Title: The Path of the Righteous
Author: Lee Spencer
Summary: Leo has a run in with a Pentagon official, a renegade environmentalist group, and someone from his past who he's not too thrilled to see.
Disclaimer: If Aaron Sorkin or Dick Wolf want to give 'em to me for Christmas, hey, I won't complain. Otherwise, they're not mine.
Feedback: Is my harmless drug. firstname.lastname@example.org
Archive: You want it, you got it.
Paring: Jack McCoy/Leo McGarry, implied Leo/Jed
Author's Notes: This is a cross-over between Law & Order and West Wing. It's also kind of following Priya Deonarain's wish to make Leo the village bicycle of the West Wing, only now he's the village bicycle of NBC. Leo's really making the rounds, isn't he?
Acknowledgements: To Priya, who sort of provided the plot bunny for this. To Python, for slogging through the mire of this monster. And as always, to T. Forde.
Warnings: This is slash. It's not NC-17 or explicit, but it is slash. If that's not your bag, I suggest you go find something else.
The Path of the Righteous by Lee Spencer
"What's on the itinerary for today, Margaret?" Leo paused by his assistant's desk, a stack of folders balanced on one arm and the other hand occupied with a full cup of coffee.
Margaret flipped unhurriedly through the pile of papers arranged before her. "Staff in ten; meeting with Nancy at eight-thirty, and she said something about Ecuador. I don't know if that means anything to you, but--"
"It does," Leo said. "Then what?"
"Meeting with Toby and Sam at nine-thirty about the President's speech to the Daughters of the Confederacy--"
"They seceded," Leo muttered under his breath. "We shouldn't give them a speech."
Margaret ignored him. "After that, the Secretary of the Interior wants to speak to you about some activist group that's giving them problems. IMP, or something like that."
"ELF. Earth Liberation Front." Leo turned and headed into his office, then threw the folders down on his desk and leaned against it. "We jailed one of their members for blowing up a lot full of SUVs, because apparently they symbolize the decadent obsession with consumerism that Americans seem to possess."
Margaret nodded as she followed him through the door. "Yes. That. Then the meeting with the Christian splinter group at ten-thirty, then the Pentagon's briefing about homeland defense, which you need to watch at noon. Brief staff meeting, then you have a two-thirty lunch date with Adam Schiff and one of his attorneys--"
"Who?" Leo shot her a puzzled look as his sifted through a file.
Margaret fixed him with a piercing stare. "He's the New York County DA," she said, as if that explained it all. Leo made a motion for her to continue, and she shrugged. "I know nothing. Ask Josh; apparently, Schiff's scheduling office called him first, and he was so important he got bumped up to you. Oh, and Josh will be joining you, so I guess he really is important."
"Hurrah." This was followed by a muted curse as a sheaf of papers skittered off the side of his desk and scattered across the floor in his effort to find a pen. "Let me know when they get here for staff."
"They're here." Margaret ducked out the door, past a startled CJ who was followed by the rest of the senior staff.
"Hey." Leo sat down at his desk and waved them into chairs. "Talk to me. Josh? What's up with the surgeon general, and why is her office making foreboding-sounding phone calls to me?"
His deputy launched into a long-winded rant about politics in general and the surgeon general in particular. "And so if we don't agree to endorse her second-hand smoke act, then she won't put a stamp on the stupid back seat belt thing that we need to get through congress if we don't want *them* to veto the new energy bill," Josh concluded, looking disgruntled.
"Welcome to politics," Leo said sharply. "Do what you can and let me know what happens." He turned to CJ. "What's on the list for today?"
"Well, as long as there are no national crisis declared between now and three o'clock, nothing other than the Pentagon thing on homeland defense and the President's trip to New York City in two weeks."
"If you get any questions on the Pentagon thing, don't answer."
"What about the budget thing that just landed on them?" Sam questioned. "Unauthorized withdrawals, short-notice budget cuts...what about that?"
"Just direct the reporters to the briefing at noon," Leo advised. "Anything else in dire need of attention? No? Good. Get out."
They all mumbled their thanks and filed back out of the room. "Margaret!" Leo bellowed, and she appeared in the doorway, wraithlike. "Put a file together on Adam Schiff and his pet lawyer...what did you say his name was?"
"Josh didn't say."
"Well, find out, and let me know. I'll be in the Oval. Call me when Nancy gets here." With that, he stood and disappeared into the adjoining room, leaving Margaret to her task.
8 hours earlier, 12:42 am, New York City, Jack McCoy's office
"God-DAMN-it!" The curse echoed through the almost deserted halls of the New York County DA's office, accompanied by the sound of a large pile of books thudding to the floor.
The only light on in nearly the entire building emanated from underneath a closed door, from behind which the sounds of pacing and muffled obscenities could be heard.
Abbie Carmichael let out a heavy sigh and shifted her briefcase to her other hand, along with the files she'd planned on reading through again at home. She rapped her knuckles against the door and opened it without waiting for an answer.
Jack McCoy was standing on a chair in front of one of his expansive bookshelves; one ink-stained hand balanced against the shelf, scanning through a thick, dusty, leather-bound tome and mumbling incomprehensibly under his breath. After a moment he dropped the book to the floor with a resounding "Whump!" and yanked another off the shelf.
"If you're looking for Webster's Legal Dictionary, I've got it," Abbie said, trying half-heartedly for a joke. Jack had already memorized the majority of the books in his own personal library, and was well on the way to having read each one in the basement library.
Jack glanced up at her and lifted the book in acknowledgement. "Hah," he said sarcastically. "As a matter of fact, I was hoping you'd seen Legal Defenses and Theories. I remember reading something in there that might just help us tear down Kate Martinelli's defense and I think you borrowed it last week. Or maybe that was Southerlyn."
"There's no way we can win that, Jack!" Abbie said, exasperated and weary to the bone. She was annoyed with this strange version of her boss, who had spent the past three weeks tearing like a madman through the corridors of 1 Hogan Place, and had taken to scribbling arguments on whatever happened to be at hand. He had suddenly become even more of a fanatic about justice and the law, and it was unsettling. "She screwed up because of her fear of losing her badge, and covered her terrible mistake up with a murder. You know that, I know that, even her defense lawyer knows that, but it'll be a cold day in hell if Judge Wempner lets Briscoe and Green's interrogation of her get admitted."
"They're smarter than that, Abbie!" Jack exploded, jumping down from his chair and setting a stack of books on the seat. "They know to never interrogate a suspect without a lawyer! Evidence has been thrown out of court that way so many times you'd think that it'd be etched in their skulls by now. Martinelli never waived the right to counsel, and they ignored that and went on questioning her. It's that idiot rookie Green's fault--"
"He's a damn good detective and an even better person--"
"He could be the fucking pope for all I care," Jack snarled, "but if he has to verbally wrap a rope around the suspect's neck and strangle her into a confession, he knows it won't be admitted at trial. If he was such a good detective, he would've known that in the first place and would've saved us the hassle of bringing it to appeal!"
"Still," Abbie said sullenly. They were silent for a moment, the ticking of the wall clock the only sound between them. "You'd better go home," she said suddenly. "Don't you have to start driving to Washington in a few hours?"
"Some lunch date with a politician at two, then a conference with a justice," Jack said dismissively and picked up another oft-used book. "I'll nap on my couch if I have to."
"Beltway traffic is hell in the morning," Abbie reminded him, and Jack just grunted noncommittally and waved her away. She said goodbye and headed out the door, slamming it closed behind her.
Jack was going to find a way to win this case if it killed him. He was tired of the judicial system's cracks and loops, the holes that defense attorneys always seemed to find just before the prosecutors could patch them up. It was the fourth case in less than two months that he was not incredibly certain he would win. Juries had flaws; they were human too, and could not always churn out perfect verdicts. That was the main reason women who had killed their abusive husbands almost always went free, along with celebrities and others in the public eye. But when the system itself stumbled and blocked his way...that was something that he would not let slip by him. He'd win this case and see that cheating detective locked away for the fifty-to-life that she deserved. Murdering your own partner, simply because he knew you'd falsified evidence? Which was worse, losing your badge, or losing your life?
Jack sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose wearily. As criminals became bolder, defenses became wilder and more far-fetched. This one was pleading temporary insanity, that she'd been blinded by the fear of losing her job, which apparently was all that she had. Pure idiocy in Jack's opinion, but it was not his opinion on trial here.
He stacked a pile of books on his desk, and then stuffed a sheaf of bulging folders and files into his already packed briefcase. There was no room left in there for the books, so he muttered blackly to himself and dug his old, battered one out from under his desk. After packing the books into it, he picked up the two cases, grabbed his motorcycle helmet and jacket off of the rack, then flipped off the light, closing the door behind him, and plodded slowly down the hallway.
Washington D.C., Leo's office, 10:15 am
"Have you got that file yet?"
Margaret passed it up to her boss without turning from the computer screen. "Enjoy. I couldn't find anything on the other attorney, though, because they never gave his name to Josh."
"So he could be some sort of convicted felon turned government prosecutor and we wouldn't know it," Leo commented, flipping open the folder and peering at the first page.
"I think they have screening processes to weed those sorts of people out," Margaret said seriously.
"I know. I was attempting to make a joke. Obviously, I failed." He turned and started into his office. "My sense of humor is so unappreciated," he said to the back of the head of the person sitting across from his desk.
"Ye-ah." Josh looked confused and stood up from the chair he'd previously been occupying. "There's a problem."
"The homeland defense? Not the missile shield thing..." Leo sat down behind his desk and glanced up at his deputy over his reading glasses. "We weren't expecting any opposition from Congress on that, were we?"
"No, it's, uh..." Josh fidgeted with his tie. "It's that environmental sect Harkin was worried about."
"What happened? Tell me everything."
Josh took a deep breath and ran his hand back through his hair. "They, uh, they busted that guy out of jail."
"The uh, the one who blew up the lot full of SUVs back in January. Remember? Killed three people. The jury was out for all of five minutes." Josh had a small smile of satisfaction on his face that was quickly wiped away when Leo spoke.
"How the hell did that happen?" Leo said sharply, standing up and leaning over his desk. "Keep talking. Tell me all you know, even if it seems irrelevant. First off, who exactly busted who?"
"That's the problem."
"The ones who did the busting. ELF doesn't keep track of its members. They just, I dunno, they're like the Ku Klux Klan. There's not exactly a membership newsletter that they send out regularly." Josh looked vaguely irritated, though at the situation or at himself Leo couldn't tell.
"Who got out, and what was he sentenced for? Harkin just came to rant, not give me information."
"He called himself Critter, but his real name was John Parker."
"Critter," Leo snorted. "The activists just get stranger and stranger. When did this happen?"
"Half an hour ago."
"Just outside of Portland," Josh confirmed. "Want me to get them into the Sit room?"
"Not yet." Leo shook his head. "Get me more information. I want every criminal record of anyone you can find even remotely related to this ELF thing. Find Nancy and notify her."
"She already knows."
"Good. Any other inmates get out or get hurt or whatever?"
"Nope, just Critter."
"Put extra guards on any other members of ELF in any other prisons anywhere in the country," he commanded. "I'll go tell the President. Get moving."
"Should I do anything about ALF?"
"What the hell is ALF?"
"Animal Liberation Front. Side group off ELF."
"Find stuff on them, too. This could be related to the two groups. Does ALF stage violent protests?"
"There have been a few incidents," Josh admitted.
"Yeah. Find me criminal records, flames sent to fashion stores, magazines, whatever, that sell furs, power plants...call all those places, ask about threatening letters, etcetera."
"Want me to call you when I have everything?"
"Yeah." Leo grabbed his cell phone off a side shelf and stuffed it into a jacket pocket. "I've got a meeting with some Christian splinter group in about five minutes, and then the briefing. Get a hold of me whenever you find out anything at all."
"Will do. Thanks." Josh spun on his heel and left Leo's office, shutting the door behind him.
Leo exhaled heavily, rubbed his forehead, his other hand toying with his pen, and went to inform the President of their situation.
CJ's office, Washington, DC, 12:31 pm
"Will the Pentagon be supporting the House's proposal for a missile defense shield?"
Ari Fletcher, the Pentagon press secretary, nodded and [elaborated], "As far as we know, we'll put as much military power behind it as we can; however, we have nothing to say on the financial aspect of that project. Ashley?"
"No, dammit, you said--" CJ cursed at the television, nearly dropped her briefing book, took a step back and swore again. "Carol!" She called, and her assistant appeared in the doorway immediately. "Get me Fletcher on the phone as soon as he steps off that podium."
"Will do." Carol turned and scurried back to her desk.
"Did they just say that they're gonna--" Josh materialized where Carol had been, and CJ cut him off.
"Get Leo. They went behind our backs, the bastards!"
"Leo's in with--"
"I. Don't. CARE! Get him now. Find any senior staff that are available and get them into the Mural room. I'll be there in five."
He turned and fled to follow her orders, for once not grousing about pecking order and superiority.
"Crisis control time," she muttered to herself, trying desperately to recall the [clearances] the Pentagon had recently made through the White House.
"CJ, I've got Fletcher on the phone."
CJ snatched up the phone and hit the blinking button. "What the hell do you think you're doing?" she demanded furiously. She listened for a moment, tried to speak, fell silent, then said, "Listen, Ari. You're not supposed to double-cross us like this. We're on the same team, remember? What? No, we did not blindside you! Listen, you need to--No! You get yourself over here by one o'clock or I will have your ass delivered to the President on a platter. Get me? Good." She slammed the receiver back onto the hook, grabbed a file marked "Pentagon relations" and flew out of the room, shouting that she'd be in the Mural Room if anyone needed her.
White House, Washington, DC, 1:04 pm
"Since when is the Pentagon supporting that crackpot excuse for a defense shield?" Leo queried, his voice too steady for the raw anger in his eyes.
Ari Fletcher sat at the head of the table, toying with a pen nervously. "Since...since the meeting this morning with General Dodge and--"
"Dodge is behind this!" Josh said, sitting up straighter in his chair. "Get him on the phone."
"No, no--" Fletcher shook his head. "It was General Cohen who convinced him. We have the excess military force, and with all of the grants you have been handing us to find something to do with all of our engineers...one of them made a breakthrough about two weeks ago, found some new mathematical formula that we'll be implementing. It's not the same system that you overruled three months ago."
"Why now?" CJ asked, drumming her fingers on the surface of the table. "Why announce it today, when you've got the whole homeland defense budget scandal waiting to bite you on the ass again?"
Fletcher shrugged. "We needed some good publicity. We're a nonentity now; hell, West Point gets more press coverage than the Pentagon."
"So you leaked it today," Toby stated flatly.
"Not leaked it; tipped someone off."
"Which is the same thing."
"Children..." Leo held up his hands. "No arguing semantics right now, please. Simple solution: Fletcher, the next time you don't clear something with us before announcing it, you're through. Done. No more briefings for you. I want you to draft a note for CJ to read at the three o'clock briefing and restate that there will be further inquiries made before officially instating the defense shield system. Deal?"
"Deal." Fletcher stood, gathered his folders and briefcase together, and walked out of the room without saying anything else.
They were all silent for a long moment, each lost in their own thoughts. CJ finally summed it all up for them.
"Another disaster averted."
One by one they nodded, stood, and went back to running the nation.
Washington DC 2:11 pm
Leo followed the matrie'd to a secluded corner of the buzzing restaurant, the tinkling of silverware and wineglasses and the smooth sound of Ella Fitzgerald's recorded alto piped in through the artfully placed speakers surrounding him. Two men were already seated at the table, a stoop-shouldered old man and a silver-haired man who looked vaguely familiar to Leo. He stopped short at the sight of the second man, then chased the fleeting thought of recognition away and apologized to the two men, seating himself across from the younger one.
"I'm sorry I'm late; there was an issue with a Christian splinter group I had to deal with, then some Pentagon briefing problems. Just an iced tea, please." This last was said to the hovering waiter, who whisked off after placing a menu in front of him.
"Not a problem," Adam Schiff said. "This is Jack McCoy, the Executive Assistant DA in New York County."
Jack McCoy. Leo froze, staring blankly at the man across from him. The name registered suddenly, and his mind was flooded with memories he thought he'd repressed long ago. Jack McCoy. The name alone served to make him shiver.
"We've met, Adam. A long time ago." Jack's voice was harsh but somehow silky, like wine poured over chipped and uncut jewels.
"Can we get down to business?" Adam's voice was gruff and blunt.
"My deputy will be here in about five minutes, if you'd care to wait."
"I'd prefer to get through this as quickly as possible."
Leo nodded and took a sip from the water glass in front of them. "Go right ahead."
Jack bent down and pulled a thin file from his briefcase, then slid it across the table to Leo. "About two years ago," Adam explained, as Leo picked up the folder and skimmed its contents, "Jack's assistant Jamie Ross uncovered corruption in a lower office of the DA's. That man was convicted of conspiring against a government employee, but we think that the problem is much more widespread than that. We assigned a segment of the NYPD to try and ferret out the corrupt DAs in New York County. Those are the seven that we know of." He nodded at the folder in Leo's hands. "We have reason to believe that there are more."
"And what do you want us to do about it?" Leo inquired.
"A bi-partisan congressional committee, set up for the purposes of--" he stopped as a ring suddenly split the air around them. Jack and Leo both fumbled for their cell phones, but it was Leo who excused himself and flipped the offending machine open.
"We have a situation, Leo."
"Josh? What's going on? I'm in the middle of--"
"It can wait," Josh interrupted. "This is much more important. Trust me."
"Can you tell me now?"
"Not over the phone. Can you get back here soon?"
"Give me twenty minutes."
"Ah, um...can you make it ten? You really need--"
"Twenty, Josh. I'll meet you in my office then, you give me a rundown. Is this Sit room bad?"
"Yeah. Nancy and some other people are already down there."
"Does the President know?"
"He's with them."
"Good. Twenty minutes." Leo hung up the phone and stood, shrugging into his jacket. "I'm very sorry, but something of importance has come up," he apologized. "Can you give me a number where I can reach you?"
Jack scribbled down two numbers on a napkin and handed it over to Leo. "The top one is my office, the middle is my cell phone, and the bottom one is the hotel I'm at and my room number."
"I'll have my assistant call you and set something up," Leo said noncommittally, stuffing the napkin into his jacket pocket. Jack's smoldering, obsidian gaze locked with his for a moment, and Leo, feeling the last vestige of his control slowly slip away from him, turned and fled.
White House, 3:01 pm
"What's going on?" Leo threw open the doors to the Sit room, barely avoiding crushing the Secret Service agent who stood on silent, stolid guard. "Josh said something about a meat packing plant--" "Elite Meats, a plant in Upstate New York, was bombed half an hour ago," Nancy told him as he sat down in the chair next to Bartlet. "It looks to be a pipe bomb--"
"How much damage?" he demanded.
"We were just getting into that," Bartlet said, "when you stormed in here, all guns blazing. Let her talk, Leo."
Leo subsided into his chair and watched as Nancy pointed out three dots on a map of New York.
"Here," Nancy directed their attention to a large red dot around the center of the state, "is where the plant was located. Mexico, New York, population eleven thousand. Here is Oswego, New York, population forty two thousand. That's Nine Mile Point, three nuclear power plants on the shore of Lake Ontario. On the random chance that there will be another strike, we've dispatched National Guard troops to all three plants."
"Damage, Nancy. How many people were killed?"
"We're still doing damage control," she admitted. "But preliminary counts look to be less than one fifty, more than one hundred dead. Many, many more injured."
"You said something about a pipe bomb?"
"Pipe bombs were placed in the freezer, the mechanism for the pulleys that the cattle are on, and the grinders." Nancy looked thoughtful. "You know what's odd, though? Prelim reports say that only five cattle were killed, and less than ten injured."
"Do we know who's behind this?" the President questioned.
Nancy nodded. "Animal Liberation Front, and Earth Liberation Front. They claimed responsibility just after the bomb went off. Someone phoned their local NBC station, and they phoned us."
"That group the escapee belonged to? Whatisname, John Critter?"
"John Parker, known as Critter," Nancy confirmed. "We've got an all out manhunt going for him. Josh gave me the files for all of the ALF and ELF members he could find with criminal records." She slid a two-inch thick file down the table to him. "Apparently, there are quite a few. And these are just the ones we know of."
Leo picked up the folder, but didn't open it. "Anything else?"
"Not yet, but we're expecting half-hourly reports from the Guard and others working rescue."
Bartlet stood, as did the rest of the table. "Thanks, let us know if you get anything at all."
"Thank you, Mr. President."
Jed swept out of the room, and Leo hurried after him. "You get all this?"
"All what?" the President said. "I get that a large number of working class men and women in a small town in Central New York were killed over some environmental group's decision that everyone should be a vegetarian, yes. Is there anything else I should know? And where were you, that it took you so long to get here?" Doors were pulled open, guards saluted the two men as they walked briskly back to the Oval Office. Charlie was on the phone but nodded hello to Leo and Jed as they went by. Leo shut the door behind him.
"Just a meeting with some lawyers from New York," Leo said dismissively. "Did CJ tell you about the Pentagon briefing?"
"Yeah," Jed said, sitting down behind his desk and waving Leo into a chair. "Yeah, she told me. Good job on that, by the way."
Leo ignored the compliment and didn't sit down. "I uh, I saw an old friend today," he said, wondering why he was telling this to Jed.
"Oh?" the President glanced up at Leo through his reading glasses. "Anyone I know?"
Leo shook his head. "Just...just someone from Chicago."
"One of those lawyers from New York that you were meeting with? What was that all about?"
"They uncovered corruption in the Manhattan DA's office, and want us to set up a congressional committee to do something about it."
"How unreasonable," Jed said sardonically, head bent down as he rifled through his desk drawers. "Have you seen my pen?"
"It's in your shirt pocket, Mr. President."
"So it is." Jed pulled it from his pocket and opened up a thick memo on Medicare. "Don't you have actual work that I pay you to do?"
"Yeah." Leo paused, wanting to say something more. Jed noticed his hesitation and stopped reading, watching Leo through his spectacles.
Jed said nothing for a moment, then: "I miss you."
Leo was silent, the only sound between the two men the ticking of the clock. After a long minute, he said, "I miss you too, Mr. President."
Leo McGarry's Office, 11:26 pm
His head shot up from where it had been resting on his arms and he blinked once, twice in the dim light from his reading lamp. It was dark out, the only sound the occasional rustle as an agent moved past his window. The only light in the room came from the lamp on his desk; it cast foreboding shadows on the bookshelves, drawing the room back into itself and creating a sunken effect.
A figure stood in the doorway, its edges blurred by drowsiness and the lack of light. Leo stood, squinted through the lenses of his reading glasses. "Yeah?"
The man stepped further into the room, into the circle of light cast by Leo's desk lamp. "I should have called earlier."
Leo closed his eyes, assaulted by his memory as he drowned in the sound of the man's voice. "Jack."
"Is this a bad time?"
"No, no..." He shook his head, not wanting his old friend to leave. "Not at all. Have a seat." He gestured to a chair, but Jack didn't move. Leo shifted from one foot to the other, slightly agitated. "Can I, uh, can I do something for you?"
Jack stepped forward, placed his hand on the side of Leo's face, sending an electric shiver of fear and anticipation skittering up Leo's spine. "It's been a long time," Jack said quietly. Leo nodded, caught the brief flame in Jack's burning black eyes.
"College, Jack. It was..." Leo trailed off, struggling to retain control as Jack's hand softly caressed his face.
"It was the summer after our junior year at collage. I was back in Chicago from NYU for a month, you were on break from UM." Jack's voice was low and breathy as his fingers toyed with Leo's hair. "Those hot summer nights in the city, Leo. Remember the apartment? Our tussles with the neighborhood punks who thought that they could whip us at basketball? Dodging the landlord when he wanted rent?" He paused, and when he spoke again he sounded somehow sorrowful, regretful. "We loved each other, Leo. What happened? What made it all change?"
Leo didn't reply, and Jack continued. "One glorious summer. And then you joined the Air Force."
"It wouldn't have worked, Jack," Leo said, his voice tinged with pain. "You had a career, you wanted more from life, and I needed--"
"More than what I was willing to give you." Jack took a step back, his hand falling to his side. "I've missed you. You have no idea what was going through my mind when I saw you this afternoon."
Yes I do, thought Leo, because I was thinking the same thing. But he didn't voice those thoughts. Instead, he said, "What do you want from me, McCoy? Are you here to dredge up painful memories or do something useful?"
Jack took a step forward and slipped an arm around Leo's shoulders, ducking his head and capturing Leo's mouth in a soft, poignant kiss. They broke apart and stood there for a long moment, wrapped in the embrace, Leo's head on Jack's shoulder and Jack still holding him close.
"You weren't supposed to do that." Leo stepped backwards, Jack's arms falling to his sides as he stood there, a hurt look in his eyes as Leo finally said, "You weren't supposed to do that; you were supposed to leave and let me work in peace, and just forget about seeing you today, forget all of the memories that you just dredged up."
"Leo," Jack said quietly. "There's no harm in memories, are there?"
"There's harm in them when there's more than just reminiscing behind it," Leo said harshly, going back behind his desk but not sitting down. "You have no idea how long it took me to forget you."
"To put me out of your mind, you mean," Jack said, a little too loudly, and crossed his arms. "To ignore all of the things we said and did to each other--"
"To forget what you said to me to drive me away!" Leo finally snarled, his temper rising. "Don't you remember, Jack? Or do you have a selective sort of memory?"
Jack said nothing, and Leo continued, "Oh, I remember those years spent playing stickball when we were children; those long afternoons we whiled away at school, trying to prove to the teachers that we were more than just the average kid who passed through the halls; the nights we sat on either my front steps or yours when we were teenagers, studying or playing chess or just talking; and yes, Jack, yes, the hot summer nights when we did nothing but fuck. But do you remember that afternoon in August?" Leo paused, and then went on. "That sticky, muggy night in August, when you said something to me that I will never, ever forget? Do you remember what you said, Jack?" Leo finally looked at the man across from him, really looked at him, and was suddenly thrown by the age and weariness in his stance, in his expression, alarmed at the raw hurt and anger in his eyes.
"Yes. I remember."
"And what did you say to me?" Leo said, feeling triumphant though this conversation was careening wildly out of hand, like a car whose steering column has come loose at the same time the brakes fail.
"'There's more that I want in my life other than you, and you in my life is not what I want.'" Jack intoned quietly, a sad note rippling underneath his rough voice.
"Precisely. And I left, Jack. I joined the Air Force, I fell to drink and nearly drowned in a bottle until someone, someone who cared a helluva lot more than you must have, picked me up and set me on the right path. And you, Jack, you walk the path of the righteous, pointing the accusing finger of the law at people who aren't even guilty some of the time, brandishing your power, your prestige, your unconscious control over everything, ignoring those around you who you have to step on in order to get where you are. You discarded me for your career, Jack. Explain to me why I shouldn't have an agent kick you out right now?"
"Because your agent saw that I had your card for an appointment that your assistant sent me. That's why."
"Why...why did you toss me off like a piece of flotsam, and let someone else rescue me?"
Jack looked surprised. "Not Jenny. I was at your wedding, Leo. We both knew that--"
"Not Jenny. And you'll understand," Leo said, his voice low, "if I won't tell you, because frankly, Jack, I believe that we are no longer such good friends as we once were."
Jack lifted his head up and looked at Leo dead on, a predatory glint in his obsidian eyes. "Maybe that can change, Leo."
And then Leo was drowning in the heady taste of Jack as his former lover's tongue plundered his mouth, as Jack wrapped his arms around Leo's shoulders and Leo ran his hands up and down Jack's back, as they tangled in an unsteady embrace over the barrier of the desk, and as Leo surrendered the last vestige of his sanity to the sensations being offered to him.
Jack McCoy's hotel room, 4:14 am
Leo woke with the common disorientation of someone who has spent the night in a bed that is not their own. After glancing around and confirming that yes, this was not where he normally slept and no, this was not who he normally slept with, and thank god, no, he had not broken his own 'hands off' rule, he couldn't shake the feeling that he had done something very, very wrong.
He swung his legs over the side of the bed and reached for his boxers, praying that he could escape without Jack noticing.
Which was ludicrous, of course. The instant he stood up, a sleep-drugged voice mumbled groggily, "Where're you goin'? It's four in the morning..."
"My pager went off," Leo said, lying through his teeth as he yanked on his pants and hurriedly did up the belt. "It's, uh, from the press secretary..." I need to get out of here; I need to be any where but this hotel room, with this man; I need a stiff drink--but no, that's not possible, he reminded himself furiously, his fingers tripping over themselves in his hurry to get his shirt buttoned. I need to see the man who kept me away from those stiff drinks, that's what I need. Screw Jack McCoy, and screw the 'hands off' rule.
"Call my assistant about the corruption thing!" were the last words he said before the door slammed behind him, effectively shutting out one of the more painful parts of his past.
No cabs were to be had in that part of town at four in the morning, so Leo stood in a bus shelter for twenty minutes before catching a bus to the Mall, from where he walked to the White House. Lights were gleaming in a few scattered offices, and he noted that Toby's office light was on.
"Getting in a bit early, Mr. McGarry?" The guard greeted him as he flashed his pass and punched in his access number. Leo just nodded tersely as he walked quickly through the darkened corridors of the West Wing.
He came to a sudden halt, just outside of his locked office door. "What the hell am I doing here?" he wondered aloud. It was futile, he knew, to hope that there was any way that the office next to his own would be occupied, even if Abbey was in New Hampshire, even if Jed had sworn earlier in the day that he would read through every single article on Medicare even if it meant staying up all night, even if Toby was still here, because what did Toby do that anyone else did?
Leo unlocked his door and flicked on his desk lamp, then allowed himself to glance at the crack beneath the connecting door.
Light was streaming from underneath it, illuminating the bottom row of his bookshelves. Leo slowly turned the knob and pushed the door open, not breathing, not blinking.
Jed was sitting at his desk, suit and tie discarded in favor of a Notre Dame sweatshirt and ratty old jeans that Leo remembered Abbey begging him to convince Jed to get rid of, reading glasses pushed up into his hair, head tilted back and resting against the back of the chair, eyes closed in light slumber.
Leo smiled to himself and closed the door behind him as he went back into his office. He had waited nearly four years; he could wait one more night. And if it took Jack McCoy to make him realize that, then so be it.
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