June 17th: 4. Chapter Four





June 17th, 2002


“That was a very nice meal. Thank you, Jed,” Leo said sincerely, stirring his coffee. The remains of their meal were spread out around them, the clean plates testifying to how good it had been.


“Thank you, Leo.” Jed smiled at him.


“For what? Showing up?” Leo raised an eyebrow.


“No, for 40 years of the best friendship a man could ever hope to have…and, uh, for putting up with my infuriating ways. I know I drive you nuts at times – talking too much, and then there’s my – what do you call it? Tendency to over-dramatise?” Jed gave an apologetic smile.


“The whole Latin quote thing can get kind of tiring at times too,” Leo commented, his blue eyes shimmering mischievously.


“Yeah,” Jed gave a self-deprecating laugh. “You on the other hand are a paragon of saintly virtue and the easiest man in the world to get along with.”


“Hardly,” Leo winced. “I know I’ve given you quite a few headaches over the past 40 years.”


“Yes, you have,” Jed replied, with a grin. “But there’s something about you that calms me, Leo. All that steady good sense in the face of my more, uh, extreme episodes.” He grimaced, remembering quite a few of their trysts which had been spent with him pacing the carpet worrying away at some problem or another while Leo sat calmly watching him, defusing his concerns with that pragmatism of his, those blue eyes missing nothing and understanding everything about Jed Bartlet. This relationship wasn’t and never had been, a one-way street. They’d both had their fair share of problems over the years and had never failed to find, in the other, someone to share the burden and help lighten the load. Leo seemed to understand, instinctively, all Jed’s many and colourful moods – from his occasional dark despair at his inability to change the world, to his over-enthusiastic delight in finding an old map, or discussing some obscure ancient text with anyone who would listen. He also understood that when all else failed, and when Jed continued to worry away at a problem like a rat caught in a trap gnawing his own paw off, that the only thing to do was to take Jed to bed and make love to him so vigorously that he forgot everything else except what was being done so lovingly and expertly to his body.


“Don’t think I don’t know that sometimes you use sex to shut me up,” Jed commented with a grin, swirling his coffee around in the cup. Leo raised an eyebrow.


“If I’d known that was all it took I’d keep you chained to my bed,” he replied. Jed threw him an amused glare.


“If I were a shade more kinky that might be an appealing prospect,” he muttered and they both laughed out loud. They were silent for awhile, gazing at each other, and then Jed stirred himself.


“I got you something,” he said, getting up and retrieving from the nightstand a small box wrapped exquisitely in ruby red coloured paper and decorated by a large red bow. He didn’t always get Leo a present but he had on all the big occasions – the 10th, 20th, and 30th, and occasionally on the anniversaries in between as well but only if he saw something he thought Leo would particularly like. Leo rarely reciprocated although Jed had once got home after an anniversary and found a rare edition of Homer’s Odyssey in the original Greek in his suitcase, and on one other occasion he had woken up in a hotel bedroom to find Leo gone and an equally rare and somewhat battered second-hand video bearing the title ‘A History of Women’s Softball’ on the pillow beside him. He knew it was rare because he’d tried to find it once only to be told by a rather snooty store assistant that he’d never heard of such a video and frankly doubted that it even existed.


Jed gave the gift to Leo, and put a hand on his friend’s shoulder, waiting to see his reaction when he opened it. “You knew I’d get you something,” he said, as Leo looked at him questioningly.


“I suppose.” Leo shrugged. “You didn’t need to, Jed. You’ve given me everything I’ve ever needed over the past 40 years.”


“Doesn’t hurt to get a bit romantic every now and again though does it?” Jed said with a shrug. “And as this is the one day of the year when you’ll let me, I like to go the whole way.”


“Sure.” Leo smiled.


“The wrapping paper, you will note, is ruby red – just like the candles,” Jed told him portentously. “That’s because this is our ruby anniversary, Leo – ruby is 40 years.”


“I think that only counts if you’re actually married, Jed,” Leo commented.


“Whatever.” Jed shrugged. “Go on! Open it!” He ordered, privately thinking he was enjoying the excitement far too much for a man approaching 60 years of age who also happened to be President of the United States.


Leo ripped the paper apart and picked up the little box that fell out of the wrapping. It was clearly a jewellery box; Leo glanced up at Jed with a raised eyebrow. “You’re proposing finally after all these years?” he commented.


Jed squeezed Leo’s shoulder a tad too firmly and ducked his head forward. “Just open it,” he said in a low voice into Leo’s ear.


Leo nodded and opened the box – to reveal two beautiful, heavy, gold cufflinks nestled together on a bed of purple silk. They were in the shape of polished ovals, and they were engraved. Leo took one out and surveyed the engraving. It showed a ‘J’ and an ‘L’, the copperplate letters entwined together, and the other oval bore the legend 40. Just that. Leo was quiet for awhile but Jed knew that was because he was overwhelmed and not because he didn’t like the gift. All the same, Jed couldn’t resist filling the silence.


“On this one the ‘J’ is first but on the other one…” he pulled the second cuff out of the box “…the ‘L’ comes first and then the ‘J’,” Jed explained, pointing. “I know how competitive you are, Leo so I thought I’d swap the order of the initials around.”


“I’m competitive?!” Leo protested. “I don’t think a man gets to be President of the United States without being a pretty competitive kind of person, Jed!”


Jed chuckled and Leo sighed. “Okay, you had me there,” he acknowledged before Jed even had to say it. “They’re beautiful, Jed,” he said sincerely, grabbing his friend’s hand and kissing it appreciatively. “Thank you.”


“I thought you could wear them on special occasions,” Jed told him. “Nobody would notice the engraving and if they did you could just smile enigmatically and thereby increase the number of legends floating around this town about you.”


“There are legends?” Leo raised a disbelieving eyebrow.


“Yeah. You have an aura, Leo. People are scared of you, although god knows why. Must be that crusty, irascible exterior and your ability to stop people in their tracks at 50 paces with one of those baleful glares of yours, to say nothing of the fact that you’re in charge of all the hiring and firing in the West Wing, you have a long and distinguished career in politics behind you, and the fact that you are…” He paused dramatically, waggled his hands in the air, and then proceeded in a deep, dark voice, full of portent, “…the power behind the throne.”


“The power behind the throne?” Leo made a face. “Please!”


“I’m just telling you about the legends,” Jed said, waving a hand nonchalantly in the air as if eschewing all responsibility for said legends. “D’you want a hand putting those on?” He held up one of the cufflinks and Leo smiled and shook his head.


“Okay – but we both know I’m going to be taking them off again real soon.”


“Sure, but I want to see you wearing them first,” Jed replied, crouching beside Leo’s chair and removing the cufflink on the wrist closest to him. He threaded the new engraved one through and then surveyed his work with a look of satisfaction.


“These cost a lot more than a hundred bucks,” Leo commented, gazing appreciatively at the solid gold cufflinks. Jed smiled.


“Yeah,” he acknowledged. “You know me – I’m a born romantic. I wanted to do something big and showy.” He put his hands on Leo’s shoulders and kissed his old friend’s head. “Even if you are a curmudgeonly old man without an ounce of romanticism in your soul.”


Leo pursed his lips thoughtfully but didn’t reply.


“So?” Jed murmured, stroking Leo’s shoulder suggestively. “There’s a big, king-sized bed in here, my security detail is a long way down the hallway, and we have the whole night together, Leo. Any suggestions as to how we spend it?” He turned Leo’s head to face his, and then kissed the other man firmly and passionately on the lips, enjoying the thrill of that familiar spark of electricity that always passed between them. “Because if you don’t, I have a few,” he said when they parted for air. He took hold of Leo’s hands and began pulling his lover to his feet, intending to drag him over to the bed and remove his clothing as quickly as possible.


“Uh-uh.” Leo stopped him. “Not so fast, Jed. You haven’t opened my gift yet.”


Jed stopped dead in his tracks, utterly surprised.


“You have a gift for me?” He demanded.


“Yes I do,” Leo nodded, a little smile playing around his lips but a curiously vulnerable look in his blue eyes.


“You never give me a gift, Leo,” Jed reminded him.


“I’ve given you a couple,” Leo protested.


“No, Leo – you never gave them to me. You left them in my suitcase or on my pillow so I’d find them when you’d gone.”


“Ah.” Leo gave that old, familiar, impish smile that reminded Jed so clearly of a boy he’d met 40 years before.


“Any kind of romantic impulse embarrasses the hell out of you, Leo,” Jed told him sternly.


“Do you want the gift or not?” Leo growled.


“Are you kidding? I’ve waited 40 years for this!” Jed exclaimed. “Hand it over!”


Leo hesitated for a moment, and then, as if gathering his courage, he reached inside the pocket of his jacket, and withdrew a wrapped box, a little larger than the one Jed had given him.


“You wrapped this yourself,” Jed commented, gazing at the silvery blue wrapping paper, and untidily tied purple bow. “I can tell.”


“Yeah.” Leo shrugged. “It wasn’t something I could give Margaret to do. She asks too many questions for a start but also…” He hesitated. “This was personal,” he finished softly. “I didn’t want anyone touching this but you. You’ll see why when you open it.”


Jed looked up, surprised – it wasn’t often anyone got a glimpse into Leo’s heart, and he suspected he had seen into that mysterious place more than most people over the years, but even so Leo’s tone of voice and expression took him by surprise.


“And you might like to note,” Leo said, the note of teasing returning to his voice, “that I had this with me when I came to work this morning so I did remember the date.”


“Okay.” Jed fingered the paper thoughtfully for a moment. “Although you could have sent out for a gift after I reminded you and then wrapped it in the office. Or maybe you went shopping in your lunch hour.”


“What lunch hour?” Leo queried incredulously. Jed put his glasses on and gazed at Leo over the top of them. Leo flushed slightly – a sight that Jed was most unfamiliar with. He glanced back at the box, holding it carefully, realising from the way Leo was behaving that this was more than just a gift – this was something special, something that meant a great deal to his friend.


“Okay. I believe you,” Jed said softly, slipping his finger under the clumsily but obviously lovingly wrapped silver paper.


“Good – because when you see what’s inside you’ll realise that this wasn’t something you could just go out and buy at a moment’s notice,” Leo told him softly, and his eyes were bright with some emotion that Jed couldn’t read.


June 17th, 1998


Jed tip-toed along the corridor to Leo’s hotel room, stopped outside, and gave the door a soft knock. “Leo, it’s me,” he hissed. Leo opened the door a second or two later and surveyed his friend with a slight rolling of his eyes.


“Jed. What a surprise. I’d never have guessed,” he commented. “Seeing as how you’ve been sending me meaningful stares all day and notes with June 17th written on them in big letters. Are you wearing pyjamas?”


“Yeah.” Jed shrugged. “I was waiting until everyone had gone to bed before creeping back here. Are you going to let me in, Leo or are we going to celebrate this anniversary in the hallway?”


“That would give the campaign staff something to talk about,” Leo said with a grin, standing aside and opening the door so that Jed could enter the room. Jed stepped inside and looked around the dimly lamp-lit hotel room with a sigh.


“Why are hotel rooms during presidential campaigns always such a mess?” He complained, surveying the proliferation of empty pizza boxes, and huge boxes of campaign detritus. Several dozen buttons bearing the legend Bartlet for America were scattered untidily on the table, and there was a campaign banner propped against one wall. “It smells in here as well,” he said, wrinkling up his nose. “Why does it smell in here, Leo? Anyone would think a dozen people had been…” He got no further because at that moment he was suddenly assaulted from behind, pushed up against the closed door and kissed extremely vigorously on the mouth. He melted happily against Leo, returning the kiss with some passion but the moment Leo let him come up for air he continued without pausing “…crammed in here going through campaign strategy…no, wait, they have…but did they all take their shoes off or something because…” Leo grabbed his face and went back in for another kiss. It was hard for Jed to keep his train of thought going while Leo’s tongue was exploring his mouth so thoroughly, and when Leo released him he blinked, thoughtfully, before opening his mouth to continue. Leo’s hands, which were still clasping Jed’s face, closed on his chin, preventing him from saying another word.


“What does it take?” Leo groaned. “Were these not good kisses? Should they not have distracted you for a moment from talking about the campaign?”


Jed grinned, and moved his face away from Leo’s hands. “Okay. I get the message…but, you don’t want to talk about the campaign, Leo?”


Leo shook his head. “Jed, we have done nothing but talk about the campaign for the past 6 months. Tonight is our first night alone together in ages and, no, I don’t want to talk about the campaign.”


“Because you do realise that it’s usually me giving that speech don’t you?” Jed pointed out. “You’re usually the one who wants to talk about politics while I’m the one who bleats on about this being our anniversary and not talking shop.”


“I wouldn’t describe it as bleating exactly,” Leo grinned. “Whining maybe.”


“I don’t whine!” Jed retorted hotly. “Oh don’t even say it!” He waved his hand in the air in disgust, realising he’d been had. Jed pushed a pizza box still containing one congealed slice onto the floor and sat on the bed – then got up again fast as something pricked into his ass. He recovered a button with the pin open and sticking dangerously into the air. “Damnit, these things are dangerous – that could have been serious,” he commented, gazing at the button which, like all the other campaign paraphernalia in the room, also bore the legend Bartlet for America. Jed sat back down again with a sigh, still holding the button. “Sometimes I can’t believe we’re actually doing this, Leo,” he murmured. Leo crossed his arms and leaned against the wall, surveying his friend thoughtfully.


“Having cold feet?” He commented.


“No, just…it seems so unreal. In five months time I could be sitting in the White House as President of this country for god’s sake, Leo.”


“No ‘could be’ about it,” Leo said confidently. “You’re going to win, Jed. You saw the reaction here today. This is going to happen.”


“That isn’t what the polls say,” Jed commented.


“No, but it’s what I say,” Leo said with an infectious degree of certainty in his voice. “Who cares about a few lousy polls? I know that you’re going to win. You are going to be the next President of the United States, Jed.”


“Because of you,” Jed murmured. “If I get there it’ll be because of you, Leo. You made all this happen. You came to me with that damn napkin and encouraged me to stand, you thought up this slogan, you made sure all the right doors were open to me.”


“You just needed nudging in the right direction.” Leo shrugged. “You’re more than capable of making this happen all by yourself.”


“I always thought it would be you,” Jed said softly, still fingering the button. “You were always the one who was going to be President, Leo, remember? I was going to be your Chief of Staff.”


“So it’s the other way around. Who cares?” Leo shrugged his shoulders dismissively.


“I think you’d make a better president, Leo,” Jed commented, gazing at his old friend.


“No. I wouldn’t.” Leo shook his head.


“You’re smarter than I am and you’ve worked the political field on the Hill better and longer than I have,” Jed said.


“I’m not sure I’d agree on the smarter thing but none of that matters anyway because you have something I don’t, Jed.”


“What’s that?” Jed looked up sharply.


“People like you,” Leo said simply. “I don’t just mean people in politics – I mean the people and they’re the ones who count. You’re a great communicator, you have that whole folksy charm thing going…”


“You hate the folksy charm thing,” Jed interrupted.


“I don’t hate it – it’s part of what makes you you,” Leo shook his head. “It infuriates me sometimes but mainly I just enjoy teasing you about it.” He grinned. “Jed – you’ll make a good president – one of the greats – and I’ll be proud to help you get there and work alongside you.”


Jed gazed at his old friend and they were both silent for a long time. There was something that Jed wanted to say but he didn’t want to break this spell, didn’t want to see the look in Leo’s eyes when he found out that his oldest and best friend had deceived him. A few years previously Jed had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. He hadn’t told anyone at first, praying that perhaps the diagnosis had been erroneous, or that it wouldn’t affect his life in any significant way. When he had finally come to terms with his illness he had wanted to tell Leo, but something had always stopped him. Leo had struggled with his addiction, especially in the early days after going to rehab, and while he hadn’t been totally dry since their anniversary in 1993, he was now and had been for quite some time. Jed was enormously proud of his friend, but he knew how hard-won Leo’s recovery had been; the shadows had lifted from Leo’s eyes, and Jed didn’t want to be the one to put them back there. He didn’t want to do anything that might jeopardise Leo’s recovery. He had planned to tell him eventually, when he was sure Leo could handle the news, but then Leo had come to him and asked him to run for President, and Jed had got caught up in the idea…and then he hadn’t liked to tell Leo in case all their dreams came crashing down around them. He couldn’t tell Leo now – couldn’t face his friend turning around and informing him that he wouldn’t help him to the White House now that he knew about his illness. He had no way of knowing how Leo would react but he knew him to be a man of strong conviction and he doubted that his friend would take kindly to having been deceived these past three years. So no, Jed wouldn’t tell him. Not now, certainly, not on their anniversary – he didn’t know when; maybe after the election, or maybe after he’d completed his first term – just not now. For now he’d keep his silence and his secret and bear the guilt that came with it.


“Jed?” Leo’s blue eyes were glowing in the lamplight. “This isn’t like you. Is this a serious crisis of confidence?”


Jed shook his head. “No. I don’t think so, Leo. I still want this – I want it badly. I just…I just don’t want to let anyone down,” he murmured.


“You won’t,” Leo said confidently and his friend’s faith in him just made Jed hurt even more inside. Leo pushed himself away from the wall and came to sit on the bed beside his lover. He put an arm around Jed’s shoulder and pushed his hair back with his hand, an old, familiar gesture that Jed loved; he leaned into the caress and they were silent for awhile. “What’s going on in there, Jed?” Leo said finally, tapping Jed’s skull with his fingertip. “Look, the campaign staff are all in their own rooms, it’s just you and me, and it’s our anniversary. You don’t have to put on the big, self-assured, ‘Josiah Bartlet – Presidential Candidate’ act for me. Here, now, you can just be Jed, and you can tell me what’s going on. I might be able to help.”


Jed shook his head. “I don’t know, Leo,” he muttered. “I just keep feeling that the higher I soar, the closer to the sun I fly, the more chance there is that I’ll find out my wings are made of wax and they’ll melt and I’ll come crashing down to earth.”


“Only you could make that a metaphor about some ancient Greek myth,” Leo commented, pushing Jed’s head gently with his hand, teasing him. “It’s Icarus isn’t it?”


“Yeah. Thought he could fly but forgot his wings were made of wax and went too close to the sun,” Jed grimaced. “His father Daedalus warned him but he didn’t listen.”


“Ah. His father,” Leo commented, his blue eyes sharp. “I think that explains what this is about, Jed.”


Jed frowned. “What are you getting at, Leo?”


“I’m talking about that little voice in the back of your mind that scolds you every time you stand up and shine. Why shouldn’t you shine, Jed? You’re smart, you’re compassionate, and you have good ideas. Why shouldn’t you stand up and show people what you can do? You don’t need to keep listening to that voice in the back of your mind, Jed. It isn’t even your voice; it’s your father’s. We both know that.”


“I like to think he’d be proud of me doing this,” Jed sighed, knowing his friend understood him all too well, as always, and had nailed this particular aspect of his personality. “And maybe a part of him would be proud but another part of him would be itching to tell me to shut up, sit down, and stop showing off. Bartlet for America…” He shook his head, and tossed the button onto the floor beside the pizza box. “Just one more example of my need to stand up and shout ‘hey, everyone, look at me!’”


Leo gave a wry chuckle. “I sure as hell hope that’s what you’re saying. Nobody’s going to vote for you unless they know who you are.”


Bartlet grinned. “Yeah. I guess. The thing is I enjoy it, Leo. I like being noticed, and I like communicating and I like politics. Hell, I love politics and I don’t want to feel I have to justify why I want to be President of this country. I think I could do a good job – I think I could really make a difference. I want to be President, Leo. I want it so much.” He shook his head.


“That’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that.” Leo tousled the back of his friend’s hair and then drew him in for another kiss, this one full of reassurance and affection. “Look, Jed,” he said softly when they drew back, “Your father’s dead – it’s too late to make him proud of you and you can’t know what he’d say about you running for President or how he’d feel about it, but I know how I feel. I’m proud of you, Jed. I don’t think you should hold back – I think you should soar into the air and fly as close to the sun as you can. Will you stop listening to your father’s voice and listen to mine instead? I promise you I’ll always tell you it how I see it, whether I think you’ve done good or bad. You won’t get any bullshit from me even when I’m calling you ‘sir’.”


“Leo, I’ve never known you bullshit me in your life and I’m very glad you aren’t going to start,” Jed commented, feeling somehow relieved in a way that took him by surprise. “As for being proud of me…” He faltered, swallowing down the lump in his throat, hoping that his emotions weren’t as visible as he suspected they were. “Leo…I think it means more to me that you’re proud of me than if my father was standing right here saying the same thing. God knows you’ve always been a lot kinder to me than he ever was. So, I’ll try and listen to your voice instead of his nagging doubts.”


“Good.” Leo smiled.


“And did I hear you say that you’re going to call me ‘sir’?” Jed raised an eyebrow.


“In five months time, when you’re the President, I’ll address you as ‘sir’ or ‘Mr. President’ just like everyone else, yes,” Leo said with a nod.


“Well that’s going to be weird,” Jed commented. “I wish you’d told me that before we started all this, Leo,” he groused, kicking out with his foot at the pizza box and button on the floor beneath him.


“Well what did you think was going to happen?” Leo rolled his eyes. “I’d call you ‘honey’ in the Oval Office?”


“You’ve never called me ‘honey’, Leo,” Jed pointed out. “I thought you’d call me Jed.”


“Well I won’t. You’ll be President, Jed – and I’ll be respecting the office and the man currently holding the title, by calling you ‘sir’.”


“Okay.” Jed sighed. “Just promise me that you won’t call me ‘sir’ when we’re in bed because that’s going to do nothing for our sex life I can assure you.”


Leo grinned. “Okay, I promise,” he said softly. “Talking of which…” He leaned back and patted the bed invitingly.


“We are still going to have sex even when I’m President aren’t we, Leo?” Jed asked, gazing at his friend suspiciously. “This respect you have for the office and the man holding the title doesn’t extend to not sleeping with him regularly, does it?”


“Well…I expect we’ll both be pretty busy, and the First Lady might have some objections, and then there’s your security detail to worry about, so…” Leo shook his head.


“Leo!” Jed bellowed, in a tone of outrage.


“Had you,” Leo grinned. “Jed, I’m looking forward to us being in the same town for more than an overnight quickie, so yes, I’m hoping there will be sex – lots of it. I don’t want to rock the boat with Abbey though, and we’ll have to be discreet.”


“Abbey and I have already talked about all the many changes that will result from us winning this election,” Jed told his friend, trying to ignore the insistent hand that Leo was sliding down the front of his pyjamas. “Abbey is looking forward to being First Lady – I think she has an agenda all of her own, Leo, and judging by the schedule she outlined to me she’s intending to be pretty busy. She did mention that I’d be spending a lot more time with you by necessity but she said she felt she’d had me pretty much to herself for many of the years of our marriage and that you were due.”


Leo smiled and shook his head. “She’s a good woman, Jed. The best.”


“Amen to that.” Jed gave a heartfelt sigh. “What about Jenny, Leo?”


Leo stiffened slightly, and the hand that was snaking down Jed’s pajamas stopped in its tracks. “Jenny…I don’t think she’s too happy about it, Jed. She always suffered our relationship in the past more than accepted it, and now that you and I are going to be working in the same town…in adjoining offices…well, I don’t think she’s too happy about it.”


“Have you talked to her?” Jed asked, studying his friend closely.


Leo shook his head. “Jenny and I don’t find talking easy these days,” he admitted. “She resents the amount of time I’ve been putting into this campaign but I don’t think she realises I’ll have even less spare time when you become President.”


“Talk to her, Leo,” Jed instructed his friend. “Our wives have been very kind to us over the years. Our relationship is a lot for any woman to accept – we’re lucky that they’ve been so understanding and they deserve for us to take their feelings into account.”


“I know, and I do.” Leo sighed and leaned back on the bed. “But she’s not like Abbey, Jed.”


“Nobody’s like Abbey, Leo. If they were then this world would be a scarier place,” Jed commented. There was silence for awhile during which Leo put out a questing hand and began to slowly unbutton Jed’s pyjamas. Jed gazed at the button on the floor, scowling. “You do think I’m ready for this, don’t you, Leo?” He asked. He never usually let anyone except Abbey and Leo see him in his more anxious moods. He wasn’t a man who lacked self-confidence but he knew he had a tendency to get mired in his anxieties and could be down for days as a result. His brain refused to switch off, and kept churning over his worries endlessly.


“Yes, Jed. I think you’re ready for this,” Leo said, in the tone of a man appeasing an idiot. He finished unbuttoning Jed’s pyjama top and smoothed the fabric away from his friend’s shoulders, pausing to kiss the back of his friend’s neck.


“There’s such a lot to be done,” Jed murmured. “I have so many plans, Leo. This is the culmination of everything we ever dreamed about as 17 year old boys back at summer camp. This is it, Leo. I don’t want to screw it up. I don’t want to get it wrong. I don’t want that 17 year old boy I once was to be ashamed of me or feel I let him and his ideals down.”


“Uh-huh,” Leo said, pulling Jed’s pyjama top off and trailing some wet kisses down Jed’s spine.


“I know how Washington works, Leo. I know there will have to be compromises. I know deals will have to be struck…but I want to do good, Leo. I don’t want to disappear down the well of moral uncertainty that exists in politics. Better people than I have become trapped down there.”


“Mmmm,” Leo said, pushing Jed back onto the bed and bending over him to take a nipple lovingly in his mouth.


“I just…oh shit, Leo,” Jed hissed, arching his back. “That feels so good,”


“Yeah,” Leo’s tongue wrapped itself around Jed’s nipple and teased it tantalisingly for several long minutes, while Jed tried desperately to hang onto his train of thought.


“I just…want…to…oh, Leo,” Jed gave a contented sigh and wrapped his fingers around the back of Leo’s head. Leo moved onto his other nipple. “There are so many reforms I want to make, Leo. I want to be a reforming president. I don’t want you to…oooh…let me give up on that…aaahhh…agenda…”


“Jed.” Leo’s face came into his line of vision, the blue eyes firm but amused.


“Mmm?” Jed asked, his hands coming to rest on Leo’s still fully clothed backside.


“It’s time for you to shut up now,” Leo told him gravely. Jed gazed at him for a moment, and then nodded.


“Okay,” he agreed.


Leo nodded in reply, and bent his head to capture Jed’s lips with his own. He kissed Jed for a long time, and then moved his head sideways and nibbled on his lover’s earlobes.


“I just…you know…need to talk my worries through,” Jed whispered, as Leo went lower still, his hands tugging at Jed’s pyjama pants.


“I know, and I just need to get you out of these,” Leo told him, undoing the pyjama pants and stripping them away efficiently before throwing them onto the floor, leaving Jed completely naked. He removed his own clothing just as efficiently and moved back to straddle Jed’s body.


“Because we might not have time to talk about this stuff later,” Jed said. “We need to set an agenda now, Leo, so we can hit the ground running when I get el…AGH!”


Jed felt all his breath leave his body as Leo took his eager cock in his mouth, sucking on it hard with his warm tongue. Jed was beyond any coherent thought for the next few minutes as Leo teased his cock into ever greater heights of ecstasy. Leo’s hands gripped Jed’s thighs firmly and his tongue was as skilled as ever. Jed thrust up into that caressing mouth and was on the verge of orgasm when Leo suddenly pulled back, paying no attention to Jed’s howl of disappointment.


“That was just mean, Leo,” Jed said reproachfully. “I was on the verge…”


“You don’t like to come before I’ve fucked you,” Leo told him firmly reaching for the lube and condoms in the nightstand drawer. “You’ll thank me later.”


“I could have thanked you 5 seconds ago but now I’m not sure I’m going to be thanking you at all,” Jed groused as Leo parted his legs and slid a lubed finger inside him. “And you haven’t answered my question about the agenda…”


“We’ve been over this plenty of times. You have an agenda. Now shut up,” Leo said, withdrawing his fingers. He rolled a condom expertly onto his eager cock, and positioned himself between Jed’s thighs.


“Don’t think you can make me shut up just by…ohhhh,” Jed sighed as Leo slipped his hard length inside him, dipping his entire body forward in the process so he ended up nose to nose with his lover. Leo leaned down and kissed Jed firmly on the lips, and then began making tiny thrusting movements with his hips. Jed gave a strangled sigh as little starbursts of pleasure fizzled and sang in all his nerve fibres.


“What was that you were saying?” Leo said, with a cunning smile, but Jed was beyond coherent speech by this point and just clung onto Leo as his lover began moving more swiftly inside him, stopping to kiss Jed’s mouth or lick his body or caress Jed’s cock every few thrusts until Jed thought he would explode with pleasure.


“Oh gahh…Leooo!” Jed moaned as Leo’s thrusting reached a crescendo, and another few seconds later he felt himself coming. A few seconds after that he watched as Leo reached his climax, felt Leo come inside him, and then Leo lowered himself on top of him, with a gentle sigh of pleasure. Jed felt happy and sated. He gazed at his lover in a dreamy haze, stroking Leo’s head where it was lying on his chest. “God that was good,” he murmured. “I should creep out of my room more often when we’re in the same hotel on the campaign trail like this.”


“It was good for me too,” Leo replied, gazing up into Jed’s eyes, his now softening cock still buried deep inside his lover’s body. Jed loved this moment, after they had both come, loved that Leo didn’t pull straight out, loved the closeness, warmth and affection, loved the scent of sex and sweat and the sensation of skin pressed against skin. It reminded him of being 17 again, and discovering this pleasure for the first time. “So, what were you saying?” Leo asked, propping himself up on one elbow and kissing Jed’s collar bone affectionately.


“You know, I really have no idea,” Jed replied truthfully. “Nothing very important.”


Leo gave a twisted grin and rested his head back down on Jed’s chest. “That’s what I thought,” he murmured.


They must have fallen asleep like that because Jed woke several hours later to find that Leo was still lying on top of him, his cock still buried inside his body. He stretched, lazily, as best he could without dislodging his lover, and then reached out and stroked Leo’s back. Leo stirred, and gazed at him blearily.


“Hey. I should be going soon in case Josh or Sam or that guy with the beard comes charging in here to discuss the day’s campaigning,” Jed whispered.


“Toby,” Leo told him. “The guy with the beard – he’s called Toby.”


“Oh. Right. Yeah.” Jed nodded. “Leo – thanks for last night. For listening to me. I was just having one of my…”


“I know.” Leo shrugged.


“I don’t really have any doubts.”


“I know that too.”


“Leo…what changed for you?” Jed asked, moving his hand to stroke Leo’s wispy hair affectionately. “A few years ago you said you didn’t believe any more. You seemed to have given up on this particular dream, and yet now you’re so inspired, so driven. You have it all planned out, and you’ve played this whole campaign game brilliantly. You could be a different person…and those shadows in your eyes…” Jed brushed his hand down the side of Leo’s face. “They’ve gone. You remind me…” He hesitated.


“Go on,” Leo prompted.


“You remind me of that 17 year old boy again – the one who was so passionate about everything. The one who believed he could change the world. What happened, Leo?”


Leo gave a little smile. “I found something new to believe in – or rediscovered something I’ve always believed in maybe,” he murmured.


“What’s that?” Jed asked.


“You,” Leo told him simply. “I believe in you, Jed Bartlet. I believe in you as President of this country. I believe in you as my friend, and lover. I believe that together we can do all those things we dreamed about when we were 17. I really do think that as long as we work together we can change the world, Jed. I don’t want you to ever think that I’m envious or that I wish it could have been me because I don’t. This feels right. This feels good – and I want you to know that I will always support you and I will always stand by your side. Always.”


“Thank you,” Jed whispered. “Because I believe in all those things too, Leo.”


Leo moved, slowly, and withdrew, and while Jed missed the presence of Leo’s cock inside his body, that loss was soon amended by the presence of Leo’s tongue in his mouth. They kissed for a long time, and then rolled apart with matching satisfied sighs.


“I really do have to get back to my own room,” Jed commented, glancing at the clock on the nightstand.


“Yeah,” Leo said regretfully.


Jed sat up, swung his legs over the side of the bed, put his feet on the floor, and then gave a howl of pain and lifted one of them up again.


“SHIT!” He cursed, pulling the button pin from his foot and glaring at the offending item. “I said these things were dangerous, Leo,” he told his friend, who looked as if he was trying hard not to laugh. Jed glanced at Leo and then back at the button, an idea occurring to him. He picked up a pen from the nightstand, and, pressing hard to make the ink come through on the plastic surface, he inserted two more words on the button. “You know,” he said, admiring his handiwork with a slight squint as he didn’t have his glasses, “This won’t just be my presidency, Leo. It belongs to both of us. Don’t think I don’t know that.” He handed Leo the button and watched as his lover read the new message.


“Bartlet and McGarry for America.” Leo read the words, and then looked up at Jed, a slow, heartfelt smile spreading across his craggy features. “Thank you, Jed,” he said softly. “Thank you.”



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