Arriving at the Hill to testify on the bill, getting out of the car, Josh had grabbed Sam's thigh as he stood up. Higher than he should have, not right above the knee, but higher up so that Sam had briefly wished that it had been even higher and maybe his knuckles would have grazed the zipper of his pants. Then Josh was out of the car. Sam followed him out and he wasn't disturbed by his desire for the hand to have been closer because he was still warmed by it.
Another night, a few days later, he lay, still in his suit, sprawled on Josh's bed. There had been drinking and he had walked in here to make the spinning stop by lying down. Josh was still talking about, of all things, Burundi and sat down on the bed, his feet next to Sam's head. Josh leaned back on his arm and put his hand on Sam's thigh again, higher than he should have but still not quite where Sam wanted. He was saying something, still about Burundi, grabbing Sam to get his attention. Josh had shifted again. Sam reached over and rested his hand between Josh's legs. Just there and warm. Josh craned his neck to look at him. Sam started tracing circles, mandatory figure eights like figure skaters used to have to skate, on his crotch. Josh moved his hand and abruptly stood.
"Well," he said. Sam watched as Josh removed his own tie and shirt and pants. It was the longest moment in the history of the world and it was really of all three seconds before Josh came over and straddled him and kissed him.
Sam woke up at 4 am, naked under Josh's covers. He slipped out of the bed, found all his clothes, his wallet, keys and id and snuck out as quickly as he could. He stood in his own living room at 4:35 am. Well, he thought. He was a little sore - he hadn't done that in a very long time and he'd never done it that many times when he had done it. And he had played the Harry role in the When Harry Met Sally thing, leaving in a panic in the morning. Josh was the girl here, by default of it having happened in his apartment. Nowhere to run for Josh. He looked around his living room and walked over to the kitchen area. He gripped the formica counter. He should think this through, put everything in perspective, he thought. He really was a little sore. He'd never felt that he had to suppress some part of himself since college to do his job - many, many more women than men made him hard. He didn't plan on doing this again with anyone else right now. CJ was his first call but he didn't need to call. Josh wouldn't tell and no one had seen them and even if someone had seen him leaving, he had spent any number of nights sleeping off a drink or two there. So that was fine, too. He had a tremendous amount of work today, like every day, and he was up now so he should shower and go to work.
He saw his reflection in the oven door, saw the ecstatic grin and realized what he hadn't been thinking, what he had been dancing around. He was so blissfully happy. Josh wasn't the woman here, he wasn't the girl, Sam was the girl. Sam was a sixteen year old girl. He wanted to go into his bedroom and cover every spare inch of wall with posters and pictures of N Sync, except not N Sync. He wanted to save answering machine messages and make a tape he could listen to over and over again on continuous play. He wanted to find every TV appearance and splice them together so he could watch them every night. He was so giddy and full and happy about last night.
He told himself to stop. You live in the world, he thought. In the world. Approaching from the farthest point of perspective, he wasn't about to become that guy in this administration. He didn't want to be the token gay and that's because he felt he wasn't. There was Laurie, Mallory and maybe Ainsley and he wanted that, too. Maybe someone else could have his job and do it and be that guy, but Sam liked his job and he knew he wasn't the guy who could get any of that done if this became his story. He moved closer. You live in the world, he repeated. Josh wasn't that way. Even if Sam had been that guy, Josh would never be so there was no point in Sam being that guy without Josh. You live in the world, he thought fiercely, so stop thinking his name like you're screaming for Justin Timberlake at a concert. You live in the world, he thought for the fifth time, and this was just a thing for Josh and that's the way it should be and that's what you want. Just sex, he thought. And never again.
Not, Sam thought, that the sex had been so spectacular. Neither of them were that experienced at the mechanics of what they had been doing and if the truth be told, parts of it had been awkward and full of bumps and misplaced limbs. He was lying to himself. It had been all those things, awkward most of it all, but he had been on cloud nine for every moment of it, breathing some kind of pure oxygen because it had been Josh. He'd loved every moment of it. When he had had Josh in his mouth. When Josh had been inside him. He would just put it aside, save it in a scrapbook in his head. He'd see Josh in a few hours and he would say exactly that to Josh, that it was nothing. It wouldn't be some scene from a romantic comedy where they were both thinking, if only he wants me it could be forever. Josh would tell him that it was just a thing, and Sam would agree and they would both mean it. No ellipses or pauses where one wanted the other to say, this is real.
He took a shower and got dressed in clean clothes and drove to work. In the car, he caved in to his inner girl for a moment. He imagined how the morning could go, when Josh would walk into his office and say that he wanted Sam more than anything. That they could do whatever just to be together. He was momentarily giddier than ever, imagining just how it would go.
He parked and slammed the door and thought, again, you live in the world. He knew it would go the way he first thought and not like in the car. He went to his office and checked his messages. He turned on his computer and started downloading his email. The advantage of working here, he thought, was that you didn't need to worry if you waited until the morning to check your messages. The really big emergencies were so big that he knew he'd have been paged. He had an email from Amazon.com - 'we've noticed that people who ordered Robert Caro's Path to Power also ordered' blah blah buy our books. He clicked on the link and ignored the book recommendations, going straight to the music part. He ordered the second N Sync album with next day delivery. He was reading an email about Burundi when Josh came into his office.
The problem with being a sixteen year old girl with an overactive imagination, Sam thought, is that he had convinced himself for a few minutes in the car that Josh would walk in like this and his girly adolescent dreams would be next. But Josh looked like Josh and he said, nervously, "Hey. Sam."
"Hey, good morning."
"How are you?"
"Fine. Fine." He looked at Josh, who avoided his eyes.
"Look, Sam. About last night. You know, it wasn't ..." Sam should have interrupted him. He knew where this was going and he should make it easier for his friend, and just say it was fine, he understood. In two days his N Sync album would come and he wouldn't listen to it at the office ever, but in his car on the way to work and on the way home from work he would listen to it every day. He would listen to N Sync and it would feel like those few moments in the car this morning when he could almost believe and he would do that until this madness passed.
Josh sighed and finished what he'd come to say, "It wasn't a thing. I know you know that, but I didn't want it to be some awkward thing here." Sam smiled.
"I know. It wasn't a thing, it was just booze and it's not a beginning or anything." Josh finally met his eyes. Sam said, "Chemistry. Sometimes there's just chemistry. But it doesn't mean anything at all."
"So we're good?"
"We're completely good, Josh. Of course." He smiled and meant it. Josh smiled at him and left his office.
He could find a number of adult, rational explanations for this - his father's betrayal, the state of things these days in the West Wing. Perfectly rational reasons why he felt like a sixteen year old girl with the impossible dizzying highs that no adult could feel, tempered by reality and living in the world, and he knew it would pass. He would be back to normal before he knew it. But he also knew that no sixteen year old girl had ever had her heart shredded by Justin Timberlake as surely as Josh had just shredded his.