Title: Sent
Author: Gail
Fandom: JAG/the West Wing crossover
Pairing: 'Dave'/Josh Lyman
Rating: NC-17
Summary: Josh Lyman goes to a bar again, and this time really gets in over his head.
Archive: yes to Querstrich, RSA, CKOS, WWOMB, LauraS's West Wing Slash Archive. All others, please ask.
Email: gem225@hotmail.com
Sequel to Faded by Isilzha, but an AU sequel.
Web Pages: http://members.freespeech.org/gem/work/main.html http://www.angelfire.com/ma4/gem/work/main.html http://www.strangeplaces.net/trinity/
Disclaimer: Josh Lyman belongs to Aaron Sorkin, John Wells Productions, and NBC; Clark Palmer and Clayton Webb belong to Belisarius Productions and CBS. None of them belong to me.
This came out of a highly technical beta (tm) that I did for Isilzha, and follows Faded by Isilzha, which is at http://members.freespeech.org/gem/isilzha/subpgs/fic/crossover/faded.html . Please read her story first if you haven't. It's well worth reading.
Here's the quick and dirty summary of Faded: Josh Lyman, White House Deputy Chief of Staff goes to a bar to find some guy to fuck him, and instead finds Clayton Webb, CIA agent and friend of Leo McGarry, Chief of Staff and Josh's boss. Clay has been sent by Leo to get Josh out of the bar and the headlines. Josh comes on to Clay in the process, Clay takes Josh home and fucks him, to their mutual satisfaction, and when they part, Clay gives Josh his card, telling him to call before he goes out again to a bar to look for a guy.
Isilzha asked that this be an AU, since she was writing a sequel to Faded, which now will never be posted, since she's dead. But she read this and liked it and said I could post it, because she was wonderful.
Thanks to Scarlet, who beta'd, and to WitchQueen, Kylara, Blindwolf, Diana, and Dafna for their comments and ideas for revision.

*****

Sent by Gail

Josh needed to be fucked.

He flopped onto his couch and stared at his living room wall. It had been a hell of a day. Sometimes he wondered if being President Bartlet's Deputy Chief of Staff was worth it. He didn't think that often or for long, but this was one of those days. Nothing had gone right, not that that was out of the ordinary, but there had been too many days like that, too many in a row with no relief.

He lifted his wrist and checked his watch, finding it was ten and remembering it was Friday. He could go out and have a drink, find a guy, go home with him, get on his hands and knees and let the guy fuck him. It sounded like a hell of a good idea to him.

But it wasn't a good idea at all, it was a bad one, and he knew it. He wasn't sure he cared that he knew it, but he did. Going out to a gay bar and finding some guy he didn't know and didn't know him, that could led to headlines that could embarrass the White House and lose him his job.

He sat up and looked around. There was nothing he wanted to do here. Maybe a beer would help, but he didn't know if he wanted a beer. Clay had said to call him before going to a bar and finding a guy to fuck him, and Josh hadn't made it to a bar since then. He'd thought about it, but he'd always ended up calling Clay, who would invite him over and take him to bed after some coffee and conversation. That sounded good now. He should call Clay, but he didn't even know if Clay was around. Damn, he should have checked before leaving, but he hadn't known he was in that bad a mood. That restless.

He finally got up the energy to shift his weight onto one buttock so that he could reach around and pull out his wallet, then take out the card. Clay's card. He felt himself smile at the thought of Clayton Webb and his three-piece suits and his 'I know something that you don't know' smile and his even better warm and happy smile. He would call Clay. There was a good chance that Clay was around, and at the least, Clay would talk to him, help him calm down, and then set a time when they could see each other and have sex again. He licked his lips. Clay was so good in bed. He couldn't imagine anyone being any better.

He picked up the phone and dialed the number of Clay's cell phone. It rang, but no one answered. He swallowed and put the phone back. All right. So Clay wasn't around. He always answered his phone if he was in range. It wasn't the end of the world. He stood. He'd take a shower, have a beer, then see about some dinner, maybe even try Clay again. Maybe Clay was just out of range and would be reachable in a little while.

*****

Two beers and four tries later, Josh grabbed his jacket and left. He knew it was a stupid idea, knew he should just get into bed and jerk off while thinking of Clay, but he didn't want to, and he wasn't going to. He thought for a moment about driving over to Clay's, but if Clay wasn't answering, then it wouldn't do any good to go to his house, because Clay wouldn't be there.

He'd go to the bar he liked, have a drink and look a little, he argued to himself. He wouldn't do anything. He definitely wouldn't go home with anyone. He would not do that.

*****

He laughed as the guy with the tight black t-shirt and even tighter-looking jeans came on to him. Why the hell not? He needed to get fucked, needed it bad, and he could get it. Would get it. The thought of Clayton Webb crossed his mind again, and he pushed it away, again. Clay wasn't here. This was his life. He'd do whatever the fuck he wanted to.

Then there was an arm around his chest and a mouth pressed to his neck, and it wasn't the guy he'd been talking to, because Josh could still see him leaning against the wall with his bottle of beer. Christ, that arm and mouth felt good. But didn't this other guy know anything about introducing himself? He opened his mouth to protest, but the newcomer stopped him, sliding his hand over Josh's lips with an assurance that was even better than his mouth on Josh's neck had been.

"I turn my back, and you start flirting with someone else. Not nice, baby." Josh was stunned at the words spoken in the low, dark voice. This guy must have mistaken him for someone else. Josh knew he should pull away, but the guy's arm was still holding him close, and between words, that mouth was nipping at his neck. "Sorry if he's been bothering you." The newcomer was addressing the guy in the tight black t-shirt now. "I should know better than to leave him alone. Can I buy you a beer to make it up to you?"

The hand over his mouth was fingers now, teasing fingers, tracking the outline of his lips. Still, this was insane. He wasn't stopping the guy, though, and that was because, what? He didn't know. Maybe because it felt so damned good to have the guy's hands on him.

"No, thanks," the guy Josh had been talking to muttered. "Didn't know he was with somebody."

"No problem." The guy holding Josh shifted, putting his lips to Josh's ear. "Webb sent me," he whispered. "Play along."

This guy was from Clay? So Clay was around? No, he would have answered his phone. He didn't get this and made a sound of protest, but then the guy's hands turned him just enough so that they was torso-to-torso, and the mouth that had felt so good on his neck was on his mouth, and it was even better there, hot and bold and knowing. He moaned as the guy's tongue slid over his. Yes.

The mouth pulled away. Damn. He blinked and felt his cock throb as the guy spoke.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Lyman, but it seemed like the only way to get rid of him."

He finally got a look at the guy who'd interrupted his plans. Tall, lean, dark close-cut hair that might be curly if it grew out, greenish intense eyes, and a killer smile, and wearing a worn brown leather jacket over a white t-shirt and tight jeans. He fit right in, but there was something about him that didn't, now that he was talking.

"I assure you, I wouldn't have acted in that manner if it hadn't been necessary. But I gave Webb my word you'd stay out of trouble."

Clay had asked some guy to keep an eye on him? Like he was too dumb to be trusted on his own? He glared. Fuck. That was just great. "I didn't ask for your help. Fuck off."

The guy stared at him. "You know you shouldn't be here, Mr. Lyman. Please come with me."

Another CIA agent? Sounded like it. Acted like some kind of undercover guy. Sort of sexy, though. Kissed well. Did the CIA have guys who went undercover and seduced other guys? Maybe he needed to look into that. Oh, yeah, it would look really good for the Deputy Chief of Staff to look into any CIA undercover sex operations.

"Mr. Lyman. Come with me."

"Like hell I will." He'd gone with Clay, but that was different. He wasn't going with this guy, even if Clay had sent him.

The guy cocked his head, then sighed. "Very well."

That was something. Josh waited for him to leave, but instead he stayed there. Damn, he was good looking. Didn't look like any CIA guy Josh had ever met.

"Are you just going to stay there?"

"Why, yes, Mr. Lyman. I have my assignment, and I intend to fulfill it."

Josh fidgeted, watching this guy with the cool eyes and the sexy body and attitude watch him. He still wanted to get laid, and with this guy around, he could tell he wasn't going to. The guy would act like his boyfriend and scare prospective fucks off. Damn him. He had to get rid of him, or he had to go home and accept that he wasn't going to get what he needed tonight. He should go home.

The guy glanced at his watch, and Josh gritted his teeth.

"On some kind of schedule? Why don't you start groping me again, see if that will do it?" His mouth again. He knew better. Just not now.

The guy smiled, and there was danger in it. Josh liked that danger. "Is that what you want? Sounds good to me." Josh couldn't take his eyes away as the guy reached out and put his hand on Josh's crotch. "If you want to get fucked, Josh," the whisper came, "I'll be happy to do that. But not here."

A warm, wet tongue went into his ear, then out, and in again in a parody of fucking, and he moaned. Damn. How did this guy do it? He'd been furious at him, but now he just wanted to go somewhere private with this guy.

"Come on, Josh, I'll give you what you want. What you need. Come with me."

One of the guy's hands was on his back, and the other still on his crotch, rubbing it in a slow, hard rhythm, and Josh was glad they were in a dark corner, but even so, they couldn't do this here. This was a friend of Clay's? Had Clay figured he'd be so damned hungry for a guy that he wouldn't care who fucked him? Well, that was how he usually was, and this guy was good. Maybe he didn't care that Clay had thought that, he thought fuzzily as the guy's hand slid down to his ass and massaged it, hard and right. Probably Clay hadn't told this guy anything except he needed to keep an eye on him. Clay wouldn't talk about him. He was a friend of Leo's, and Leo wouldn't like that. But this guy knew something. Maybe it wasn't that hard to figure out after watching him come on to the other guy.

"We on the same page, Josh?"

That shocked him out of his stupor of desire. The same words he'd used to Clay, that Clay had used to him. But it was a common DC expression. Just a coincidence. He swallowed. "You're just saying this to get me out of here," he accused in a whisper.

"Yeah, I always get this hard when I'm doing my job," the dark whisper retorted, and then his hand was taken and guided down to the guy's crotch. Yeah, he was hard, good and hard, and the last of Josh's mind went. The guy wanted him. He wanted the guy. He was out of here.

"Let's go." Josh made himself take his hand away, even though he didn't want to. "You got a car?"

"Of course."

"How about a name?" They were moving through the press, the guy's arm around him, keeping him right at his side, and the looks of envy and disbelief they were getting would have annoyed Josh at any other time, but now they just made him smile.

"You can call me," there was a pause, "Dave."

"That's not your name." Josh knew he was right. He also knew he was an idiot to say that, but he couldn't seem to stop himself. Big surprise. His mouth always got him into trouble.

The man who was calling himself Dave leaned over and ran his tongue up Josh's neck. "You don't give a damn what my name is," he whispered when his mouth was at Josh's ear. "Do you, Josh? As long as I'm hard and know how to fuck you, do you care what name you end up crying out when I make you come? I don't. Call me anything you like."

Hell, no. He didn't care what this guy's name was. "Take me home, Dave," Josh got out.

Dave laughed and guided him outside into the cool night air. Josh took a breath, then found himself shoved up against the brick wall of the bar and his mouth taken again. When Dave lifted it, Josh just managed to keep breathing. "Not your place. Mine. I want you where you can't get away."

Oh, god. Dave's eyes were burning into him, and he couldn't think. Couldn't. "Sure," he croaked. This was a bad idea, but he wasn't going to change his mind. He didn't have a mind to change.

"That's right, Josh. Let's go so we can both get what we want." The voice still was a dark purr, and Josh hoped Dave's place was close. Really close.

Dave's place was close, and Josh was damned glad of that. Dave's hand had dropped to his lap as soon as they got on the road, and the deliberate and knowledgeable teasing he'd gotten had him so damned close to coming that he didn't know if he could make it inside. But Dave got out, came over, and reached in for him, pulled him out and into his arms, and Josh arched into that hard body, feeling Dave's hands on his ass, cupping it with a definite assurance.

"You're making me want to fuck you here, baby." The breath from the soft whisper stirred the hairs on Josh's neck. "You think you'd like that?"

"No." That would be insane. He had to think. Just a little. Something about this was wrong; why couldn't he get what it was? He swallowed and leaned back against the car. The feel of the cool metal helped, gave him something real to hold on to. It was dark, and the bushes that lined the drive were taller than he was. It was probably all right to be outside for now. Maybe he didn't want to get what was wrong with this. Yeah, that had to be it. Screw it. He was here, and he was going to be fucked.

Dave's teeth were nipping at his neck, which was real, and damned good. "Fine. It's a nice bed; you'll like it. I want you in it. Although this is nice, too."

Josh thought bed was a good idea, but he was too busy running his hands over Dave's back, thinking about what it would be like to be fucked by him. God, he needed this so much.

"Time to go inside, Josh."

Josh's mouth was dry as Dave led him into the house the same way he'd taken him out of the club, arm possessively around his waist. Dave let go of him at the door to unlock it, but inside, Dave shut the door, then pulled Josh against him again. Josh could feel Dave's erection, and he found himself grinding against it.

"Yeah, that's it, good," Dave whispered, then sucked Josh's earlobe into his mouth, getting Josh to moan again, "show me you want it, baby. Tell me, too."

Josh couldn't talk, didn't want to. Wanted Dave to keep going.

Dave pulled back. "Can't talk? Or won't?" He laughed and got his arm around Josh's waist again. "You just keep showing me how much you want me. That works for me."

Josh shut his eyes while Dave piloted him down a hall, then into a room. This was not in his control. It was happening to him. Everything Dave did was right. But who the fuck was he, really? Someone who said he knew Clayton Webb. He had no proof. Maybe he should get out of here. He should have gone home. This was stupid and dangerous, no matter how much he wanted it. He pulled against Dave's hold, and it tightened.

"What are you doing?" The words were breathed into his ear. "Second thoughts? A little late for them, Josh. You came willingly. Don't fuck it up now."

"I changed my mind." Why couldn't he get free?

"I don't like hearing that, and neither does your cock, Josh." One arm trapped both of Josh's while the free hand pressed against Josh's crotch. "I won't hurt you. I want to give you what you want. You want to try and go back to that bar or another one? You won't get anywhere. I'll be there, and I'll make sure no one dares touch you. I can do that, Josh. I will do that. Why not stay here and have fun? I'm good." The hand was rubbing just right, and the words were getting to him, and Josh didn't want to get free any more. "That's better," the soft voice continued when Josh moaned. "But I think I need to get those clothes off you." The lips fastened on his neck for just a moment, then were gone. "Yeah, I know I do."

Josh didn't fight Dave as he stripped him with a cool efficiency mixed with touches and strokes and kisses, didn't want to fight him.

A hand wrapped around his cock, and Josh bucked into it. Too close. He didn't want to get jerked off. "Bed, Josh. I want to fuck you now."

He found himself staring into those greenish eyes, seeing a glee in them that almost scared him, but he needed this too much to care. He whimpered and felt the hand release him, then got up on the bed's soft blanket and on his hands and knees without even thinking about it.

"Good boy." A finger traced down his spine, finding every spot to make him shiver.

Josh was panting, waiting for the man who called himself Dave to get him ready to be fucked. He felt Dave get on the bed, and whimpered.

"Tell me how you want it, baby," the purring voice came while at the same time Dave's fingers stroked lubricant onto Josh's anus, then probed into it. Josh moaned. "That doesn't tell me too much, except that you want it, and I knew that. Come on, Josh, hard and fast or slow and long? I can do either very well."

"Hard and fast," Josh gasped when he felt the tip of Dave's finger graze his prostate. God, that was so good. "I need to come."

"Hard and fast," Dave repeated, and then there was another finger in him, opening him even more. Josh moaned again. Too goddamned good. "I thought so. Next time I'll fuck you slow, but you need this now, don't you? Tell me you need it."

"I need you to fuck me," Josh choked out. He did need it. It had been a while since the last time he and Clay had been together. "Please."

"Don't worry, baby; I told you I'd give you what you needed, didn't I?" So much satisfaction in the other man's voice, Josh thought fuzzily, then gasped as the fingers withdrew. "There you go," Dave whispered and slammed into him.

Josh cried out as pleasure shot through him, and then it happened again, and god, so good, and he was so close. Dave's hand wrapped around his cock and tugged, and that was all it took. He came with another cry, then heard Dave growl and thrust in even harder and farther, then stop, and knew he was coming, too.

Dave pulled out, wiped him off after a long moment, and pulled Josh against him. "You're not going anywhere, baby," the low voice murmured as he tried to get comfortable with arms like steel bands holding him. "Next time, slow and long. But first, sleep."

Josh was fine with that. Sleep. Yeah.

*****

Clark Palmer woke up with the other man's body warm and relaxed against him. He grinned and let himself enjoy his victory. Webb's pretty boy, the deputy chief of staff of the Bartlet White House, and he'd seduced him, got him away from Webb, fucked him, made him desperate and hungry and willing.

Take that, Webb, he thought. Tear down the DSD, fuck up my life, make me into a fugitive, but this time I got something back. Something you thought was all yours.

He pressed his lips against the back of Josh's neck. Some bruises would be good, or a nice bite, but he'd wait for that. Wouldn't want Mr. Lyman to think he wasn't getting what he needed. It was very important that later Joshua Lyman had no reason to protest.

He let his teeth graze Josh's skin and grinned as the boy squirmed in his sleep. He'd wake him up soon, get him on his knees after some foreplay, make Webb's boy suck his cock for a long time. He could control himself, and he would for that kind of sweet revenge. That mouth that talked too much and got Josh Lyman into all kinds of trouble was going to give him pleasure. Then he'd get Josh begging again, and only then give him what he wanted, long and slow and torturous. Then...

He smiled. Then for the rest of the plan. The part that was even better than the sex. The part where he got to tell Webb.

*****

Clayton Webb woke to the sound of his phone. He sat up and grabbed it. "Webb."

"Clay. How nice to find you home." Shit. He knew that voice. Clark Palmer had his phone number?

"Palmer. What is it?"

"Very direct, Clay. I'm impressed. Sorry, I suppose I should have waited another hour for your alarm to go off, but I didn't think you'd want this getting out." Palmer had a very satisfied drawl, Webb noted. "I'll give you an address in a few minutes. I won't be there any longer, but someone you want to see will be. And you know, I think it would be better if you took care of him now. He wore me out."

Webb forced himself to stay calm. "Give me a name, Palmer." He knew who Palmer meant, Josh Lyman, but he had to be sure, and letting Palmer think he didn't know didn't hurt.

"Hey, Webb, I'm giving you a lot here. Don't you know who you're fucking these days, or is he just another one in your stable? Not that I'd be surprised. I always knew there was more going on underneath that cool exterior of yours. God, you trained Josh well. Good cocksucker, hot fuck. And so very pretty, Clay. Too pretty to be going out to bars and trying to get picked up. He was damned easy to get, but then I'm good."

Josh had gone out to a bar like an idiot and gotten picked up by Clark Palmer. Fuck, why hadn't Josh called him? He'd been around. Josh knew he'd help. He ought to know. "I'll be there. Address, now."

He heard Palmer's soft laugh. "1215 Morrow Drive. The key's under the mat; obvious, I know, but you should get there in about twenty minutes even if you do keep to the speed limit, so he should be safe. There should be enough lube for you to fuck him, too. Better bring your own condoms. Didn't plan well enough; sorry, buddy. And I told him you'd sent me to watch him, Clay. You might want to stick to that one. Don't want to send Mr. Lyman around the bend again, do we?"

Webb heard Palmer hang up after that last jab. Goddamn him. There was no way in hell he was going to let Josh think he'd had someone watching him, unless it seemed like the right thing to do. He swung his legs over the edge of the bed and stood. Simple clothes, no suit. He'd figure out what Josh needed once he saw him.

He was out of the house in five minutes, and he kept to the speed limit with an effort.

*****

"Josh." He heard a familiar voice gently saying his name. "Josh." It made him smile. Yeah, he felt good. Very good. Maybe it was Saturday. He liked Saturday, and if the person who went with this voice was here, it was going to be a great day.

"Hey, Clay." He didn't even open his eyes.

"Come on, Josh, look at me."

There was some tension in the voice now, and he pried his eyes open. Yeah, it was Clay. How had Clay gotten here? Wait, he was pissed at Clay. That's right, Clay had had some guy follow him. He glared, even though seeing Clay made him not want to.

"Are you all right?"

"Fine. Where the hell were you last night?" He blinked. Wait a minute. He wasn't at Clay's place or his own place. This was where Dave had brought him. "What are you doing here?"

"Your friend called me." Clay looked so tired. "Did he tell you his name?"

Josh sat up, bringing the covers with him. He winced. Too fast. Dave had been a tiger the second time, and he could feel all the places Dave had bitten and scratched and held him. He was sure he was going to have marks, if he didn't already. It hadn't seemed to be anything to complain about at the time, but he hoped none of them would be visible. "Dave. I know it's not his real name. He's CIA, right? You set some CIA guy to spy on me." Where was Dave? He'd taken off? Not that it was a big deal or anything, but calling Clay sure as hell was.

He saw Clay's eyes harden. "Do you think I'd do that to you?"

"You weren't around," Josh said with a shrug that hurt, too, but he hid it. "And we both know Leo doesn't like me going out to bars. So sure, I think you would. I'll bet Leo told you to." He wasn't going to justify being here, whether Clay expected it or not.

"Here are your clothes." Clay gestured to the end of the bed. "Get dressed. We'll go back to my place and talk."

"Why the hell do you think I'm going with you?"

"Because you don't have the faintest idea what you did last night, other than the obvious, and I want to explain it to you, but not here!" Clay's voice was tense and controlled. "Please, Josh. I want to get you out of here. I looked for bugs, but I might have missed them."

"Bugs?" He was getting the feeling he wasn't getting this at all. Dave hadn't been from Clay? Then who the hell was he, and how had he known to use Clay's name? He swallowed. What the hell had he done now? And how much was it going to cost him?

Clay nodded, a grim expression on his face. "Please hurry, Josh." He stood. "I'm going to look at the rest of the house. Come find me when you're ready."

Josh reached for his t-shirt and slipped it over his head, then got the jeans unfolded and pulled them on as he got out of the bed. The socks and sneakers were there waiting for him, and it took him just a moment to put them on, and then there was only his jacket. He pulled it on, then shoved his hands into the pockets. There was something in there that hadn't been before, and he pulled it out. He stared at the piece of paper for a moment, then shoved it back in and left the room.

*****

"All right, Clay, who was Dave? Not CIA?"

Clay sighed and sat down on the couch beside him. "DSD. The Defense Security Division was dismantled, but he was one of their best agents, and he hates me for what I did to bring them down. I'm not going to go into details about that or him, but there are few people more dangerous than Clark Palmer. He knows a lot and figures out even more. I don't know how, but somehow he found out about you and me, and decided to use it against me."

Josh told himself to listen and stay calm. So this hadn't been about him at all. It had sure as hell felt like it was about him. His body still felt the effects of Dave's, no, Palmer's use of it. His cock stirred slightly at the thought.

"I don't understand why you didn't call me."

"I did call you! Four times, dammit, and you weren't there."

"Palmer must have screwed somehow with my phone. Of course. I should have known." Clay ran his hand through his hair.

"So what is he going to do now? Leak it to the papers?"

"That would be too easy. I need you to tell me something, Josh." Clay leaned forward. "If he came back, would you go to bed with him again?"

Josh opened his mouth to snap out a 'What do you care?', but he stopped himself before he could. That wasn't reasonable. He shut his mouth and thought. "I don't know," his answer came, surprising himself.

Clay nodded. "He was good, then."

There was no anger in the calm eyes, and Josh nodded.

"I'm not surprised. I can't stop you from doing anything you want to, Josh, and until we catch Palmer, I can't even tell you that he's not going to try again. I think he will, to tell you the truth. I can tell you that I hope he won't, and I can tell you that I hope you'll say no to him if he does."

"He said he wanted me," Josh surprised himself by saying.

Clay slid next to him. "There's no reason to think he wasn't telling the truth. You're very attractive." After a few breaths, Clay spoke again. "Do you want to tell me about it?"

"How he seduced me?"

"Anything about it. It's up to you. I won't tell anyone, but it might help you feel better. Josh, I'm not upset that you slept with another guy. I don't have any right to be. Palmer set us both up. I'll show you what I can of his file later. You'll see."

Josh nodded, then thought. Did he want to tell Clay? Sort of. Clay would make it better, he knew that. But should he let him make it better? He'd screwed up. He should have known better than to go to the bar, and then to let some guy talk him into bed like that.

"Josh. Stop that. There was no way Palmer was going to let you leave except with him." Clay's hand was on his, warm and comforting. "It's done. You can't change it."

Clay was right. But there was something he needed to do now. Josh swallowed, then dug in his pocket as he looked up. "Here." He held out the card that he'd found in his pocket. Clay took it from him and read it as Josh saw it in his own mind.

*Thanks for everything. You were great. Leave a message here when you want to reach me. I know you'll want to do this again, Josh. We both know.*

No signature or any name at all, just a local number. And Josh knew that if he called that number, there would be some kind of message just for him, and if he heard it, it would speak to something in him, and he would end up doing what Dave, no, dammit, Clark Palmer, wanted. He didn't want to be Clark Palmer's puppet.

Clay held out the card, but Josh didn't take it.

"Keep it, Clay." He couldn't say any more about it, but Clay just nodded and put it in his pocket.

"Thank you for showing it to me," was all he said. "Would you like a shower? I'll make something to eat while you do."

Josh nodded and stood. He knew it wasn't that easy to put the encounter behind him, that he could get the number or would get it again, that Palmer would find a way to get to him if he really wanted to, but maybe in time he'd get strong enough to resist. To trust that he and Clay had something good. To stay out of bars even if he couldn't reach Clay on the phone.

"You know where the towels are by now." Clay was smiling. "Go shower. I hope you like pancakes."

"Love them."

Josh headed for the bathroom as Clay went to the kitchen. It would be all right somehow. He had Clay on his side, and he knew what he wanted, at least for now.

The End

Endnote: The pairing is really Clark Palmer/Josh Lyman, but I wanted to try to surprise people, and anyway, for those who know me and how Palmer gets into everything I write, I probably didn't even manage that.

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