Title: Lunatic Brit
Author: Perpetual Motion
Webpage: www.geocities.com/iwannabedonna
Category: Slash, Series
Rating: PG
Pairing: Josh/Marbury (Leo/Jed slightly implied)
Series: Beginning of the "Lunatic Brit" series.
Spoilers: "The Drop-In."
Summary: Josh and Leo are foiled..again.
Archive Instructions: Hey, I just write it, toss it where you want, send feedback to me.
Disclaimer: Of course they're not mine. If they were they'd be a lot more Mountain Dew around the White House.
Author's Notes: I can't see to leave Leo alone. My logical side is pointing out he's the CoS, he would have to know this stuff first. My other side just really likes Leo. I think it's the cynical Irish in me. :) And my thanks to everyone who said this would be interesting. Hope I please you.

Lunatic Brit - by Perpetual Motion

Chapter One: Foiled Again

"Really now, this is all rubbish."

Josh had one foot in the door of Leo's office when he heard *that* voice. Very male, very British, and very easily conjuring images of nudity and panting Josh didn't need in his head at the moment. Before he could sneak out, Leo zeroed in on him.

"Josh, get in here."

~Damn. Foiled again.~ He walked in as nonchalantly as possible. Ambassador John Marbury nodded to him.

"Hello, Josh." So easy, so simple, so unlike one man who had had a one-night stand in February with the man he was greeting.

"Ambassador, good to see you."

"And you."

Josh handed a file to Leo and tried to escape. "Josh, I want your opinion on something."

~Double damn.~ "What's up, Leo?"

"What do you think of the missile shield?"

"I still think we should give the eighty billion to the person most likely to blow us to hell and back."

"And I'm yet again amazed you've made it this far in politics."

"You recruited me." Josh bounced on the balls of his feet a couple of times feeling slightly more at ease on the familiar ground of trading barbs with Leo. He tensed mentally when the Ambassador spoke.

"What do you really think of it, Josh? Do you think it's a good idea?"

Taking one small breath for courage, Josh made eye contact with the Ambassador. "I think at this stage it's a bad idea because it's not protecting anything by missing by 137 miles. I think if we could get it to work and find a way to work around the treaties we've signed, it could work, but those are big ifs."

The Ambassador's eyes were serious as he nodded. "Those are large ifs."

Josh was getting uncomfortable. "Are we done with another round of 'no one's right', or do you need a referee for a few more minutes?"

"Get out. Go get some work done." Leo waved a hand dismissively.

"Call me if you guys draw blood." Josh hurried from the office, very glad to be free of the eyes of a man he wasn't quite sure he'd moved past.

*

"My God, he looked positively terrified."

"I can't imagine why." Leo's tone was desert dry. "If you looked at him any more lustfully he would have been naked. For crying out loud, John, why don't you just talk to him?"

John sprawled almost gracefully into one of the chairs across the desk from Leo. "Because he already *looks* terrified. If I bring it up he *will* run screaming into the depths of Capital Hill."

"And the Republicans will eat him alive."

"Leo."

"Why do you only call me Leo when no one is present?"

"Because it buggers the hell out of you if I say it in a room full of people." John smiled.

Leo returned it with a half-smile. "What *it* is there to bring up?" Leo stared hard at John, groaning when the other man stared back. "You didn't."

"We did."

"Why do you confess these things?"

"Because I'm a proper Catholic."

"No proper Catholic has sex with another man."

"None that you know. You sound as if you know from experience, Leo." John raised an eyebrow in slight challenge.

"I do." ~About twenty years worth.~ "Go find Josh, sort whatever mess this is out and don't tell me about it later."

John stood up, no more gracefully than he had sat down, and left Leo's office, yelling "Good day, Gerald!" just for the annoyance he knew it caused Leo.

Leo leaned his head back and let out a very loud groan. "Margaret!"

She came in at his yell, not the least insulted by the glare from her boss. It wasn't aimed at her. "Yes?"

"Get me as much time as possible the President."

"Okay." Margaret left.

Leo turned to stare at the wall. ~Damn. Foiled again by an it.~

Chapter Two: Absolute Torture

Josh sat in his office as deep in paperwork as he could possibly get and kept trying to convince himself that he was *not* thinking about a certain tall, lanky man with an easy smile and incredibly long fingers.

"Donna!"

"Yes, Josh?"

"What do I have this afternoon?"

Her eyes rolled upward in though. "A bunch of low level meetings and lots of paperwork."

"Cancel it all!"

Josh groaned quietly and wished he could wipe the smile off Donna's face. ~Not now. Just let me drown in my paperwork.~

"Ambassador, how are you?" Donna's smile got wider.

"Just wonderful. I was hoping to steal your boss away for lunch and some good conversation." John smiled at Josh. "If he could see to free himself from the shackles of junior senators."

Josh was forming a polite decline in his head when Donna spoke. "I can clear his schedule if he needs it." She glanced over at Josh. "Josh?"

~Say no. Say no. Say no.~ "That's fine, Donna." ~Chicken.~ Josh stood up and grabbed his suit jacket from the back of his chair. "Where to, Ambassador?"

"Please, Josh, call me John. I believe we know each other well enough for that." John smile again.

~Oh, this is going to be absolute torture. Nice.~ "Okay, John, where to?"

"I know a grand place just off Embassy Row. They make a rather greasy hamburger and a proper cup of English tea."

Josh smiled in spite of himself. "That's an odd combination."

"Quite." John nodded once and waited for Josh to zip up his backpack. "Ready?"

~As I can possibly be.~ "Yeah." ~Wow, that even sounded like my regular voice.~

"Come then, let's eat!" John led the way down the hall and around a few corners before getting outside. "Ah, what a wonderful day!" He turned his gaze back to Josh. "I have an Embassy car unless you prefer your own vehicle."

"Your car's fine." ~Damn.~

"Are you okay, Joshua?"

"What?"

"Are you okay? You seem a bit tense." John placed a hand on Josh's back.

Josh was certain his head was about to explode. ~God, move your hand.~ A memory flashed through his head as John led him to the car.

*

The bed was incredibly comfortable. Somewhere in Josh's sleep-hazed, sex-tired body he knew he wasn't in his own bed. His bed had a spring that poked him uncomfortably in the thigh. He needed a new bed, but he was pretty content with the one he was in at the moment, so he wasn't going to say anything.

"Josh." A large, warm hand laid itself of Josh's back.

Josh suddenly became acutely aware of his surroundings. He was in bed with John Marbury, new British Ambassador to the United States. They were in John's hotel while he waited for everything to be moved into the Embassy.

"John."

"Regrets?" That large, warm hand lifted as Josh turned over and settled again on the lower part of Josh's torso.

"None." Josh stretched, and he smiled when John slid his hand lower and stroked the inside of his thigh. "You're a lunatic, John."

"Why do you say that?" John leaned over and kissed Josh, long and soft with a lewdness that wasn't at all stuffy or otherwise stereotypically British. Pulling away, John smiled at Josh.

Josh lay there, nearly drowning in the sensations and smiled lazily. "You're a lunatic Brit."

"Oh?"

"Oh. You're an almost-alcoholic who never has his tie on straight and knows nearly as much trivia as the President. Then, you abandon merry old England," Josh slipped into a hideous English accent for those words; "to work for a bunch of ragged, tired liberals."

"You don't look very tired right now, Josh."

Josh leered. "I'm not." He gasped as the hand on his thigh moved to stroke his dick. "I'm definitely not."

John leered back at him, leaned down and licked the rim of Josh's ear. "Good."

*

"Josh, are you all right?"

"What?" Josh shook his head, surprised to find John was leaning in the door of the car. "We here?"

"We've been here for three minutes. Are you feeling ill?"

~Not physically but mentally I'm pretty screwed up at the moment.~ "I'm fine. Just distracted." Josh grabbed his backpack and got out of the car. "Sorry if I'm bad company."

"Not at all! I've found you rather pleasant under all circumstances. Come. Let's eat!" John clapped Josh on the shoulder and steered him towards the diner.

Josh felt some part of him go numb. ~Rather pleasant under all circumstances must not be enough for more than a business relationship.~

Chapter Three: Very Good Friends

 

Leo stood outside the door of the Oval Office and was certain he could feel a noose tighten around his neck.

"You can go in, Mr. McGarry. The President has a minute."

Leo looked over at the young woman who occupied Mrs. Landingham's desk. He had attempted to tell her she could call him Leo, but he couldn't ever quite get himself to do it. ~Old Bat's still here somewhere laughing at me from that.~ In the back of his mind, he could hear a reply. ~Yes, I am. Now march in there while I call the cleaners to see if we can get those nasty yellow stripes out of your suits.~ Leo sighed softly. Of all the nagging voices to have in his head.

"Mr. McGarry?"

"Thanks, Lisa." Leo clenched the doorknob for a second, took a deep breath, and let himself into the Oval. The President had three folders open on his desk and a pen in his writing hand, making notes about what, Leo didn't know.

"Mr. President."

The President looked up. "Leo, did you know that between keeping the country afloat financially and trying to convince other countries not to blow us up I have paperwork?"

"I suspected as much."

"And did you know that a year's worth of paperwork probably equals a good-sized forest in Oregon?"

"Don’t tell that to the environmentalists; they don't vote for you."

"It's all recycled paper."

"Ah." Leo saw the conversation end. "Mr. President, if you have a minute."

The President took off his glasses and tossed them onto the desk. "What's wrong, Leo?"

"Nothing."

"Bull. You look like a cat in a dog pound."

"There's a possible situation on the verge."

"What type of situation?"

Leo took a deep breath. "A personal situation."

"And it's going to affect us?"

"It's going to affect this whole White House."

The President raised his eyebrows. "What's going on?"

"You know how you and I are really good friends?"

"Yes."

"There's a chance Ambassador Marbury and Josh could be very good friends in the near future." Leo watched the President carefully. The other man stretched, loosened his tie, and nodded once.

"Okay."

"Okay?"

"Leo, you and I are, as you put it, 'very good friends'. I won't begrudge anyone else the same chance."

"Okay." Leo turned to leave.

"Leo?"

He turned back around. "Yes, Mr. President?"

"Abby's at Harvard guest-speaking for the next couple of nights. You want to join me for dinner?"

"What are we having?"

"How should I know? I have paperwork."

Chapter Four: Prayer

 

"What are you in the mood for?" John studied his menu.

~Getting out of here as fast as possible.~ Josh looked over his own menu. "I think I'll go for the greasy hamburger you mentioned."

"Are you sure, Josh?"

"Why wouldn't I be?" Josh spared a glance at John. The other man had-*worry*- in his eyes. ~I'm delusional. I must be delusional.~

John sighed and placed his menu aside. He folded his arms on the table and stared at Josh. "Is your system up for that sort of grease? I now it's been a year since the shooting and you're feeling fine, but is it healthy for you?"

"How do you know how I feel?" ~Oh, God, that wasn't said aloud. I *know* I didn't say that aloud.~

"What do you mean?"

"Nothing." ~Oh, smooth response there, Einstein.~

John furrowed his brow and looked Josh over carefully. ~He looks like a deer in headlights.~ "You seem frightened."

"I'm not."

~That was a very quick response.~ "I apologize if I spoke out of turn on your health."

"You did." Josh was gripping his menu with white knuckles.

"I worry on you, Joshua."

~God, don't say my name like that. Don't soften the edges of it so it sounds like I could touch it and it'd feel like cashmere.~ "I can assure you I'm fine, John."

"I am aware, but still-" John paused and glanced around quickly. Only his bodyguards and noise from the kitchen. He could say it, say what he was feeling, as long as he stayed quiet. "My personal prayers were answered, Joshua."

"What?" Josh's voice came out a little louder than he had planned.

John licked his lips in nervousness. ~Wonderful, John, as long as you're finding inoppurtune moments in which to express your feelings why not interrupt a meeting between Josh and the *lovely* Mary Marsh?~

Josh was staring at John, mouth hanging open slightly. "What did you say?"

John cleared his throat once and ran a hand over his hair. "I said my personal prayers were answered." He met Josh's eyes and decided to go for it as long as the other man was stunned into silence. "When you were-" He paused and swallowed as he pushed the word out. Mentioning it in passing was one thing, having to really acknowledge it hurt. "-shot-and when I got word, I started praying. I'm not a praying man, Joshua, it's slipped out of my daily life, and I now only play when something very wrong or right happens. I pray to give thanks or ask for help."

John stopped, took a deep breath, and tried to remember how to swallow without it hurting. "The night you were-shot-I prayed for help. I prayed that you would live because I wanted to know you and know that another ethical person was in the world. My personal prayers were answered when you lived. They were answered in February when we-"

"Stop." Josh clenched the table edge. He sucked in air through gritted teeth. "Stop." He stood up, his chair skittering across the floor as he turned and walked out of the diner.

John sighed and dropped his head into his hands. "Dear God, help me." Sighing again, John stood up, his own chair scraping slowly and left. ~I am a lunatic. I must be to still want to be near him.~

Part Five-The Right Words

 

"It didn't go well."

Leo looked up from his computer. John stood against the doorjamb, his tie more askew than usual. He looked like a man very harshly rejected. "Get in here and close the door."

John followed the order and slumped into a chair. He rubbed his eyes and sighed. "He walked out when I told him."

"What exactly did you tell him?" ~And why the hell am I asking?~

"I told him my personal prayers were answered."

Leo raised his eyebrows. "Interesting choice of phrase."

"It seemed the right choice at the time."

"Apparently it wasn't."

John sighed. "Thank you, Leo. I had yet to come to that conclusion on my own."

"Sarcasm will get you nowhere."

"It's certainly worked for you."

Leo waved away the comment. "You're changing the subject."

"Yes."

"John, you chose the wrong words."

"What?" John sat straighter in his chair and stared at Leo. "I told him the truth. I believed those *would* be the right words."

"You're wrong. He almost died a year ago, John."

"I am aware."

Leo groaned mentally. John was upset because he had been walked out on. It was like dealing with a child. ~A highly *sarcastic* child.~ "He almost died a year ago, and then he got his ass kicked with Post-Traumatic Stress, and then he finds out the President's sick, and now a woman somewhere between his big sister and his mother is dead. He's pretty much on the outs with God right now."

"And my making a prayer reference probably didn't help."

"No."

John sighed again and rested his head on his hands. "Do I have another chance?"

"Go find him." ~Why am I giving him advice on this?~ "Talk to him, but keep God and every other celestial being out of it, okay?"

"Yes. Very good. I'm going." John stood up, straightened his tie just barely and tossed a loud, jovial and very annoying "Good day, Gerald!" as he left Leo's office.

Leo winced as the door slammed. ~Why am I helping him?~ He glanced at his computer screen and smiled just slightly. An old picture of Jed and himself was open from a folder labeled 'That Stuff'.

~Damnit. I'm an old sap. So in love I want other people to be happy.~ In the back of his head, Leo laughed at himself. ~And considering it took us forever to find the right words, it wouldn’t hurt to help Marbury.~

Chapter Six - Stanley

 

Josh paced, looked at his watch, and kept pacing. He glanced at the receptionist. "How much longer will he be in there?"

"Until he's done with his patient." The receptionist looked ready to glare at Josh. "Wouldn't you be more comfortable sitting?"

"No, he wouldn't. It wouldn't annoy you as much, Linda."

Josh spun around. "Stanley."

"Come on in, Josh." The other man stepped away from the door to allow Josh entrance.

"Thanks for seeing me, Stanley." Josh stepped into the blue, green, and yellow office and removed his suit jacket. "Looks like an m&m factory exploded in here."

"Wow. You guessed the gimmick. I'm impressed." Stanley's voice was dry. "Why didn't you go to your usual therapist?"

"I don’t have one."

"I gave you a list of names."

"And I didn't like any of those people."

"What have you been doing since Christmas?"

"Talking with Sam." Josh sat in a green chair in front of Stanley's desk.

"And you're coming to me now *because*..."

"I-I don’t' want to tell this to Sam. Not yet, not until I know exactly what's happening."

Stanley sat in his desk chair and watched Josh fidget. "What *is* happening, Josh?"

"Back in February, I had an-encounter-with someone."

"Who?"

Josh looked up at Stanley with his chin tilted downward. "Everything I say is confidential, right?"

"Yes."

"No matter what?"

"No matter what."

Stanley watched Josh hesitate. "I could always double-triple swear on my favorite swing on the playground if it'll help."

"No, that would frighten me." Josh took a deep breath, then one more. "I had a one-night stand with John Marbury. Ambassador John Marbury."

"Was it the first time you had been with a man?"

"No. Sam and I were together for a year when we worked on the hill together."

"Is that why you want to wait to tell him?"

Josh nodded, feeling decisive for the first time since seeing Marbury that morning. "I know he'd be supportive, but I don't even know what I'm thinking yet, forget about dealing with it."

"Dealing with what?"

"John told me this afternoon that his personal prayers were answered when I survived being shot. He said he was glad he got to know me. Glad we spent the night together in February."

Stanley crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair. "That sounds very healthy of him. He was telling you the truth."

"I know." Josh sighed and tapped his fingers on the arm of the chair. "I can't figure out why he says that but never tried to-"

"To what, Josh?"

"I have to go. I have meetings." Josh stood up, grabbed his suit jacket, and left Stanley's office.

"Josh!"

"What?"

Stanley stood in the doorway of his office. "Call me if you want to finish that thought."

"Yeah. Sure." Josh closed the door to the reception area and walked to the front door. He stepped outside and cursed in the general direction of John leaning against his embassy car.

"Joshua, we need to talk."

Chapter Seven - Going

 

Josh stared at John. "No, we don't."

"Yes, we do. You were rather rude, up and leaving in the middle of our conversation." John stepped away from the car and stepped to the outskirts of Josh's personal space. "I'd like a chance to apologize and finish our conversation."

~Don't look at me like that. Don't look apologetic and eager and way to damned handsome.~ Josh clenched his jaw for a second "How'd you find me?"

"A little bird hinted me in the proper direction."

"Donna?"

"No." John gestured to the car. "Would you care for a ride back to the office?"

"I'm not going back to the office."

"Then perhaps I could give you a ride wherever you're going."

"I don't know where I'm going."

"Then I could give you a ride to nowhere, if you like."

Josh felt himself nodding. "Okay." He walked to the curb and slid into the back of the car. The separator was up, keeping Josh from seeing the driver. He's breathing only stuttered slightly when John slid in next to him and shut the door.

John hit a button on the door. "Just drive, please." The car started. John looked over at Josh. "Perhaps we could finish our conversation now."

Josh nodded. "Fine." ~Just tell me why you waited this long to have *this* conversation.~

"I'd like to apologize again for earlier. I chose the wrong words and time to bring up my feelings for you."

~Feelings?~

"I'd like to try again." John tapped his fingers on his knee. "I meant what I said earlier about wanting to know you, Joshua. You're an extremely interesting, intelligent man whom everyone should know. You amaze me with your ability to regroup from anything. I want to find out how you do it so often and so well. I'm very curious about you, Joshua. I want to know what makes you so determined." John paused. The next part could go very badly if he weren't careful.

"I believe I could very easily fall in love with you. When you stayed with me in February it was just enough of a taste of you to make me wish for more."

"Then why the hell did you wait so long to talk to me?" Josh closed his eyes as the thought escaped his mouth. ~Oh, nice job, jackass. You don't seem desperate now.~

John raised his eyebrows. "I beg your pardon?" He seemed to process the last few minutes of conversation. "Oh, Joshua. I was scared. Not of you, you showed no signs of having a problem of being with me. I was scared that it would escalate to quickly and we would end up with just a sex life and no relationship."

"And now?"

"Now I would like a chance to start at the beginning." John smiled slightly. "Perhaps by allowing me to kiss you."

Josh swallowed and reminded himself to breathe. "Okay."

John slid over in the seat, his knee touching Josh's., and he ran one hand over Josh's hair. Leaning in, he pressed his lips to Josh's and just stayed like that for a minute. When he moved, his thumb stroked Josh's neck, and he slid his tongue against Josh's lips, smiling when Josh opened his mouth and touched his tongue to John's.

~I have you, Joshua. I'm going to keep you.~ Smiling again, John pulled away slowly, allowing for one last small kiss. "Are you okay?"

Josh's eyes were still closed. he opened them slowly. "Yeah. So, where is this going?"

"Somewhere good." John smiled and accepted the kiss from Josh. ~Somewhere very good.~

Chapter Eight - Watching

 

Josh watched the roads of DC blur past as he gazed and the window of John's embassy car. John's hand nested on his thigh, warm and slightly distracting when John's thumb would stroke his inner thigh.

~This seems so easy all of a sudden. Here I am, cruising around DC getting almost-groped by a man I was nervous to be around twenty-four hours ago.~

*

John watched Josh as the other man watched the scenery. ~God, he's handsome.~ John stroked Josh's inner thigh, smiling softly when Josh looked over and smiled back.

~He's handsome and amazing and he wants me. I doubt I could be much happier right now.~ He moved his thumb again and watched Josh stroke his hand. ~Except he's doing that now, and it makes me happier.~

*

Josh watched John watch him and wondered what he saw. ~I've got a choice between him looking at the spot on my tie, the fact that my hair never lays down straight or the nervousness I know is obvious. God, I sound like a girl.~

He looked at John, saw the intelligence in John's eyes. The smile he had. The uneven tie and the hair that never lay down either. ~We're made for each other. Slightly disheveled and completely insane.~

*

John smiled at Josh again. "What are you thinking, Joshua?"

"I'm thinking we're lunatics."

"Both of us?"

"Both of us."

"Why would you say that?"

Josh smiled, his half-cocky grin coming easy. "We're sitting here, staring at each other like we're lovesick," ~Which I am.~ "and we could actually be doing something."

"Doing what?"

Josh smiled again. "Eating. I'm starving. I missed lunch because I made an ass of myself."

John laughed and pulled Josh to him for a kiss. When he pulled away from Josh, he hit the button on the door. "Stop at the next good restaurant, please." He smiled at Josh.

Josh smiled back, and he and John watched each other until the car stopped.

Chapter Nine - Prelude to Dinner

            The restaurant was near the edge of DC.  It was warmly lit with soft shadows and muted colors.

           

            Josh leaned back into the booth and sighed.  "Nice place."

            "It is."  John stretched his legs until he could rub Josh's calf with his foot without being noticeable.  "Do you want wine with dinner?"

            "No, I have a slight problem with alcohol."

            "You're an alcoholic?"

           

            "Lightweight."  Josh smiled as John laughed.  He really enjoyed that sound.  It was so-open and easy.  It made him relax like nothing else had in weeks.  ~Or months.  Or a year.~

            "I'd like to see you drunk.  I’m sure it'd be highly entertaining."

            "And highly embarrassing to me."

            John smiled.  "Perhaps."

            Josh rolled his eyes slightly.  "Shouldn't we order?"

            "We should."

            They lapsed into silence, playing a slight game of footsie as they placed their dinner choices with the waiter and John ordered a bottle of sparkling cider.

            John watched the waiter walk off before speaking to Josh again.  "I hate to turn dinner into a discussion-"

            "You have serious discussions?"

            "I try not to, but I believe we need to have one."  John watched Josh's face for signs of nervousness.

            "I want to tell Sam.  I think we need to tell Leo."

            "I've already told Leo.  Actually, he's known my feelings for you for some time.  He has been a big help."

            Josh raised his eyebrows.  "You told Leo how I felt before you told me?"

            "He does outrank you."

            "I'm the one you're interested in."

            "And I needed an outside opinion."

            Josh finally gave in and laughed while shaking his head.  "You're absolutely insane."

            "I would have been had we not talked."  John watched Josh turn his head.  "Please don’t' hide your expression, Joshua.  I want to see your reactions."

            Josh obeyed the half-command and met John's eyes.  His expression was completely open, eyes happy, a very soft, non-political smile on his face.  "Who do you want to tell?"

            "I must tell Bernice.  She needs to know so she won't be surprised if you ever come out of my room in the morning."  John smiled and flushed slightly.  "That is assuming you'd like to spend the night."

            "Only if you stay at my place a few times."  Josh waggled his eyebrows and felt his insides warm as John laughed again.  ~This is perfect.  I'll tell whoever he wants as long as we can keep this.~

Chapter Ten - Coffee

 

Josh leaned back in the seat of the car and sighed. Dinner had been excellent. ~Nothing like an inch thick steak, double choco-almond cheesecake, and a few vague innuendos to make the night enjoyable.~ He glanced at the box on his lap. ~And it's even better when dessert can be taken home by the cake size.~^

"Joshua."

"Yes, John?"

"We're at your building."

"Oh." Josh grabbed the cake box and opened the car door. ~Do it, you chicken.~ "John, you want to come up for coffee?"

"Coffee?"

"Coffee."

John smiled a little. "Okay."

They stepped from the car, John signaling his driver to wait, and then they walked up the stoop, and Josh had John hold the box as he opened the door. "Thanks."

"You're welcome." John clicked the door shut, slid the lock into place and ran a hand down Josh's back. "Where's the coffee?"

"Kitchen. Come on, I'll show you." He set the cake box on the endtable and forced himself not to arch into the hand on his back as he flipped on the kitchen light. "This is the kitchen."

"It's very nice." John looked around the room and turned back to Josh. "It looks rather unused."

"It is. I'm barely home enough to sleep, so forget cooking, but coffee I can make."

"I have no doubt. I've seen the amounts you consume." John stood behind Josh as the other man measured out coffee. He untucked Josh's shirt and slipped his hands underneath.

"John, coffee is not a metaphor for sex."

"I know."

"Then what are you doing?"

"Touching you."

Josh bit down on his lip as John's hands slid over his ribcage. "I noticed." He dumped the coffee into the maker and turned on the kitchen sink to get water. "Why are you touching me?"

"Because if I can touch you you're here, and it means we're really attempting to be something." John traced a finger over Josh's scar. "Does it hurt?"

"Not anymore." Josh clicked the coffeepot on and watched the stream of liquid start to run. "Coffee's going."

"Well, you were right. You can make coffee." John kissed the side of Josh's neck and slid his hands out from under Josh's shirt.

Josh smiled and reached up into the cupboard for cups.

Chapter Eleven - Curious

 

"What do you think they're doing right now?"

"I honestly don't want to know, Jed."

"Ah, come on, Leo, you have to be a little bit curious."

"I'm not."

"At all?"

"At all. I told John to keep me out of it."

"Don't you even want to know if they talked this afternoon?"

"I'm sure they did."

"How do you know?"

"I sent John to Stanley's office."

"Leo, Josh will kill you when he finds out it was you."

"He won't. He'll think it was Donna."

"Do you think they've kissed?"

"I'm sure of it. You sound like a kid when you say that, Jed."

"I love you, too, Leo.Do you remember the first time we kissed?"

"Yeah. I kissed you on the steps to your parents house when they were on vacation somewhere."

"Yeah. Why'd you kiss me?"

"I was curious."

"Why do you kiss me now?"

"Now it's just fun."

Chapter Twelve - Impulsive

 

"Tell me something interesting." Josh sat on his couch, coffee in his hand, and watched John as he tapped his fingers on his coffee mug.

"What do you want to know?" John sipped his coffee.

"I don't know. How did you end up being you?"

"What do you mean?"

Josh thought for a moment, trying to word his question right. "You grew up rich and trained as a gentleman, right?"

"Yes."

"You're not a gentleman, John. Not in the traditional way. Am I making an ass of myself?"

John smiled at the grimace on Josh's face. "No, I understand the question. How did I become loud and boisterous and very independent although I was brought up in a proper societal way?"

"Yes, exactly."

"I don't have a bloody clue."

Josh laughed into his coffee, causing the lukewarm liquid to shoot upwards onto his face. "Ahh!" He set down his cup and paused halfway to wiping his face when John leaned over with a handkerchief and wiped it for him. "Thanks."

"You're welcome. My apologies."

"For what; the geyser of coffee?"

"Yes." John finished wiping Josh's face and put his handkerchief away.

"I'm fine. You were really matter-of-fact when you answered, it was just funny. I thought you'd know." Josh laughed again.

"I honestly don't know. I was raised in the very proper English manner. I could tie my own tie at age six. I knew which fork went with each course at age five, and I've bowed and given a proper handshake my whole life. How I became a 'Lunatic Brit' as you've referred to me, I don't know." John stared at Josh, thoughtful for a moment. "Perhaps I just never stopped being impulsive."

"Perhaps? Try no way have you ever stopped." Josh smiled at John. "I'm glad you never stopped being impulsive."

"You are?"

"Would we be here right now in this situation if you weren't impulsive?"

"No."

"Then I'm glad." Josh leaned in and kissed John quickly. "I'm really glad."

John smiled into the next kiss, pulling Josh a little closer and resting a hand on his hip. "It's very good to hear that."

Chapter Thirteen - Something Interesting

 

"I want to know something interesting about you, Joshua." John pulled far enough away from Josh to fully see his face.

"I find it interesting that you're a tease." Josh maneuvered until he was resting with his head on the arm of the couch and his feet in John's lap.

"That's something interesting about me. I want to know about you, Josh." John stroked Josh's calf. "It's only fair."

"Cheap shot, playing on my sense of fair play."

"I know."

Josh grinned. "Something interesting.pick a topic."

"Why did you go into politics?"

"I wanted to change the world."

"Why are you still in politics?"

"Because I am changing the world."

John smiled. "You honestly believe that?"

"I have to. I'm in a business where people hurt other people to get ahead. I have to believe I'm doing something good or I'd burn out."

"Have you ever?"

"Burnt out?"

"Yes."

"Almost."

John watched Josh carefully. He wanted to see every expression as Josh told his story. "When?"

"I was working for Hoynes, trying to help get him elected, and I almost quit politics altogether."

"But you didn't."

"No."

"You found Bartlet."

"Yes." Josh smiled softly.

John watched the smile, realizing he was seeing complete happiness on Josh's face. ~I want to make him smile like that.~

Josh spoke again. "I found the President, and I helped round up a staff and now we're in the White House changing the world. I'm exactly where I want to be."

"Exactly?"

"Well, no, but if someone would stop being a tease we could fix that."

John laughed and leaned over to kiss Josh again.

Chapter Fourteen - Good Morning

 

Josh walked into his bullpen decidedly more at ease than the day before. ~Probably has something to do with making out with John last night.~ His smile broadened and he put a large cup of coffee on Donna's desk. "Thank you."

Donna gave Josh a blank look. "For what?"

"Giving away my location yesterday afternoon."

"What are you talking about?"

Josh was ready with a quick 'yeah, right' when he saw the absolutely lost look on Donna's face. "Never mind. Not important. Keep the coffee." He walked into his office and closed his door. ~Who else? I only told Donna and-~ "Leo." With a minor plot of evil in his mind, Josh left his office and headed for Leo's.

*

John whistled as he knotted his tie and ran a hand over his hair. He smiled a little at the memories of spending most of the evening with Josh, kissing and touching and once almost going against his vow to take things slow when Josh whimpered slightly into a kiss.

~God, I'm acting like a lovesick teenager.~ John's smile got larger. ~Feel about as horny, too.~ Giving his tie one last glance, John turned from the mirror and left his private quarters. Bernice was waiting at the bottom of the stairs and handed him a cup of coffee and his itinerary. "Good morning, Bernice. You look lovely."

She smiled. "You sound like you got laid last night."

John laughed, not at all shocked by his assistant. He had insisted she be as blunt as possible. He preferred honesty over proper conversation. "Not quite, but I think I'll still send a note over."

"Flowers? Candy? Lewd inflatable item?"

"No. No, and certainly no. The man has a reputation, Bernice. Ring the best bakery in DC and order a choco-almond cheesecake in their most decorative box." John smiled at Bernice gain. "I'll write the note myself."

Chapter Fifteen - Joshua

 

"Excuse me, I'm looking for Joshua Lyman."

Donna looked up from her paperwork in surprise. ~Joshua? I'm the only one who calls him that, and that's just to make sure he's listening.~ "I'm his assistant. Can I help you?"

"I have to have his signature." The messenger held up a box. "I have to have one for every delivery."

"I'll see if he has a minute." Donna stood up and walked over to Josh's office, knocking once.

"What?!"

Donna stuck her head in, seeing Josh was on the phone. She mentally ran over his schedule. Nine-thirty phone conference with a free speech group trying to argue for book banning. "There's a messenger with a package he needs your signature on."

"Let him in. No, I wasn't talking to you." Josh rolled his eyes and mouthed 'moron' towards Donna while pointing to the phone.

She smiled at him indulgently. "At least you're in your league." She left the office door open and waved the messenger in.

Josh took the electronic clipboard and scribbled his signature before accepting his package and tipping the messenger. He glanced at the envelope on top of the box and dropped the phone against the edge of his desk.

Donna winced as she heard the voice on the other end raise. "Josh, the phone."

He looked up from the package to Donna. "What?"

"The phone."

"Oh, thanks, Donna." Josh picked the receiver up from where it dangled, barely noticing Donna leaving. "That wasn't disrespect, Alex. That was my being so bored with the same tired arguments I fell asleep and dropped the phone. Give me an hour, and I'll call you back." Josh 'uh-huh'ed through another thirty seconds of flat argument before saying goodbye and hanging up. "Finally." He looked down at the envelope and smiled to himself. His name was written in almost-perfect penmanship in the lower left corner.

"Joshua." Smiling wider, Josh flipped the envelope over and opened it carefully. The card was heavy and light blue with a crest on it Josh didn't recognize. He flipped it open and saw more of the almost-perfect penmanship.

Joshua-

Thank you for a wonderful evening. Please enjoy the contents of the box, perhaps with coffee (Coffee not being a metaphor for sex-in this instance).

I have reservations for dinner tonight if you would care to join me.

-John

Chapter Sixteen - Phone Call

 

"Ambassador Marbury's office. This is Bernice."

"I'd like to speak with the Ambassador, please."

"May I ask whom is calling?"

"Joshua."

"One moment, please."

"Hello, Joshua."

"Hello, John. Thank you for the giant box of cake."

"I thought it only fair, since we did eat your take-home cake last night. Bernice did suggest a lewd inflatable object, but I restrained myself."

"Thank God. I'd hate to see Donna's reaction."

"I'd have had it delivered discreetly."

"John, nothing is discreet about you."

"Very true."

"And you admit it."

"Why lie? You know me to well. Much like I know you."

"You think you know me that well."

"You sound coy."

"I've been told I don't do coy."

"You seem to be doing it very well."

"Thank you."

"You're very welcome. Have you decided on dinner yet?"

"I have an invitation for dinner and coffee."

"I said coffee?"

"The word's in the note."

"Then coffee we shall have."

"Okay."

"Okay."

"Bye, John."

"Goodbye, Joshua."

Chapter Seventeen - Happy

By Perpetual Motion

John hung up the phone and smiled happily. He had a date with Joshua Lyman. “Bernice!”

“Yes?” Bernice leaned against the doorjamb with a pen and pad of paper in her hand.

“How many meetings do I have today?”

“Seven.”

“Fine. While I’m out I want you to find a small plant.”

Bernice raised her eyebrows. “A plant?”

“A small, hard to kill plant that could survive a man who forgets that plants need water.” John’s smile got brighter. “And nothing that blooms. Flowers would be a bit much.”

“Okay.” Bernice turned and left the office, waiting until she was out of hearing range before she started laughing.

*

“Donna!” Josh leaned in his doorway with a file open in one hand.

“Yes, Josh?”

“I’m going to make you a real, live assistant right now.”

“Which means I’ll be doing a demeaning task.”

“Yes.” Josh smiled. “Go pick up my Tuesday suit at the dry cleaners.”

Donna gave him a confused look. “Your ‘Tuesday suit’?”

“You know, the one I always wear on Tuesdays, but you claim I wear when I want to impress someone.” Josh watched the implications cross Donna’s face.

“Does this have anything to do with the package you got this morning?”

“Yes. Go get my suit.” Josh turned to go back into his office.

Donna gave him the once over. “I don’t know who you’re seeing, but keep seeing her. I can stand you when you’re this happy.”

“My suit, Donnatella.”

“I’m going.”

Josh flopped into his chair and propped his feet up. ~I can stand me when I’m this happy, too.~

Chapter Eighteen - Forever By

"Gerald!"

Leo rolled his eyes as he heard the shout from the outer office. "Send him in, Margaret!" He made sure to yell before he heard Margaret's chair scoot back.

John came bursting in, smiling wider than usual, with a gleam in his eyes that could only make Leo think of Euphoria. "Gerald!"

"John." Leo grinned. He couldn't help himself; John's excitement was highly contagious. "Do I need to ask why you're so boisterous this morning?"

"I'm in love."

"You didn't tell *him* that, did you?"

"Of course not!" John's eyes softened from euphoria to deep affection. "I've just calmed him down, Leo. I'll not scare him all over again."

Leo shook his head. "You've got to give this time, John."

"I'm planning too."

"You're looking at a lot of time."

"I'm very much aware." John's eyes changed from deep affection to complete seriousness. "I spent quite a bit of time talking with Joshua last night, and I know how much time I'm planning to put into this relationship."

~Joshua? Don't ask.~ "And how much time would that be?"

"Forever."

"Don't you think you're jumping the gun?"

"I thought you wanted removal from the loop, Leo."

Leo threw his hands up in a defeated gesture. "You came in talking about it. I'm just making sure you know what you're getting into."

~Joshua's head, heart, and bed.~ "I'm aware, Leo."

"So, forever?"

"Forever." John bounced up and gave a quick nod to Leo. "Forever."

Leo stood and offered his hand. "I wish you the best at forever."

John shook the proffered hand firmly. "Thank you. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to find forever and make sure we still have dinner plans."

The grin was still on Leo's face as he watched John walk out of his office.

Chapter Nineteen - Dinner Confirmed

 

"Donna!"

"Yes, Josh?"

"Do you have my suit?"

Donna hung the garment bag in her hand on the hook attached to the back of Josh's door. "No, this is a body."

"Tasteful, Donna."

"I thought so." Donna yelped as the door swung inward at her.

"Joshua!"

"Hello, John." Josh's face nearly split from the grin that went across his face.

"I apologize for the sudden entrance, but I couldn't find your lovely assistant."

"She's behind the door. You're squishing her."

John jumped back from the door and pulled it towards him. "Oh! So I am! Hello, Donna! My apologies." He held out a hand and led Donna around the door.

"Apology accepted." Donna smiled. "I'll be at my desk if you need anything, Ambassador."

"Thanks, Donna. You can go to your desk." Josh slipped a little sarcasm into his voice. He watched her leave and waited for John to close the door. "She likes you."

"I like you."

"Did you see her completely blow me off when you went polite English gentleman?"

John smiled and advanced on Josh. "Yes."

"I'm hurt."

John leaned in and kissed Josh softly, first on the lips, and then on his cheek just by his ear. "Feeling better?"

"Getting there."

"Are we still on for dinner?"

"Yeah." Josh made a soft sound as John kissed the edge of his jaw. "I even picked up my Tuesday suit."

"Your 'Tuesday suit'?"

Josh kissed John on the edge of his mouth. "I'll explain at dinner."

Chapter Twenty - Important Matters

 

“You look overly pleased with yourself.” Bernice greeted John when he walked into the Embassy.

John beamed at her. “I am. Has the plant arrived?”

“It’s in your office.”

“Excellent!” John walked into his office and surveyed the small, green plant on his desk. “Bernice.”

“Yes?”

“What is it?”

“It’s a Spider Plant. It doesn’t bloom, and it’s nearly impossible to kill.”

“Perfect. Ring the restaurant and make sure the reservations are intact. See if they have a private room free.”

“What if they ask the need for the private room?”

“Tell them important matters are to be discussed.”

Bernice smiled slightly as she made a note in the small notebook in her hand. “What sort of important matters?”

“I’m going to ask him to stay with me tonight.”

“I thought you were taking it slow.”

John gave his assistant a look of mock-reprimand. “Really, Bernice, do you think I would take advantage of a situation just to get Joshua into bed? I am a gentleman.”

“You lapse.”

“But deep down, I am a gentleman.” John smiled softly, almost dreamily. “I want to lay beside him, Bernice. I want to touch him and know he’s there.”

“You want to get laid.”

“I want to make love to him.” John’s face went serious. “And there are a hundred ways to make love. One of them is to lie next to a person.”

Bernice smiled. ~A gentleman, and a never-say-die romantic. Why are the best ones always gay?~ “I’ll go ring the restaurant and make sure they have a private room for important matters to be discussed.”

“Thank you, Bernice.”

Chapter 21 - Okay, Good, Great

 

“Hey, Sam?”

“Yeah, Josh?”

“I look okay to you?”

“Hold on. Let me mark my place…You look good.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. Why you pulling out the suit?”

“Date.”

“With who?”

“No one I want to talk about yet.”

“Someone I know?”

“Yes.”

“Donna?”

“No! Why would I-“

“Everyone in the office thinks-“

“We’re not.”

“You’re sure?”

“Trust me, I’d know.”

“So, it’s not Donna?”

“C’mon, Sam. You know I have a thing for brunettes.”

“Yeah.”

“Quit blushing. It’s not you.”

“Good, because I can’t go out tonight anyway.”

“You wouldn’t’ broken my heart for paperwork?”

“Yeah.”

“So, the suit looks good?”

“It looks great. Go out, have fun, give me a name tomorrow.”

“Okay. Thanks, Sam.”

‘You’re welcome.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Yeah.”

Chapter 22 - Rumpling

 

Josh bounced on his toes and checked his watch. He was early by a few minutes. ~He’ll be here. He was the one to make the date. He was the one to confirm the date. He’ll be here.~ He froze his nervous movements as the hostess fixed a glare at him. ~Of course, I may get kicked out before then if I don’t relax.~

“Hello, Joshua.” John’s voice was soft by Josh’s ear. “My apologies for being late.”

Josh’s spine liquefied when John’s hand ran down his back. “You’re on time.”

“But I was hoping to be here before you.” John turned his attention to the hostess. “Marbury, private room.”

“Private room?”

“Easier to have any number of discussions when you can be assured no one is listening.”

“Ah.” Josh followed John, who followed the hostess, and he felt his eyes widen when he got a look at the private room. Small, intimate table with a linen tablecloth and three forks by the plate; plush carpet; soft-looking couch, cozy lighting, and a huge window that gave a view of the Potomac. The hostess left, and Josh turned to John. “No one’s listening, but everyone can see.”

“It is a tinted window. No one can see us.” John stepped behind Josh and kissed the back of his neck. “We’re alone.” He kissed Josh’s temple. “Relax, Joshua.”

“I have an ingrained habit to be tense.”

“I have noticed.” John squeezed Josh’s shoulders. “Is this the famed Tuesday suit?”

“Uh-huh.”

“It’s very nice.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” John turned Josh around. “I’m afraid it’s going to become slightly messed, though.”

“Why’s that?” Josh wrapped his arms around John’s torso, letting one hand ride up under the suit jacket.

“Because I have an adamant desire to rumple you, Joshua.”

Somehow, Josh remained standing. ~Wow.~ “Now?”

“Now, later, perhaps very soon, though.”

“Could I eat first? I think I’m going to need some nutrition before the rumpling begins.”

“Of course.”

Josh leaned forward and up and kissed John lingeringly. “Then we can discuss the rumpling.”

“Very well.”

Chapter 23 - I Will

 

John ordered wine and had the waitress pour it as he stood by the window, and Josh sat on the couch. He nodded as she left, and as soon as she was out of the room he walked over and sat by Josh. "You look thoughtful."

"Why didn't you sit by me while she was in here?"

"Because my hands would have been in places that would have made appearances pointless."

"We have to keep up appearances?" Josh's voice was slightly wounded.

John reached out a hand and traced Josh's ear with his finger. "If you wish, we can. I don't have a strong opinion either way, but I will keep appearances if you want."

"Why would I want that?"

"You're in a highly noticeable profession, Joshua. There are people who won't like our relationship."

"That's true anywhere in any profession, John." Josh scooted over until he was pressed hip to knee with John. "I want to be with you."

"And I with you."

"I don't want to hide."

"So what do we do?"

"Don't confirm. Don't deny. Be discreet."

John smiled. "Okay. Define discreet."

Josh sipped his wine. "Moderate touching, plenty of close-standing, random hugging is acceptable, and kissing is left up to how lucky you feel."

"How lucky?"

"However lucky you feel with reporters swarming." Josh grinned.

"You're sure you're comfortable with that?"

"John, I've mocked the Christian Right, gotten shot, had PTS, and done numerous other things in front of millions of other people that were more traumatic or embarrassing than being caught with you." Josh smiled when John kissed his forehead. "And I still have a career."

"So is this the discussion that leads into a relationship?"

"If you'll have me."

John pulled Josh to him and kissed him once. "I will if you'll have me."

Josh returned the kiss. "I will."

Chapter 24 - Right

 

Dinner was Chicken Alfredo and salads liberally covered in Italian vinaigrette. Josh sucked a noodle into his mouth and licked the sauce from his lips. “You’re spoiling me, John.”

“Damn. I was hoping you wouldn’t realize that.”

“Excuse me?”

John smiled. “You always seem slightly embarrassed when you receive a bit of extra attention, and I plan to give you plenty of extra attention.”

“Yeah?”

“Yes, Joshua.”

Josh smiled. “Wow. No one’s ever been determined to give me extra attention before.”

“I am.”

“Why?”

“It’s like you said, Joshua; you’ve done numerous embarrassing things in front of millions of people. I’m hoping, perhaps, to give you something pleasantly embarrassing to talk of in front of people. I know you’ve had enough tragedy. I just want to make you happy.”

Josh looked away for a second before meeting John’s eyes. I want to make you happy, too.”

“I look forward to it.”

Their conversation paused comfortably as they ate a little and drank a bit more wine. After a few minutes, Josh looked at John again. “Do you feel like this is to easy?”

“What?”

“I was marginally frightened of you forty-eight hours ago, and now we’re on the edge of a relationship.”

“There are times when something right is very easy once all fears are squelched.”

“Is this one of those times?”

John leaned over and wiped sauce from the side of Josh’s mouth. “I think it is.”

Chapter 25 - Goodnight

 

John and Josh stood in the Embassy lobby looking at each other for a few moments. Bernice watched them from out of sight and rolled her eyes at the picture they made. ~Lovesick. The both of them.~

"Joshua."

"Yeah, John?"

"Stay the night."

Josh swallowed hard. "Stay?"

"Yes. I want to touch you tonight." John reached out and held Josh's hand. "I promise nothing that would make Bernice blush will happen tonight."

"You just want to hold me."

"Yes."

"That borders on scarily romantic."

John laughed. "I suppose it does." He leaned in and kissed Josh. "Will you stay?"

"Yes. Where's your bedroom?"

"Upstairs. come on, leave your jacket here." John shed his suit jacket and hung it on the coat tree by the door. He watched as Josh did the same and slipped his arms around Josh's waist. "I had Bernice run out and find nightclothes for you today."

Josh smiled. "You were very sure of yourself."

"Yes. They're upstairs."

"Lead the way."

John grasped Josh's hand and led him up the stairs, down the hall, and to the large oak door at the end of the hall. He opened the door and let Josh precede him into the room. "The nightclothes should be on top of the dresser. I'll turn down the bed." He kissed Josh by the ear and walked to the bed.

Josh undid his tie and shirt and dropped them onto a chair. He unbuckled his belt, toed off his shoes, and dropped his pants and boxers in one quick motion. Stepping out of the puddle of clothing, he reached for the pajama bottoms and slipped them on. "Wow. These are soft." He flipped the tag on the pajama top. "Egyptian Cotton. Nice."

"Bernice does have a flair for the finer bits of life." John had finished turning down the bed and was slipping into his own pajamas. "I believe there's a toothbrush in the bath."

"Okay." Josh went into the bathroom, found the toothbrush, put it to use, and stepped back into the room. "All clean and minty-fresh."

John leaned in and kissed him. "Yes, you are. Go ahead and get into bed. I'm going to clean up."

Josh stared at the king-sized bed and took a deep breath. ~Can't believe I'm getting scared *now*. The man's already seen me naked.~ Giving himself an extra few seconds to take in the bed, Josh finally walked over and got in. He slid to the middle of the bed and waited.

A few seconds later John stepped from the bathroom and walked over by the door to shut off the light. He made it over to the bed with the help of the streetlamp glow coming in the window. He pulled the covers over himself, smiling when Josh responded to his light embrace by moving closer. "Goodnight, Joshua."

"Goodnight, John."

Chapter 26 - 4:26

 

Josh woke up slowly to fingers stroking his hipbone and a tongue lapping softly at the back of his neck. He managed to focus his eyes long enough to read the clock. 4:26.

"John."

"Yes, Joshua?"

"It's very, very early in the morning."

"It is."

"What are you doing?"

"Seducing you, hopefully. I woke, and you were here and warm and very inticing. I want to make love to you."

Something in Josh flashed blue-white with intensity for a moment. "You do." He rolled to face John.

"Yes. Very much."

"I want to make love to you."

John beamed and leaned in to kiss him. "I'm exceptionally glad." He kissed Josh on the nose, the lips, and leaned down to kiss the hollow of his neck as he unbuttoned Josh's pajama top. John slid down, following the buttons, kissing all the skin he found beneath the fabric. When he reached Josh's navel he kissed above and below it and trailed his fingers along the waistline of the pajama pants.

Josh exhaled sharply and pulled John back up to kiss him while divesting him of his pajama top. He ran his hands up John's torso, over his shoulders, and down his back. He kissed John and tangled a hand in his hair. "You're gorgeous."

"You're stunning." John slipped his hands down and helped Josh out of his pajama bottoms. "When you changed across the room I almost tore the sheet to keep myself from touching you."

"Wow." Josh's voice was near a pant.

John smiled, kissed Josh's Adam's apple, between his pecs, and licked his belly button before going further and sucking the head of Josh's cock into his mouth. He suckled and pulled away when Josh murmured to him. "What?"

"Make love to me. Now. Please."

"You're very impatient, Joshua."

"I'm very horny, John."

"I can tell. Stay put." John stood and removed his pajama pants. He allowed himself a hot look and a kiss below Josh's navel before he turned and walked to the bathroom.

"You have a belly button fetish."

"Yours is extra-attractive. It's on you." John came out of the bathroom with a tube in his hand.

"You're a sap."

"Yes."

Josh pulled John onto the bed and arched up so their cocks came into brief, slightly slippery contact. "Make love to me, John."

"You're very impatient." John unscrewed the tube, ribboned a thin line of gel on his fingers, and very slowly slid a finger into Josh.

"Oh, God." Josh thrust onto the finger and clenched his jaw to keep control. "More. Now."

"Very impatient."

"John. Now." Josh opened his eyes and focused on John. "Stop smirking."

"So sorry." John leaned forward and licked Josh's bottom lip before biting gently on Josh's shoulder and sucking rhythmically.

"I swear to God, if you don't quit being a tease I will tie you down and show you how it's done."

"Promises. Empty promises, and I'm amazed you're still articulate." John slipped in a third finger and continued to suck on Josh's shoulder. He stroked Josh's' prostate and heard a groan as Josh came. He pulled away from Josh's shoulder and smiled at the other man. "Better?"

 

"Mmmm-hmmm." Josh kissed John and shifted. "You still haven't made love to me fully."

"Well, I must fix that."

"Mmm-hmmmm." Josh kissed John again and stroked the top of his mouth with his tongue.

John groaned and slowly slid into Josh, pausing every few seconds to kiss Josh deeper. He thrust softly and returned to sucking on Josh's shoulder to keep himself on the tempo. "I'm in love with you, Joshua." He whispered it against Josh's shoulder and thrust a little harder. The gasp from Josh made him angle for the prostate and push harder.

A few minutes of near-quiet punctuated by moans from both men was broken by a slight scream as both Josh and John climaxed when John pushed as far as he could and kissed Josh on the lips again. They held onto each other as their breathing calmed and John slid out carefully.

"John."

"Yes?"

"I'm in love with you, too."

Chapter 27 - Us

 

The alarm blared. Josh groaned and reached across the bed to smack it off with his eyes closed. His hand came into contact with something kind of smushy and not made of plastic.

"Joshua, I know I'm a bit of a deep sleeper, but you needn't smash my nose to wake me. A good, hard shake of my shoulder would have worked." John's voice was sleepy and amused as he reached over to the night table and turned off the alarm.

Josh removed his hand from John's face and leaned over to kiss him on the nose. "Sorry."

"I'm fine." John glanced at the clock. "It's very early."

"You'd think so, never working in the White House. Seven is late." Josh rolled off John and moved to get out of bed. "I'm going to steal your shower."

"May I join you?"

Josh looked over his shoulder. "No fooling around."

"There are times you are absolutely no fun."

"Believe me, I'd love to have so fun, but I *am* running late."

John stepped out of bed and walked over to pull Josh up. "Fine. Have it your way."

"Remember you said that."

"Oh, dear. Should I be scared?"

"Depends."

"On what?"

Josh leaned against the bathroom doorjamb and watched John start the shower. "How you feel about my telling Sam, CJ, Toby, Leo, and the President that we're an us."

"Are we?"

"What?"

"An us?"

"You said you loved me."

"And I meant it."

"And I meant it when I said I loved you. In my book that makes us an us."

John grabbed Josh and kissed him on the lips very solidly. "I very much like hearing that."

"I very much like saying it." Josh smiled when John kissed his neck. "Can I tell them?"

"Yes." John kissed Josh's shoulder.

"I thought you said you wouldn't fool around."

"I don't intend to." John pulled Josh into the shower and put him under the spray. "Now, hold still."

Chapter 28 - Perfect

 

Josh stood in Leo's office and rocked back and forth on his feet. He felt nervous and relaxed at the same time. ~Amazing what shower sex can do for your nerves.~

"Josh."

~And how easily it fades.~ "Hey, Leo."

"What do you need?"

"Um.I need to let you in on something."

"This have to do with Marbury?"

"Yes."

Leo sighed and sat down at his desk. "Okay. Lay it on me."

"John and I are together."

"Romantically."

"Yes."

"Why are you telling me?"

Josh rocked back and forth on his feet again. "It's serious."

Leo's eyebrows shot up. "Excuse me?"

"It's just-" Josh stopped and bounced on the balls of his feet. "It's-It's--right. It's right. Something in the craziness of John is so right that no matter how fast it feels to someone not there, it's perfect for me." Josh came out of his impromptu speech and focused back on Leo. "Have you ever had that feeling, Leo? You ever feel like the person who you're with is the only person you can be with? You ever feel like part of you won't ever be able to leave that person no matter what?"

Leo stared at Josh. "You're smitten."

"Is that the word?"

"Yeah." Leo felt himself start to smile. "You want to tell the gang?"

"Yeah."

"When?"

"My office in an hour."

"Okay. You tell them to meet you there. I'll tell the President."

"Thanks."

Leo watched Josh start to leave. "Josh."

He turned around. "Yeah?"

"I know that feeling."

Josh grinned. "What do you call it?"

"Perfect."

Chapter 29 - New Developments

 

"Mr. President."

"Yes, Leo?"

"Remember the other day when I came to you about Marbury?"

"New developments?"

"Yeah. Josh just came by my office and announced he was having a serious relationship with John."

"Serious? Already? It hasn't been a week."

"Josh says when it's right the speed doesn't matter."

"He's smitten."

"Like a thirteen-year-old boy."

"That's sweet."

"You're an old sap."

"You still love me."

"I'm an old crazy man. Pay no attention to me."

"But I like to pay attention to you."

"We're in your office."

"So?"

"Could we not have semi-romantic moments in your office?"

"Make you nervous?"

"A little."

"That's cute."

"Jed, I swear to God-"

"What?"

"I will leave you all alone for the next week if you don't stop."

"So, Josh and John Marbury."

"Yes."

"Good for them. They'll be good for each other."

"Yeah."

 

Chapter 30-Telling

 

Josh took a deep breath and looked around the room. Leo, Toby, CJ, and Sam all sat looking at him. Leo gave him a tiny nod of encouragement, and Josh popped his neck and jumped in head first. "I have news."

"We figured." CJ smiled at him.

"I'm in a relationship." Josh paused to work up his courage for a second. "I'm in a relationship with John Marbury."

The four seconds of silence after his announcements were the longest four seconds of Josh's life that didn't include gunfire. Finally, Sam stood up and walked across the office to stare at Josh. "You happy?"

"Ecstatic." Josh felt the grin start on his face.

Sam pulled him into a tight hug. "If he breathes funny on you I'm going to cut his tongue out."

"What if he looks at me cross-eyed?"

"I'll stab him in the eyes with forks."

Josh laughed a little. "Thanks, Sam." He squeezed him one last time and let him go. A quick glance at Toby and CJ showed them shell-shocked but seeming to take the news well. Leo just grinned when Josh looked at him.

Toby finally spoke. "How long have you been with the Ambassador?"

"No very, and call him John."

"Where is John?" CJ looked around the office. "If I were you I'd be pissed he's not here."

"If you were me, you'd know you'd asked him to let you tell your friends yourself. He's going to be here soon if you want to grill him, CJ."

"And I do." CJ smiled at Josh. "No comments to the press, I'm assuming."

"We're not going to be overly cautious, but we will be discreet. Tell the press whatever you want. Tell them I'm happy."

"Okay." CJ stood up and walked over to Josh. She hugged him and kissed his cheek. "Congratulations. I'm with Sam; He so much as pokes you in the eye, I'm cutting off his fingers."

Josh laughed again. "Yes, Ma'am."

"Glad we're clear." CJ released Josh and motioned to Sam. "Come on, Sparky. I need your help understanding some legal crap on my desk."

"Okay." Sam grinned at Josh and followed CJ out the door.

Leo stood. "I'm going to go tell the President it's done."

"Thanks, Leo."

"You're welcome." Leo patted Josh on the back and left.

Josh turned his attention to Toby, who was still sitting looking much less shell-shocked, but still very thoughtful. "What are you thinking?"

"Is this going to be a long-term thing?"

"I'm aiming for a forever thing."

"So Sam's free indefinitely?"

Josh almost burst out laughing but managed to restrain himself. "If you can get to him before Ainsley, he's all yours."

Toby stood and smiled. "I'm happy for you."

"Thank you. Go be happy for yourself." Josh patted Toby on the back as he left the office. He shut the door and leaned against it. ~Done. Thank God.~

The phone rang, and Josh groaned before going over and answering it. "Josh Lyman."

"Hello, Joshua. How was it?"

"Incredibly non-painful and easy."

"It's very nice to hear that."

"CJ and Sam are both threatening to cut off parts of you if you do the slightest thing wrong."

"Does that include kissing you in public?"

"I don't find anything wrong with that."

"What if they do?"

"I'll make the Secret Service jump them."

John laughed. "That should do the job. Are you sitting at your desk?"

"Yes."

"Hang up the phone and go open your door."

"What?"

"Please, Joshua."

"Okay, Bye."

"Goodbye."

Josh hung up the phone and walked over to the door. He opened and found John leaning against the door. "Hi."

"Hello." John leaned in and kissed Josh very fully on the lips.

The bullpen cheered, Donna applauded, and Josh was pretty sure someone snapped a picture. When John pulled away, Josh smiled up at him. "You're a lunatic."

"Yes." John kissed him again.

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