"Paradiso"
by Kenneth Koch

There is no way not to be excited
When what you have been disillusioned by
raises its head
From its arms and seems to want
to talk to you again.
You forget home and family
And set off on foot or in your automobile
And go to where you believe
this form of reality
May dwell. Not finding it there, you refuse
Any further contact
Until you are back again trying to forget
The only thing that moved you (it seems)
and gave what you forever will have
But in the form of a disillusion.
Yet often, looking toward the horizon
There--inimical to you?--is that something
you have never found
And that, without those who came before you,
you could never have imagined.
How could you have thought there was
one person who could make you
Happy and that happiness was not the uneven
Phenomenon you have known it to be?
Why do you keep believing in this
Reality so dependent on the time allowed it
That it has less to do with your exile
from the age you are
Than from everything else life promised
that you could do?


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The Turning-universe is a series of stories that interweave with both canon "West Wing" episodes and each other. Each one is self-contained, so feel free to begin anywhere you feel moved to do so. The recommended pre-reading suggestions offer relevant, but not necessary backstory. (A merciful note to new readers: watch the "timestamp" dates, because the older stuff is much less polished.)

A Change in the Weather

Category: Sam, Sam/OFC, Sam/OMC
Summary: A barely twenty-year-old Sam heads off to Washington for a student journalism seminar, has an adventure, and starts to figure some things out. Pre-Josh.
Size: 125K/22,965 words
Timeline: Takes place in October and November 1983.
Rating: R.
Spoilers: None.
Notes: This is a prequel to "Turning Myself Into You," taking place a little more than a year and a half before the beginning of that story. First person, Sam's point of view.
Recommended pre-reading: None.
Acknowledgements: To Elizabeth Collins, Adina, Minna Leigh, and Anna-Maria Jennings for amazingly complementary plotting and editorial input, and to Scott and Jörg for inspirational memories of early twentysomething male angst.
Timestamp: Written June 2001.

Turning Myself Into You

Category: Josh/Sam
Summary: Josh and Sam's early history.
Size: 176K/32,514 words
Timeline: Takes place between November 1985 and May 1986.
Rating: NC-17.
Spoilers: None.
Notes: This story was inspired by the flashback scenes in "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen", and it stands as my own creative stab at explaining how Josh and Sam knew each other and the look on Josh's face when Sam said he was about to marry "Lisa" in 1997. First person, Sam's point of view.
Recommended pre-reading: None.
Acknowledgements: To kelly m. for her sharp eye, her sharp brain, and her sharp tongue, to ellen m., Shana, and Sabine for New York help, and to my amazing beta team (Minna Leigh, Elizabeth Collins, Adina, and Anna-Maria Jennings), for seeing the promise in the original version and helping me to realize it here.
Timestamp: Written December 2000-January 2001. Rewritten August-September 2001.

Contradictions

Category: Josh, implied Josh/Sam
Summary: "Tell me, what is it that makes gay guys want to believe every other guy on the face of the planet is gay, too?"
Size: 21K/3728 words
Timeline: Takes place in September 1991.
Rating: PG.
Spoilers: None.
Notes: "Honor the Man" was a non-Turning-universe take on what could have been behind Josh's strange interaction with Matt Skinner in "The Portland Trip." This little story is the Turning-universe explanation. First person, Josh's point of view.
Recommended pre-reading: "Turning Myself Into You."
Acknowledgements: To Minna Leigh and Luna for swoop assistance and beta, Dafna Greer for the original impetus, and Elizabeth Collins for political co-conspiring.
Timestamp: Written June 2002.

The Real Thing

Category: Sam/OFC, Josh/Sam
Summary: There is no way not to be excited / When what you have been disillusioned by raises its head / From its arms and seems to want to talk to you again. / You forget home and family / And set off on foot or in your automobile / And go to where you believe this form of reality / May dwell. -- Kenneth Koch, from "Paradiso"
Size: 166K/30,439 words
Timeline: Takes place from October to December 1997.
Rating: R.
Spoilers: Extensive spoilers for two of the flashback scenes in "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen."
Notes: First person, Sam's point of view.
Recommended pre-reading: "Turning Myself Into You."
Acknowledgements: Another Juxtaposition, Ryo Sen, Lyman's Might, soupytwist, Rivka W., and DWR played Toby to my Sam; and Luna, Elizabeth Collins, Minna Leigh, Dafna Greer, Anna-Maria Jennings, and International Princess made it all come together.
Timestamp: Written January 2001. Rewritten August-December 2002.

For Everything You Have Missed

Category: Josh/Sam
Summary: The tumultuous months of the Bartlet campaign leading up to Election Day, and the fallout in Sam and Josh's relationship.
Size: 133K/24,374 words
Timeline: Takes place from September to November 1998.
Rating: Mostly PG-13, but with some arguably R scenes.
Spoilers: Extremely mild, fleeting spoilers for two of the flashback scenes in "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen."
Notes: First person, Sam's point of view.
Recommended pre-reading: "Turning Myself Into You."
Acknowledgements: Don't be fooled by this single-author crap; Anna-Maria Jennings has her fingerprints all over this one.
Timestamp: Written February 2001.

Ghosts

Category: Josh/Sam
Summary: In the middle of a war between India and Pakistan and a nasty deposition, Josh shows up at Sam's apartment.
Size: 19K/3432 words
Timeline: Takes place in January 2000.
Rating: PG.
Spoilers: Mild spoilers for "Lord John Marbury."
Notes: This is much shorter than the stuff I usually tend to write. It started as an experiment I didn't plan to show anyone -- basically just an exercise in writing first-person from Josh's point of view rather than Sam's -- but it ended up with more actual content than I'd intended, so here it is. First person, Josh's point of view.
Recommended pre-reading: Nothing essential, but "For Everything You Have Missed" provides the backstory.
Acknowledgements: Thanks are again due to Anna-Maria Jennings for her helpful suggestions.
Timestamp: Written January 2001.

Dancing With Shadows

Category: Josh/Sam
Summary: What happens in Sam's and Josh's lives after Josh gets shot.
Size: 124K/23,085 words
Timeline: Takes place from May to November 2000.
Rating: NC-17.
Spoilers: Extensive spoilers for "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen." Milder spoilers for "What Kind of Day Has This Been," "The Midterms," and "In This White House." One very brief, fleeting spoiler for "Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics."
Notes: This is a sequel to "For Everything You Have Missed." Minna Leigh also wrote a vignette set during this story that can be found here. First person, Sam's point of view.
Recommended pre-reading: "Turning Myself Into You" and "For Everything You Have Missed."
Acknowledgements: Thanks again to Anna-Maria Jennings for her always fabulous critique and invaluable late-night shark attacks.
Timestamp: Written February-March 2001.

Transparent Reflections

Category: Josh, Josh/Sam
Summary: Josh and Sam realize that they don't know what the injury count is, yet.
Size: 173K/31,856 words
Timeline: Takes place in November and December 2000.
Rating: PG-13.
Spoilers: Extensive spoilers for "Noel." Major spoilers for "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen." Fleeting and/or vague spoilers for "The Crackpots and These Women," "And Surely it's to Their Credit," and "Galileo."
Recommended pre-reading:"Turning Myself Into You," "For Everything You Have Missed," and "Dancing With Shadows."
Notes: The original idea for this one came from the combined imaginations of myself and Anna-Maria Jennings, and it dates all the way back to February 2001 when we first started brainstorming about why Sam hadn't been more present in "Noel." The story ultimately became quite a different interpretation of that outline than we had originally envisioned, but the overall structure is the same. First-person, alternating between Josh's and Sam's points of view.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Julian Lee, Miriam D., and Kacey Linden for encouragement, Luna, Cori Lannam, Nicole D'Annais, and kel for adding spice, and Minna Leigh, Elizabeth Collins, Anna-Maria Jennings, and Adina for incredibly helpful editing.
Timestamp: Written September-December 2001.

Speechless

Category: Josh/Sam
Summary: The events surrounding the Global Defense Council speech, as Josh saw them. And thus was born the hurt-no-comfort story.
Size: 70K/13,014 words
Timeline: Takes place in January 2001.
Rating: PG-13.
Spoilers: Extensive spoilers for "The Drop-In." Vaguer and somewhat less extensive spoilers for "Noel." Mild spoilers for "The Leadership Breakfast." Very brief, fleeting spoilers for "The Crackpots and These Women," "Lord John Marbury," "Celestial Navigation," "Let Bartlet Be Bartlet," "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen," "The Midterms," "In This White House," "The Portland Trip," and "Bartlet's Third State of the Union."
Recommended pre-reading: Nothing essential.
Notes: First person, Josh's point of view.
Acknowledgements: Thank you to Anna-Maria Jennings for comments and to Pam B. for inspiring this with her superb analysis of "The Drop-In."
Timestamp: Written March 2001.

Tripartisan

Category: Josh/Sam
Summary: Lisa, and Seth Gillette, in the aftermath of the disclosure of Sam's father's infidelity.
Size: 135K/25,097 words
Timeline: Takes place in February 2001.
Rating: PG-13 with a few arguably R moments (language and innuendo).
Spoilers: Extensive spoilers for "Somebody's Going to Emergency, Somebody's Going to Jail." Vaguer and somewhat less extensive spoilers for "Noel." Mild spoilers for one flashback scene in "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen," for "The Drop-In," and for "The War at Home." One brief, fleeting spoiler for "The Portland Trip."
Notes: This is a sequel to "Speechless." First person, Josh's point of view. I also wrote a 250-word "radio" vignette set during this story that can be found here, if you're interested. Scroll down to "Keeping Up With the Joneses."
Recommended pre-reading: "The Real Thing," "Ghosts," "Dancing With Shadows," and "Speechless."
Acknowledgements: Thank you to Kathie, for helping me get a handle on how to get it right this time, to Minna Leigh, for believing I already had, to Kate, for the title, and to Shana, for a well-timed political suggestion. And, of course, an extra special thanks to Anna-Maria Jennings -- so many little things about this one are hers.
Timestamp: Written March-May 2001.

Interlude for Two Voices and a Cast of Thousands

Category: Josh/Sam
Summary: Sam deals with finding out about the tanker that hit Delaware.
Size: 74K/13,368 words
Timeline: Takes place in April 2001.
Rating: PG-13.
Spoilers: Extensive spoilers for "Bad Moon Rising." Mild spoilers for "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen." Vague spoilers for "Noel." One brief, fleeting spoiler for "The Drop-In."
Notes: This one is a bit of a departure for me -- while it's not *quite* hurt-comfort, it's probably the closest I'll ever get. I'm a bit embarrassed by it, but I don't think it ventures too far into that realm to be inconsistent with my interpretation of the characters. First person, Sam's point of view.
Recommended pre-reading: "Speechless" and "Tripartisan."
Acknowledgements: To Pam B. for the tip about the intended-but-dropped storyline about the trip to Delaware, to Kemuri and Mango House Counsel T1 for expert legal advice, and to Minna Leigh, Adina, Elizabeth Collins, and Anna-Maria Jennings for editing and overall inspiration.
Timestamp: Written June-July 2001.

The Decay of Lying

Category: Josh/Sam
Summary: The fallout from the MS scandal in Sam and Josh's relationship.
Size: 136K/24,995 words
Timeline: Takes place from May to November 2001.
Rating: R.
Spoilers: Extensive spoilers for "The Fall's Gonna Kill You" and "Two Cathedrals." Major spoilers for "Manchester" and "Gone Quiet." Brief, fleeting spoilers for "A Proportional Response," "He Shall, From Time to Time," "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen," "The Portland Trip," "Noel," "The Drop-In," "Somebody's Going to Emergency, Somebody's Going to Jail," "Bad Moon Rising," and "18th and Potomac."
Notes: This one picks up a few days after "Interlude for Two Voices and a Cast of Thousands" ends. Matt's for Dafna. The couch in scene eight is for Richard. First person, Sam's point of view.
Recommended pre-reading: "A Change in the Weather," "Turning Myself Into You," and "For Everything You Have Missed."
Acknowledgements: To Luna, Anna-Maria Jennings, Minna Leigh, Elizabeth Collins, Adina and Dafna Greer for editing, and to Rivka, Another Juxtaposition, kel, Stephanie C. and Mary Mac for details and support.
Timestamp: Written April 2001-April 2002.

Resonance

Category: Josh, Josh/Amy, references to Josh/Sam
Summary: The Turningverse take on Josh and Amy.
Size: 107K/19,489 words
Timeline: Takes place between December 2001 and May 2002.
Rating: PG-13.
Spoilers: Extensive spoilers for "The Women of Qumar," "We Killed Yamamoto," and "Posse Comitatus." Minor spoilers for "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen," "Bartlet for America," "100,000 Airplanes," and "Night Five." Fleeting spoilers for "The Crackpots and These Women," "Noel," "H-Con 172," and "The Two Bartlets."
Notes: This story begins a week and a half after the end of "The Decay of Lying" and overlaps with "Hymns to the Earth and the Air." First person, Josh's point of view.
Recommended pre-reading: "The Decay of Lying."
Acknowledgements: To the betas, including Adina, Elizabeth Collins, Rivka W., and Anna-Maria Jennings, but especially to Luna and Minna Leigh. International Princess also helped connect plot and theme early on, and soupytwist and the rest of the livejournal crew were a marvelous cheerleading squad.
Timestamp: Written June 2002-May 2003.

Hymns to the Earth and the Air

Category: Sam, references to Sam/OFC and Josh/Sam
Summary: The Congressional censure, the State of the Union, Lisa, and Josh, all wrapped up in one rather messy little package and delivered COD to Sam's doorstep.
Size: 66K/12,007 words
Timeline: Takes place in January 2002.
Rating: PG.
Spoilers: Extensive spoilers for "100,000 Airplanes." Sorta.
Notes: This is a Turning-universe retelling of the events of the episode "100,000 Airplanes," replacing Sorkin's Lisa Sherborne with my Lisa Seppala, and dealing with all of the changes that necessarily follow from that. For more information about what that means, read the intro. First person, Sam's point of view.
Recommended pre-reading: "The Decay of Lying."
Acknowledgements: To Elise for the title, to Kate for the content check, to Lysandra and the other emus for bringing the Cosi, to Minna Leigh for batting this idea around with me early on, and to Luna, Dafna Greer, and Elizabeth Collins for most excellent beta.
Timestamp: Written June-July 2002.

Winter Sun

Category: Sam, Josh, references to Josh/Sam, Josh/Amy, and Sam/OFC
Summary: Sam's Congressional campaign from the outside and the inside.
Size: 294K/52,819 words
Timeline: Takes place between November 2002 and March 2003.
Rating: PG.
Spoilers: Extensive ones for "Election Night," "Process Stories" and "The California 47th." Minor ones for season four generally, especially "Game On," "Swiss Diplomacy," and "Arctic Radar."
Notes: First person, alternating between Josh's and Sam's points of view.
Recommended pre-reading: "The Decay of Lying."
Acknowledgements: To Maureen, for jumpstarting this story again after a long, long break. To Ria, Dafna Greer, JMF, and DWR for detail work. And to my marvelous betas: Elizabeth Collins, Rivka W., and Adina, and especially Luna and Minna Leigh.
Timestamp: Written February 2003-July 2005.

More (currently in progress) to follow!