,” I mutter, sighing when they all try to interrogate Josh. I grab his arm and march him down to my car, relieved when some form of security finally stops the others. Josh calls up to the office, putting them on speaker. I don’t bother to listen to them as I start the car and drive off towards the emergency room.

Sam’s POV:

 

I really, really wanted to go with Josh, but he was in good hands with Danny and Leo still looked lost and exhausted. We sit on the couch in Toby’s office and ignore the reporters who were somehow in the bullpen. But when I saw them go into my office, that’s when I really got mad. I ignored Leo’s yells for me to stop as I stormed out of Toby’s office and into my own. “What the hell are you doing in here?” I demand. There are three of them, all white, significantly bigger and taller than I am. “Get the hell out of my office.” The tallest one snorts, moving forward until I’m up against the wall. “Trying to get something for an article. You got a problem with that, freak.” I growl slightly, snarling at him, “I do have a problem with that, actually. This is my office and I did not, in any way, shape, or form, allow you entry to it. So please, leave my office right now.” The other two step forward, one grabs me roughly and slams me into the wall. I snarl in pain, breaking loose from his grip and moving towards the door. The first one moves to block me, all three of them surrounding me now as they shove me roughly back into the corner. “We are GETTING our story, you fag.” I let out a shout of fear as two of them grab me, the third punching me hard in the chest. I yelp, twisting in their grip until they drop me, curling tightly into the corner to protect my head, limbs, and ribs from their legs as their feet brutally kick at my back.
Toby’s POV:

I am coming back to my office with food for everyone when I hear Sam cry out. I Shove the food at CJ and take off, knowing Sam wouldn’t make a noise like that unless he is desperate. I’m seeing red when I see them standing over him, grabbing the tallest and slamming him into the wall. One of the others tries to break my grip on him, but I kick the man in my grip hard in the ribs and drop him, glaring angrily at the other two men. One has Sam pinned with a knee on his chest, the other keeps punching me. A heartbeat later, Leo and CJ are hauling the man off of me and shoving him roughly into the corner of the room as I rush to drag the last away from Sam. “Someone call the damn secret service!” I yell, relieved when agents come in a moment later and grab the three men, dragging them roughly out. Sam struggles to his feet and takes off, ignoring all of our shouts for him to stop. I groan, glancing over to make sure the secret service agents have got the situation under control. “We need to go after him, CJ.” She nods, then glances at Leo. “I’ll go. Stay with him.” I nod, moving over to grab Leo’s hand in one of mine, and praying that CJ could find sam.

C.J.’s POV:

Sam, as it turns out, is far too good at hiding. I roam the halls searching for him for a good twenty minutes before calling him, and getting even more worried when I get no answer. After half an hour, Carol calls me. “Hey, Sam has decided he’s addressing the press, so...yea. Get up here.” Fury hits me as I scramble back towards the briefing room, but Carol grabs me before I can butt in. “I get you’re mad but listen to this, CJ. He’s doing good.” I move to listen, grimacing at the bruises already showing on Sam’s face. Someone had just asked something about why his face was so clearly hurt. Sam just shrugged. “Apparently some people aren’t too fond of me. I can trust you all not to do this to me, right?” Chuckling fills the air as they nod. “But to answer your question, I got cornered by some rather unpleasant people a little while ago. All I can say is thank god for Toby, and that I seriously wish I had taken martial arts like my dad wanted me to do as a kid, instead of chess.” They’re all laughing now, Sam relaxing slightly, though he tenses up when he catches my eyes. “I’ve got another few minutes. Katie?”

Josh’s POV:

The Drive to the ER feels like it takes forever, but the moment I see it my whole body freezes up. Danny takes one look at me and he sees it, he gets it, gets out and grabs both my arms to anchor me. “Josh, you’re fine. It isn’t there.” I nod, slowly following him inside. We sit, me filling out the papers, trying not to flinch every time there is a noise. It’s a boring day, we get called in quick. I drag Danny along because I’m not sure that I won’t panic if I am alone. The x rays diagnose me with a very slight fracture, so, instead of casting it he just tells me to leave it wrapped every minute I’m not asleep and leave it in a sling. I refuse pain medication five times, and he finally gives up and lets me go. We’ve almost made it, almost there, when the sirens go off. I stumble, hand finding the wall. It’s not me it’s not me it’s not me. Danny has both hands on my shoulders, I realize, struggling to keep me standing and anchored at the same time. I whimper slightly, and he sighs, pulling me forward so my head is resting on his shoulder for a moment before I pull away and follow him out of the building.

Sam’s POV:

I knew that CJ would kill me for this, but I wanted to get to talk to the press and see if I couldn’t avert anymore...incidents. I was thankful for the podium because everything hurt, but I could lean on it to take the weight off my legs. Katie was speaking. “Sam, has the president spoken to you or any of the others since Danny Concannon’s article and video came out?” I hesitate for half a moment, then shake my head. “Katie, he hasn’t spoken to me, but you’ll have to ask Leo, Josh, or Toby if he has spoken to them. One more question. Rob?” The man stands and I bite my lip, suddenly very concerned that this call had been a very bad decision. “Sam, are you considering resigning? And if not, do you worry that four high-profile white house employees coming out might strain relationships with republicans?” I hesitate, before deciding what the hell, might as well dive in, CJ was already going to slay me alive when I was done. “Firstly, Rob, I don’t think it’s right to say that like all republicans are anti lgbt. That’s a wide misconception due to the idea that all democrats are liberals and all republicans are conservatives. There are pro-lgbt republicans and pro-lgbt democrats, just like there are anti-lgbt republicans and anti-lgbt democrats. So no, I don’t worry about that because the people who would be against myself, Leo, Josh, or Toby, for this reason, are people we would never have gotten in the first place.” Rob nods, I can’t read his face, and sits. I step back from the podium, moving gingerly on my ribs. “Alright, I’m going to go let CJ yell at me for not telling her I was showing up here. Wish me luck.” They laugh, and, as I walk towards the back door, Katie intercepts me. “You answered well today. Hope CJ takes it easy on you.” I grin weakly. “You and me both, Katie. You and me both.”

Chapter Text

CJ’s POV:

Sam walks slowly towards me, head down, clearly trying to hide the fear in his eyes. I glare angrily at him. Josh will be pissed as hell if I do something that hurts Sam, and since Sam is basically my sensitive little brother, I don’t want to hurt him, but I am positively fuming. I jerk my head sharply and he scuttles after me. I can’t hide the pain in my eyes when he actually whines slightly. We duck into my office, I sit behind the desk and Sam stands in front of me, actually trembling. I just can’t be mad at him, not now, seeing the dark bruises on his face and the awkward way that he holds his trembling frame upright by sheer force of will, the terror in his eyes. I sigh, move forward and gently grab his shoulder. He actually flinches away from me with a yelp, one of his legs buckling as he tries to get away. I manage to get him to slump onto the couch and not the floor, but he won’t look at me, eyes locked on the ground as he whines softly. “Please, CJ.” He whimpers. I sigh, sitting down next to him on the couch and trying to figure out what the hell to do.

Danny’s POV:

I leave Josh asleep on Toby’s couch, with them making sure he is ok, and go to find Sam and CJ. I had heard about what Sam did and while I was impressed I knew CJ would be LIVID. Toby had told me about Sam being attacked, so I had the medical kit in my bag. I creep slowly into CJ’s room. She jumps to her feet, causing Sam to yelp slightly. “Thank god, Danny, I need a hand. He’s absolutely terrified of me. I didn’t mean to…” I cut her off, jerking my head to the other side of the room as I move to crouch in front of Sam. He won’t meet my eyes, not till I gently bring one of my hands to force him to. “Sam, cmon. Breathe.” He nods, leaning forward to rest his head on my shoulder. I wrap both my arms around his shoulders to steady him, and he slowly begins to relax in my grip. “Shh, easy, just breathe, Sam.” He nods into my neck, the tremors running through him slowly dying down. He finally sits back, glancing nervously over at CJ. I don’t look at her, knowing that I will probably have to comfort her, too. Can’t say I mind that. Sam grimaces slightly as he leans against the back of the couch, and I sigh. “Alright, let me get a look at you. He nods, unbuttoning his shirt with shaking hands so I can see the bruising on his ribs. “Anything feel broken?” He gives a half shake of his head, still trembling slightly. “Alright, lets get you back to Josh.” Sam nods, letting me rebutton his shirt because his hands can’t stop shaking before helping him up. He leans heavily on me as we walk back to Toby’s office, Toby and Leo both jumping to their feet to help him when we get there. I shoot them grateful looks. Leo helps Sam to a chair while Toby drags me outside. “Bartlet is going to by at like, nine. You should come.” I hesitate, biting my lip. “This doesn’t involve me, Toby.” He gives half a shake of his head, eyes dark with emotion that I don’t know how to read. “Yes, yes it does.” I nod, excusing myself to find CJ.

Toby’s POV:

I watch Danny go, not sure where he is going, before going down to the mess hall to get Sam some ice, and because I couldn’t stand looking at the bruises on his face without wanting to bash someone’s head in. Thankfully there were no reporters this time, so I manage to get there and back quickly. I pass Leo the ice, which he gets against the bruises on Sam’s ribs. Sam visibly relaxes slightly, head resting on his arm where he lays on his side. He looks half asleep, face bruising badly where he had been hit. Leo stands and moves over to my side. He looks like he has aged fifty years in the last week. “You ok?” He asks softly, sighing when I mutely shake my head. “Restrain me if Bartlet says something bad, ok?” He had told me what Bartlet had said to him the other day. He nods and we cross the room, sitting down against the wall across from the boys. Leo rests his head on my shoulder and I smile, tucking an arm around him and pulling him closer as we both relax for the first time all day.

 

CJ POV

I haven’t moved from my spot when Danny comes back in. He sighs when he sees my face, crossing the room to look me in the eyes. “You did nothing wrong, CJ. He was just freaked out because of being attacked. Toby and Leo have him now, he’s ok.” I nod mutely, leaning forward until I have most of my weight on him. It feels...good. Stable. I feel him wrap one arm loosely around my shoulders, just enough to support me without restraining me. “You did nothing wrong, CJ. Nothing. He isn’t mad at you.” I nod silently, shifting so my head is resting against his shoulder more directly, arms still loosely around him. I feel Danny smile slightly from where his head is. “You know, I am a fan of staying here like this for a while.” He laughs, and, not for the first time, I wish that I wasn’t two inches taller than him. And I really, truly wish I could kiss him. He pulls back slightly, leaving me to regain my own balance, before smiling at me gently. I silently curse myself, lean forward, and kiss him.

Bartlet’s POV

I sigh as I slowly walk down the hallway to Toby’s office, sort of almost wishing for a national emergency so that I could avoid talking to my people. I glance in, smiling slightly despite myself. Toby is leaning against the wall next to Leo. Leo is awake, Toby isn’t. Josh is slumped on the couch asleep, Sam somehow fitting in the space next to him, curled close. I have to put one hand over my mouth to cover my shock and horror at the bruises on his face. CJ and Danny are in chairs facing Leo, quietly discussing something. They all look up when I come in, standing till I wave my hand slightly to let them sit. Danny moves to wake the guys up. They both sit, Sam whimpering slightly in pain. I don’t miss when Toby’s head jerks towards him, checking to make sure the young man is ok. They all move to stand in front of me. Toby has Leo’s arm in a death grip, though Leo isn’t complaining, he looks as broken as I have ever seen him and I’ve seen him fighting for his life with addiction. God, how could I have said that stuff in front of him. It’s no wonder that he looks so broken. Sam can barely move,hobbling slowly to stand on Toby’s other side, so Toby can use his free hand to take some of the weight off of Sam’s legs. Josh is on Sam’s left, his right hand grasping Sam’s left. CJ and Danny went to either side, Danny just behind Leo and CJ with a hand on Josh’s shoulder. I wonder for a moment if he should really be here, but CJ is giving me a death glare when she catches me looking at him and I trust her judgement. I sigh, not used to apologizing but the betrayal in all of their eyes gives me no other choice.

Leo’s POV:

Toby is squeezing the life out of my arm, but I can’t blame him. Sam looks ready to fall over, which is what is really worrying me. But I can’t take my eyes off of President Bartlet, my friend, my best friend, for forty years. He looks...a little lost, as he raises his head and I can tell he is about to speak. “Firstly...I just want to say that I’m sorry, guys. I’m very, very sorry.” Toby shifts next to me, I can feel his surprise through the way his hand moves, from grasping my wrist to grasping my fingers. “I’ve been a pretty awful boss for the last few days. Danny tenses up behind me and I wonder, not for the first time, how he came to be involved in all of this. “You all have done absolutely nothing wrong but I’ve been dismissive at best and downright cruel at worst. I...will understand if you all are angry with me, even if you want to resign. But I truly am sorry.”

Sam’s POV:

I’m struggling just to keep my feet. Josh on one side and Toby on the other have most of my weight but my shaking, bruised body still is in agony. But I’m still focused on what he says. When he finishes talking, nobody moves until I take a very shaky step forward. “I...I think I stand for all of us when I say none of us plan to resign, sir. But we...we need you to talk to the press. They’re willing to do THIS,” I Gesture at the bruises on my face, even though moving my arms in that way has me in enough pain that I nearly fall over, “to get a story. They need to actually hear your opinion, or CJ is never going to get them to move past this she just can’t.” Toby has come up behind me, slipping one hand against my back to steady me. I cast him a grateful look. He just nods. “Please, sir.” I mutter softly, moving closer to Toby and Sam again, so that they can take some of the weight off my battered body. He nods, and I feel Toby shift. “Cmon, let’s get you laying down again before you fall over.” I move to protest, but in all honesty I am shaking like a leaf, and sleep sounds pretty good to me.

Josh’s POV:

I make sure Sam is ok with Toby, send Danny a glance he can easily read, and slip out the door, not waiting to be dismissed. Which I’ll get hell for later, but I don’t care. We slip into Leo’s office, Margaret lets us right past. I slip into the closet, the wall hitting my back as I lean against it. Danny comes in across from me, eyes gently as he sits in front of me, resting one of his hands on my knee. “Cmon, easy, Josh, you’re fine man. Breathe, ok?” I nod, clinging to his words with everything in me as I let me unwrapped hand grip the carpet tightly. “Sam...he didn’t...god, of all the people...Danny, he didn’t…” I can’t find the words. Danny just nods, moving to my side so I can hide my head against his shoulder and whine softly in pain. He gets it, I can tell. After a moment I lean back. Danny grins at me, his face barely visible in the thin strip of light coming through the door, which he left cracked open. “Guess what?” I shrug, and he smiles again. “CJ kissed me before.” I can’t hide the smile that creeps onto my face at that.

Bartlet’s POV:

Leo leads me to Josh’s office. I don’t question why. We sit down in the chairs in front of the desk and I just stare at him for a long moment. “You never told me, Leo. You could have told me. You know that, right? You could have told me.” Leo hesitates, then, to my heartbreak, shakes his head. “No, with all due respect, sir, I didn’t know that I could tell you and how you have been acting for the past few days only reinforced that fact. So no, sir. I don’t think you get to lecture me on this.” I study him for a moment, then nod, resting my chin against my chest in an effort to hide the look I know is in my eyes. “I’m sorry, Leo.” He nods. “I know, sir. Believe me, I know. I look forward to seeing what you say to the press because I’m pretty sure the guys are making you write your own remarks.” I nod, studying the far wall. “Seems fair. Why are we not in your office?” Leo shrugs, scooting his chair closer so we are actually next to each other. “I let Josh hide in my office when he is having a panic attack so Sam and Danny can have a vague idea of where he is, and have to find him in some rarely used section of the building.” I nod, not having any idea what to say to that. “So...what should I put in these remarks.

Chapter Text

Josh’s POV:

It’s almost midnight when we all meet back up in Toby’s office. CJ is sitting next to Danny with her head on Danny’s shoulder, one of his arms wrapped gently around her. Leo had just come back into the room and was sitting next to Toby. He’s tucked close to Toby, who looks entirely unwilling to move. They’re adorable together, I must admit. Sam is awake now, sitting across from Toby, the bruises on his face even more prominent. I sit down on the couch, watching the rest of them. Toby and Sam are debating something that I lost interest in half an hour ago, leading me to wonder how they haven’t had CJ snap at them yet. She looked pretty content, resting against Danny, who I’m pretty sure hasn’t stopped smiling since she had kissed him. I finally tune back into the conversation between Toby and Sam, since it has gone back to being law related. “Toby, they absolutely do not have the legal ability to fire us for coming out!” “Yes, they do!” “Not in Washington, they don’t!” I roll my eyes, knowing that the arguing somehow comforts them both, weirdly. I slip out of the office down to the mess, grabbing a tray and getting a dozen large cups of coffee, a carton of cream, two bowls of sugar, a dozen apples, peanut butter, and I also somehow manage to fit a dozen cookies onto the tray. I balance it between my good arm and my chest, knocking on the door with my foot. Sam lets me in, Toby moving to put the tray down on a desk. He passes out the food and we all sit in a circle on the floor eating, even Leo, who Toby had roused. None of us have eaten in forever so the peanut butter apples, coffee, and cookies are downed within minutes.

CJ’s POV:

The boys might be happy with apples and cookies for lunch but since I have effectively not eaten in two days, I want real food, so I recruit Toby and Danny to come with me to buy tacos. But we can’t get ten feet out of the office without the press, so Donna, Margaret, Cathy, Bonnie, Ginger, and Carol, since they all know what we like. I go to the press room, knowing that I really, really need to brief them all one of these minutes. They flood in eagerly, and once we get through who did what for the past day, every single hand is up for questions. I sigh, calling on Katie first. “Did Sam survive after surprising you like that?” I have to snort at that one, nodding to her. “Yep. And I thought he did a pretty good job. Also, someone snuck a note in here that tomorrow morning at around nine, the president will be having a press conference here.” Every hand shoots up again, and I roll my eyes and wonder how they’re all even awake at what is effectively midnight. “Yea, Danny?” I hadn’t even noticed he had crept his way into the room, studying me with his intent, dark eyes. “Is the president’s press conference tomorrow going to be to fire Joshua Lyman, Sam Seaborn, Toby Ziegler, and Leo McGarry.” I silently curse him for backing me into a corner even though I know he’s doing it so nobody else can. “I’m not at liberty to discuss what the point of the press conference will be, Danny. And as it’s about midnight I’m putting a lid on it till tomorrow morning. Have a good night, everybody.” Danny follows me like a lost little puppy, and I snort, pulling him into a nearby closet so I can kiss him without one of the other press members who hang around.

Donna’s POV:

The other secretaries and I return, with like a hundred tacos, a bunch of coffee, and, for some reason, four apple pies that Margaret had insisted we get. I don’t get why till I see how Toby’s eyes absolutely light up when he sees them, the first time he has looked excited in days. They all but force us to eat with them, so we join what has become a circle of twelve all crammed into Toby’s office. We barely fit, all of us shoulder to shoulder digging into the ten kinds of tacos we had gotten quite happily. Someone finds a knife and plates so that we can divvy up the pies into twelve very large pieces. Toby ends up eating his and stealing some off of Leo’s plate. It’s cute, Leo not bothering to swat at Toby’s hands and sighing as he sits back against the wall and just shoves what’s left of his pie slice onto Toby’s plate. Sam and Josh sit side by side eating theirs and having a hushed conversation with Danny. CJ is telling the rest of us women about how she had kissed Danny, and Leo was glaring at us in annoyance. “Maybe we shouldn’t mention that to the president? Give it till next week.” Danny smirks, and CJ just rolls her eyes. They all look more relaxed than they had earlier in the day. “Are any of you going home?” They all glance around at each other, then shrug and shake their heads. I roll my eyes and the rest of us go out to find some blankets for them.

 

Toby’s POV

We all spend the night in the office, me claiming the couch because, well, it is MY office. None of them protest, and we all pretend to not notice when Danny curls up next to CJ. I actually have to hide a smile at how content she looks curled up against him, and he looks happier than most if not all of us have ever seen him. The secretaries spend the night in the bullpen, for some reason none of them wanting to leave, and we aren’t complaining. The show of support they’ve given us for the past few days has been nice. Margaret and Donna had told us what they had all done, with gathering a list of over two hundred employees who would quit if we were fired. It was quite nice of them, not that I said that, of course. We’re all awake at seven to the smell of pancakes. I don’t know where the secretaries had gotten them, but they were absolutely amazing so I wasn’t questioning it. We sit in the bullpen this time, eating pancakes and drinking copious amounts of coffee until we are all half awake. Sam leans on Josh, the bruises on his pale skin ugly looking. He’s barely able to move this morning, but point blank refuses to go home so he has himself sitting on a desk next to Josh, leaning against the other man. CJ and Danny are sharing a hushed conversation next to them, that every few minutes one of the boys will comment on. CJ is glancing at her watch every few moments, and she looks progressively tenser as the morning goes on. We don’t leave the bullpen, not even as we run out of food and coffee and slip into conversation about everything under the sun except for the upcoming press conference that the president is doing. A few minutes before nine, Charlie and the president enter the room. We all stand, except Sam, who’s attempt ends in him almost falling over. President Bartlet looks over at him and I see pain flash in the man’s eyes. “Sit, all of you.” Sam slumps against Josh gratefully, and I make a note to get him to let Abby, or someone else, check his legs to make sure that he is ok. The president studies us all for a moment before sighing and leaning against the wall. “CJ, you’re going to brief them quickly, then I am going to go out there, right?” She nods sharply, moving away from Danny slightly. He looks a little sad at that, and I notice that a sad Danny is a little bit like a puppy. The president studies them for a moment, then smiles at them slightly. “About time, both of you.” He takes a few steps forward, till he is standing in front of Sam, who actually shies away from him slightly, grimacing as he does so. “I’m very sorry, son. I spoke to the secret service last night, they said all three men are being charged with assault and battery.” Sam nods, shifting closer to Josh slightly. “They’re not charging Toby, are they?” I glance at him, having not even considered that they could charge me for hitting the man after I had pulled him off of Sam, so I am pretty relieved when the president shakes his head. “Alright, it’s go time, sir.” CJ says quietly.

Leo’s POV:

Toby is moving slowly as we go to the back of the room to watch the press conference. I doubt he even notices, all of us focus is on Sam and the president. Josh and Danny are helping Sam, since he’s barely able to move, into a chair in the back of the room. The press glances over at him, and he manages a weak smile before shifting so he could be gripping Josh’s hand again. We all sit in the back, Danny moving back to his press seat, and CJ moving up to the front. “Alright everyone, please take your seats.” She rattles her way through the morning briefing, then President Bartlet steps forward and we all tense up. Sam is gripping Josh’s uninjured hand as hard as he can, it looks like, and Toby has one of my hands in a death grip, too. As the president gets ready to speak, Sam impulsively grabs my wrist and glances over at me, terror in his eyes. He doesn’t release my wrist, as we all turn our attention to the front again. “Firstly I would just like to say, for all of you who have been wondering, I am not, at all, firing Sam, Josh, Toby, or Leo. I would like to take a moment to congratulate them on coming out at a time when the country is struggling in the fight for rights for lgbt people across america. I’d like to, at this time, open up for questions.” We’ve all relaxed slightly as he speaks, and are relieved when it’s Katie who gets called on first. “Sir, there were rumors that you had, in the last few days, cited your religion as a reason that you could not suppose these members of your senior staff. Is that true and, if so, what changed your opinion?” The president hesitates for a moment and I can see him debating his options before he finally speaks up. “Well, Katie, I’ll admit in the beginning of this whole week I was a little torn. My religion can, according to some, be interpreted in a way that says homosexuality is a sin. But then, I came to the realization that my religion also says many other things that aren’t true now. For instance, we can touch a pig skin now, and wear clothes of two different fabrics. I don’t think that my religion or any other gets to be a factor at all in this debate.” Katie nods, sitting. He goes through a few more questions, fairly basic ones, before calling on Danny. “Sir, do you mind if I ask you a blunt question?” President Bartlet shakes his head, so Danny continues. “Do you support LGBT rights, sir? If I’m being more specific, do you support gay marriage?” We all inwardly tense up again, and CJ is glaring daggers at Danny even though I have a feeling we all knew he would be the one to ask this. All eyes, and the camera, are on the president as he takes a deep breath, glances back at us, then turns his eyes back to Danny. “Yes, Danny. Yes, I do.”

Chapter Text

Toby’s POV:

I have decided that I am going to avoid the staircases. Forever. As much as I possibly can. The press conference has gone pretty well, the president had done very well. The conservatives were going to be pissed as hell, but what else is new. Leo, Josh, and I had wrestled Sam back to my office, since he was still in a lot of pain and struggling to move. I hadn’t mentioned that I wasn’t exactly feeling great myself, my movements still all made in an effort to avoid pain. Sam had curled up with his laptop to see what the public was saying, Josh and Leo were talking strategy. I was going to get some coffee when I trot down the last bit of stairs and find CJ and Danny kissing. They split apart immediately, and I catch real fear in Danny’s eyes as he quickly turns and hurries away from me. CJ is watching me with raw emotion in her eyes. I silently wonder why this is always me, but move forward three steps to pull her tightly to my chest, letting her bury her head in my neck and cry softly. “Shh, hush, you’re fine.” I mutter, glancing around silently to make sure that nobody is watching. I do need to keep my image up, after all. People would be far less likely to do what I said if I didn’t. CJ loosely wraps both her arms around my waist as she leans against me, and I do the same as we stand there for a few minutes until she pulls back to study my expression. “You won’t tell?” I think on this for a second, then shrug. “Well, the rest of your staff and my staff probably know already but no, I won’t tell anyone. I’m happy for you two, CJ, God knows you’ve been dancing around each other for long enough.” She laughs softly, pulls me into a bone-crushing hug and I can’t help but yelp as she squeezes my bruised ribs, and silently wish that the guy the day before hadn’t punched me quite so hard. CJ releases me instantly, steps back to look at me critically. “You’re hurt? Toby!” I sigh, moving to lean against the wall to take some pressure off of my ribs that I hadn’t noticed were hurting till CJ decided to squeeze them. “The guy got some punches in, CJ. I’m pretty sure I told you.” She glares at me, shaking her head. “No, you didn’t. And I will be getting you to deal with those, after we find Danny. I get myself standing again, but only manage to make it half a dozen steps before my ribs start pounding. “This won’t work.” CJ glances over at me, seeming surprised when she actually sees pain in my eyes. “Call me crazy, but you haven’t looked this pained all day.” I sigh. “You hurt my ribs when you grabbed me the second time, ok.” She is glaring at me angrily but I muster a glare that causes her to laugh. “Toby, cmon. I’ll send Josh or Sam after Danny, ok?” I hesitate for half a moment, but nod. “Ok.” She nods, turning back up the stairs. I move slowly after her, glancing in the direction Danny had gone for half a moment before turning my attention forward again and putting every ounce of my effort into moving towards my office.

Sam’s POV:

Josh is asleep when CJ calls and asks for him to go find Danny. I can hear the slight tremor in her voice, so I tell her I will tell him, then silently hang up and hobble out of the room. Josh was asleep on the couch, and I fight through the waves of pain radiating through my body on my way towards the room where I knew Danny had found Josh before. If he wanted us to find him, that's where I thought he would go. I’m relieved when I am right, because I can barely move. The pain from yesterday’s beating is leaving me shaking as I awkwardly sit down across from where Danny is sitting against the wall. His dark eyes study my face for a moment, and I see him sigh softly when he sees the pain in my face. “How the HELL did you drag yourself down here?” He questions quietly. I shrug slightly, moving to lean against the wall next to him. Danny sighs. “I assume she told you? I don’t...if people know... “ He sighs, slumping so his head is on his hands. “The press would have a field day at her expense, Sam.” I shrug, silently putting my hand against his back in a failing attempt to comfort him. “Hey, it’s ok. You’re fine.” I soothe quietly, never fond of when one of the people who was like my family looked this...broken. “Did you ever think that she knows that and doesn’t care? Honestly, Danny, everyone’s thought that you guys were dating for forever anyway.” He cracks a weak smile in my direction, and I grin, blocking out the pain from my leg and chest. “Danny, next time someone goes at me, please beat them up for me.” He really does laugh there, and we both glance up at the footsteps to see Josh slip into the room, silently sitting in front of Danny and I to make a triangle type thing. Danny visibly relaxes and I smile, knowing that while Danny and I are like brothers, he and Josh have helped each other through a lot of bad stuff. Josh offers Danny a gentle smile, before adding to what I had said a moment before. “CJ definitely doesn’t care about that, although she is rather worried about you at the moment. She’s busy making sure Toby is ok, the guys apparently got some hits in on his ribs yesterday.” I’m pretty sure my grimace is visible, disliking the idea that he had been hurt for me, but Josh is quick to add, “And Sam, he said if you blame yourself, he’ll be the next one to kick your ass.” We all laugh, me ignoring the way it makes my ribs throb as Danny slumps forward and rests his head on Josh’s shoulder for a moment, gripping his arms tightly. Josh pulls the man closer for a moment, and I can see him smiling when I move to put my arms around both of them for a moment, just letting all of us sit there at peace for a few minutes.

CJ’s POV:

Toby and I go to sit down in my office, him trying to move in a way that didn’t look like he was in pain and generally failing miserably, me keeping an eye on him to make sure he didn’t fall. I go over to Josh’s office to grab the medical kit that I know he hides in his desk for the times he somehow gets himself hurt. Toby mutters in thanks as I toss him an ice pack. He presses it against one side of his ribs, whining slightly as the cold hits it. I sigh, grabbing my phone to call up the secret service guy from the day before, Davis something. He comes in a few minutes later, me standing to greet him. “Sir, can you tell us what you will be charging the three men who attacked Mr.Seaborn yesterday with?” He nods, glancing over at Toby for a moment before turning his attention back to me. “All three have been charged with two counts of assault and battery, as well as destruction of property and it’s going in as a hate crime on the assault which’ll make it worse for them, too.” I nod, glancing over at Toby for a moment. He looks positively murderous. “I assume the double count of the A and B includes one going at me?” He nods, and Toby nods, standing awkwardly to shake the agent’s hand. “Thank you for your time. And thank you for the help yesterday.” The man nods, walking out and leaving me and Toby alone in the office. I watch him intently as he stands, pacing slowly across the floor, silently wondering if I should really be letting him do that when he was clearly in a ton of pain. I move to sit down on the couch, glancing over at one of my oldest friends with no idea what to do. He looks so miserable. “Toby, sit your ass down you look like you’re in agony.” He hesitates, then moves to slump next to me. I shift, resting my hand gently against his back, typing on my phone with my other hand to send a text to Leo.

Josh’s POV:

Danny looks as exhausted as I feel when we are all walking upstairs. Sam is leaning on him and I both in order to even be on his feet, face pale and full of pain. It’s around three PM, so we are all starving. We stumble down the hall to Leo’s office, because it’s the closest to where we end up being and Sam looks ready to fall over even with two people holding him up. The other, Leo, CJ, and Toby, all come in after a few minutes. “Ok this is getting ridiculous we need to leave the White House and get some food.” None of us want to disagree with me, so the others go to find the secretaries. We’re all surprised when Bartlet shows up after a few minutes of Sam, Danny, and I waiting for the others to get back. “I heard you all are going out for dinner? Mind if I come?” I know what he is doing, effectively clearing out the restaurant so that the rest of us won’t have to deal with any homophobia. But I know that I at least am too grateful for that to comment, so I just nod. But Danny is hesitating next to me, and I think I know why he is so hesitant before he mutters quietly, “Can we avoid the press. The very, very high ups at the paper fired me for being, and I quote, a “Faggot-loving liberal with no writing ability.” Sam tenses up next to me, and I know he is silently imaging beating up Danny’s boss as I cast a look at the president. President Bartlett actually looks pained, eyes dark. “Well, I’m sorry about that, Danny. Cmon, all three of you. You guys need some food, all of you.” Danny hesitates, then nods, all of standing and following him out. Toby, Leo, and CJ join us. Sam is literally shaking with the strain of keeping his feet, so Danny gets on one side and I get on the other, both of us helping him slowly along. We reach the cars, the three of us getting into one of them with Bartlet. The others hop into the second car. Sam slumps into me, head against my shoulder. I gently wrap an arm around him, keeping him close to me. President Bartlett actually smiles softly at us, though his eyes are still on Danny, mirroring my worry for the guy. I felt so guilty, like it was my and Sam’s fault that he had lost the job he loved. I shift to look out the window, Sam muttering under his breath as I move. I just laugh, keeping an arm around him so that he can lean into my and let me take most of his weight off of his damaged body. The restaurant we end up at is a little Mexican place, but when we pull up all I can see is the press crowding around the entrance. I take two short breaths, glancing at President Bartlett. “Sir, how am I supposed to help Sam without him looking half dead?” The president shakes his head, looking, for the first time in a long time, lost. “I don’t know, Josh. I just don’t know.”

Chapter Text

Sam’s POV:

I groan in pain, shifting so my body is more slumped against Josh. Josh tucks an arm over me, sighing at my sharp wince of pain as his hand hits a particularly tender spot. Josh is watching out the window, studying the crowd. “Sam, can you walk on your own for twenty feet?” I groan at the idea, but give half a nod. “As long as you two help me like, as soon as we are inside.” Bartlett nods, seeing where this is going. “Toby and CJ and Leo, and you and Josh, Sam, you all need to move around Danny, because the last thing we need is a media story about how he got fired or comments about the rest of us and him.” We all nod and Josh pulls out his phone, having a quick conversation with Leo. A moment later, the three of them are here. We all stand around Danny, with Bartlett just ahead of us. I’m shaking on my feet, my long legs trembling violently as I struggle to look like I’m not dying. My body is on fire as we cross the twenty or so feet between the car and the building, entering. The moment we are inside and the cameras can’t see, Danny and Josh are on either side helping me along. I lean into them gratefully, letting them take enough of my weight that I can get over to a table and sit down. We all sit around one table, and Bartlett immediately gets us all in a trivia game. I tune out, focusing on finding a comfortable way to sit that won’t put pressure on my chest and back. Josh is watching me, I can feel his eyes, but there’s no point in me commenting, so I shift to lean against him. Danny is talking about something having to do with the history of news in the country but I honestly couldn’t be any less interested as I get as close to Josh as I can, feeling content.

CJ’s POV:

I’m sitting next to Leo, listening to Danny’s nervous rambling. It’s pretty adorable. Leo seems to be pretty tuned out, so I slip my phone out of my pocket and text him, “Hey, Leo. What would you say if I told you that we should hire Danny to work in speechwriting with the guys?” Leo reads his phone, glancing over at me looking fairly incredulous. Inwardly, I sigh. This doesn’t look good. My phone vibrates softly, causing me to glance at it. “Doesn’t he already have a job? As a reporter? A job he loves?” I mouthe across the table “he got fired for supporting you all.” Leo groans, leaning back against the chair and shooting me a look that clearly says this is not the place for this discussion. I nod, turning my attention to the menu. Danny peers over my shoulder so that he can see it, and I laugh, shoving him playfully away so that I can focus on the menu. After we have all ordered, I scan the people around me. Toby looks ok but I have known him long enough to see the pain from his ribs in his eyes when he moves too fast. Sam isn’t even trying to look ok, slumped against Josh with his head resting on Josh’s shoulder. Josh has one arm around him. Danny is trying not to look absolutely miserable, but I know he is. He loved that job, it was all he had ever done and now he knew that getting another spot as a reported assigned to The White House was going to be nearly impossible. Our food gets there, and I realize for the first time that Danny hasn’t ordered anything. I glance at him, seeing the absolutely longing in his eyes as he looks at the food, and grabs two of my tacos, shoving the plate with the other two in front of him. He tenses up immediately, and I feel his eyes on me. I ignore it, happily eating my tacos but not relaxing till I hear him digging into his, too.

 

Josh’s POV:

Getting Sam back out to the car proves to be nearly impossible. He’s exhausted and can barely move, somehow making it the dozen steps to get into the car. His face is gritted with pain and he’s asleep within two minutes, but I have a feeling the other people in the car don’t really mind. Danny is with us, and so is the President. Danny is staring at his hands with the lost puppy dog look that he gets sometimes, which has me worriedly watching him. I had gotten a bit of CJ and Leo’s conversation and I hoped that they would hire him. He was a good writer and I felt kinda bad for effectively putting one of my best friends out of a job. When we finally get back to the White House both him and I wake Sam up long enough to help him up the stairs to Toby’s office, getting him on the couch with a blanket. CJ Pokes her head in, and Danny scampers out after her. I just sit down next to Sam’s head, content to keep an eye on him.

Danny’s POV:

I don’t want to go with CJ I so do not I just plain don’t. My body has been trembling from left-over adrenaline from the last day and a half, and the panic coursing through me wasn’t helping make me look less like a drug addict withdrawing from something. CJ halts just inside her office, taking one look at how much I am trembling before closing the door and all but shoving me, gently, onto her couch. I hunch against the end of it trying to quiet the fear rising up in my chest but when CJ sits down across from me and just quietly asks, “What’s wrong, Danny.” I can’t stop my mouth from talking before I have time to realize what I am saying. “I don’t have a job and I’m already behind on rent well now I’m not but only because I wasn’t really eating so I could pay it and this is all I have done for years nobody is going to want to hire me without me having a recommendation from them damn it CJ I don’t…I can’t… I have nothing, CJ I can’t even afford to pay my rent anymore and I’m watching Josh blame himself and I can’t even say anything to help him and it just...I don’t…” I shake my head several times, trying to hide the tears silently running down my cheeks even though I know I can’t.

CJ’s POV:

 

For once, I’m glad that I am tall when I can get my arms around Danny and pull him close with ease. His fingers dig deep into the fabric of my jacket and I let them, not having the heart to tell him not to as his too-thin body trembles in pain as he sobs. “Shh, Danny, shh. It’s going to be ok. I’ve got you.” I murmur quietly, rubbing my left hand, my right is kind of pinned between him and I, up and down Danny’s back. He doesn’t speak, doesn’t make a sound except the soft noises of him sobbing. I don’t know how long we sit there till he falls asleep from pure exhaustion but I’m glad when he does, unsure on how much longer I could sit and listen to him break over and over. His head ends up in my lap, my fingers running gently through his hair. I decide that I could get used to this.

Toby’s POV:

Leo and I are roaming the halls. He had snapped at me about a dozen times for roaming with my battered ribs but I didn’t care, tired of being cooped up in one place, even though I really hadn’t been at all. We end up sitting on the front steps, which isn’t at all allowed but for some reason the secret service wasn’t stopping us. Either the president had ordered them to let us sit here, or they just wouldn’t mind seeing us get shot. I was choosing to believe that it was the second of these options, because I would really not want to not have the secret service to rely on in a bad situation. We’re in silence for the first fifteen minutes, before Leo finally relaxes slightly, shifting so he can be leaning against me. I wrap one arm around him and pull my coat closer around myself with my other, trying to stop the wind from biting into my bones quite so badly. It’s bitterly cold, and I silently wonder if there is any chance of a staff field trip to, I don’t know, Hawaii some time soon. I might have grown up in New York but I would never get used to the cold weather that we got in this area of the world. Leo finally speaks up, seeming to realize that I won’t. “It’s been a long week, aye, Toby.” I mutter my agreement, almost wishing that I could go back in time but knowing that I never would because as hard as the last few days had been, I liked being able to sit on the steps of the White House with my partner in my arms. I liked it. Alright so maybe I’m secretly a romantic. But who wouldn’t enjoy it? Sitting under a star filled sky knowing that my family was safe in the building behind me. Nothing could feel better.

Chapter Text

Leo’s POV:

We are all there at seven the next morning. I hadn’t gotten much sleep, but that wasn’t uncommon for any of us so we would all live. Senior Staff goes quickly, as by some miracle no national emergencies had happened in the last twenty four hours. I’ve just sent them off to do work, Sam and Toby have a speech to write and Josh has meetings on the hill about a gun control bill that we wanted passed. CJ somehow catches me in my office, I was trying to get out and avoid her because I knew what she was going to ask. “CJ, Toby will never agree to this even if you somehow convinced me!” CJ doesn’t respond, rummaging in the folder that is in her left hand till she can find and pull out a piece of paper and give it to me. I scan it quickly, barely able to stifle a groan when I see that it’s Toby saying that he could use another deputy and that Danny would definitely be welcome to get the job.” CJ is snickering slightly at the annoyance on my face, but one sharp glare shuts her up. I groan, sitting down and resting my head on my hands. “You do realize how problematic this would be, yes?” She nods. “It’s our fault he got fired, Leo. He supported Josh and Sam, and then you and Toby, and that’s why he got fired. He refused to write a piece about how you guys should be fired.” I sigh, not disagreeing with her, but also not wanting to go through to backlash that we would get if we hired Danny, especially from his former editors. “Take it to the president, but don’t come complaining to me if he says no.” I say as I stand up. “I’ve got a defense briefing.” CJ nods, hurrying out of the room, and I set off for my defense briefing.

Toby’s POV:

Sam and I are locked in with Ed and Larry trying to work on a draft of a speech at a massive anti-discrimination conference that was coming up. President Bartlet only added it to the schedule like, last night, so neither Sam nor I were ready. We were all pretty sure he only added it to follow up on what he had said at the press conference but none of us were complaining about it. Sam and I liked having a topic we could really sink our teeth into. We were arguing about what statistics on hate crimes were more valid. Ironic, really, since Sam could still barely move after how badly those guys had beaten him up the other day. That was definitely a hate crime, in my opinion at least. Danny had slipped in a few minutes ago, hovering near the wall and just watching the rest of us. I could tell nobody had any idea what to say to him, but I’m surprised when it’s Sam who speaks up. “Danny, what do you think about this line?” He asks, sliding his legal pad over to the man. Danny tenses up hard, trembling slightly as he stares at Sam in surprise. Sam doesn’t move, just waits patiently until Danny scoops up the bad and studies it for a moment, slipping a pen out of his pocket to change something before sliding the pad back. “I...I think that works better.” He stammers softly. Sam studies it, then grins and nods, jerking his head at an empty chair. “Well, sit down, we’ve got work to do, Danny.” Danny’s grin fills his whole face, but he still looks fearfully over at me. I just nod slightly, letting him know it’s fine as he moves to sit down next to Sam. I smile, pulling an extra copy of the speech out of my folder and hand it to him. Danny looks better, more relaxed. CJ would be happy, I had promised her that Sam and I would keep an eye on him. I wonder what she’s doing at the moment.

 

President Bartlet’s POV:

Fitz is leaving my office when Charlie slips, silently, into the room and stands off to one side as he always does. The kid is smart as hell and, not for the first time, I wish he were my son. I shake off the thoughts when he asks “Mr.President, do you have time for CJ?” There’s nothing scheduled for the next, oh, thirty seconds, so I nod and she comes slowly in, to stand in front of me. “Sir, I was hoping...well, I talked to Leo this morning. As you know, Danny Concannon was fired for the support he showed our staffers over this very...long week. I was...well, I talked to Toby and Sam and they, and I, were wondering if it would be possible for Danny to be hired as a speechwriter, working with Sam and Toby. He’s good at his job, sir, we all know he is.” I sigh, having had a feeling that someone would ask for this and having already solved it. So, I decided to have a little fun and not lead with that. “Have you spoken to Leo about it? Personel like this is basically his decision.” She nods slightly, raising her head so she can actually be looking at me. “Yes sir, I have. He told me to speak to you about it.” “Toby and Sam both are fine with this decision? What about Josh? He’s Leo’s deputy if he has an issue with this it could be a problem.” I’ll admit, I am hoping that she hasn’t asked him so I could have more time to think about this. I don’t need the time, I’d already decided what I was going to do even before CJ had come in. Leo had called me earlier. But, and I’m not surprised, she nods and speaks up. “Yes, sir, he thinks that it’s a great idea.” I nod, already knowing that. In fact I had literally already solved this issue two hours ago. CJ had been busy for much of the day and hadn’t had a chance to find me till now. I decide to finally put her out of her misery. “CJ, if you go back to your office I think you will find that there is a memo on your desk alerting you to the hiring of Danny Concannon to the communications department.” She stares at me incredulously, so I smile slightly and nod at the door. “T-thank you, sir.” she manages as she slowly turns and hurries out of the room. I watch her going with a small smile, wondering how the new dynamic was working out.
Sam’s POV:

I’m glad that Danny had finally decided to sit with us and work but he still was scared to death and everyone could see it. He jumped when anyone even moved. Finally, Toby sent the others away and got Danny and I down to the mess for lunch. Danny honestly looked more scared than I did and I had been attacked less than a week before and could still barely walk. We make it down to the mess and get food but Toby and I can both easily see the terror in Danny’s eyes so we decide to eat in the meeting room that we had been in before. Josh comes in to join us, flopping down next to me and putting his head on my shoulder. He looks absolutely exhausted; he had been in meetings all morning with conservatives and I had a feeling that it hadn’t gone well. Leo comes in shortly after and I smile at how much happier Toby looks with Leo sitting next to him. CJ is last to show up, sitting next to Danny and slipping a hand into his. Danny grins at her, and the rest of us smile. The conversation ranges, at one point touching on the speech half of us are writing, and at another it was just Josh ranting about conservative republicans being out to ruin his life. At one point there is a lull in conversation, so I take that minute to scoot closer to Josh and snuggle up against him. Toby is smirking at me over the table but I don’t care. I’m exhausted and in pain and Josh is warm and nice and safe. His laughter shakes us both as he tucks an arm more tightly around me. I relax into it, curling my head under his chin.

Josh’s POV:

I smile slightly, tightening my grip on Sam when he relaxes against me. He looks exhausted, movements still very, very pained, but now he looks more relaxed than he has in days. Danny was hunched off to my left, CJ having left the room to do a briefing. I decide we need to distract him, so I fumble in my pocket for a deck of cards. “Who’s up for some poker with french fries?” He’s startled into laughter, as are the others. Sam even props himself back up so he can see what is going on as we begin the game. About ten minutes in, I realize he is still so tense and decide to try to make him relax slightly, so I slip my voice into my best Bartlet impression. “What flavors was a three musketeers bar originally?” Toby and Sam both burst out laughing, and even Danny is smiling widely and laughing. I grin happily when Danny manages to get the words out. “Chocolate, Strawberry, and vanilla. It was changed because they couldn’t get the ingredients in world war two.” I nod in approval, and Danny smiles slightly as we resume the game. But after that, as we keep going around the circle, every now and then someone jumps in with a bit of obscure trivia. What can I say, it keeps even an exhausted Sam awake.

Chapter Text

Sam’s POV:

I wake up groaning, shifting on my bed to try to stand up before tumbling over with a startled yelp. I would be amused if it didn’t hurt quite so badly. Josh is somehow still asleep because the only thing that can wake him up easily is the smell of coffee. I had learned that a while back. I finally make it to the kitchen, rummaging in the cabinets til I find some coffee, which I get brewing. Josh slowly comes into the kitchen a few minutes later, navigating our tiny apartment with ease even though his eyes are closed till I shove a cup of coffee at him. I’m nearly as tired as he is, so it takes three cups of coffee for me to feel somewhat normal. We don’t have a closet, so Josh and I both use various nooks and crannies of the apartment for our clothes, mostly the shower since we both tend to shower at work. I finally finish getting changed, glancing over to make sure that Josh is also almost ready. “One of us needs to go to the dry cleaner’s tonight and get our tuxes for that dinner thing tomorrow. I brought them yesterday.” He half looks up at me before groaning in weariness and flopping back down onto his chair. The apartment only has a little kitchen with a tiny table, a very small couch with an old TV, the one small bedroom, and the bathroom with a shower/tub, toilet, and sink. We’re both still only half awake when we go down to the car to go into work, but I’m slightly more functional as I settle our two travel mugs of coffee in the center holder and settle down behind the wheel. “Alright, we’ve got this.” I decide. “Right?” Josh’s only response is to bury his head in his arms with a groan. I am not terribly encouraged by that since he would normally be at least SOMEWHAT awake by now, but I wrestle his seatbelt on and start the car, setting off towards work.

Toby’s POV:

It’s nice to wake up here, I decide. Leo and I had finally gotten home at a decent hour last night (eleven pm) and since now everyone knew about us, Leo didn’t have to sneak in! That was nice. So was waking up here, with Leo curled up against me with his head tucked under mine. I slowly dislodge myself, moving very, very slowly so I can creep into the kitchen. Leo’s hotel room is fairly large, and we had actual food here since this is where we spent the bulk of our time. I start up cooking eggs and toast, which somehow goes VERY badly because I burn both. It at least wakes Leo up, he’s blinking blearily when he comes into the room, although he does laugh when he sees me scraping burnt egg out of a pan. “Can we please get something on the way to work?” I laugh softly, leaning forward so my head is resting on his shoulder for a moment. I can feel the laughter shaking both of us. “Course. I definitely do not have enough ability to cook to manage this.” We both laugh, and I slowly walk after him out to his car and slip into the passenger seat. He much prefers driving to me, I don’t like the traffic and my navigational skills are very, very poor. I chuckle to myself when I think about how badly Sam and I trying to find Wesley Connecticut had gone. I had gotten him a star map for his birthday a few months later, and a GPS. We had laughed reminiscing about that week for a great deal of time that night and went through a lot of soda. We tried to not drink excessively in front of Leo and I knew that he appreciated it even if he never said it. He grins over at me as we set off. “So what’s for breakfast today: McDonalds or pancakes.” We both laugh, knowing what the answer will be. “McDonald's it is. It’s cheaper.”

Danny’s POV:

I wake up to someone shaking me, groaning and propping myself up when I realize my mistake. “Oh damn, I’m sorry, Toby.” I stammer out. He studies me, and I prop myself up on his couch. Pain arches through my back, which begs for a bed one of these days. I really had never meant to fall asleep here but I had been tired and Toby said I could sit in his office to finish a thing I had to write since I didn’t have one and then I was exhausted and I closed my eyes for like a moment. And now it was clearly morning. I stare worriedly up at Toby, trying to hide the fear in my eyes but I think that I am failing because he looks at me like I am a kicked puppy dog. But in the end, Toby shrugs and tosses me a package with a thing of bacon and an egg sandwich. I give him half a smile as Leo comes in and sits down next to Toby, all of us eating in amiable silence. I like it, even if I don’t plan to mention that fact any time soon. Sam quietly explains the schedule for the day for me as we walk down to...a meeting with a name that I can’t remember. I was meeting people on the hill with Sam today about a new anti-discrimination in the workplace bill, which had us all a little on edge. Toby had all but begged to get to do it but Leo had known that THAT would end in no bill because Toby made them mad. Sam and I apparently were less likely to do that, even if I didn’t quite think that Leo was right on that idea. Josh has some meeting about something with economics that was confusing as hell. It was supposed to be an easy morning. Unfortunately, that did NOT happen.

The meeting is supposed to be at ten A.M. at around nine forty-five, I go to find Sam and I can not find him. At all. I look in the corners and the crevices and the meeting rooms and the offices and I finally find him curled up asleep on his floor. Waking him up was a very bad idea, I decide when he weakly stares up at me and struggles to get up. “Oww oww oww dammit, Danny my back is seized up there is no way this is going to work. I can’t move.” He moans, slumping back to the ground with a whimper. “I’m sorry, man, I know we need to go to this meeting but you’re going to have to go get Toby.” My head shoots up in concern, which I open my mouth to voice before hesitating. I don’t want them to dislike me on my first real day so I just mutely nod and go to knock on Toby’s door.

Toby’s POV:

I’m surprised when it’s Danny who ducks into my office, head down, shoulders shaking slightly when he tries to avoid looking at me. “S-sir?” He asks softly, eyes still locked on his feet. “Yes, Danny? And please look at me when I’m talking to you.” He nods, slowly raising his head till he is looking directly at me but I can tell he really, really does not want to be. “Sir, Sam and I were supposed to have a meeting on the hill about that anti-discrimination bill, but Sam is still in a lot of pain and his back is killing him he isn’t going to make the meeting so he told me to tell you that you need to go with me.” He stammers all this out in about two milliseconds, so I spend a moment struggling to figure out what he had said before cursing under my breath and getting up, checking my watch. “Aaand we are basically already late. Oh, fun. This is sure to put them in such a good mood.” I grab my coat, pulling it on as I move outside with Danny hanging a foot or so behind me. We make it to the hill at ten-fifteen, me leading Danny into a room with aides from about a dozen senators. “Sorry we are late, I couldn’t find my coat.” A few of them laugh, but the rest are glaring angrily at me, which isn’t boding all that well for this meeting. “I was under the impression Sam was going to be here?” One particularly brave one asks, and I shoot him a very angry glare. “Sam is stuck in a budget meeting that’s going very long, so I’m here instead. He asked me to apologize for you. Now,” I sit down, stretching out my legs. “Let’s talk.”

Danny’s POV:

I hesitantly move to sit next to Toby, studying the other people in the room. Most of their attention seems to be on him, although several are glaring at me with looks of annoyance. “Toby, we have had this meeting three times, I don’t understand how you think this time will be different!”

Josh’s POV:

CJ calls me to her office at around ten in the morning. I go slowly, because I know CJ and being summoned to her office is rarely a good thing. I bring her coffee, a sandwich, and a salad since that seems like it will be the best thing to do at this point in the day to try and distract her from whatever it is that I had done wrong. She’s glaring at me, but her gaze softens when I slide her the coffee and food. “Here you go, focus on this instead of whatever I did wrong.” She chuckles softly, taking a swig of coffee and gesturing to the chair. “You did nothing wrong that I know of...have you done something I should know of?” She demands. I rapidly shake my head at her. “No ma’am, nothing. I just thought, you know, since you only ever call me down here when I am in trouble like my brilliantly stupid inflation fighting plan.” We both break out laughing remembering THAT particular catastrophe. “We need a press conference.” I look up in surprise. “We just had one like, a week ago. Why does he have to talk again?” Cj shakes her head several times. “No, no, not the president. You. You and Sam, preferably and Leo and Toby.” I am trying to hide the absolutely horrified look on my face when I realize what she just said but I must have failed miserably because she gives me an annoyed look. “Don’t worry, you will not be talking, we’ll let the others do that. You would somehow create a secret plan for you lgbt folk to overthrow the government.” I burst out laughing at that comment, and she grins. “Tomorrow, ten AM. If you see the others tell them, and tell them they are not getting out of it unless the building we are in is collapsing, in which case we will do it from across the street.” I grin, nod, and stand up, grabbing her sandwich and walking out of the room.

Danny’s POV:

We’re two hours into arguing and there is still literally no progress being made. Everything Toby says gets him yelled at, which means when we take a break I have to physically put myself between him and the wall. “Take a breath, Toby. They’re morons but you’ve got to ignore them they really seem to want to provoke you.” He glares at me, and I realize that stating the obvious isn’t going to help this so I reach into my bag and pull out a folder, passing it to him. “Here you go, I made this up this morning. They can not deny these statistics. ” He actually smiles slightly as he flips through the folder. “See, I knew there was a reason I hired you. Let’s get back in there and blow their socks off.” I hesitate by the door, but Toby glances back at me with a kinder look in his eyes than what I was used to when he beckoned. “Well? Cmon, your information isn’t going to present itself.” I hesitantly go towards him, keeping a fair distance between us and his expression changes slightly. “Cmon kid, I’m not going to hurt you.” I nod, moving slowly up to his side and following him back to the conference room we had been in before. Toby slams his copy of the folder onto the table, and I pull out the other dozen that I had had ready. Toby leans back in the chair, eyeing the men like a lion would eye its prey. I have to refrain from laughing at it, this is Toby in his element. He leans forward, resting his elbows on the table. “Gentlemen, read those and then let’s deal.”

Chapter Text

CJ’s POV:
Josh seems to be pretty annoyed at me about the press conference thing I had sprung on him, which I get, but, like, it was not an optional thing. The press room was going to continue the ridiculous articles they had been writing for the last week until the guys actually got up there and talked, and while I knew none of them would want to do it, it wasn’t going to be an optional thing. Although I hadn’t been lying when I had said that Josh wasn’t going to be doing all that much talking, he tended to get annoyed too easily at the press. None of us had forgotten the incident with the secret inflation fighting plan, although now it was mostly just used to poke fun at Josh. He was fun to annoy, since he really didn’t mind it all that much as long as it was just for a good laugh. There hadn’t been any major news today, at least none that I was aware of yet, so my several press briefings went off without a hitch. That is, at least, until a later briefing

Toby’s POV:

The meeting was going better than I could ever have hoped, and it was only two PM. I had thought it would take far longer than this to even say two words that weren’t yelling. I had to admit that Danny had really done the research he needed to do to make it that good. The guy really did know what he was doing, and he seemed to have settled down nicely as he sees the republicans looking more and more angry as they read the documents in front of them. He had an impressive amount of information, given he had really only had like, less than twelve hours to gather it. We had sprung this meeting on him. There are a few dozen papers in the folder, some graphs with statistics of what their constituents opinions were, some written memos, another dozen things or so. It was clearly everything on the topic that Danny had been able to find, and the aides looked pretty frustrated by the time they were at the end of the file. “Toby while I admit these numbers are….um...er...drastic, our bosses have made it VERY clear that they will not vote for a bill that forces someone to go against their religious beliefs.” Danny raises his eyebrows, glancing over at me. I was very surprised to see that he was this confident since he had been like a kicked puppy recently. Hopefully this would get him back to being the Danny we all knew and loved. I tilt my head towards them, and he nods, turning to face them. “People, the fact of the matter is LGBT workers face higher rates of harassment, of being fired for being out, of verbal and psychological abuse from their superiors. It’s already illegal to discriminate against people for their gender, for their skin color, for their disabilities, for their marital status, for age, for religion, or for their nationality. Why is it that the very idea of our rights being the same as every other minority group, under these laws, is so foreign to you people’s bosses. We aren’t asking people to change their beliefs we are asking them to be fair, to be decent, to do their job without bothering to wonder who someone goes home to at night or what’s under their clothes. You are currently sitting in a room with two people who are part of the group that you refuse to provide protections for and if you think Toby and I are on edge on this topic today, you do not want to see us tomorrow if he doesn’t get a call from all twelve of your bosses endorsing the bill in the next twelve hours.” I’m watching him, grudgingly impressed before I catch onto something he said and look over at him in surprise. He’s avoiding my gaze and seems to have shrunken back slightly, so I take over. “Thank you all for this meeting, we look forward to hearing from your bosses.” Danny is looking grateful as he and I both walk out, and I can tell he’s realizing what he said and barely holding it together as he slumps onto the seat of the car next to me. He’s positively shaking with pent-up terror, and I’m glad it’s such a short drive back to the white house. My phone is ringing off the hook, and so is Danny’s. I want to answer it I really do, but I have a feeling I won’t like what the other end is saying so I mute my phone and toss it into the back seat of the car. There are eyes on us when we enter the building and I’m surprised he isn’t actually hiding behind me as I move. I have a feeling he wants to be. We reach the communications bullpen and he stiffens up even more, if that’s at all possible.

Danny’s POV:

I stick very, very close to Toby when we enter the communications bullpen. I had a bad, bad feeling my slip of words earlier in the day was going to come back to bite me, and I was definitely right when I saw CJ across the bullpen. She knew, obviously, I had told her, but she had definitely not expected me to be so damn stupid. I hadn’t meant to, really, but I had been on a roll with that meeting and it had just slipped out. At least Toby had complimented me on a job well done in the meeting when we had been walking back inside, although I had a feeling it was only his effort to get me to stop all but cowering behind him. With CJ walking towards me, I scramble sideways and duck into my “office.” It’s actually a closet that Sam and Toby had stuck a desk, three chairs, and a computer in, but I loved it. I had hung up a few photos and stuff, and there was an old bookcase in the back that I filled with various government resources, the constitution, and such. I slump back in my chair and turn on my laptop, glancing through my email and ignoring anything that wasn’t from Toby, CJ, Josh, Leo, or Sam, since most of the other things had less than pleasant titles or opening words. CJ had sent me a few emails about my “Stupid decision which was going to cause her no shortage of headaches in the press room,” I had one from Sam thanking me for managing to not let Toby kill anyone (I wasn’t too sure how he knew about that one), Leo sent me one telling me to talk to CJ as soon as possible, and Josh sent me one about a memo he wanted me to write about a new bill that congress was considering. I’ve only just opened up a document and grabbed a few resources off my shelf when CJ strolls into my office and plops herself down across from me. I peek up at her and grimace at the look on her face. “CJ I swear to god I didn’t mean to have this happen I was just on a roll with trying to get this bill banning workplace discrimination passed and I was doing pretty good and I...I got carried away.” I lean forward and bury my head in my hands with a soft whine. CJ has one hand on my shoulder and an arm around me in less than a second, letting me shift so I can rest my head against her with a soft whimper, gripping her tightly. “Shh, hey, Danny, you’re fine. Alright?” I nod, leaning back in my chair with a weary groan as she goes to sit down across from me again. “They don’t have your old records yet, but if they don’t by next briefing I will be absolutely stunned. You’d have had them hours ago if they were someone else’s and you were still in my press room.” I laugh weakly, sighing and turning to the small cabinet in the corner of my room. I pull out a folder and hand it to her, eyes down, shoulders hunched. I was too worn to try to block out the motions that had been engraved in me since childhood, so I hoped she wouldn’t mind that I looked like I expected her to beat the living hell out of me ten seconds later. She scans the file, nodding and giving me half a smile. “I assume this is you telling me that you are ok with me releasing this to the media?” She asks gently. I nod, shoulders shuddering softly before leaning forward to kiss her gently for a moment. When I pull back we are both smiling at each other. “Good luck out there, CJ. Make me look good, will you?” We both laugh. “You want me in the press conference you’re making the guys be in, right?” She hesitates when I say that for a moment as I go back around my desk and plop back down into my seat. “I’m not sure yet, I want to see how my briefing in,” she checks her watch, “ten minutes, at four, goes before I make a decision on that. Test the water, you know?” I nod, and she walks to the door, glancing back over my shoulder before she goes. “Oh, hey, Danny? You can watch the briefing with Carol.” I nod, working on the memo for a few minutes before a glance at my watch tells me that it’s almost four PM. I’m hesitant to leave the safety of my office but I do, heading towards CJ’s office before Toby comes up to me. “Hey, Danny, come watch this with Sam and Josh and I.” I debate telling him I was going to watch with CJ but I decide against that idea, since Toby is technically my boss, so I follow him into his office and sit down on the couch next to Sam and Josh. Toby pulls his chair over and moves the TV so we can all see it as we sit in silence, till CJ comes up to the podium. Every hand is immediately in the air, which causes me to grimace slightly. CJ goes through her normal briefing, what the various departments were doing and such, before she gets to me.

CJ’s POV:

I had Carol photocopy most of what was in the file so I was prepared to give it to the media, and when I saw every hand I had known that they already had it. “As I am sure many of you know by now, it was leaked to at least half of you by some senators aides after a meeting that Danny Concannon is part of the LGBT community. I’m quite confident by now that at least some of you have found some of his own files, but I have here a nice file for each of you that he has permitted me to give you. He did something that he did not have to do, when he told me that I was allowed to out him to all of you so I urge you to please be kind about it. Danny was born Donna Samantha Concannon. He formally came out as transgender at fourteen and he has lived openly as the man that he is ever since, changing his name just before his sixteenth birthday. He started testosterone when he was nineteen. That is far more information than any of you need, and if you really need anything else it’s either in the file or something you just plain don’t need to know. Tomorrow, we will be having a press conference with Sam Seaborn, Josh Lyman, Leo McGarry, Toby Ziegler, and Danny Concannon, when you can ask any of them all the questions you’ve been shouting at me all week, so I’m sure you will all enjoy that. For tonight, no questions. That’s a full lid, I’m sure I will see you all first thing tomorrow. For now, have a great night.” I turn away from the podium, ignoring the shouts behind me as I close the door and lean against the wall. “Well, that went pretty well.”

Chapter Text

Sam’s POV:

I was trying to ignore the fear building in my chest at the idea of a press conference. I didn’t mind speaking to the press, and I was pretty good at it, but the fact of the matter was that I wasn’t terrified of the press conference I was terrified of my parents SEEING the press conference. See, Josh and I had been together for a little over nine months now and HIS mom knew we were together (of course she did, she’d met me a few months earlier when josh and I had had two days off and we’d flown down to visit her) but my parents still had basically no idea. They were conservative, VERY conservative, and hadn’t exactly been shown to be open to such things in the past. Josh and I had been planning to tell them at the same point as when we would tell our friends (at around a year) but...clearly that was now a pipe dream. I flopped down on the couch, hissing when a spring dug into my back from a weird angle. Josh was still sitting at our very small table, sipping coffee and eating a muffin that he had gotten when he had gone out the night before to pick up our tuxes. I had finished mine in about five seconds, so I was now alternating between glancing at the TV and glancing at my watch. The press conference was at nine, and at the moment it was six-thirty so we were going to have to leave one of these days. Josh yawns into his third cup of coffee, pulling himself to his feet. “We should get dressed. Where’d I leave my suit jacket last night?” I roll my eyes and jerk my head in the direction of the bathroom. “Oh, cool, thanks Sam.” He calls over his shoulder. I’ve already got my shirt and pants on, but I can’t bend at the angle I need to bend at to tie a tie so I waited for Josh to come back and tie it for me before slipping my jacket on and buttoning it. “You ready for this?” He mutters quietly, and I catch the slight catch in his voice, the only sign of how truly stressed he is so I nod and get to work on slipping on my shoes so I can follow him out of our little apartment, firmly locking the door behind us.

 

CJ’s POV:

I get to work at seven in the morning, sipping a cup of coffee and eating an egg McMuffin. Carol’s already got the wires on my desk by the time I am there, so I settle down to flip through them. Not much has happened since the last time I had briefed, just about eighty million editorials saying that the guys should resign or that they should be fired and about the same number praising the white house for NOT firing them or forcing them to resign. I sincerely hoped that Danny hadn’t turned on a TV yet this morning because he was practically the only story. The news had had a few days with the Toby and Leo thing and the Josh and Sam thing, but the Danny Thing was brand new. Carol poked her head around the corner when I was finishing flipping through the channels on my TV and the folders on my desk. “Danny and Josh and Sam are here and Toby and Leo are on their way.” I mutter a thanks to her, distracted by the fourth article in a row of how Danny was a freak of nature who deserved to die. I was starting to hate the media, if I hadn’t already hated them before. Josh and Sam both look fairly exhausted when they duck into my office, claiming the couch and slumping together on the right side of it. I wonder why for a few moments, since they could easily have spread out or at least not been shoved against each other, but it became clear why when Danny ducked in and basically collapsed next to Josh, who took one look at him and shifted an arm so it was rubbing his back. “You ok man?” He asks quietly. Danny shakes his head slightly, curling closed to Josh, who slips an am around his shoulder to keep him close.

Josh’s POV:

 

It was obvious to me that Danny wasn’t doing well. He was quivering under my hand, and pressed so close to me that I was pretty sure he was trying to vanish into me. I had had the news on on the way here, so I knew what they were saying about him and Sam and I were definitely planning on trying to make them stop THAT pretty soon. But Danny just looked so small, huddled into my side with his head bent over and his whole frame vibrating silently. I’m almost relieved when Toby and Leo come in, since at least we can start a conversation. They both sit in chairs in front of the desk, but Toby hasn’t taken his eyes off of Danny and I know he can see the panic in the smaller man just as much as I can. CJ starts the meeting, explaining how the press conference is going to go. Apparently Sam, Danny, and Toby will all be giving brief explanations and then the five of us will take a handful of questions from the press. If it was possible, I think Danny got even stiffer when she said he had to talk. He was stammering violently as he struggled to get his words out between his lips. He finally manages the words, but his shaking still hasn’t lessened. “Do I have to talk? I don’t...the editorials...I don’t…” He whimpers out softly. CJ sighs softly, moving to crouch in front of us with one hand on his knee. “I know, but we both know the sooner you talk to the press the sooner they all move past this.” He gives a jerky nod, then tosses Leo, Danny, and I out so she can work with Sam and Toby on what we were all going to say. The moment we are out of the office I grab his wrist tightly to make sure he doesn’t run, steering us both towards Leo’s office. Margrett glances at us, but she interprets my please don’t ask look correctly and jerks her head at the door. I duck into the office, pulling him along with me into the closet. I sit him down against the wall, his eyes are half glazed at this point and I’m pretty sure he has no idea what I’m doing as I carefully manhandle him so his head is resting on my shoulder and I can wrap an arm around him loosely when he starts gasping weakly, the panic coursing through him becoming more and more obvious. “Shh, shh, Danny, breathe. You’re fine, we’re just in Leo’s closet nothing in here can do a thing to you.” I soothe gently. He presses closer to me, tucking his head further into my neck as I silently move my other arm and to hold my smaller brother close.

Toby’s POV:

Danny and Josh emerge a few minutes before nine, both of them looking haggard and pale. Danny latches onto CJ for a moment, huddled near her side until the last minute. She goes in to brief them quickly first, but I can already hear how rowdy the room is going to be today through the door. We all file in, Josh and Sam first with Danny behind them and then Leo and I. On impulse, I think, Leo grabs my hand. Sam is still half leaning on Josh, even though the lighter bruises are starting to fade he is still clearly in pain when forced to move. He leans against the podium when we reach it, since he would be reading the opening statement. We had decided to do one person reading it instead of the three of myself, him, and Danny splitting it. He tilts the microphone so he can speak into it, raising his head from where it had been hunched a moment before. “So firstly we would like to explain how this is going to work. I’m going to read a very brief statement, then we will open to questions. While we won’t not answer much, none of us are obligated to answer something that is effectively a personal attack or incredibly personal.” There are a few murmurs in the press room but he ignores them as he pulls himself back to his full height as he reads the statement. It was pretty basic; just general background information and how long both pairs had been dating (him and Josh for around nine months and me and Leo for almost two years. THAT drew some surprised responses). Finally, he opened the floor to questions.

Danny had straightened up the moment we had entered the room, knowing this was all on camera and he shouldn’t look as terrified as he was. Sam and josh get the first half-dozen questions but, Katie turns to Danny instead. “Danny, this is less of a question about you and more of a general thing. Reading a lot of the editorials in papers since last night I couldn’t help but notice the drastic amount of people who seem to misunderstand what it means to be transgender so I was wondering if you could explain it, please?” Katie had been glaring at the reporters in the room who had attacked Danny when she asked the question. “Yea, sure I can, Katie.” Danny says, smile bright. I can tell he’s actually excited for this one when he starts to speak.

Danny’s POV:

I was incredibly glad that Katie had asked this, because I had been wanting to answer at least one legitimate question. “So, transgender is really what’s considered an umbrella term, something that encumpases a lot of different things. In this case, transgender really just means someone who doesn’t identify with the gender that they were assigned at birth. There are the transgender people who most people think of when they think of the word, meaning someone who is male to female or someone who is female to male. That second one is me. Those are people who identify with the gender that is the opposite of which they were born as. In my case, I was born as a girl but identify as male. Then there are what are widely referred to as gender non-binary people. Those are people who, in the broadest possible terms, don’t identify with either of the two genders that are considered the “binary” genders. I could probably ramble on about this for a pretty long time, so I’ll stop myself there but I hope that answered your question.” Katie nods, smiling slightly at me. I knew they knew perfectly well what it meant, given that they had one run into me at a local lgbt meeting for trans and non binary people, but they’d asked the question so everyone else would know. I appreciated that. It was a question that had needed to be asked. Off to one side of the room, my replacement stood up and everything in my body tried to tense up again. I resisted, not willing to let the cameras see me look nervous as Sam moves to call on the man. He was clearly facing me, eyes vicious. To my surprise, Toby actually took half a step forward to put himself between the man and me. “Hey, Leo and I haven’t gotten any questions yet! Ask us some!” The press laughs, and Sam must understand what Toby is doing because he seemless changes to asking someone else a question and I all but collapse out of sheer relief. The press asks Toby and Leo a few questions but I can’t really hear any of them at that point. The press conference finally ends and I stumble my way out of the room after the guys, barely realizing that as soon as we are out of the room Toby and Leo are on either side of me, silently guiding me back to Toby’s office. I slump into them, leaning on both as we finally get to Toby’s office and I curl up on the couch. Leo mutters something about having work and half drags Josh after him, leaving Sam to sit down and slip an arm around my shoulders to hold me there as I press my thin body closer to him and feel the panic dying down. Toby sits behind his desk, reading over the speech we were working on for the dinner tonight.

 

Sam’s POV:

The dinner that night is a disaster. Everyone won’t stop staring at the five of us long enough for us to not feel trapped by their eyes. The speech goes fine, it was a pretty good piece of work from us but none of us were able to be proud because it felt like every other foot someone was sneering at us. We HAD to be outed the same week as a massive dinner with a fairly conservative group. But what was really scaring Toby and I was that we had lost Leo, Josh, and Danny. I wasn’t sure how long we had been looking for them until we heard quiet shouts, exchanging a glance we took off in the direction of a nearby closet. Toby flung open the door, both of us fairly afraid to see what was inside.

Chapter Text

Leo’s POV:

This was NOT my week. I had seen two big guys corner Danny, so I had grabbed the nearest friendly face to go help me help him. Unfortunately I hadn’t considered how bad me, Danny, and Josh’s fighting abilities were. We ended up cornered in a closet, Danny hunched behind us. This wasn’t my first time being hit, not by a longshot, so I had put myself between Danny and them until the guys got bored and left, leaving me slumped against the wall, breathing raggedly as I struggled to find a position that didn’t cause pain to hit me. The door shot open a moment later, revealing a worried-looking Sam and Toby on the other side. Toby made a sharp, terrified noise in the back of his throat as I stumbled to lean against him, quivering under his hands. Sam had all but thrown himself at Josh, who I was pretty sure was mostly bruised. “I’m fine, Toby. I’m fine.” He glares at me before slipping an arm around my waist, silently, helping me out so we are back into the main room. I’m even more glad than usual that the press isn’t allowed to roam freely because I’m pretty sure that they would either think I had gotten myself in a fight (bad) or that I was drunk (far worse). Toby says something about going to find the secret service, so I lean against the wall and sip a glass of water as he goes off.

 

 

Josh’s POV:

I really was mostly fine, Leo had taken the brunt of the assault but my arm felt like it was on fire. My wrist was wrapped but I had hit it when I had fallen backwards and now my arm might as well have had knives in it for how much it hurt. Sam was hunched next to me, still moving slowly due to his battered frame. The food hadn’t even been served yet, so the two of us struggled back to the table we were sharing with Danny, Toby, and Leo. Danny was there, hunched over slightly with his hands in his lap. I glanced around and saw Leo working his way through the crowd, so all we were missing was Toby. Sam opened his mouth, probably to ask where Toby was, but Leo cut him off. “He’s just talking to the secret service, he should be here in a minute. Now cmon guys, this food looks amazing.” I look up, since I hadn’t even noticed the food had arrived. Sam poked at it with his fork, causing Leo to snort with laughter. I pretend to not notice the flash of pain over his face when he laughs, or the way he slowly readjusts how he is sitting so he can rest his arm on the table. “What is this, Leo?” Leo shrugs, studying the plates. “I’m not sure, but it’s probably good. I’m sure if you asked the president tonight he could tell you all about it.” We all laugh, picking up our utensils to dig into the food. It really was quite delicious, in my opinion. Sam was eating quickly, clearing his plate in about two minutes. I knew why, of course I did. We had some...financial obligations that left us sometimes having trouble eating enough, hence our very small living quarters. Sam knew what it was to not have enough, so he always ate fast. I glanced around the table. Toby had just gotten to us, sitting down next to Leo, the two men having a hushed conversation between bites of food. I was eating slowly, savoring the melding flavors in my mouth as I did. But when I looked over at Danny, I realized he had barely eaten two bites of his food. He was still hunched, vibrating in place slightly as he sat there with his head tucked to his chest and his body curled in on itself.

 

Danny’s POV:

My attempts to hold it together were failing, badly. I wanted nothing more than to curl up in someone’s arms and not move, preferably somewhere that wasn’t as loud as here. The sound was pounding on my senses, leaving me struggling to force air into my throat. Josh is watching me with concern so I force myself to sit higher, downing a few more mouthfuls of the meal in front of me without really tasting it at all. I struggle to ignore the nausea churning in my stomach, so I struggle down another few mouthfuls before standing and slipping away into the crowd so I can’t feel their eyes on me. I realize my mistake moments later because this is so infinitely worse. Many of those around me are staring, their eyes boring into my like lasers, leaving me slowly drawing in my breath as if it will slow the pounding in my chest because I am not safe here. Josh slips after me, I can hear him, but I ignore that entirely.

The bathroom is empty, by some miracle, so I lean against the wall, press my aching head against the cold tile and struggle through focusing on breathing. I don’t know how much time passes before my tense body relaxes slightly, letting my lungs almost fully expand without leading to gasping terror. I think this is a win, until I feel the pain slicing through my damaged body. The numb panic had clearly kept me from feeling the full extent of my pain until then, because now it left me struggling to stand. They had gotten some good hits in before Leo had gotten there, clearly. My ribs were already bruising under my shirt, causing me to hiss in agony if I so much as breathed on them. My left leg wasn’t much better, throbbing when I moved, but I forced myself to stand up straight as I exited the room and went to mill around till it was time to go home. The guys are watching me, I can feel their eyes, but none of them approach me. I’m either grateful or sad and I can’t tell which, mainly due to how tired my brain was. I somehow manage to get home, making it in to the bathroom and pulling out my medical kit, wrapping my ribs and leg before trying to stand up. The pain all but stabs me, and I barely manage to sink to the ground before my vision goes black.

Chapter Text

Josh’s POV:

The morning after the dinner was exhausting. My arm was in agony and while I didn’t think I had done worse than bruise it, and didn’t think my insurance would cover another ER visit, but it was definitely more bruised and swollen. Sam was moving a little easier today, he managed the struggle to get into clean clothes (not all that clean, we both only owned two suits and three shirts, and one of his shirts had been ruined by blood stains and we hadn’t gotten the shirts cleaned in like, a week. It was becoming a problem. We were also out of coffee, along with being entirely out of food. That was quite possibly a worse issue than the clothes thing, because we currently had no money to GET food. Sam’s parents had both suffered severe health problems in the last year, and Sam had been struggling to pay their medical bills since. Josh was helping as well, but neither of them made a ton of money and they did still have an apartment (albeit a tiny one with no heat or AC) and we did occasionally realize that things like food were probably a good idea. We were both far too thin, Sam had always been skinny but by now he had really lost all of the weight that had made him look healthy and fit, and I was shocked that Toby hadn’t noticed and demanded an answer as to why his deputy was so thin. I was nearly as bad, though I had had more weight to begin with so I wasn’t quite as bad as he was yet, but neither of our suits fit very well at the moment. However, we were managing. So, we had no reason to believe that anything would be different today from the last nine months. Of course, this was the year of NOTHING ever going to plan, so naturally, that did not happen.

Toby’s POV

I was sitting at my desk when Sam came in in the morning, to see if there was anything I needed him to do. I had been getting worried about him recently because he seemed thinner, but that morning I realized his face was definitely looking thinner, and there was a slight tremble in his hands when he grabbed a folder off my desk. He looked more exhausted than I had ever seen him. So naturally, I did what any good big brother would do: I cornered him, literally. “Why haven’t you been eating?” Sam whines, twitching away from me shakily, so I try a different approach, kindness. I am...well, not used to that approach, but if it kept Sam from looking like I was about to beat him I wasn’t going to complain. I lead him to the couch, nudging him down onto it and sitting next to it. “Cmon kid, you need to tell me what is going on.” I prompt him gently, surprised when that is all it takes it start to make him crack. He’s still shaking slightly as he quietly tells me about his parent’s medical bills. He is full-on sobbing at this point, when he quietly tells me about their lack of food (and coffee, the horror! I silently text Ginger to go and buy three things of coffee and pancakes or whatever she could find for breakfast, because I knew if Sam wasn’t eating, Josh wasn’t, and CJ had told me the day before about Danny’s financial troubles. She nods and takes off, and I turn back to Sam. “Buddy, why didn’t you tell us we would have helped you.” He shrugs, turning to press his face into my shoulder as he whimpers, “d-didn’t want to burden you.” I wrap my arms around him, pulling him close as he cries. “Shh, it’s ok, Sammy. It’s ok. I wish you would have told me, kiddo. I would have helped you.” He shifts so he can speak, the grimace as he does so reminding me that he is still injured. “W-w-why? No reason to help me.” My heart breaks at his words and I tighten my grip slightly, ignoring the fact that this ruins my person-who-cares-about-nothing image. Oh well, that had been in tatters for a while now and this week had entirely destroyed it. “Why? Because you’re my little brother, that’s why. It’s my job to help you out and I’m going to whether you like it or not.” Sam is crying even harder at my words but I know that it’s out of relief, as I shift to sit on the floor so he can curl up half on top of me, his thin arms around me and his head buried against my shoulder as he cries, his relief obvious even if he wasn’t quietly whimpering “thank you” against my neck as i run one hand up and down his back to soothe him.

Sam’s POV:

I feel bad about soaking the shoulder of Toby’s jacket but he waves me off, telling me it’ll dry as he nudges a plate of waffles he had gotten ginger to get in my direction. I want to tell him no, that I am fine, but he also got me COFFEE, so I decide that, for this one meal, I won’t care. The coffee is just the way I like it, and the waffles are amazing. I hope he sent breakfast to Josh, too, and this is Toby so I’m not going to be surprised if he did send food to Josh and maybe even to Danny, too. I know Danny had been severely struggling with money, too. After I was finished eating, Toby grabbed me and a laptop and a notepad and we went to one of the big conference rooms to write. Danny stumbled in a few feet later, sticking close to the walls, looking terrified. Toby gets up and nudges him into a chair, but there is pain evident in his dark eyes. Toby sits across from him and as we bounce lines for the anti discrimination conference speech off each other, he constantly is passing the legal pad he is writing on over to Danny, not pushing the smaller man at all but just allowing him to give ideas without having everyone stare. I do the same, but since most of my contribution is verbal I certainly do it less. CJ’s briefing goes well, the chaos of the last few days has died down, which I am fairly relieved about because I think another attack on Danny that he had to watch would end with him looking even more sad than he did currently.

We don’t take a break till around lunch time, when Toby orders us both to get some food. Danny and I exchange a nervous look. I’m silently counting money in my bank account, trying to figure out what I could possibly have money for when Toby comes back with his coat on. “Come on, both of you, we are going out and getting food. I’m paying. No arguing.”

Danny’s POV:

I want to argue with Toby, to tell him that he didn’t need to pay for lunch for me because he had no reason to we barely knew each other. I quietly follow him back to his office, and he turns, surprised to see me. “Hello there, Danny. Did you need something?” I found myself hunching back slightly, pain flickering through me, and to my surprise his eyes softened slightly. “You don’t have to pay for lunch for me. I’m not a fucking charity case.” He looks...surprised, as he turns to face me. “No, you are not a charity case, that is for sure. But you are a human being, and my deputy. And that means I am not well going to allow you to starve to death because you need to pay your rent. Alright?” I had forgotten that I had told CJ she could tell him about my financial problems and now I really wished that I had not said that to her. “I don’t need your help.” I was being childish, because I did, really really did, need his help. Toby sighed as he moved a few steps forward to face me. “Yes, you do.” He moves and pokes me in my ribs, a playful gesture, and I have to use all my energy not to scream because I am in so much pain when his hand lands on my sore body that my knees buckle painfully and I crumple.

Toby’s POV:

I cry out when Danny falls, using both arms to catch him before he could hit the ground. He lets out a sob of pain, as I all but carry him to the couch and yell for Sam. He ducks into my office, scanning the situation before crossing my office and grabbing the phone. Danny is whimpering in pain, fingers digging into my forearms where he was gripping them although I really didn’t care as I struggled to make sure that he was ok. “Easy, buddy.” I murmur quietly, running my fingers over the backs of his wrists in an attempt to calm him down. His eyes are locked on mine, quivering and fearful. “Easy, kid.” Sam has hung up the phone and moved to crouch next to me, his nimble fingers unbuttening Danny’s shirt without touching his chest as he carefully pulls it back, hissing at the bruising. “Oh, Danny.”

Abbey hurries in a few minutes later, kneeling next to us. Danny shifts slightly, his breathing had calmed a little. “You didn’t have to call Abbey.” I raise my eyebrows not at all believing him. “Did this happen last night?” He sighs, nods. Sam has moved to give Abbey some room to work, as she carefully sets about examining Danny’s damaged chest. He doesn’t seem to be happy about it, and I wonder if that is because of the scars from his top surgery on his upper chest or because his damaged ribs hurt. He’s barely answering Abbey’s quiet questioning, and hissing in pain whenever she does something. Finally, she helps him to be sitting and props one of his legs out in front of him, quickly rolling up his pant leg and showing the bruising around his knee. I would have moved, if Danny didn’t still have my arms in a tight grip and was seeming to really not want me to move, so I didn’t.

Abbey’s POV:

I’ve always liked Danny, so seeing him looking this defeated is sad. “Alright so, listen up. Your ribs are badly bruised, you may have cracked one or two, but there isn’t much to do for those. Keep ice on them whenever possible, don’t wrap them because it could mess with your lungs, and if your breathing worsens CALL ME.” He nods, so I turn to nod at his knee. “Your leg isn’t broken, that much is definite. I’m going to go with a grade 2 knee sprain. So, wrapping it, and you’re using crutches until I tell you otherwise.” He opens his mouth, likely to tell me he couldn’t afford crutches (I had heard about his troubles the day before) so I jerked my head at Sam, who I had sent to get the crutches from that time I had broken my leg and had finally given up on being in a wheelchair. I worked to wrap his knee before slipping on a brace, feeling bad when he hisses in pain but he just waves his hand to tell me to keep going. I finished, rummaging in my bag and getting him some advil. Toby somehow has procured a water bottle, without moving, I have no idea how, so I get the medication into Danny before standing up and beckoning Toby. Danny finally releases Toby, so he follows me into the hall.

“He’s thin. Too thin. It’s likely why his ribs managed to be fractured by human blows. Sam doesn’t look much better, either. Are they not eating?”

Toby’s POV:

I sigh, glancing back at them as Josh ducks past me. I raise my eyebrows but decide against commenting as I see Sam and Josh are now sitting on either side of Danny, and it’s clear Josh is talking to him softly. “They’re having money issues.” Abbey nods, her eyes sad. “Take care of those three, Toby.” She walks away, leaving me wondering if it would be impolite to point out that I am a speechwriter, not a therapist. I don’t, going to see if any had brought coats, which they hadn’t (honestly, how had they not frozen to death that morning? I wasn’t sure) before ducking into their room. “Well guys? Ready to get going?” Josh looks up in confusion. “Where are we going?” “I’m buying you three lunch. And no complaining.” He nods, as both he and Sam help Danny to his feet and get the crutches in the right position as we walk slowly out towards the street. I’ll try, Abbey. I’ll try and take care of them.