||[Feb. 12th, 2008|06:58 pm]
The Real Thing
TITLE: Good Guys, Special Friends and Sexual Deviants|
RATING: Teen for language and reference to sexual acts, Sam/Josh
SUMMARY: 1.10 “It really bothers you that, in this entire situation – Lillienfield, you, me, the press – the hooker turns out to have the highest moral authority? You don't get to act morally superior. Not over her.”
DISCLAIMERS: I do not own, possess, or hold any legal interest in these characters, the episodes the characters refer to, or the laws of the District of Columbia (I just study all three). This is “canon-friendly AU”, meaning it does not contradict anything we have seen in canon – and in fact goes hand-in-hand with the episode – but the events herein have not been substantiated, alluded to, or officially sanctioned by any specific episode or series of episodes in general.
(I really need to learn not to write my disclaimers while in class.)
Previous "Rekindling" fics can be found:
1.03 Right and Wrong
1.05 A World Without
1.06 Fairy Boys
1.07 Looking Good
1.09 Privacy is Next
We leave Laurie's in silence. Josh looks more frustrated than guilty, which bothers me because while I understand exactly how high the stakes are in this battle, Laurie's right about the war.
We are the good guys. We're not supposed to stoop to Lillienfield's level. He's a cheap hack and we're supposed to be better than he is.
Tonight we weren't.
The air is what the President would call “brisk” but I call “damn freezing,” and the only sound for two blocks is the muffled rustling of trying to jam our hands deeper into our pockets and the steady breathing in and out in puffs of fog.
“So,” Josh says finally. “That was the girl.”
“Yes,” I reply tersely. “That was Laurie.”
Why can't any of them call her by her name? They would let someone get away with calling CJ “that girl.” Why does she deserve less-than-human reference to her because of what she does and in whose bedroom?
“She wasn't what I was expecting,” he offers. Judging from his tone, it's an attempted peace offering.
“You were expecting a miniskirt, mesh hose, and knee-high boots-”
“I was expecting someone who seemed cheap and money-hungry who would sell out for anything. She's none of those things.”
“No, she's not,” I reply. “That's how I knew she wouldn't sell me out, tell anyone about our friendship. She has values, she has-”
“Values?” Josh's eyebrows shoot sky-high. “Yeah, I can tell, because-”
“No. You don't get to- No,” I tell him firmly, stopping in my tracks. When he continues a few steps, I catch his arm and turn him back to face me. “It really bothers you that, in this entire situation – Lillienfield, you, me, the press – the hooker turns out to have the highest moral authority? You don't get to act morally superior. Not over her.”
“I wasn't running this errand to be petty, I was trying to protect Leo. Who, by the way, would stand in front of ANY oncoming train to protect you or I, and he's being taken down for something he gave up half a decade ago. I wasn't stooping to their level, my motives were at least in the interest of protecting a good man.”
“First of all, not everyone was lucky enough to have a father who was a partner at a top 10 law firm, giving them both a legacy and funding at a top 10 law school,” I reply. We both come from that world, it's not Laurie's fault that she doesn't. GW Law is private, it's as expensive as Harvard and a few thousand more than Duke. “And second of all, you really don't get to be the bedroom police.”
He stiffens, and I'm glad he at least gets what I'm talking about without me having to spell it out. He has this way of being significantly dense when it comes to references to our past relationship. “She's breaking the law.”
“So were we.”
“Sodomy law in DC wasn't repealed until 1995. Well, the City Council tried to repeal in it 1981 but it was overturned by Congress and wasn't successfully repealed until 1995. That would be after 1988. That weekend when you came to visit me at Duke? It's still punishable by ten years in jail down there.” He swallows hard. “You can put up all the walls between what she does and what you or I do-”
“Did,” Josh quickly, and for some reason that bothers me.
“-but the fact is they're not all that different, and neither you nor I get to be the morality police around here. It makes us like Congressman Richards.” He was busted a few years ago for having a sexual relationship with a male House Page at the same time he was chairing the Select Committee on the Exploitation of Children and railing against “sodomites” in Floor speeches. “We're not that guy, Josh.”
He stares at me for a long minute, then offers, “Yeah.” He pauses again, then nods. “Yeah,” he repeats and turns to keep walking. I follow him. “So. You and she...”
“Yes?” Please don't tell me he's going to take the conversation that direction. It never goes well.
“Ah-kay,” he says in that breathy 'I'm not okay with this but I'm going to pretend I'm moving on' tone.
“Seriously, you and her?”
“Yes,” I reply, gritting my teeth. “Is there a problem with-”
“No-no,” he says quickly. “Just doesn't...make sense to me, I guess. I don't see it.”
Of course he doesn't. That's why these conversations never go well. He can't picture me with anyone except him, and when confronted with that it throws him into a 'what have they got that I ain't got?' obsession.
“Was she-...I don't know, was it-...?”
“No. Oh no. Don't do this.” I shake my head.
“Do what?” he asks innocently.
“You're doing that thing where you can't figure out why I would ever be with anyone who isn't you.”
“That's not a thing I do,” he protests.
“You did it with Matt, you did it with Lisa, you do it with Mallory-”
“I do not-”
“-and all the while I have to watch you prancing around with Mandy all over the campaign trail and am not allowed to ask even once why the hell you thought dating her would be a good idea.”
“It wasn't a good idea,” he replies.
We walk in silence another half-block, but I know I can't be that lucky. Surely enough, he explodes with, “And Lisa never made sense for you, not in any universe. She was a hipster who wouldn't grow up and you've been middle-aged since you were ten, she thought shoes held the secret meaning of life, and her so-called 'job' didn't start until the hour you were finally getting home from the office. And how in connection to that and to her, I'm the one you're not allowed to date-”
“See?” I smirk. “You and Laurie have the exact same problem: neither of you is allowed to date me.”
He stops and looks sick for a moment. Did I go too far with that? To me it's a linear comparison and hardly an unfair one.
“...Yeah, okay,” he says quietly, lips pressed together. “You have a point.”
We resume walking. “Why did I let you talk me into walking instead of driving again?” I ask him. “I'm supposed to be in Bermuda right now, where it's 80 degrees and sunny.”
“It's nighttime, wouldn't be sunny,” Josh replies.
“Still a lot warmer than here.”
“Yeah, but if it's warm it doesn't feel like Christmas.”
“Does to me – I didn't have a White Christmas until I was 27.”
“Seriously?” He looks at me like either I'm crazy or I was deprived as a child. “not at Princeton-”
“I went back home for Christmas until I moved to New York with Lisa.”
“Ah-kay.” He nods. “Trip's scrapped then?”
“Nah, pushed to the day after Christmas.”
“That means you only get two days.”
“I'll live. Wasn't actually expecting to get away anyway.”
“I know the feeling.”
“You going to your mom's?” I ask him.
“Yeah, but it's the only time you get off, could go see her anyway.”
“She's hanging out with friends of hers.” He shrugs.
“Want to come with me?” I ask impulsively.
He stares at me like I've lost my mind. “Why?”
“I dunno. It's something to do, means you don't sit in the office the whole holiday. You could use a vacation.”
He looks like he's considering it for a second, then the inevitable 'what would that look like?' crosses his face and he shakes his head. “No. Work to do,” he replies mechanically.
Of course there is. But that's not the reason he said no.
“Josh, I wasn't trying to-...” To what, exactly? “Nevermind. Don't worry about it. But try not to work the whole time. Try to take a day off, would you?”
“Yeah. Sure.” He nods. “I'll take a day reading stuff from home.”
We fall silent yet again and keep walking.