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Title: Two Campaign Stops, Three Interviews, and a Haberdashery in Guam
Author: pocky_slash
Rating: PG
Prompt: Will and Bingo Bob end up in CA the same time as Josh and Santos. Congressman Sam is there as well, and getting a little tired of his boyfriend and his best friend trying to force him to come on board for their respective candidates.
Summary: On a campaign stop in California, Will learns the real reason why Sam hasn't endorsed Russell or Santos, and it's not an answer he's entirely ready to hear.
Notes: It's still March 1 somewhere, right? Um, unbetaed. Feel free to point out mistakes/inconsistencies/whatever. The ending kind of sucks, but I wrote the whole thing from scratch this morning, so yay?


"I really, really hate California."

It's the first thing Will says when they step off of the plane and he repeats it again when they pull up to the hotel. He's had roughly three hours of sleep in the past forty-eight and California is the last place he wants to be. He murmurs it under his breath, doesn't expect anyone to comment on it, but isn't entirely surprised when Donna punches him lightly on the arm as they struggle into the hotel with their bags.

"We're only here for the day," she says, then adds, "And don't let Sam hear you say that. You know how he gets."

"Oh, I let him hear it all the time," Will says. "Especially lately."

Donna nods, but doesn't comment further. She doesn't really have to, at this point, and Will feels at least a little guilty for that. About a quarter of the time the two of them have spent in "strategy sessions" over the past few weeks has been devoted to Sam, Sam who looks like he's going to win his Senate seat handily, Sam who's charming and admired in the Democratic party, Sam who won't endorse his own boyfriend's Presidential candidate.

Not that Will's bitter.

"We just have to get through the night," Donna says. "Two campaign stops, three interviews, and one party. Aside from the party, we probably won't even have time to run into--" Donna stops walking. Will looks away from her and at the entrance to their hotel. He immediately recognizes the young woman chatting on her cellphone as one of Josh's minions.

"Of course," he says with a sigh.

"Dammit," Donna says.

"So it's going to be that kind of day," he says.

Something odd has been going on between Josh and Donna since Iowa. Well, something odder than usual. Will's given her ample time to talk about it, if only out of guilt for the amount of time he spends freaking out about Sam, but she's kept mostly mum. He knows the kind of guy Josh is, though, and he knows Josh and Sam's story, so he can guess. He's strongly of the opinion that someone needs to bash Josh's head in until he learns to treat the people he loves with some kind of decency, but it's entirely possible some of that hostility is a holdover from Sam's excuse for not endorsing Russell.

"Josh and I have history," Sam had said. Several times, actually, because Will still hasn't learned to let the subject drop. "We've been friends for a long time, and I can't do that to him."

There were other excuses too, things about knowing Matt from a couple shared caucuses and not looking stupid if the winds changed and the race when to Hoynes, but those don't rankle Will quite as much.

He sighs and pulls his suitcase into the hotel, pointedly ignoring the Santos aide, who looks to be all of twelve, and also ignoring the faint calls from back at the car that probably mean that Russell wants to talk to him.

"Sometimes I fantasize about quitting and moving to Guam," Will says to Donna as they approach the check-in desk.

"And by 'sometimes' you mean 'constantly,' right?" Donna asks. He nods. "I hear there's great surfing there."

"I visited with my Dad once or twice," he says. "I'm more interested in the warm weather and the thousands and thousands of miles between me and the Beltway." Donna rolls her eyes, but reaches over and squeezes his wrist.

Then, abruptly, there's something over his eyes, blocking his vision and smashing his glasses into his nose. The split-second of panic and instinct to flip out of the hold is curbed as soon as he realizes what's really going on.

"Guess who," Sam says.

"Bob Newhart," Will says, and twists out of Sam's grip, letting his suitcase fall to the floor. Sam is staring at him incredulously.

"Bob Newhart?" he says, and Will leans over and kisses him. A series of flashbulbs go off, courtesy of the reporters mingling at the breakfast bar in the lobby, and Will resists the urge to kill them.

"Could you just get elected already so that I can kiss you without it ending up on the front page of the local paper?" Will murmurs to Sam through his teeth, forcing himself to keep smiling.

"I'm working on it," Sam assures him, stroking his hair and winding an arm around his waist.

"Speaking of, shouldn't you be off campaigning somewhere, not sneaking away for some canoodling?"

Sam laughs and kisses him again. "I missed you," he says. "And I wanted to see you."

"Your campaign wanted you to see me or you wanted to see me?" Will teases. Sam rolls his eyes. "You'd have seen me tonight," Will points out, though he's not really protesting. The past few months have been crazy and the next few are going to be twice as bad. Any time he can steal away with Sam will be worth it.

"Things are going to be crazy tonight," Sam says. "I mean, really, the three of you, a ton of press, and every other Democrat in California?"

"All of whom want to get their picture taken with the new Golden Boy of the California Democratic party," Will says, tugging a wisp of Sam's hair. "Yeah, yeah, I know. And I'm happy to see you, too, I just really want to make sure you'll win. You're the best candidate I've ever gotten elected."

Sam smiles and ducks his head, because it's been almost three years and he still can't seem to accept that he's really, really good at this. Will almost feels bad for accepting Sam's invitation back to his hotel room that first night, because without their torrid (meaning completely open and public, but unfortunately homosexual) affair, Sam could be an amazing, amazing President.

"I checked us in," Donna says, reappearing next to them with an almost embarrassingly fond smile and three hotel keycards. "Your room, the suite, and one for Sam to your room."

"Scandalous," Sam says, but he snatches the key from Donna and envelops her in a hug. "It's great to see you, Donna. I've missed you. How are you?"

"I've missed you too," Donna says and kisses his cheek. "And I'm thinking that Will has the right idea about Guam."

"Guam?" Sam asks, though it's directed more at Will.

"You can ask him," Donna says. "We'll have to catch up sometime soon, but right now you and Will should go have some coffee in the twenty-three minutes we have until the Vice President arrives. Will needs caffeine if he's going to survive the day."

"Thanks, Mom," Will says, but he can't argue, although seeing Sam has already shaken him out of the bone-tired funk that was threatening to color his entire day. He lets Sam take his suitcase in one hand and Will's hand in the other and lead him towards the hotel's restaurant.

"Guam?" Sam asks again.

"Weather's nice," Will says.

"Family connection?"

"Of course."

"Good surfing in Guam."

"So I've heard," Will says, rolling his eyes. "Not that you should be surfing, considering you can't even stay on a sailboat."

Sam hip-checks him, but holds onto his hand as they wait for bored twenty-something hostess to stop checking her nails and find them a table. There's another group already waiting, and, unfortunately, Will would recognize that stupid backpack anywhere. He's mentally debating exactly how cowardly it would be to pull Sam out of the restaurant and order coffee from room service when Josh Lyman makes the decision for them.

"Sam?" he says, turning around and pushing his sunglasses onto the top of his head. "Hey, buddy!" He's got his BlackBerry in one hand and an armful of folders, but manages to give Sam a fumbling pat on the shoulder. "What are you doing here?"

Will's urge to strangle Josh is at an all-time high.

"Sneaking a quick breakfast with Will before the Vice President steals him away," Sam says. Josh glances at Will for the first time and he forces a smile that probably can't be mistaken for genuine.

"That's too bad," Josh says. "I'd ask you to eat with us, otherwise." He pauses, as if realizing how bad that sounds, and adds, "I mean, I'd ask you to eat with us if you had longer than a few minutes."

"That's okay," Sam says. "We haven't seen each other in a few days. Will has to update me about our plants."

"They're all dead," Will blurts out without thinking. He winces at the way Sam and Josh both turn to him with nearly comical shock.

"Even the little one with yellow flowers?" Sam asks. "Your stepmother gave us that!"

"And my stepmother has known me for nearly thirty years. She should have known better," Will says sheepishly. He's blushing and off kilter and his urge to kill Josh hasn't ebbed any. Thankfully, the hostess has finally found a table for five in the nearly empty restaurant and the twelve year old aide that Will noticed earlier is tugging on Josh's sleeve.

"Josh, they're ready to seat us," she says. Josh nods and then smiles at Sam.

"It's good to see you, man. We'll catch up tonight, all right?"

"Sure," Sam says, and he means it and Will's not sure when this turned into a grade school competition for Sam's affection, but, by god, he's going to win.

They watch Josh and his rag-tag staff head towards the back of the restaurant and Will tries to get his seething hatred under control. He doesn't normally display quite this much loathing for Josh--he attributes it to the fact that he hasn't slept in far too long, if only because that means he doesn't have to examine it too closely.

"Will? Will? Will, honey, you need to let go of my hand if you don't want to add a trip to the emergency room to your to-do list."

Will snaps out of it and glances at Sam.

"What?" he asks.

"You're breaking my hand, Will," Sam says. He sounds pained, and Will is a little surprised to realize he's squeezing Sam's hand in his fist.

"Oh my god," he says, and drops Sam's hand, wincing as Sam shakes it out and cradles it close to his chest for a moment. "Jesus, Sam, I'm sorry, I'm just--"

"It's okay," Sam insists. "Really, it's okay." He gives his hand one last good shake and then touches Will's shoulder. "Let's just have some breakfast, okay?"

There's an unfamiliar look on Sam's face, something that seems like a cross between fondness and anxiety and sympathy. Will can't place it, and as quickly as he notices it, it's gone and Sam is smiling at him again. He nods and lets Sam kiss his cheek as the hostess reappears to direct them to their table.

***

The campaign stops are a mess, the interviews are as boring as ever, and the only thing getting Will through the day is the thought of the party to follow. He starts drooping not long after the first rally, and by the end of the day, even Donna's constant stream of coffee and--god, gross, Red Bull--isn't doing much to keep him upright.

"You can sleep on the plane," Donna murmurs to him on the drive to the fundraiser. "And by that I mean you will sleep on the plane because you can't keep going on like this or else you'll explode and I'll have to pick up the pieces, and if I wanted a job where I spent all my time keeping people from exploding and then picking up the pieces when they inevitably do, I would have stayed with Josh." She smooths out his bowtie and rubs his shoulder. He looks over at her and offers her a weak smile. She's wearing a gorgeous wine-colored dress, and for a moment, he thinks that maybe in another universe, one without Sam and where he wasn't, you know, gay, he could have fallen head-over-heels in love with Donna Moss.

Then he realizes he just imagined a universe without Sam and shakes his head clear. Donna's right, he really does need to get some sleep.

He spends the rest of the ride over briefing Russell on who's going to be there and who he absolutely needs to talk to. He keeps Angie on the phone with Gabe Tillman's office in an effort to get him to agree to meet with Russell for a few minutes, even though he knows Tillman and knows how much he doesn't want to endorse Russell. When they finally pull up to the party, the staff is off and running on their various assignments before the cars are even completely parked. Will's nearly dazed at their speed and efficiency, pauses to marvel at it, and nearly misses the fact that Sam is standing right there.

"How do you always know where I'm going to be?" Will asks.

"Our psychic link," Sam says. He offers his hand to Donna to help her out of the car. "Donna, you look amazing."

"Thanks, Sam," she says, and accepts a kiss on her cheek.

"Hey," Will protests weakly.

"I guess you look okay too," Sam says.

"I'll see you guys inside," Donna says. "I expect a dance from each of you."

"I make no promises," Will says as she walks away, and grins when she flips him off on her way up the hill. He turns back to Sam, who's leaning against the car. Sam always looks far better in a tux than he has any right to, and he's starting to make Will re-think the advantages of going to this party. "We could skip the party, go back to the hotel, or better yet, back to your place."

"I promised Donna a dance," Sam says, straightening up and offering Will his arm.

"She'll get over it," Will insists, though he knows the bigger problem would be the fact that everyone knows they're supposed to attend and will jump to the obvious conclusion if they both don't show up.

"C'mon," Sam says, dragging him towards the front of Ted Marcus' house, "I haven't even been inside yet. I was waiting for you."

"Because your campaign wanted you to wait for me or because you wanted to wait for me?" Will asks. He knocks their shoulders together and grins.

"Little of column A, little of column B," Sam says.

Will manages to make it through the storm of flashbulbs once they get on Marcus' property and hopes that he's at least attempting to smile in some of the pictures that will inevitably end up on the front page of the local papers. After living with his father for so many years and working in politics in the years afterward, he thinks he should be used to the press and the cameras, but it's different when they're taking your picture. It's a lot more annoying.

Sam introduces him to some people he knows as they mingle their way through the room, stopping to listen to a particularly annoying diatribe on gay rights from their host. They're saved by, of all people, Bingo Bob himself, who appears out of nowhere and politely asks to borrow Will. Will clamps his hand onto Sam's arm and pulls him after, and they manage to share a brief look of relief as Russell leads them to the bar.

"Nice to see you, Sam," Russell says.

"Likewise, Mr. Vice President," Sam says.

"You're running a good race out here," Russell continues. "You're going to crush Hamilton next month and I wouldn't be surprised if you wipe the floor with Fredrick in November."

"Thanks, sir," Sam says, but he has the panicked look he gets whenever people talk about his easy win, the one that comes from years of working with Toby Ziegler and hearing his "tempting fate" speeches. Will's not surprised when he says, "I'm sorry, Will, Mr. Vice President, but I need to speak with someone about something, excuse me." He squeezes Will's hand and then disappears. Will scowls after him, internally. Traitor.

"So, what's going on with Tillman?" Russell asks, and Will takes a deep breath and prepares to step out of his role as Sam's boyfriend and into his role as Russell's campaign manager.

He manages to shake Russell after only a few minutes of trying to get around explaining that Gabe Tillman would rather stick pins in his eyes than endorse Bob Russell for President and looks around the room for Sam, deftly dodging a few political power players that he's not in the mood to schmooze with. He spots Sam at the buffet talking animatedly to some actor that Will knows Elsie would kill to meet and gets Sam's attention by stealing a canape off of his plate.

"Hey, you," Sam says.

"Don't 'hey' me, you deserter," he replies. The actor laughs.

"I'll leave you to battle it out," he says. He shakes Sam's hand. "Pleasure talking to you, Sam."

"It's nice to see you, George," Sam says. "Don't be a stranger."

"You abandoned me," Will says.

"Hey, it's a working night for both of us," Sam says. He reaches up and brushes a crumb from the side of Will's mouth. "Anyway, you're more than capable of getting away from your boss on your own."

Any argument Will has is drowned out by Donna nearly launching herself at the two of them, her eyes wide.

"Oh my god, Sam, was that George Clooney?" she asks breathlessly.

"Yeah," Sam says. "He's a big supporter."

"And you've never mentioned this because...?"

Will decides it's his boyfriendly duty to keep Sam from being massacred by Donna.

"How about that dance?" he asks her. She seems momentarily torn between eviscerating Sam for neglecting to introduce her to her future husband and following Will towards the music. She eventually takes Will's arm, but not without sending Sam one last death glare.

"I'm still going to hurt him," she says as Will tries to remember how to put his arms around her.

"There will be other parties, Donna," he says. She corrects the position of his hands and he rolls his eyes. "I don't dance with women all that often, okay? Anyway, Vinick's got the Republican nomination sewn up, so we'll be back in California, I promise."

"That's assuming we have the nomination sewn up," she says.

"It's in the bag," he tells her with more confidence than he feels.

"I hope so," she says. "Hoynes will definitely hire Josh if he asks, and I don't want to go begging for Josh to get another job if we lose." Donna brings up a good point. Will would rather beg Toby for his old job back than ask Josh for help and Toby wasn't going to have a job for much longer, either.

"You could always ask Sam," Will suggests. "I hate his press secretary."

"Just because you hate him doesn't mean Sam's going to fire him," Donna says. "But that's sweet of you to say."

"You could come with me to Guam. There's a lot of shopping."

"I do like shoes," Donna admits. Her eyes slide from his face over his shoulder and she frowns.

"Don't turn around," she says.

He turns them without even thinking about it, even as she rolls her eyes in exasperation. Josh and the pre-teen aide have cornered Sam at the buffet. They're talking and laughing and Will has to consciously keep himself from breaking Donna's hand in a repeat of his Josh encounter at breakfast.

"Great," he mutters. "Just great." Donna pinches his hip and he whips his head around to look at her again. "Ow!"

"Don't stare," she chastises. "Turn us around again so that I can stare instead. Do you know who that woman is? I mean, I know she works for Josh, but I keep seeing her everywhere."

"No," Will says, giving her one last look before he allows Donna to yank him around so she can stare at Josh over his shoulder. "She's pretty."

"She's twelve," Donna says darkly. "He's replaced me with a newer model."

"He's hasn't replaced you," Will reassures her, "but she's not important, what's Sam doing?"

"Um... talking," Donna says. She squints a little. "And laughing. Josh is laughing too, and so is the new girl."

"What are they laughing about?" Will asks.

"I don't know, I don't have super sonic hearing, Will," Donna snaps. "Her dress is a little short for a fundraiser like this, don't you think?"

Will takes that as an invitation to flip them again. The girl's dress is a little short, but not as short as some of the others he's seen tonight. She almost reminds him of Zoey Bartlet. Sam is saying something to her now, and Josh lays a hand on her shoulder as they all start laughing again.

"You're hurting my hand again," Donna says. "What happened?"

"They're laughing again," Will says. "Sam said something this time. Josh is leaning a little too close."

"To Sam or to the girl?" Donna asks.

"Sam," Will replies automatically. He reconsiders. "Both of them, actually."

"Turn around again!" Donna hisses, but he doesn't move. "Do you think people will notice if we turn sideways and we both stare?"

Will glances around the dance floor. People are already giving them odd looks.

"Probably," he admits. "Josh is taking out his BlackBerry. He's showing something to Sam."

"Is it a picture of him and the girl?" Donna asks.

"I can't see it from here," Will says. "I have no idea what it is, but Sam is laughing again."

"Then what good are you?" Donna asks. She tugs and turns them around again, but Will missteps and they nearly collide with another couple. He apologizes as they right themselves, but Donna is still frowning over his shoulder.

"What's going on now?" he asks.

"Well," she says, "apparently they've noticed our staring. Sam's motioning us over."

"Is Josh still there?" Will asks.

"Yeah, but, shoot, the girl is leaving."

"That's good, isn't it?" Will asks. He drops her hand and stops dancing, offering her his arm and turning around to face the buffet table again. He hopes his smile isn't as strained as it feels, and he really hopes it isn't as strained as Donna's is. "You don't want to have to make small talk with her, right?"

"Yeah, but how else am I going to find out her name?" Before Will can respond, Donna says, "Hey, Sam. Josh."

"Donna," Josh says, joining the forced smile club. "Will."

"Don't get too cozy out there, Donna," Sam says, grinning and offering Will his hand. Will takes it gladly, more than willing to jump on the first excuse to start his macho posturing and make sure Josh knows exactly who Sam is going home with.

"Don't worry about me," Donna says, "Will's the one asking me to come to Guam with him."

"That's twice today," Sam says, turning to Will. "Is there something you want to tell me?"

"Yeah," Will says, deadpan. "I'm having a sexy, sexy affair with Donna and we're running away together."

"Uh-oh, sounds like trouble!"

Will winces. Of course Matt Santos chooses that moment to walk over. He's batting a thousand tonight.

"Matt!" Sam says, with much more enthusiasm than he greeted Russell. "How are you?" He lets go of Will's hand and shakes Santos', then kisses Mrs. Santos' cheek. "Helen, you look fabulous. You guys remember Will, right?" Will shakes both their hands. "And this is one of my best friends, Donna Moss." Donna shakes their hands as well and murmurs some pleasantries before glancing across the room.

"I'm sorry, it looks like Angie's trying to get my attention," she says. Angie is nowhere to be seen, but he can understand Donna's urge to get away before Santos says something like, 'Hey, haven't we met? Didn't you used to work for Josh?' "It was nice to meet you Congressman, Mrs. Santos. And don't forget you owe me a dance, Sam."

She disappears before Will can come up with an excuse to follow her. Not that he's too keen to leave Sam on his own with Josh at the moment, but still...

"Will's the one who got me to run for Congress in the first place," Sam says, putting his hand at the small of Will's back, his favorite calming tactic. "He was running Horton Wilde's campaign and I was actually sent to get him to stop campaigning."

"Horton Wilde's campaign?" Santos says, perking up. "That was a great campaign! We were all stunned by it. We couldn't believe someone actually got Wilde elected to the 47th after he'd already died. That was you?"

Will's smile feels a little more natural and he nods. "Yeah," he says. "That was me. Well, me and my sister and an amazing team of volunteers."

"It was all you," Sam insists. "Completely, one-hundred-percent you. Hell, it took you about ten minutes to inspire me to give you my name to run in his place."

"Yeah," Will says, "but that's just because you were trying to impress me."

"I was not!" Sam protests, but it's an old argument, an easy argument. It's an argument they have whenever Sam brings up Horton Wilde, and Will is thankful to his bones that Sam thought to mention it now, has the foresight to steer the conversation into more comfortable waters. "I absolutely did not give you my name to try and impress you. I gave you my name because I didn't think you'd actually win. I was still trying to come up with a way to impress you."

"Well, it worked, anyway," Will says. He lets Sam take his hand again. "And when you actually stuck with your promise? That really impressed me."

"It sounds like you two make a great team," Mrs. Santos says. She's smiling indulgently at them. It's similar to the way his sister smiles at them, and Will feels a fondness for her. They've met briefly before, once or twice, at various Congressional receptions, but he wouldn't have known her first name if he hadn't been frantically researching her husband for the past few weeks.

"We do our best," Sam says.

"It's a shame we couldn't scoop him up for our team before Russell got to him, huh, Josh?" Santos says. Will knows he means it good-naturedly, knows that he doesn't actually know about the unpleasantness between Josh and himself, but he can't hide his wince.

"Yeah, it's too bad," Josh says flatly. Will grinds his teeth together. Josh could at least pretend to be civil.

"It is, isn't it?" Sam says, and then freezes. Will can feel his muscles tense as he realizes what he's just said, and then Sam is squeezing his hand and adding hastily, "Just, I mean, because it would have been nice for Josh and Will to be working on the same team. They're both so brilliant, I'm sure whoever they were working for..."

He trails off and the awkward silence grows between them. Will knows he should say something to diffuse the tension, should laugh it off, but it stings. He's had a niggling feeling for weeks that there was a specific reason that Sam wouldn't endorse anyone, something beyond the entanglements of his personal life. He shouldn't really be surprised--Sam is much more similar to Matt Santos than he could ever be to Bob Russell, both ideologically and personally. Matt and Sam are both vivacious and witty and passionate and charming. Everything about Sam screams "underdog." Will's just the last person to come to that conclusion.

"I should go see if Donna needs my help with Angie," Will mutters. His head is aching all of a sudden and he's starting to remember how tired he is. "It was nice to see you both again."

"Likewise," Mrs. Santos says. Santos just nods.

"I'll see you later, okay?" Will says to Sam. Sam still looks mortified, but he nods. He opens his mouth, as if he wants to say something more, but closes it again and squeezes Will's hand.

"Okay," he says. "I want a dance, okay?"

"Your campaign wants a dance or you want a dance?" Will asks, but he's afraid it comes out sounding more bitter than he intends.

"I want a dance," Sam says. Will feels a stab of guilt, but swallows it back. He wants to let himself have this, at least for a moment, this anger and this defeat. It's selfish, but he doesn't want to feel guilty. He wants to be mad. He thinks he deserves it, at least a little.

"Okay," Will says. "I'll be around." He gives Sam a weak smile and then walks away as casually as he can manage. He doesn't look back. He's not sure if it's because he's afraid he'll give in, that he'll turn around and give Sam whatever he wants, or if it's because he's afraid that if he sees Josh's arrogant smirk, he'll punch him in the face, right over the shrimp cocktail.

Despite his distraction, he somehow manages to dodge Russell, Ted Marcus, and Angie, who's looking panicked. He follows two caterers who are chatting too animatedly to notice him until he finds himself in an empty sitting room littered with boxes and empty serving trays. He drops onto a couch and covers his face with his hands.

He feels like a chump. He feels like a chump because this isn't a surprise, this shouldn't be a surprise. Bob Russell isn't the type of candidate Sam would endorse in a million years. Hell, Bob Russell isn't the type of candidate that Will would endorse in a million years, but selling Russell is his job now and he never should have assumed that just because Sam loved him he would... he would...

He doesn't even know what he expected Sam to do. He doesn't even know why he's doing this, most days. It's a different kind of not knowing than the not knowing he felt on the Wilde campaign. With the Wilde campaign, despite the long days and the constant motion, when he went to sleep at night (if he went to sleep at night), he knew he was doing something he believed in. He knew he was fighting for what was right. He was going crazy, he was working harder than he had ever worked for little to no recognition, but he felt good about himself when the day was through.

Now he just feels... tired.

He takes off his glasses and rubs at his eyes. He can still feel his temples throbbing and is starting to wonder if he can bow out of the party early, catch a cab back to the hotel. Russell probably won't miss him and Donna is shaping up to be a worthy second in command. She'll be able to handle herself and she might be pissed at him, but when he inevitably, drunkenly tells her what happened, she'll sympathize at the very least. He should tell Sam where he's going, but he stubbornly doesn't want to. Sam feels terrible, yes, Will could see that much on his face, but part of Will thinks he deserves it, just a little, just for tonight.

He gives himself another minute to pull himself together, to take a deep breath and fix his hair and replace his glasses. He can see a halfway decent reflection in one of the abandoned platters, and while he can't do anything for his pasty complexion, he manages to adjust his bowtie and smooth down his lapels. He looks okay, well enough to sneak out, anyway, and forces himself back into the party. He doesn't bump into anyone he knows as he makes a beeline for the back exist, thank god, and manages to slip out the door unnoticed.

Well, mostly unnoticed.

Josh Lyman and his pretty young aide and two other staffers that Will doesn't know are having an impromptu conference next to the service entrance. They stop talking when Will steps out into the light. There's an extended moment of silence when Will isn't quite sure what to say or do. Finally, Josh speaks.

"Party a little too hard?" he asks with that stupid smirk, and Will has absolutely had it.

"If I weren't too tired to move, I would hit you so hard you'd feel it for a week," he says to Josh. That knocks the smirk right off of his face a little more succinctly than even a punch would have. "You won, Josh, okay? You won. He likes Santos. I should have known from the start. I'm sure that everyone else did. I'm sure that all of the time I spent bitching about how he wouldn't endorse Russell, everyone I was talking to was shaking their heads to themselves, embarrassed that I hadn't gotten it yet. You've won! I've lost. But keep in mind, while you're reveling in that, that at the end of the day, Sam comes home to me. So don't pull me into this grade school, who-does-he-like-more bullshit, okay? He might not agree with my boss, but he loves me, and you shilling for Matt Santos isn't going to change that."

The staffers are staring at him. It takes Will a moment to realize he's said all of that out loud.

"I don't know what the hell your problem is, Bailey, but if one of us is turning this into a contest, it sure as hell isn't me!" Josh snaps back once he gets his bearings again. "Things were fine until you started trying to make Sam take side and you took Donna away--"

"I didn't take Donna anywhere!" Will says. "Jesus, Josh, she asked! I didn't force her to join the Russell campaign, she asked for my advice and I offered her a position!"

"I'll bet you did!" Josh shouts.

"That doesn't even make any sense!" Will shouts back. "I'm gay!"

"What the hell is going on out here?"

Donna's standing on the steps, now, glaring at both of them. Will has the decency to look chastened. He doesn't bother looking at Josh to see if Josh feels as abashed as he does.

"I'm going back to the hotel," he says. "I'm tired and I'm an idiot. Tell the Vice President and Angie and whoever else is looking for me that I had a thing and I'll see them in the morning on the plane."

"Sam was looking for you," Donna says.

"Tell him the same thing," Will says, closing his eyes. "Well, except the part about the plane, obviously." When he opens his eyes again, Donna is looking at Josh suspiciously.

"Do you want me to come back with you?" she asks Will, slowly turning to face him again. He shakes his head.

"I'm fine, Donna, really," he insists. "I'm tired. I've said some things I probably shouldn't have." He forces himself to glance at Josh as he says it, hoping it serves as some sort of tacit apology for calling Josh out in public. He hopes that Josh also knows that most of what he said was true. "Stay. Enjoy the party. Have Sam introduce you to some of his other celebrity supporters. But don't run off and marry Matthew Perry and abandon the campaign, all right?"

Donna rolls her eyes affectionately. "Matt Perry is so 2001, Will," she says. "But get some sleep, okay? I'll look after Sam for you."

"Sam doesn't need looking after," Will says, and he's surprised that it hurts to admit it. "But I appreciate you offering. I'll see you on the plane."

He walks away then. He does it without looking back, though this time it's because he's embarrassed. He doesn't want to know what Josh Lyman's minions think of him now that he's inadvertently spewed his inner monologue and his deepest fears out to them. He doesn't want to see them gossiping, to see Josh leading them so effortlessly while working for a man he clearly believes in.

He walks away and finds a cab and before long he's passed out face down on his hotel bed, trying to convince himself that the convenience of the hotel is worth sleeping alone in an unfamiliar bed.

***

Will's on the plane the next morning when he gets the call.

"Sir," one of the attendants says to him, "you have a call. It's Congressman Seaborn."

Donna smiles, but doesn't look up from her book, and pats him on the hand. Russell, Angie, and one of the other staffers give him curious looks. He wonders how much of last night circulated the room after he left. He wonders if he and Sam have made it into the local gossip columns.

He doesn't really care that much.

"I'll take it," he says to the attendant, and moves across the cabin to the nearest phone.

"It's seventy-eight degrees and sunny in Guam and we could be on a plane this afternoon," Sam says before Will can even say hello, and he figures that's a good beginning to an apology.

"Did you look at up all by yourself?" Will asks, settling into a seat and turning his back on the rest of the cabin in a reasonable facsimile to privacy.

"Actually, I had Cathy do it for me," Sam admits.

"You woke Cathy up this early?" Will asks. "You must really love me."

"I do," Sam says, but there's not even a hint of teasing in his tone. "Will, I do. And that's not--not because my campaign wants me to, okay?"

"I know," Will says softly.

"I'm sorry," Sam says. "I didn't mean for--that was bad form. I didn't mean to say that I didn't mean to imply what I implied. I'm sorry for... basically that entire conversation. I know it's too late to take it back."

"It's okay," Will says. "I'm an idiot. I should have figured it out a long time ago. I just..." He trails off, staring out of the tiny window and into the clouds. He can't even articulate how much he doesn't want to be here.

"You just what?" Sam asks.

"I just wanted you to be... to be proud, I guess. I wanted you to be excited. I wanted you to understand what I was--I don't know. I'm not saying it right."

"I am proud," Sam says. "Proud and impressed and... in awe, Will. Always. I don't have to agree with the Vice President to respect that you're doing, to appreciate what you're doing. You could work in a haberdashery and I'd still be proud of you." There's something in his voice... his tone sounds the same way his face looked yesterday morning, anxious and sympathetic and just overwhelmingly, embarrassingly in love. "That's the reason I--Will, I didn't want to hurt you. I didn't want you to think that I was favoring Josh or that I wasn't taking you seriously. I didn't want you to think I was writing you off because I don't agree with your candidate. You're... you're amazing, Will, you're incredible, no matter who you're running. Bob Russell was no one until he hired you. I am always, always in awe of you, no matter what you're doing."

There's a lump forming in Will's throat and he does his best to swallow past it. Relationships have never been a priority in his life--his job has always come first, his job and his family, and he feels silly getting choked up, but he's never felt this way before. He's never had someone feel this way about him. As much as they get by on wit and sass and pulling faces at each other and acting like everything's cool, sometimes he's suddenly reminded by the enormity of what he feels for Sam, by how astoundingly important this man has become in his life.

He can't say that, of course. What he says is, "That's good to know, because I've had my eye on a hat shop in the Agana Shopping Center."

"Hat shop, eh?" Sam says.

"Gotta keep the sun out of my eyes somehow," Will says. "I can never remember where I put my prescription sunglasses and the ones that fit over my real glasses make me look like an idiot."

"Speaking of," Sam says, "I heard you said something incredibly rude to Josh last night. I don't know what it is, just that it was incredibly rude."

Will winces. "Who told you that?" he asks.

"Ronna," Sam says.

"Ronna?" Will repeats. "He replaced Donna with a woman named Ronna?"

"I know," Sam says. "Don't tell Donna."

"I'll try to avoid it," Will says. "And I'm sorry about the Josh thing. Mostly. A little. I mean, most of it was true, but I probably shouldn't have said it."

"Good," Sam says. "And I told Josh last night that he has to cool it with you. I know you guys have basically become mortal enemies, but it needs to stop."

"Damn straight," Will says.

"From both sides," Sam adds.

"I'm working on it."

Sam laughs and Will feels the last of his tension melt away. It probably won't last for long--in fact, at least some of it will probably reappear the second he turns around and sees Bingo Bob and his stupid cowboy boots--but for the moment, it feels amazing.

"And, hey," Sam says, "I... I canceled a couple of events for the weekend. I'm going to come home for a little while."

"Sam," Will says, "your campaign--"

"Screw my campaign," Sam says. "I mean it. It's a handful of things that I managed to reschedule, including a brunch with the GLAAD people, who aren't gonna, you know, turn around and endorse someone else because I pushed their meeting from Saturday to Monday." Will snorts. "I just..." Sam's quiet all of a sudden. "I miss you. And I think maybe we should try and--"

"Yeah," Will says. "I mean--I miss you, too, and spending time together is probably--"

"Yeah," Sam says. They're both quiet for a moment. "Anyway, I'm going to let you get back to your flight. I just wanted to apologize."

"Apology accepted," Will says. "I'm sorry, too, for what it's worth."

"There's no need to be sorry," Sam says. "We're allowed to have different opinions."

"But we have the same opinion on this, I think," Will admits.

"It doesn't matter," Sam says. "You're still amazing. I bet you can still make it rain if you try hard enough. Anyway, I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"

"Okay," Will says. "Bye, Sam."

He hangs up the phone slowly and avoids turning around for a few moments. Bob Russell probably isn't the man for this job. He knows that in his heart, and even though he knows that Russell has the best chance of winning, he doesn't think that's enough. He doesn't know why he thought it was enough in the first place.

But that doesn't mean he can't run the best campaign that he can possibly run. If he surrounds himself with enough bright, talented people, it will be easy to turn Russell into someone worth supporting.

And even if he can't, none of it will matter at the end of the day. At the end of the day, he's going to keep going home to Sam, who doesn't care if he sells men's accessories as long as he does it well and it makes him happy.

He holds onto that thought as he goes back to his seat next to Donna and picks up his agenda. She's smiling, like she knows exactly what just happened, and he smiles back. He glances through his schedule for the next few days. It's about time Donna got a taste of leadership. He needs to clear two full days, after all, and what better way to groom Donna than to toss her the reins for the weekend and see what happens? Even if she completely drops the ball--which he really doubts--there will always be room for her at the hat shop in Guam.

He smiles to himself after that, and it takes a record-breaking five boring anecdotes from Russell until the corners of his mouth even think about drooping.

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
justdreaming88
Mar. 2nd, 2009 07:29 am (UTC)
*speechless* I utterly, utterly love this. Guam! Sam/Will :D
pocky_slash
Mar. 3rd, 2009 03:14 am (UTC)
Hee! Thank you! I'm glad you liked it! :D
sefkhet
Mar. 2nd, 2009 10:53 am (UTC)
I *adore* this.

Sam and Will, being happy and... okay, yeah, they're a little fucked up, right now, but HAPPY, and you have NO idea how much better it makes Season 6 if THIS is what was going on when we weren't looking, and your Donna is AWESOME, and squeeee.

*glomps you*
pocky_slash
Mar. 3rd, 2009 03:30 am (UTC)
Oh, yay! I'm so glad you liked it! I've gotten to the point where I can't stand to give them an unhappy ending. Season 5-7 just makes me so sad that I want to at least pretend that they're happy, you know?

But, aw, thanks for reading! This comment made me very happy :)
semirose
Mar. 2nd, 2009 03:04 pm (UTC)
You're so right, Will/Donna BFF FTW and there needs to be tons and tons of it. And aww you had me leaking tears by the end and this was so fabulous. I've never actually seen s6, so I'll just pretend that this was what was happening. *nods*
pocky_slash
Mar. 3rd, 2009 03:31 am (UTC)
I mean, they have to have gotten drunk and bitched about Josh at least once during the campaign, if not more often. And if you pretend that the REAL Will was campaigning for Bingo Bob and not the pod!person!season!six!Will, there's no reason for them not to be BFF.

You're not really missing anything in S6, believe me. Ugh.

Anyway, I'm glad you liked it! :D
inocciduous
Mar. 2nd, 2009 11:19 pm (UTC)
OH KAIT. MY HEART.

SAM. AND WILL. AND SAM&WILL. AND DONNA! Your Donna is awesome! (You should write her more often *nods*)

God, they just broke my heart. I really loved Sam canceling some events so he could spend time with Will. And poor Will! He's so confused and jealous and scared and Sam just loves him SO MUCH! I don't even know what to do with them when you write them. They're wonderful. ♥
pocky_slash
Mar. 3rd, 2009 03:34 am (UTC)
:D :D :D

I really should write Donna more often! She used to be all I wrote! Josh and Donna and JoshandDonna and basically every other variation of the two of them. But she needs to be in more of my Sam/Will stuff. I love her. ♥

There's a lot going on with Will that I don't spell out in the story because I don't think even he realizes it and he's, you know, narrating it and all. And I'm glad that came through! The scared-ness and the jealousy and the confusion and the fact that, god, at least he has Sam to get him through it all, you know?

But, oh, Jen, this comment made my night! I'm glad you liked the story! ♥
soph1098
Jan. 19th, 2014 11:07 pm (UTC)
YYYYYYYAAAAAYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I love Will/Sam they are my favorite. Can you write some new Will/Sam please?!?
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )