Title: Bye Bye, Love
Author: Baked Goldfish
Spoilers: Possibly anything up to Bartlet For America
Disclaimer: Not mine. No money being made. Please don't sue.
Summary: "It was dark out, and raining, like in all those film noir scenes. Very cliche, very ominous, very predictable that my doorbell rang really late that night." Sequel to Current Standing, third in an as-yet untitled series.
Bye Bye, Love by Baked Goldfish
"Uhn," I grunted, rolling off him. Then the alarm blared at us, and I slapped it off. It might have fallen down; I dunno.
"Jesus," he breathed, eyes glazed over and jaw slack. Jesus didn't have anything to do with *that* wake-up call, if you ask me. Really, that little sin right there was probably enough to damn us to hell for all eternity, if I know my Leviticus well.
"You good?" I asked, rolling onto my side and pulling him to me. He was still sticky with sweat and – well, with other things too, I guess.
"Stupid question," he answered, kissing my chest. Ohboy. "We need to do that again sometime."
I really, really agreed with him. But, that stupid, professional, rational part of my brain made me grab the alarm, which, by the way, hadn't fallen, and made me show Leo what time it was. "We'll be late," I mumbled as he looked up.
He squinted at the big red numbers and shrugged. "I'll make it quick," he assured me before taking me in his mouth; I was stiff again in seconds.
Good morning, world.
"'Morning, Josh," Sam said from his desk.
"As a matter of fact, it *is* a good morning," I replied, strutting past. That colonel guy from "A Few Good Men" was right; getting a blowjob from your boss is, um . . . heady?
Yeah. That's the right word.
Sam didn't seem to get it; either that, or he just felt like going for a walk, because he got up and followed me down the hall. "Pardon?"
"You had stated, 'good morning,' and I concurred with your assessment," I said. I tried to throw in a couple of big words, thinking he might understand that better.
"I never said, 'good morning,'" he countered.
I stopped. I was positive he'd said, "good morning." "You said, 'good morning,' like, two seconds ago."
"No," he began slowly, getting that condescending smirk on his face. "I'd said, 'morning,' and you said, 'as a matter of fact, it *is* a good morning.' Then I said, 'pardon,' and you said-"
"Okay, stop," I interrupted, beginning to walk again. He was starting to get weird on me. "Look, let's just leave it at 'good morning,' okay?"
Sam looked out the window in someone's office – I don't think either of us were sure who's window it was, but it didn't really matter because we were senior staff so we could look out anyone's window except for the President's, and anyone who complained about us looking out their windows could just shove it – and he said, "It's raining out."
It's raining out. What the hell? "Just because it's raining out doesn't make it a bad morning. Besides, rain's good for the environment. I thought you'd know that, being our resident nature boy and everything."
He looked at me, perplexed, and said, "I'm not the resident nature boy."
"I thought you like to hike and all that."
"No, I – You know what? You're thinkin' of Toby."
Now it was my turn to be perplexed. "Toby's not the nature boy."
"Yeah, but he's the *anti*-nature boy," Sam explained.
It still made no sense, but whatever. Toby was walking up to us, just getting in for the day, and I looked at him and said, "Yeah, but Toby's also Satan," loud enough for everyone in the bullpen to hear me.
Toby glared at me and walked on by, muttering, "Well, good morning to you too."
Yes! "Yes, it is!" I exclaimed. So I'm easily excited like that. Sue me.
Sam got another perplexed look, and pulled me into my office – which was a little ways away, so much dragging ensued. "Why are you in such a good mood this morning?" he asked quietly.
I smirked. I wasn't gonna tell him; he didn't know how to keep a secret, and I didn't want the whole White House to know that I was boffing my boss – at least, not before I discussed it with Leo, at any rate. "No reason."
"Come on!" he wheedled, and I shrugged and walked to my desk. He peered at me, and kept peering at me even when I ignored him. Suddenly, he stopped peering and started grinning. "You got laid."
Ut-oh. "What're you talking about?" I asked, hoping I sounded incredulous.
"The past two or three days, you've been getting laid. Your face shows it," he explained. Closing the door (which had been open when he'd told me very loudly that I'd gotten laid, so, of course, *that* was gonna worry me for the rest of the day on top of everything else), he sat down and asked, "Who was it? Donna?"
"I'm not sleeping with my asisstant." I was sleeping with my boss. There's a difference. I glared at him, and asked, "Don't you have work to do?"
He wouldn't let up. He's a persistent son of a bitch, our Sam. Never stops things halfway. "Is it someone I know?"
"I'm not answering that," I told him.
"Your poker face, much like your watch, sucks," he replied.
"Okay, if everyone thinks my watch sucks, why doesn't anyone ever buy me a new one?" I exclaimed. Lame, yeah, but I was trying to change the subject. Our Sam may be persistent, but he also tangents easily. I was hoping beyond hope that he would take the bait here.
"It's someone I know . . . is it someone who works here?" he asked. Damn.
"It's – Sam, go away," I muttered. When distraction fails, try being straightforward.
"Someone I know, someone who works here, and not Donna," he mused. "CJ?"
"Sam, go do a job, huh?" I told him, the words spilling out of my mouth before I realized what I was saying.
He blinked and said, "'Go do a job'? Leo's rubbing off on you, you know."
"Yeah," I muttered, not daring to make eye contact. He left, and I thanked God upon high for making our Sam a bit of an idiot savant.
And then CJ walked in, and I abruptly stopped thanking God.
"Joshua," she began, and I knew I was in for it. What, exactly, 'it' was, I wasn't quite sure, but I knew I'd be singed before I found out. "We need to talk."
"What's up?" I asked, trying to sound as lighthearted as possible.
She closed my door, and sat down in front of my desk. With an oddly quiet voice, she said, "Keep in mind that I'm asking you these questions not because I care for you as a human being, but because I care for the welfare of this administration."
"Are you seeing Leo?"
I smirked, and babbled, "Like, right now? 'Cuz, I gotta say, if you're seeing Leo in this office, you might wanna have your eyes, or maybe your head checked-"
"Cut the crap, Josh, you know what I mean," she muttered. "Are you seeing Leo, in a non-professional relationship?"
I swallowed nervously. It seemed to be the appropriate thing to do. My smirk still frozen in place, I asked, "What makes you think that?"
"I was trying to tell you yesterday, before the morning staff meeting," she answered. It came back to me; right before Ellison from Illinois called, she had tried to tell me something about someone seeing me and Leo somewhere, but she'd left when I took the call. "Someone from counsel's office told someone in the bullpen, who then told Carol, who then told me, that you and Leo were at the cafeteria late two nights ago, having dinner."
"He's my boss," I said. "I can't have dinner with my boss?"
"Josh, they said you two kissed," she sighed, sounding like the world was on her shoulders. "Tell me it isn't true, and I'll walk right out of here and we can pretend this conversation never happened."
I could do just that, but not before I – "Have you asked Leo yet?"
"No, have you asked him?" I had to know. If she'd asked him, and he'd said one thing, and I said the other, it'd be double the mint, double the fun for all parties involved.
She shook her head. "I haven't asked him."
"It's not true." She nodded and got up. Crap. "CJ."
She was at the door. She could have left, pretended she hadn't heard me. Instead, she turned, looked at me, and said, "Yeah?"
She stared at me blankly, as if she hadn't heard me right, so I nodded slightly. She swallowed hard, and said, softly, "Call Leo. Tell him I need to talk to the two of you, as soon as possible."
I picked up the phone and dialed him up, still staring at CJ. On the one hand, I didn't like her telling me what I should be doing with my love life. On the other hand, she was doing her job, better than just about anyone else could have.
Leo picked up almost immediately. "Leo, can you get down here now?" I asked, using a voice that let him know there was no time for small talk.
"I'm gonna be needed in the situation room in about ten minutes," he answered.
I put the phone to my shoulder and told CJ, "He's gonna be in the sit room-"
"Tell him that I don't care if the devil itself takes over Detroit, he does nothing until the two of you have talked to me."
I put the phone back to my ear and quoted her. I could almost see him scowling as he growled, "Put her on the phone." I handed her the phone and watched.
"You and Josh, in the mess hall, two nights ago. What were you doing?" She waited a beat before hanging up, and told me, "He's gonna be down here in a minute."
I nodded, and sat back, waiting for the explosion that was about to happen in my office.
The meeting hadn't gone too well. It had sucked mightily, and now I was in the eight o'clock senior staff meeting with the President, Leo, CJ, Sam and Toby all standing around, and it felt like they were all glaring at us. By us, I mean, of course, myself and Leo.
Leo looked completely composed, the bastard. Don't get me wrong, I'd walk through fire for that guy, but nobody should be able to look that composed right after Claudia Jean Cregg rips 'em a new one.
And now we were in our first staff meeting of the day, and I didn't even know what the President was talking about. Yeah, that's a bad thing, but I figured I could pick it all up later. I was too busy thinking about what I'd "discussed" with CJ and Leo. No overnight stays. No public displays of anything even remotely associated with affection. No nothing, for at least a couple weeks, so that the rumors – true though they may be – could die out.
So, basically, we were stuck with the option of hiding in Leo's office closet and engaging in quickies and other stupid, adolescent games, as if sex alone could hold up a relationship, or avoiding each other like the plague. Either that, or we break it off completely.
". . . with stem cell research. Josh?"
That was the President. Woo, yay. I had no idea what he was talking about.
Thank God for Leo. "I'll have Josh talk to some guys from the Health Department," he said, covering for me. The President nodded, and dismissed us all.
The day looked dismal, and I couldn't wait until we could all go home.
I got home late, and ordered out for dinner; the past few nights, Leo had cooked, and I was used to eating actual food as opposed to overpriced grease, so the kung pao chicken that arrived in a styrofoam container seemed more than a little icky. But, I was hungry, and I ate it on the couch in front of the television. Nothing on caught my eye, so I finished quickly and got ready for bed.
It was dark out, and raining, like in all those film noir scenes. Very cliche, very ominous, very predictable that my doorbell rang really late that night. I pushed the button on the intercom and asked, "Who is it?"
"It's me," came the fuzzy, staticky reply. I had no idea who "me" was. The voice sounded familiar, but . . .
"Who's 'me'?" I asked. There was no way I was about to let some potentially drunk frat boy into my nice, freshly cleaned apartment without knowing his name. I needed to know who to send the bill to, and all that crap.
Cliff. Could have been Frat Boy Cliff. I hoped to high hell it was Frat Boy Cliff, and not House Majority Counsel Cliff. Because, one, there was no way Majority Counsel Cliff could know where I lived, and two, the sheer scandal of House Majority Counsel Cliff meeting with White House Deputy Chief of Staff Josh was . . . well, it just was.
"Hang on," I muttered, punching the intercom off and pulling on some sneakers. I went downstairs, and apparently I did something to piss off God himself, because it was, indeed, Cliff Calley standing outside the door. He was in jeans, a hooded sweatshirt, and Doc Martens, and he was soaked, but it was him all right.
"Lemme in," he muttered, his hands stuffed in the pockets on his sweatshirt. This whole scene was playing out more and more like a mystery movie as the seconds ticked by. I wasn't going to let him in; I still had a distrust for this man, even though he seemed to be decent. I decided to stall.
"How'd you get my address?" I asked.
"The phone book. Let me in."
My address is unlisted. Has been since I'd first come to DC. "Bull. What're you doing here?"
"Can you just trust me for a second?" he asked, and I could tell by his tone of voice that he had something important to say. I let him in, and he stood in the hallway, dripping. He pulled a tan envelope out from under his sweatshirt, handed it to me, and said, "These aren't the only ones, and I wasn't here, okay?"
"Okay," I said, looking and feeling confused as he stepped back out into the rain. I walked back into my apartment and sat down on the couch, emptying the contents of the folder onto my coffee table.
They were blown-up, grainy, and black and white, but you could still tell who the people were. And, more importantly, what they were doing.
I went pale, and fumbled for the phone. Amazingly, I still had the mental capacity to dial Leo's number, and, equally amazing, I had the stamina to not pass out while I waited for him to pick up.
"McGarry," he said. He sounded blissfully ignorant.
"Leo? We've got a problem."
CJ had come with Leo. We contemplated calling the rest of the senior staff, and the President, and Ollie Babish, and a whole slew of other people, but we held off. Instead, we engaged in a glaring match. We didn't do the shouting match thing, mostly because it was midnight and all the normal people were sleeping.
"So let's summarize," CJ began, slumped on the couch and holding her head like she had a migraine. "You don't know who else has this, you don't know when they took it, and . . . what?"
"We don't know what they want," Leo added in. "How the hell did - *why* the hell did Cliff give it to you?"
He'd asked me this about five times already. "I don't know," I answered again, trying to be patient. It was late, we were all tired, and now that we had those damned pictures, we were scared and angry on top of everything else. Those pictures just seemed to come out of the blue, randomly dropped down onto our heads like something out of a Monty Python skit. I would have laughed if it were funny.
CJ sighed, and squeezed the bridge of her nose. "I don't want to be the bad guy here."
Leo and I looked at each other from across the room. "Yeah," I said.
"I mean, I don't want to be the one to tell you guys-"
"I know," Leo interrupted. "We know."
"So I guess that's-" I didn't finish the sentence. I just smiled weakly, and tried to pretend like it didn't really matter.
"It was pretty foolish to think-" Leo didn't finish the sentence either, and just kind of motioned vaguely. "You know."
"Yeah," I agreed, even though I didn't really.
We were quiet for a while, and CJ noticed. She got up, looked at Leo and said, "I'll wait for you outside."
After she left, he looked at me and said, "So."
"Yeah." I scratched the back of my head nervously. "So-"
"There's nothing else we can do tonight," he said, and I nodded. "There's nothing more we can . . . " His voice trailed off, and I watched him put his jacket back on.
"I'll see you in the morning, I guess," I told him.
"I guess," he sighed. He looked at me, from across the room, and said, "Hey, Josh."
"I lo . . . Just, don't put your hand through a window or anything, okay?"
He was kind of smirking, and I smirked back, letting him know I got it. "Long as you don't take a drink or anything," I countered. He grinned, for about half a second, and then the grin faded away.
"I-" He turned, and left, and it was then that I realized neither of us said goodbye. No reason to, I suppose, since we'd see each other at work in the morning, but it still felt weird. Kind of empty, too. I walked to the window, and I could see him getting into CJ's car, the passenger side, and then I couldn't see him anymore because her windows were tinted, it was dark out, and it was raining.
I went to bed, and it was cold.
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