Title: Current Standing
Author: Baked Goldfish
Rated: PG-13 for snogging and allusion to other stuff
Spoilers: BfA, I guess.
Disclaimer: I so do not own them. Please don't sue me.
Summary: Donna finds out, they name each other, Josh doesn't learn how to cook, and other things happen. Sequel to As Men Do.
Current Standing by Baked Goldfish
"Is it going to give me a headache?"
I looked up at her. Leo was right, she does need a cowbell; I had no clue that CJ was in my office until I heard her voice.
"Is what gonna give you a headache?" It's not as if I knew what she's talking about.
"Whatever's going on with you," she replied, still standing in the doorway and glaring at me. "You've been looking confused all day."
A little dazed, maybe. Confused, I think not. All right, maybe confused. A little. See, it's been about a week and three days since Leo's hearing, and we've got another couple days before he goes back for the rest of it. And, in that time, we kissed – and right now, I'd just like to say that there needs to be a more manly word for kissing, because "kiss" just doesn't cut it – kissed some more, took a break while he went to dinner with his lawyer, made out, took a break while I tried to keep the October '98 situation quiet over Christmas, made out again, and made out some more.
Somehow, we'd managed to keep the whole kissing and making out stuff secret from the rest of the senior staff. I think that feat had something to do with the fact that the rest of the senior staff, minus Toby, was off celebrating Christmas, and Toby just didn't pay attention.
CJ was still in my office. I had to talk to her. "I'm fine," I told her. She'd believe me. She always believes me. I'm a believable type of guy.
"I don't believe you," she stated. Ahkay.
"I'm really okay," I said, giving her my best smile. "It's the day after New Year's, I just had a little too much to drink last night."
"So you had a glass of champagne, huh?"
Okay, those "sensitive system" jokes have gotta stop. They're old now, and I really don't have that much of a sensitive system, anyway. "Right," I muttered, getting back to work.
She came inside, and locked the door. "Seriously, Josh. I've been hearing things."
"What things?" I asked quickly, looking back up at her. If it was the thing with Leo, I'd be semi-okay. That, we could work with, with that nice blanket statement, "It is not White House policy to comment on the personal lives blah blah blah," until we could come up with something better. If it was the other thing with Leo, the older one, I wouldn't be semi-okay.
"What happened that night during the campaign when the President collapsed?" she asked.
I could feel the sweat starting to trickle down the small of my back. "What've you heard?"
She sat down in the chair in front of my desk and said, "I just want to know why Gibson knew about that. I haven't heard anything, yet."
Well, there's that, at least. "Don't worry about it," I told her.
"I said, don't worry about it." We really do tell her that too often, but this time, it was justified. It's Leo's call whether he wants to let her know or not, not mine. "Anything else?"
She shook her head, looking pretty miffed. I guess I'd be miffed if I were her, too, but I had to keep quiet on that front. It'd be one thing if people were asking questions, but she just thought she'd figured something out – which she had. I just needed to let Leo know, is all.
"Actually," she began, and I started to feel my heart sink. "There *was* one more thing. Someone said they saw you and Leo last night at-"
My phone rang. Thank God. I grabbed it and said, "Josh Lyman." It was Senator Ellison, and he was wasting my time, but I ignored CJ and she shrugged and left. It only took a minute to please the senator from Illinois, and I hung up right before Donna waltzed in.
"Messages, addendums, and you've got staff in ten," she stated, dropping a couple piles of paper on my desk. Then she glared at me. A lot of people seemed to be glaring at me lately, and I gotta admit, I'm finding it a little unsettling.
"What?" I prompted. She was glaring for too long.
"You've got a girlfriend," she said with a smirk, waltzing out of my office. Waltzing is a good word for her walk, I think. "Walk" is a lumbering word, you know? She's got the moves of a ballerina.
Don't ask how I'd know. I was four, and-
Anyway, I followed her out. "I do not have a girlfriend," I told her. It's true. Leo's not a girl, for one thing, and I'm not even sure if I can call him my "boyfriend". It sounds . . . weird, describing him like that. Leo and boyfriend are two words that should never be in the same sentence together.
"Then you have a boyfriend," she stated. This time, I glared at her. While she, and everyone on the senior staff, knew about the fact that Mandy just about killed me for all other women, it's not exactly a fact I flaunted.
Backstory here. See, it's not that I "woke up gay," or anything. I'm open-minded. I'll go for a woman, if she's the right type. And I've always gone for guys, if they were the right type. It's just that, after Mandy – who, I should say, is a devil-spawn who rips off men's balls just to play ping-pong with them – I went out with a guy to, you know, recover. And I've never gone out with a woman since. Almost asked out Joey Lucas, but when I knocked on her door, Al Kiefer in a bathrobe answered, and that was a bit of a turn-off.
Anyway. I said to Donna, "Next time, say it loud enough so the press can hear you." I was still glaring at her, by the way.
She pulled me back into my office, shut the door, and said, "You've got that look on your face."
"What look?" I asked. Seriously, what look? I don't do looks. I sometimes look angry, and I sometimes look confused, and, a lot of the time, I look smug, but I don't do other looks.
"That look like you've been making out with someone for the past ten days." Just hit the nail right on the head there, why doncha?
"I haven't been-" I sighed, exasperated. I couldn't lie to Donna now, because whenever she finds out, she'd hold it over my head that I'd lied to her. "This could be construed as sexual harrassment, you know."
"It wouldn't hold," she replied, seeming quite full of herself.
"And why not?"
"Remember that quip about the Catholic school girl uniform?" she answered. "Or the 'tough love' comment? Or the manhandling of my underwear?"
"Hey, it's not my fault you dropped it on the floor in front of Karen Cahill," I retorted. Well, it wasn't. I mean, what was I supposed to do? The woman sent me Donna's underwear in the mail. Was I supposed to pull her aside and say, "Hey, Donna, c'mere and let me show you your underwear in private"? Somehow, I don't think so.
"Still. Your claim wouldn't hold, because my claims are better."
She had a point. I hate it when Donna has a point. "Fine. I – yeah. Yeah, I . . . " I had no idea how to continue with this. I plunked down in my chair, and scratched the back of my head. "I don't know how to put this."
"Just put it," she replied.
One thing you gotta know about Donnatella Moss. She might appear flighty at times, and she might seem like she'd be a big gossip, but let me tell you, she knows when to keep a secret. Sam, on the other hand, doesn't seem to have the word "secret" in his vocabulary. I mean, when it comes to personal relationships. State secrets, he'll keep those, but if I told him that it was really, really, *really* important to keep this personal secret, the entire west wing would know within the hour.
But Donna? She knows how to keep her mouth shut.
"I'm – I – Leo and I-"
"Ohmygod, you're sleeping with Leo?" she said, wide-eyed and slack- jawed. Two things you gotta know about Donna Moss. She keeps secrets well. She also likes to jump to conclusions.
"No, Donna-" I sighed again, and rubbed my face. "We're not sleeping together. We – I don't know. We're something."
She leaned kind of closer and asked, in this really conspiratorial whisper, "Isn't that, I dunno, illegal?"
I glared at her again, and shook my head slowly. "Donna, just don't tell anyone, okay? I'm not quite sure where we are."
She scrunched up her face in that way she does when she doesn't understand something. "You don't know where you are? Wait, but. I thought you just said-"
"We've kissed," I said, interrupting her. Keeps secrets, jumps to conclusions, easily confused. Three things you need to know about Donna. "And, we did other . . . things. But it was all here."
Her eyes went wide again. "You mean, 'in this office,' here?"
"Like, 'on this desk,' here??"
"Ohmygod, did you two make out in this chair?" she squeaked, jumping out of her seat and looking down at it.
"That chair would be broken if we'd tried anything on it," I finally managed to say. We never did anything in this office, and even if we had, I wouldn't be telling Donna. That's the fourth thing you need to know about her: she freaks out over small things easily. "Donna, just. Keep it quiet, okay?"
She looked at me and made a zipping motion across her mouth. Then, she made a "turning a key in a lock" motion, and for some reason, I started wondering why you'd have a lock on a zipper. Or how. Or where.
"Okay," I sighed. I'd been doing a lot of sighing today, and it was only a little past eight in the morning. "I gotta make a few phone calls."
"You should go out with him," she said, making herself completely useless by standing in front of my desk.
"I think I already *am* going out with him," I countered, suddenly feeling the need for banter. Anything, really, to keep from having to call Leo and tell him he needs to talk to CJ about the October thing.
Donna sighed, not really knowing that I was procrastinating, and not really caring either. "No, I mean you should go *out* with him. Like on a date. It's not healthy for relationships if you're just sitting around in the office snogging."
Snogging? It's a less . . . feminine word than "kissing," but . . . "Please never use that word, ever again," I muttered to her. That need for banter suddenly passed, and I went back to work.
"I'll be outside if you need me," she said, giving me one of those, "You lucky dog, you," looks.
I picked up the phone, and dialed Leo's extension. When he picked up, I said, "Leo? CJ has some questions about Gibson."
There was a pause, and I knew that this greeting is not exactly on line with the "Good morning" that Leo might've been expecting from me. "She's been getting questions?"
"Not yet," I replied. Thank God. If she were, I'd hate to see how it'd play out for this administration.
I'd hate to see how it'd play out for Leo.
"Then, what?" he prompted, his voice sounding very tense. I didn't blame him; he'd probably have to out himself to the staff about October, and I just don't know how everyone would react. I mean, I'm sure the guys would be okay – CJ, Toby, Sam. The asisstants, too. But, I don't know about everyone else. If it got out, which it will if we can't get Cliff or someone to limit Gibson's line of questioning, it'd be hell all over again.
"She's wondering how Gibson knew about it," I answered. "I think you need to tell her, in case the press do get wind of it."
He paused again, and I held my breath. I knew he'd wanted to keep it as quiet as possible. "Ain't nothing but a family thing," he'd told me when I'd brought it up Inauguration Day in '99. But CJ's the press secretary, and she needed to know about it.
If she could figure it out, and I'm not downing her intelligence here, but if she could figure it out, the press could too.
"I'll meet with her," he finally said. "I've gotta tell Margaret first, though."
Speaking of telling asisstants things . . . "Hey, Leo," I began. "Can I see you for a minute?"
There was yet another pause. You know what's worse than Leo's glare? His pauses. Because while his glares just make you think he's gonna hit you, his pauses pull a huge-ass psychological operation on you. You don't know if he's gonna be frutrated, or if he's gonna scream, or if he's gonna throttle you, or if he's gonna grab you and kiss you. Which I wouldn't mind, but one good possibility out of four? Not the greatest chances of that kissing one happening.
"Come on over," he finally said before not-quite-slamming the phone down. So, now I was afraid for my life. From two different people, as a matter of fact. CJ, because when she finds out I knew about October, she'll kill me, and Leo, because when I tell him Donna knows about him being my something-or-other, *he'll* kill me.
But I walked down to his office quickly, knowing that if I'd dilly- dallied, my death at his hands would be much, much slower, and I gave Margaret a brief hello before walking into Leo's office. You know, I never did woo her. Didn't seem too important, after that night. Gotta say, I was feeling a little jealous when Leo went to dinner with Jordan, but then he came back to the office – came back to the office on Christmas Eve, after a date, can you believe that? And we did – things. Very, very nice things. With hands, and mouths, and other nice body parts.
Moving on. Because Josh is at work now, and work is no time for Josh to be thinking about extracurriculars.
Especially when thinking those thoughts could make Josh's body do things that aren't hidden well by suit trousers.
And *especially* especially when Josh is about to die a horrid, horrid death.
Leo's sitting at his desk, looking as overworked as usual. "Heya," I said, sitting down in front of his desk.
"What'd you need?" he asked, taking his glasses off and dropping them to the desk.
I scratched the back of my neck and looked at some spot just above his right shoulder. "Donna kind of figured things out."
You know those moments where you can actually hear a record scratch, like on bad Fox TV comedies? One of those moments just happened in his office, there.
"Figured *what* things out?" he asked slowly. Well, growled slowly.
My hand dropped to my lap, and I replied, "She told me I looked like I've got a make-out partner, and your name might've slipped out." I kind of looked at him and cringed.
He glared at me, and paused. Bad combination. "You told your asisstant, that I'm your-" The glare went away, and he paused again, except this time he just looked confused. "Wait. What, exactly, *did* you tell her, anyway?"
I wasn't quite sure. "I'm not quite sure."
"You're not quite sure?"
"I don't think there was any kind of label attached, if that's what you mean," I added.
He was still looking confused, and I kinda had the urge to give him a cookie and pat him on the head. "Okay," he said slowly.
"I couldn't really put your name and the word 'boyfriend' in the same sentence," I blurted out suddenly. Remember how I'd said earlier that sometimes I'm stupid on purpose? This wasn't one of those times.
He glared at me again, but thankfully, the glare turned confused. "Well," he said after a while, sounding rather baffled. "Neither can I."
I looked down at my hands, and twiddled my thumbs. No, really, I actually twiddled them, with the clasped fingers and the circly movement and all that. "So, we gotta have a name for us, right?" I asked. I probably looked like I could use a cookie and a pat on the head, too. I sure as hell felt that way.
"Yeah," he agreed. "Yeah, we do."
Inspiration struck, and my head snapped up. "We're guys," I stated suddenly.
And there was that glare again. "You just figure that out, did you?" he quipped.
"No, I mean. I'm your guy, and you're my guy." It made sense in my head, at least. "That's our name. Guys."
He leaned back in his chair, and nodded. "I like it," he said, smiling tightly. Actually, he got that really pleased look on his face, the thoughtful one with the smile. I could've jumped him right there.
Instead, I smiled and said, "Great." That whole thing about the President potentially walking in kind of kept me from humping Leo silly, and all that.
"Is that all?"
Suddenly, I wanted to bring up CJ. I wanted to let him know that I would be there if he needed me to. I wanted to be there when he told her, because I wanted to take some of the flak. "Yeah, that's about it." Damn.
"Okay, then," he said, putting on his glasses. "Well, we've got staff in about a minute, so-"
"Actually, do you want me to be there when you tell CJ?" I asked. I got that look on my face, the one that sort of said, "Don't hurt me, I'm only trying to be helpful," and hoped for the best.
He got that cookie-and-a-pat-on-the-head look again. "Uh, sure," he said, nodding slowly. I think he wasn't expecting the question; I had basically just offered to take some of the blame for her not knowing, and I don't think anyone had so blatantly offered anything like that to Leo in a very long time. Taking the blame, I mean. He's usually the one who takes the brunt of things around here, you know? Like with the President's MS, he's the one who told the entire staff, not the President. And when he had to come out with the whole rehab thing a couple years ago, I think his exact words were, "I go down, I go down. I'm not taking anyone with me."
I nodded as the staff started coming in. Taking my place near them, I waited for Leo to begin. The briefing was short, to the point, and bland, which, actually, was a good thing. It's not too often that I'd say that "bland" is a good thing, but in this White House, we can't get enough of it. "Bland" equals safe, and safe is always a good thing.
At the end of the briefing, CJ said, "I've just got one thing, Leo."
"I know," he said. "Be back here after you put the lid on." I took a deep breath, thinking about how hard this was going to be for him. Then, he decided to make it a little harder. "In fact, all of you be back here then. I need to talk to you all. Clear a few minutes from your schedules."
They filed out, and I stood there, probably looking like Gail out of her bowl. "You sure about that, Leo?" I asked, and I think my voice cracked somewhere in there. I'd have been embarrased if not for the fact that worry was already taking over my mind.
"Don't worry about it," he said, just like he always does. If there's one thing I hate about this guy, it's the fact that he doesn't want people to worry. I'm his guy, and on top of that, I'm his deputy. I'm supposed to worry.
Wait. On top of that? Or below that? Beside that, maybe?
"Whatever," I sighed. "Listen, I'm gonna-"
"Go," he said with a nod, sitting down. "I gotta tell Margaret, anyway." He looked up at me and said, "Should I tell her about our . . . thing, too?"
I found it funny that *he* was consulting *me*. "Can she keep a secret?"
"She kept a secret between when I was the Secretary of Labor and the State of the Union in 2000," he answered. One would have thought I'd remember that. See, Margaret falls in the same category as Donna, except that Margaret's been doing this longer. I think it's the government that makes 'em that way, because asisstants and secretaries that I've met elsewhere just aren't as . . . what's the word . . .
Weird? Yeah, that's it.
Anyway, I nodded, and left, vaguely dreading the end of the day.
"October 30, 1998. I was meeting with a couple of potential donors in my room."
I watched him tell the story. I didn't hear him; I didn't have to. I'd been there, remember? I saw the story happen. I watched him tell the story, and I watched their reactions. It was like when the President told them about the MS, except about ten times worse. See, here's the thing. As bad as that was, it was the President, and you can only get so angry at the President. He was trying to win an election, and, besides, multiple sclerosis is pretty much a personal matter anyway. But this was Leo, who never actually lied to them before, except for the MS, and that wasn't really his lie to lie anyway. And, you know, he's right. You go to rehab, and everyone's proud as hell of you, and patting you on the back, and all that. You fall off the wagon, and some of those "friends" of yours hate your guts.
These guys weren't like that, though. They would've understood. I can understand his fear behind keeping it secret, but he should've told them all years ago, when it had first happened. These guys wouldn't have been angry at him. I wasn't, the President wasn't, CJ, Toby, and Sam wouldn't have been. Now, though . . .
They were angry that it took him this long to tell them. It was yet another betrayal in a long line of 'em, when it had looked like we were over those.
And it was Leo.
I watched them all leave, and I knew they were looking at both Leo and me. I'd been sitting next to him for the entire meeting, whereas they'd been sitting together across from us. Margaret was still in her office; I had no idea how she was taking it, because she had been running an errand when I'd come in.
"They were pretty quiet," I said, hoping I was sounding hopeful.
"Yeah," he replied, sounding non-commital. "Yeah, they were."
I reached over and rubbed his knee, looking away. It just never seems right to look at a guy when you're trying to comfort him, you know? Unless you're trying to get in his pants, which I wasn't. Well, I was, but not at the moment. Later, like, a while from now, I'd try and get in Leo's pants.
Right now, I was aiming for comfort. "They'll grow into it."
"Yeah." He was looking at the ground. Probably not a good sign. I scooted my chair closer, and moved my hand to his neck; now, I started looking at him. I knew that had been tough for him, to just bring that up again after God knows how long, and I was afraid for him. He still looked gruff, but that was the exterior alone, and he knew I knew that.
I didn't tell him that it'll be okay, or any other empty platitude. I ran my fingers up and down his neck, nodded, and stood up. That's what guys do, and that's plenty enough to let the other guy know we care. "Lemme make dinner for you tonight."
I wasn't quite sure where that had come from. He wasn't either, and he kind of snapped out of whatever he was in and gave me this rather amused look. "Since when've you been able to cook?"
"I've always been able to cook." You take the frozen thing out of the box, pull the plastic over the potatoes back, slice the plastic over the main entree, stick it in the microwave and heat it up for a few minutes. Either that or you pick up the phone, hit the second number on the speed dial, and order a large with everything and extra cheese. What's so hard about that?
"You've never cooked a day in your life," he scoffed. He scoffed at me! I would take that from Donna, but not from-
Okay, I'd take that from him, too. Especially when I was coming up with a plan that was based on me taking scoffing from him. "Then come home with me tonight and teach me," I baited.
He saw the bait. He knew I was baiting him. And yet, he nodded and said, "Sure."
I smiled, and said, "In an hour?"
He nodded, and I left. Three things made me happy here. One, I'd get Leo out of the office, which means I'd get him to relax somewhat. Two, it'd almost be like a date – our first somewhat couple-y thing outside the office, even though we can't really do *real* couple-y things like go out together. Yeah, okay, we might be able to pull off "working dinners" a couple times, but after a little while, people might start picking up on things like that. See, political relationships only work if you're a guy going out with a girl, not a guy going out with a guy. Leo and I would never have a "normal" relationship – so having dinner at home would be as couple- y as we could ever get. So, one: I'd get Leo out of the office. Two: we'd do something couple-y.
And three? Three: I might finally learn to cook.
So, I didn't learn to cook.
There aren't too many ways to screw up spaghetti. Apparently, though, I'm unique, because I damn near set my kitchen on fire trying to boil the water. We ended up making good use of the speed dial, and ordered a pay-per-view movie while we were at it.
Dinner, though it was nothing more than pizza and Pepsi on the couch in front of the TV, was a success. I had him exactly where I'd wanted him, slouching on the sofa with a greasy, dripping slice of instant heart attack in one hand and a can of soda in the other, staring at the set as some violent movie played out. I sat next to him, just watching as the lights from the TV flickered over his face.
No snuggling, though. Snuggling and pizza grease don't mix too well. Not to mention, "Fight Club" isn't exactly a snuggle movie.
"This is what they're showing in the cinemas now?" he asked incredulously, and I knew it'd been a while since he'd been to the movies since he'd used the word "cinema". "No wonder violent crime is on the rise . . . "
I sighed, and dropped my slice back into the nearly empty box. I'd made this argument many times before, and I wiped my hands on my pantlegs in preparation to make it again. "See, that's not the point of the movie, though," I said. "They're fighting on their own, secretly, so they don't feel the need to beat up other people."
"Whatever," he mumbled, absently taking a bite of his pizza as he gazed at the television. "This movie's crazy."
I patted his knee in mock placation and said, "Next time we'll watch 'Run Silent, Run Deep,' okay?" What? It was the first title that came to mind. So what if it had to do with submarines and guys living together for prolonged periods of time. He wouldn't pick up on it.
"There any reason the first movie that came to your mind had to do with submarines, Josh?" he asked, and I could see a smirk on his face as he washed down the last of his slice with a swig of soda.
I laughed, and left my hand exactly where it was. "You're a dirty, dirty man, Leo McGarry." He put down his soda and I began to run my fingers against the inside of his thigh; I knew where I wanted to take this. I hoped he'd want to go there, too.
"I'm dirty," he began, turning to look at me, "but you're the one with his hand on my leg?" Yeah, he wanted to go there. He leaned over and touched his lips to mine, just for like a half a second, and pushed his fingers through my hair. I wondered if this was gonna be another one of our marathon make-out sessions, or if we were gonna – you know.
I pulled him down on top of me and lay back on the couch, muttering, "I never said I *wasn't* dirty, now did I?" He took one look at me and kissed me, hard; now, that right there was a man's kiss. He knew what he wanted, and I knew what he wanted, and nobody had to say a damn thing. It was totally body language from there on out; I'd say one thing with my hands, he'd respond with his mouth. There was just one, tiny little miscommunication, and I blamed that on the couch.
I rolled over, to get on top of him, and we ended up on the ground. Not my fault the couch came to a sudden end.
"That was my back," he grimaced, and I stared down at him with my hands pushing up from the carpet around his head.
"You okay?" I asked, open-mouthed and breathing a little heavier than normal. He pulled me down and stuck his tongue down my throat, and I took that to mean that he was fine. Either that, or he was too worked up to let something as tiny as massive internal bleeding get in his way tonight.
Finally, he let up – not that I wanted him to, or anything. It was that whole need to breathe thing that kind of forced us apart. "We should probably take this somewhere more comfortable," he said.
I wondered how he was able to string whole words together in a grammatically correct, coherent sentence. "Where?"
"The bedroom?" It was hesitant, it was questioning, it was an answer that was coupled with a very unsure look, and it was just what I'd wanted to hear, even though I hadn't known I'd wanted to hear it until after I heard it.
I grinned at him and stood up. "Let's go."
We went. Four times, in one night, we went. And when we finally started falling asleep, totally exhausted and too sore to do anything else, I thought to myself, yeah, this is a good place we're in.
And there's no way in hell I was gonna leave it.