June 17th: 1. Chapter One



June 17th, 2002


“And before you all go…”


The senior staff all gave a faintly audible sigh – the meeting had already lasted for well over two hours and they were all eager to leave the Oval Office; apart from anything else it was lunchtime, a fact that was signalled all too clearly by the sounds emanating from Josh’s stomach.


“This won’t take long,” the President continued, ignoring the sigh. “I just wanted to ask if any of you are aware of the date?”


He glanced around the room at his senior staff – who all gazed back at him blankly with the exception of Leo, who sighed.


“Uh…it’s June 17th,” Josh supplied helpfully, and then he coughed extravagantly in a clear ruse to hide the noises coming from the direction of his midriff.


“It is indeed June 17th,” Jed said. He glanced at his staff over the top of his spectacles, gazing at each of them in turn, and pausing to glare particularly meaningfully at Leo who rolled his eyes at him. Jed ignored his Chief of Staff’s discomfort and continued.


“June 17th. There are many important events in history that took place on this date; on this day in 1579 Sir Francis Drake claimed San Francisco Bay for England; on June 17th, 1885 the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York City aboard the French ship Isere, and…” The President paused for a beat, and glanced at Leo again. His Chief Of Staff raised an eyebrow and winced slightly while waiting for the conclusion of the President’s sentence. “…On this day in 1972 five men were arrested for breaking into the Democratic Party Headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington, DC.,” Jed finished with a slightly smug smile in the direction of his oldest and closest friend. Leo’s eyes flashed dangerously.


“Thank you, Mr. President, for reminding us that extraordinary things can happen on the most ordinary days,” Leo said, getting to his feet and thereby signalling that the meeting was at an end. The staff all got up eagerly, and there was a minor scramble to see who could be first out of the door, a contest that CJ won, with Josh close on her heels, his stomach still protesting.


The President took off his glasses, waited until everyone had gone, and then turned to face his Chief of Staff’s extremely hard stare.


“What?” He shrugged, opening his arms expansively. “Just a little history lesson. It didn’t do them any harm – I like to think that they learned a thing or two.”


“I hadn’t forgotten,” Leo said firmly.


“Good – because you do sometimes,” Jed replied, rifling through the papers on his desk.


“I do not,” Leo said hotly.


“Yes, you do. Or at least you would if I didn’t remind you.”


“We’ll never know seeing as you always do remind me,” Leo protested.


“Well that’s because I’m not sure whether you’ve remembered or not,” the President said. Leo gave a heartfelt sigh and threw his hands up in the air.


“I remembered!” He said in an exasperated tone.


There was silence for a moment. Both men stared at each other.


“I know you think I make an unreasonable amount of fuss about this but it’s important,” the President said finally. “I know you don’t have a romantic bone in your body and I know that you think I make way too big a deal out of what is ‘just another goddamn day in the year, Jed’” He mimicked his Chief of Staff’s dry tones with unerring accuracy. “But indulge me.” He spread his arms wide. “Because it is just one day, Leo and as you refuse to allow me to get romantic at any other time in the year I think I’m owed this one.”


“Okay.” Leo shrugged.


“Okay then.” Jed put his glasses back on and picked up a sheaf of papers from his desk.


“Okay,” Leo said again, turning to go.


“I’ll see you at the Residence at 8pm?” Jed said.


“Yes you will.” Leo turned back, nodding.


“Okay. You do know this is a big, important anniversary don’t you?” Jed said, glancing at Leo over his spectacles again. Leo hesitated, looking confused. Jed made a clicking sound in the back of his throat and was about to launch into another tirade when Leo grinned and inclined his head.


“I had you then,” he said.


“You did not!”


“Sure I did. Yes, I know this is a big one, sir. I’ll be there at 8pm.”


“I’ll be cooking,” Jed warned.


“I’ll come anyway,” Leo replied.


“I’m not expecting a present or anything – just for you to show up. I know that unromantic old heart of yours doesn’t stretch to presents – so just your presence will do,” Jed said, chuckling at his own, slightly old joke.


“You mean that’s not enough?” Leo grinned in a way that was almost impish, reminding Jed of a boy a long time ago who had looked at him in just the same way. Jed gazed at Leo hungrily and then sighed.


“Yeah, that’s enough, Leo,” he said. Leo nodded, and then turned on his heel and returned to his own office. “That’s always been enough for me, Leo,” Jed said softly, under his breath, watching his old friend go.



June 17th, 1962


Jed Bartlet gazed morosely at the assembled group of boys from under his floppy dark bangs. It was the first day of the Boy’s Nation camp and he was delighted to have been given a much-coveted place on the camp despite his father’s objections, but was now feeling somewhat put out that two other boys had been chosen to lead the first debating exercise. He had volunteered with all the enthusiasm in his 17 year old heart, brimful of the confidence that he had acquired as Captain of his school debating team, but had been passed over in favour of a tall, dark haired kid from New York and a wiry, blond haired boy from Chicago.


It was a bright, sunny day, and the two boys were standing on a platform examining the history of US isolationism, arguing its pros and cons and whether it was a policy that still had merit despite the Kennedy administration’s current active promotion of US involvement in the rest of the world. The dark haired kid had rambled on, arguing that isolationism had served the US well in the past, but failing to make any of the more obvious points that Jed would have made if he’d been the one up there on the platform. Jed couldn’t help himself – he was someone who got involved and sitting on the sidelines was anathema to him so he was just itching to get up there and start participating. The first boy finished and stepped back, to a smattering of polite but unenthusiastic applause.


The other boy stepped forward, and paused for a moment before speaking. Jed looked up, intrigued despite himself – it took a lot of confidence to pause for so long in front of a crowd of hostile 17-year-old boys who all thought they could argue the point better. The boy’s thin blond hair was blowing in the slight breeze, and he had a smattering of freckles over the bridge of his nose. His blue eyes sparkled confidently as he picked up the microphone and introduced himself.


“My name’s Leo McGarry but that’s not important; there is only one name that’s important in this debate and that’s the name of the person who shows us why the old US policy of isolationism wouldn’t and can’t work in the modern world. That name is Adolf Hitler.”


Jed stared at the other boy, completely spellbound. He didn’t know whether he agreed with Leo McGarry’s points or not, but he felt a thrill of something creep up his spine. This boy was someone like him – he knew it instinctively. This sandy haired, stocky young man had the same passion in his voice when he spoke that Jed had when he captained the school debating society on one of their many victories. Jed listened, enthralled, and then, at the end, when the debate was opened up to questions, he was the first on his feet. He tore into Leo’s arguments, and was rewarded when the other boy, far from falling apart and getting defensive or belligerent as so often happened when Jed brought the full array of his debating talents to the fore, instead responded in kind. He threw Jed’s arguments back at him, twisted and turned the words as if they were a living force, and soon the two boys were engaged in a full blown debate to the exclusion of the rest of the camp. Jed had never felt so exhilarated in his life. Here, at last, was a debating opponent worthy of his skills, someone who could match him as an intellectual equal – and maybe even outclass him – someone he didn’t have to hold back with, or let up on for fear of going too far, for fear of being perceived as a show-off – something that always brought his father’s wrath down on his head in full force. No, with Leo McGarry it was like dancing with words – and part of his enjoyment was derived from the fact that he knew the other boy was enjoying it as much as he was.


Finally, the debate was brought to a close, and the boys were told to split into two teams, depending on which side of the debate they agreed with most, and draw up their main points on a large sheet of paper.


Jed was sitting right at the back and it took him several minutes to elbow his way to the front of the throng of boys who had gathered around Leo McGarry. As he got close, Jed felt a thrill of recognition. He knew this boy. He wasn’t sure how, but it was as if all of the previous 17 years of his life had been a rehearsal, waiting for this one important moment, when it would all make sense. Leo’s blond hair, sharp-eyed blue gaze, and little twisted grin were instantly familiar to him, as if he’d already spent a lifetime in the other boy’s company. He reached the front of the crowd of boys and found Leo, who was starting to write up the points of the debate on the piece of paper they’d been given.


“Hey,” Jed said, feeling suddenly, inexplicably shy. Leo glanced at him, and their eyes met, and their gaze held. And held. And held. Then Leo visibly shook himself.


“I’m surprised to see you on this side,” he said with a nonchalant shrug. “I thought judging by how many holes you found in my argument that you’d be on the other side for sure.” He glanced over at the other group of boys. Jed shook his head.


“You think because I got into a debate with you that I don’t agree with you?” He said with a sly grin. Leo’s expression changed, became animated, his blue eyes sparkling with recognition of a shared passion. He grinned delightedly back at Jed, and then turned to his writing once more.


“Damn…” Leo shook the pen he was using as the ink faded on the page.


“Here.” Jed took his pen out of his pocket and handed it to him. Leo looked at it and gave a slight smirk as he saw it was engraved. Jed winced – he knew what Leo was thinking – how many 17 year old boys had a pen engraved with their own names? “It was a present,” he said defensively. It was – and it was a present that meant a great deal to him as it had been given to him by his father’s secretary, Mrs. Landingham, a woman for whom he had a great deal of respect and affection.


“J. Bartlet,” Leo read, tracing his finger over the engraving. “What does the ‘J’ stand for?”


“It stands for tolerance, education and equality of opportunity for all men and women whatever their colour, religion or bank balance,” Jed replied. “It also stands for Jed.”


Leo stared at him for a moment and Jed hoped, desperately, that he hadn’t just come over as unbearably pompous and precocious. He had just wanted to make an impression. He so wanted this boy to like him. Finally Leo’s features broke into a grin and he held out his hand.


“Jed Bartlet – I’m Leo McGarry,” he said. Jed took the proffered hand and there was a brief moment when the world seemed to have stood still. Jed had the feeling that something had just happened here, something that was very important to both of them not only on a personal level, but somehow on a wider level too.


Jed didn’t think he’d ever talked so much in his life as he did during that summer. Within a couple of days he’d arranged to swap rooms with Leo’s roommate so that they could keep on talking, long into the night, sharing an intellectual passion that intoxicated them both. Leo was quieter than Jed, more thoughtful, prone to making sharp, pragmatic observations that punctured Jed’s more flowery language and folksy notions – but Jed felt he was sparking off the other boy in a way he had never known before. In fact, until he had met Leo, Jed sincerely doubted whether he’d ever even been truly alive before. Leo seemed to feel the same way, and as each day passed Jed found himself growing more and more obsessed with his new friend and, at the same time, also growing confused by the amount of sheer emotion that he was channelling into this friendship. He had close friends at school whose company he enjoyed, and he’d had a severe crush on David Wheaton’s sister, but this was like a combination of both of those. Sometimes he just liked to sit and watch Leo talk, to follow the movement of his lips, and now he found himself wondering what it would be like to kiss those lips. Was that wrong? Jed wondered. It didn’t feel wrong. He’d never had feelings like this for another boy before but then he’d never met anyone like Leo before.


One night, as they sat in their respective beds in the dark in their room, finally silent after several hours of impassioned debate, Jed turned to Leo, and asked him a question that had been on his mind for some time.


“Leo, have you ever…” He hesitated. “Have you ever been with a girl?” he asked at last, flushing slightly. He truly felt there was nothing he could not discuss with his new friend and he wanted desperately to discuss this. Leo looked at him, and then nodded, slowly.


“Yes, Jed,” he replied. “You?”


“No…I…it’s kinda hard for me to meet any girls where I live,” he sighed finally.


“I can understand that.” Leo nodded again. “You will though.”


“I know.” Jed shrugged.


“I’ve read about all male boarding schools,” Leo said, looking at Jed steadily. “Have you ever been with another guy, Jed?” He asked.


Jed knew that if anyone but Leo had asked that question he would have jumped up and hit him where he stood, but with Leo it was different. With Leo it wasn’t an accusation or an innuendo, it was a genuine attempt to communicate and understand, to get to the truth.


“No. Never,” he said quietly. “I’m not saying it doesn’t go on – just that it hasn’t ever interested me. Well…” He hesitated again. “Not until now,” he said softly. Leo’s blue eye’s glittered in the dark as he registered what Jed was saying to him. “How about you?” Jed asked. Leo thought about it for a long time, and then cleared his throat.


“It’s interested me…I just never did anything about it. I like girls – a lot,” he added, a grin on his features. “But I just think there are a lot of things out there I want to try before I die, and…” He shrugged. “Is that normal d’you think? Having those kinds of thoughts?”


“What’s normal?” Jed shrugged. “Surely any emotion is valid and as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone then it’s up to the individual to assess whether it’s something he wants to do or not.”


“Only you could make that sound like something out of a political manifesto,” Leo grinned.


“Leo…” Jed bit on his lip and brushed his floppy hair out of his eyes. “I meant what I said. About you…I’ve never felt like this before. Is this what falling in love is like?”


Leo stared at him for a long time and then shook his head. “I don’t know, Jed. I don’t know what falling in love is like.”


“What about the girl you went with?” Jed asked, a little bit shocked.


“There were two.” Leo smiled impishly. “First Anna Linden when I was 15. Then Sharon Dewy last year. I don’t think I loved either of them though, Jed.” He shrugged again.


“That’s so romantic,” Jed commented acerbically. Leo grinned at him.


“Yeah. Well. I know I didn’t feel the same way about them as I feel about you,” Leo said softly. Jed looked up, surprised to learn that his own feelings were reciprocated. Leo got up, and came to sit on Jed’s bed. He leaned forward and brushed Jed’s wayward hair softly with his fingers and Jed felt a warmth start in his groin and flood all the way up his body, straight to his heart. “People always talk about love as if it’s such a big deal. How you shouldn’t have sex until you’re in love and all that crap but I don’t know. Sex was pretty good without me being in love with either Anna or Sharon,” Leo commented. “But…” He paused, looking into Jed’s eyes, his face so close that his breath was warm on Jed’s cheek. “I’ve sometimes wondered what it would be like to do it with someone I feel something for, someone who excites me.” His face seemed to be getting closer and his fingers were caressing the back of Jed’s neck, making him tingle.


“Well, then, purely in the interest of academic study…” Jed murmured, his face closing what was left of the distance between them. Their lips closed on each other and Jed honestly felt as if a huge voltage of electricity had shot into his body. Leo felt it too – he could tell by the way the other boy pulled back for a second, his eyes full of wonder, and then returned for more, his lips claiming Jed’s hungrily.


It was over so fast that both boys barely had time to draw breath. Leo’s hand found Jed’s cock and Jed rubbed himself against Leo’s hard member, and soon their bodies were entwined, their lips unceasing as they kissed, long and hard…and then, within seconds, unable to control themselves, they’d both come. They lay back, squashed close together on the narrow bed, panting, staring at each other with slightly shocked but gleeful looks on their faces, and then, after several minutes, Leo propped himself up on one elbow.


“You know,” he said, with a thoughtful frown on his face. “That was way too fast to prove anything. I think we need to do it again…purely in the interest of academic study of course.”


“Of course,” Jed agreed happily, and within seconds they were undressing each other. They went more slowly this time, now that the initial urgent rush was over. Leo took the lead, and Jed was never sure if that was because he was the one with the experience or whether it was just his personality, but either way, Jed gave as good as he got, and matched Leo’s passion with his own. They were doing a different dance now, no longer a dance of words and intellect but a dance of smooth young skin pressing on smooth young skin, hot, wet kisses, and hungry, questing hands and tongues.


Purely in order to satisfy academic study they both found it necessary to repeat the experience every night thereafter, spending their days verbally jousting and their nights jousting in a more physical manner. By the end of the summer, Jed knew that this was not a friendship that was going to be just a passing phase. Leo would be with him for life – and he knew that Leo felt the same way. Not that they didn’t both have independent destinies to fulfil, but their friendship was an important part of that.


On their last day at the camp, there was a mock Presidential election, which Leo won hands down. His first act as President was to make Jed Bartlet, who had been his ‘campaign manager’, his Chief of Staff. That night they tumbled into the room they shared, breathless with the excitement of the day, and Leo caught Jed around the waist and held him tight.


“One day, we’ll make it come true,” he whispered in Jed’s ear, his breath warm and caressing. “One day we’ll really do this. I’ll be President and you’ll be my Chief of Staff.”


“D’you think they’ll let us sleep together in the White House?” Jed grinned, angling his face in and trailing his tongue languorously along the side of Leo’s neck. Leo gave a soft moan and grabbed Jed’s head, kissing him firmly.


“Who’ll be able to stop us?” He whispered fiercely between kisses.



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