Title: Send Up a Signal
Author: Nomi (email@example.com)
Archive: Sure, just tell me where
Warnings: Spoilers possible for anything through "Dead Irish Writers," but I don't remember any.
Notes: For Beth, who wanted more Teasing!Josh. I couldn't have done this without her. Also, please see note at the end of the story. Previous stories in this series can be found on my website at http://world.std.com/~gnomi/stories.html .
Send Up a Signal by Nomi
The notes were the first wave of attack.
It was the second week of January, and I was hip-deep in the State of the Union. I was working absolutely ridiculous hours, and Josh and I had barely had any time to see each other in the past week. I'd even taken to sleeping at my old apartment on Twelfth, because I didn't want to disturb Josh when I came in at 4 AM.
Monday morning, I came back to the office at 9:00 AM, three hours of sleep under my belt, and found a mug of tea sitting in the middle of my blotter. The tea was still steaming, so I knew it must have been dropped off right before I came in.
I immediately buzzed Cathy.
"You need something already, Sam?" she asked.
"Do you know where this tea came from?"
"Uh...possibly the mess." Cathy's so helpful sometimes.
"Never mind. Can you let Toby know I'm back in my office, rested and rejuvenated?" Toby had finally kicked me out and sent me off to sleep when he had found me head-down on my keyboard. I hung up the phone and picked up the cup of tea. Only then did it occur to me that Josh pushes tea on me and therefore he must be the source of the steaming mug.
I picked up the mug - it was my Princeton Swimming and Diving Team mug - and lifted it to my lips. That's when I noticed that something was different about the handle.
As I've mentioned, I'm not always visually observant.
I put the mug down and noticed that a piece of paper was wrapped around the handle, held loosely with tape. I untaped and unrolled the paper, smoothing it on my desk.
"It's 9 AM. Do you know where your lover is?"
I thought a minute. In fact, the answer was no.
I picked up my phone.
"Josh Lyman's office."
"Hey, Donna," I said. "Where's Josh?"
"In with Leo, then off to Vienna to tape an interview for 'Technopolitics,' and then he's got a 4:30 with the General Counsel's office. I expect him back around 6."
"Vienna, Austria?" My mind wasn't completely in gear, so somehow it made sense to me that Josh would be going to Austria.
"Virginia, Sam," Donna replied. "You _are_ exhausted, aren't you?"
"Uh...yeah. I must be," I said. Maybe I wasn't as rejuvenated as I thought. "Could I leave him a message, in case he comes back before heading out again?"
"Tell him...oh never mind. I'll just catch up with him later." I hung up the phone and turned back to my computer.
I started working on a section on airport security, but I couldn't put my hands on any of the data I needed. I got up from my desk and walked out into the bullpen.
"Anyone know where the file on the failure rate of metal detectors is?" I asked Bonnie and Ginger.
"Toby just returned it," Ginger said, opening a file drawer and extracting the needed folder. She handed it to me and I went back to my desk.
I opened the file folder and started reading. When I got to the part about "failure" due to the attendants falling asleep at their posts, I found a note stuck to the page - "Dream a little dream of me."
Flustered, I got up from my desk and went back to my office doorway. "Ginger? You said Toby just brought this back?"
"Yeah," she said. "About 20 minutes ago."
I went over to Toby's doorway. "Did you just use this?" I asked, brandishing the folder.
"Use what, Sam?" Toby asked.
"Statistics on metal detectors. Ginger said you were the last one using this folder."
"Yeah, I needed the exact numbers on reported failures due to being unplugged," he said. "I assumed the extraneous documentation wasn't intended for me, so I left it."
"And by 'extraneous documentation' you mean..." I was afraid to hear the answer I knew was coming.
"I don't believe that I am the subject of anyone's dreams. Nightmares, maybe, but not dreams." Toby knows the reputation he has among the junior staffers.
"Uh, yeah. That was most likely for me."
"Thought so. But don't worry - I won't tell anyone else about the mash note."
"Thanks," I said, then beat a hasty retreat back to my desk.
Throughout the rest of the morning, notes kept popping up in peculiar places. Inside a GAO report on improvements in public housing, I found "Home is just another word for you." Stuck between the pages of a report from the American Psychological Association was "There but for the grace of you go I." None of the notes was particularly suggestive, but each one added to my edginess.
One note almost evaded my notice. I had gotten frustrated working at the computer, so I took a legal pad over to the Roosevelt Room, hoping that a change of scenery might help me focus better. I scratched out a paragraph or two, but I kept being interrupted by tour groups, so my concentration was no better than it had been in my office. Giving up, I headed back to the office to type up the hand-written paragraphs. Once I finished typing, I tore off the page with my notes, balling it up to vent some of my frustration. I tossed it toward my trash can, but it just bounced off, despite my near-perfect shot. Confused, I rolled my chair over to the trash can. I immediately discovered why my shot had missed. The top of the can was blocked by yet another note: "I love the dirty things you do when I have control of you." This was the most explicit note I'd received so far, and I took it as a warning that Josh was willing to up the stakes.
And I was right - the gifts were the second wave of attack.
Around 11, I decided that my inability to concentrate on my writing stemmed from the noise and commotion in the bullpen. I closed my office door and the blinds, then put on my headphones. The last thing I'd left in my CD player was Yo Yo Ma playing Mozart.
So I was very surprised to hear Jim Croce's "Have to Say I Love You In a Song" when I pushed "Play". And that was the tamest thing on the CD. Among the selections later on the disk were Patti LaBelle's "Lady Marmalade" and Nine Inch Nails' "Closer." I briefly wondered how long it took Josh to pull the collection together.
Somehow, I actually managed to get productive writing done during the day. In the afternoon, I escaped to Toby's presumably-note-free office, having decided that Josh wouldn't have the gumption to torment me in public. And, of course, he proved me wrong.
About 20 minutes after I'd settled on the couch, Ginger poked her head into Toby's office and said, "Sam? This is - apparently - for you."
She held out a wrapped box and a notecard. I took them with some trepidation, recognizing Josh's handwriting on the card. The message, "I could offer you a warm embrace," wasn't overly troubling, so I unwrapped and opened the box. Inside was a royal blue silk robe that matched one of Josh's favorite robes. I sighed at the sentimentality, then shook my head as I realized just how brazen Josh was getting with this campaign.
Toby cleared his throat. When I looked up, he was glaring at me. "Sam?"
"Yeah?" I asked, still thinking about Josh's methods of seduction.
"You still with me? We going to get anything more done this afternoon?"
"Yeah, sure," I said. Putting aside the gift, I concentrated on my writing as much as possible. But by 3, Toby was getting tired of my lack of focus.
"Sam, go away. I'll get more work done with you not here."
I knew Toby was right, so I didn't protest being summarily dismissed. I took my computer, the gift box, and my preliminary notes and went back to my office.
In the following two hours, I wrote no more than four useful paragraphs. The note plastered to the back of my office door - "Come on baby, light my fire" - was probably partially to blame. But taking the sign down didn't help, either. I knew that unless I had some time alone with Josh, I was not going to be of any help to Toby or, by extension, to the President. At five, I gave up the charade of working. I went over to Josh's office, but Donna was there alone.
"He not back yet?" I asked.
"He came and went, Sam. Sorry." Donna looked apologetic. "I told him you were looking for him, but I guess he didn't have a chance to come see you."
Or he was avoiding me just to add to my torment.
I suddenly realized I was hungry, so I went down to the mess for dinner. I got a sandwich and sat with Ed and Larry, letting conversation flow around me but not paying very much attention. Eventually I headed back to my office, hoping that Josh might have come back early.
On my desk, in the middle of the blotter so I could not miss it, was a box from Cenan's Bakery in Vienna, VA. Attached to the box was yet another note. This one said, "How sweet it is to be loved by you." I opened the box and found a selection of cookies and pastries of all styles and flavors. I put together a selection and brought them out to Ginger's desk for the staff to enjoy.
I called Donna. "When Josh gets back, tell him that his message has been received loud and clear." Then I sequestered myself in my office and tried again - to no avail - to be productive.
My productivity wasn't aided at all by the arrival of yet another token. This one was delivered by Cathy.
"Hey, Sam," she said with a grin as she stood in my office doorway.
"Package for you." She walked into the office and placed a box wrapped in Borders wrapping paper on my desk. Then she turned and left, leaving me alone to open the gift.
I opened the card first. "Write to me with sentimental effusion/Let me revel in romantic illusion," the note said. Upon opening the package, I found a copy of My Dear Boy : Gay Love Letters Through the Centuries. I decided that Cathy was correct to have left before I opened the package.
At around 6:15, I looked up from my computer and saw Josh across the Communications bullpen, talking to Leo and Toby.
I got up from my desk and went to stand in my office doorway. "You! Lyman! Come here!" He had been avoiding me all day, and I was about to put an end to it.
All movement in the bullpen stopped as people waited to see what would happen next. Josh turned, slowly, to face me. He grinned lasciviously.
"What's up, Sam?" he asked casually, as if he couldn't guess that I was at the very edge of my control.
He walked three paces closer to me, then stopped.
"Why?" he asked.
"Because if you don't come here soon, our coworkers will see much more of you than they ever have before."
"They might enjoy that," Josh said, and his tone of voice told me that he knew exactly what he was doing to me.
I started walking toward him. "Josh," I said, and it came out as a strangled growl.
"Yes, love?" Josh started closing the distance between us.
"If you don't get in my office in the next minute, I'm going to strip you naked and have my way with you right here."
There was a smattering of applause from the assembled multitude.
"D'you mean it?" Josh asked.
"Hell, yes," I answered, advancing on Josh's position. When I was close enough, I reached out, snagged a belt loop on his pants, and pulled him against me. I ground my hips into his, illustrating that which I had been attempting to tell him.
"I don't think you mean it," Josh taunted me.
"You don't want to test that theory," I said. "I'm just desperate enough that I might prove it to you."
"Gentlemen," Leo said. "The bullpen is not the place for such activities." I would have been concerned had I not heard the humor in his voice.
"He's right," I growled in Josh's ear. "The floor of my office is much more suitable."
"Go now," Leo said. "Leave this office; in fact, leave this building while I'm still feeling generous toward both of you."
"Your place is closer," Josh whispered.
"Your place is more comfortable," I responded.
Josh and I wasted no time. Since we knew we would be back in the office later that night, we took the time to collect only our most necessary items. Within just a few minutes, we were out the door and on our way to my apartment. I'm not sure how our destination was chosen. All I know is that within a very short amount of time I was unlocking the door to my building and leading Josh up the stairs.
The trip up the three flights of stairs to my apartment seemed interminable. My only goal was to get Josh into my apartment and get him naked as soon as possible. He'd been pulling my strings all day, and I'd had enough.
"My show. This is _my_ show," I said to Josh as I fumbled in my pocket for my keys.
"Whatever you want, love," Josh said. His hands were exploring the back of my pants as I was trying to get the keys into the lock. Finally - no thanks to my trembling hands - I got the door open and we stumbled into the apartment.
I started divesting Josh of his clothing as soon as we got inside.
"Love...slow down," Josh said breathlessly between kisses. "Why are you so crazed?"
"You...horrible...tease!" I ground out, kissing my way down Josh's exposed chest. I settled onto my knees and began working at Josh's belt and fly. He helped me remove his pants, which is the only thing that kept them in one piece.
Finally he was naked, but I was still fully dressed.
"Love...let's take this into the bedroom."
"Bed's not made. Room's a mess. Barely here." I was nowhere near coherent enough to form complete sentences.
"I don't care what your room looks like. Actually, I don't even _remember_ what your room looks like." As Josh spoke, he was loosening what clothing of mine he could reach. Finally, he just reached down and pulled me back onto my feet and led me in the general direction of the bedroom.
Once we got there, Josh quickly helped me out of the rest of my clothes and moved me into the center of the bed. Unlike the king-sized bed we're used to, mine is a full-size, so we immediately had to deal with having less space. And then we hit another snag.
"J?" I said, running my hands all over Josh's back as he lay on top of me.
"This is going to have to be oral only. I have no lube." Never had I anticipated having to need lube while I was staying here temporarily. And, despite my long history with Josh, I knew better than to try it dry.
"Don't worry, love. I've got it covered," Josh said, and for some reason it didn't surprise me at all. Josh is like some kind of sexual Boy Scout - "be prepared" is his motto.
He got up from the bed, went back out to the entryway, where his pants had been abandoned, then came back brandishing a tube of lube. "I snagged it out of my desk drawer; I figured you didn't have any here." He climbed back into the bed and crawled between my legs.
It wasn't like we set a land-speed record, but there was no finesse, either. Josh prepared me quickly but thoroughly, entered me in one smooth move, and quickly brought both of us off. Afterwards, we lay together with him as a human blanket draped over me.
"There," he said. "Better now?"
"Much," I said. "J?"
I didn't have to elaborate; Josh understood. "You're getting tunnel vision, and you're doing nothing but working. I wanted to distract you for a bit. And I missed you. You haven't even slept at home for days."
I couldn't be too pissed at him for that, especially when he was totally correct.
"Remember last winter? That night - one of many - that I was in the office until very late and you called me?" From the way Josh wiggled his eyebrows at me, I knew exactly which night he was referring to. I'd gotten frustrated by Josh's lack of attention to me. It wasn't until later that I realized that he was escaping his PTSD by throwing himself into his work. But at the time my goal was to satisfy both of us. I could see how his note campaign was essentially the same thing.
"I'm sorry, J. The speech will be done soon, and I'll go back to actually being home at night." The past week, when I'd been sleeping at the office or in my old apartment, was the longest we'd been apart since we'd gotten together. I made a mental promise that we'd make a special effort after this current craziness to reconnect.
If we didn't, I didn't know what Josh might resort to next.
Note 2: The following were used by Josh to torment Sam:
1. "Only the Good Die Young" - Billy Joel 2. "Dream a Little Dream" - Schwant, Andre, and Kahn 3. "You're My Home" - Billy Joel 4. "Kathy's Song" - Simon and Garfunkel 5. "Control" - Puddle of Mudd 6. "To Make You Feel My Love" - Bob Dylan 7. "Light My Fire" - The Doors 8. "How Sweet it Is" - James Taylor 9. "Till Then" - from the "1776" Soundtrack
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