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Fandom: The West Wing
Story Title: A Little Like Friendship and a Lot Like Love
Character/Relationships:  Josh, Sam, Josh/Sam (although could be read as platonic)
Rating: PG
Summary: Sam and Josh met in a bar. Not one of *those* bars, but a bar none the less.
AN: This was written for challenge 2 of round 1 of tvnetwork2_las, for the prompt "It's Disco, Baby!". Barney Studds is the combination of two out Democratic Congressman from the period that this story is set (Barney Frank and Gerry Studds), and the IDEA is also a real piece of legislation being amended at the time but this is based on the most preliminary research.

A Little Like Friendship and a Lot Like Love

Josh and Sam meet in a bar. Not one of those bars, but a bar none the less. Sam is with some college buddies, laughing and joking and drinking on one side of the room. Josh is on the other side with a girlfriend and colleague, always a mistake but one he never learns from, involved in a very heated argument about something that started with the Education bill they were working on but seemed to have ended up with whether or not he takes her seriously as a political strategist. The fact that he actually doesn't probably isn't helping matters.

Desperate for a distraction, Josh is pretty sure if he has one more ex in the department they will band together and assassinate him, he casts his eyes around the bar and comes across the jukebox. It's a beautiful old thing, with the curved wooden top, bright colours and fake columns up the sides. Classic. "Look, let's put on some music and dance," he offers Sandra, who gives him a frosty glare, but one that is beginning to melt. They both know how much he hates dancing and that this is probably as close to an apology as she is going to get.

"Alright then," she says, keeping up the disdainful façade, but he takes it for what it is and hurries to the jukebox.

This is supposed to be a holiday, a way for them to reconnect before their relationship stretches too far and snaps like a broken elastic band, but they are both aware that it is only hope and denial holding them together now. The break-up is inevitable, always has been, but they are both determined and try and pretend for just a bit longer.

Coincidentely, it is at exactly that moment that Sam's friends push him out his seat to get them all fresh beers. The collision is immediate. "I'm so sorry," Sam repeats over and over again, his waving arms of apology accidentally spilling the remains of his beer all down Josh's semi-clean t-shirt.

This is the last straw for Josh who, after a weekend of meaningful looks and sinister silences, is completely on edge and ready to explode. He takes one look at Sam and lets out a shriek of words that no one can completely decipher. From Gemma's disgusted look and how quickly she gathers her things together and leaves, however, she had heard enough.

The slamming of the door seems to jerk Josh out of his fit and his expression crumples. Sam, who had been attempting to use his empty glass as some sort of shield between him and this irate stranger, finds himself putting his arm round this stranger and leading him back to the table. "Come on, I'm sure she's not that mad," Sam offers. All his friends and Josh raise their eyebrows. "OK, maybe she is, but I'm sure she'll calm down."

Josh drops his head onto the table.

"She wasn't that pretty anyway," Chris adds.

Clearly oblivious, Mike responds, "I thought she was hot."

Josh starts banging his head against the table. His new companions exchange worried glances. It's not just that this is a complete stranger who they've just met a very low moment, although admittedly that's not helping matters. There is also the guilt that they had been wondering what on earth his incredibly hot girlfriend (or former girlfriend) was doing with him only minutes before.

Desperate for anything to distract the despairing man, Sam finds himself wondering up to the jukebox and pressing a button at random. It was just his luck that the Beegee's 'Night Fever' began blasting out. Unable to think of anything else to do, he found himself dancing and trying to encourage the others to. Their slightly hysterical laughter forces Josh to lift his head to the sight of Sam doing a bizarre combination of the Electric Slide and the Robot. "What the hell is that?"

"It's Disco, baby," Sam says, and although he regrets it a second later, Josh makes a small hiccupping
noise and then joins the others in their laughter.

And although when they think back on that night they will remember the discussions ("I'm working for Earl Brennan, at the moment. The Congressman." "I know, I used to work for Barney Studds." "He's the gay one, right?" "Yes." "He's good." "I know, I was working for him.") and the debates ("Of course they'll pass the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act amendments. It's not like their exactly that big, plus it's about disabled kids. No one in their right minds is going to stand up and say they don't want to help disabled kids." "Who said Republicans are in their right minds?"), it is that moment that makes their future inevitable. The moment when their eyes met and they clicked. And what develops will last through long distance phone calls, dramatic resignations, hotel room after hotel room, the White House, straightening bow-ties, sleeping with call-girls and gunshots.

Something that is a little bit like friendship and a lot like love.