Disclaimers and warnings: These characters are not mine; I am only using them for fun, not for profit. Please don’t hurt me. This story is rated NC-17 and involves two men touching each other a lot, so if that bothers you, don’t read on.

"You Were Always on My Mind" is a series set in the world of "The Fugitive" and "US Marshals". The main pairing is Gerard/Newman.

The second story begins the same night as "I Guess I Never Told You" left off.

Permission granted to archive at http://members.tripod.com/wtnsslist

Any comments, questions, or criticism can be sent to bwebb@frontierz.com

 

"As Good as I Could Have"

 

by Barbara J. Webb

Cosmo Renfro stumbled blearily to the door of the hotel room. The knocking was coming from the door that led into the hallway, not the door that led to the adjoining room where Cooper was on watch, looking after their witness. That meant it probably wasn’t an emergency. All the same, his Glock was in his hand as he looked through the peep-hole – Sam Gerard didn’t raise sloppy Marshals.

A small fluttery feeling crept through Cosmo’s gut when he saw it was Newman standing in the hall, but the young man was alone, and paying not enough attention to the hall around him to be here on official business. He swung open the door. "What’s up, Newman?"

Noah’s head snapped up; his eyes focused on Cosmo. "Did I wake you up?"

"It’s the middle of the night; what do you think?" But there was something quietly throbbing in Noah’s eyes, and Cosmo took pity on him. "Come on in, kiddo. I don’t need sleep that badly."

Noah came into the room and flopped down on Cooper’s carefully made bed. "I don’t understand him," the young deputy mumbled into the pillow.

Cosmo took a stab in the dark. "Gerard?"

That only produced a nod, and Cosmo couldn’t hold back a deep sigh. Nowhere on his job application had it ever said he was going to get to play counselor as well as apprehend criminals, but it seemed half his life was spent trying to apply first aid to the psyches Sam so callously trampled. He sat down on the edge of the bed, patting Newman on the shoulder. "Why don’t you tell me what happened?"

"Did you two really talk about me?" Noah rolled over so he could look up at Cosmo. "Sam said you’d told him–" Noah hesitated, his face flushing a bright scarlet, and Cosmo could only imagine what Sam had told him.

"If he said I said it, I probably did." Now Cosmo was dying to know. "What happened, Noah?"

Newman’s face was still red, and his eyes couldn’t stay directed at Cosmo when he answered. "We – after the hand-off, we went – it had been a big day, and we were shot at – I shot – but it was after that, after we left, after – we...we had sex."

Cosmo nodded, waited for more, but it looked like Newman had stopped speaking. "So, what happened?"

"I just told you–"

"No, you told me you two had sex. Obviously, something happened, or you’d still be with him instead of keeping me up past my bedtime."

Noah flinched, either at the words themselves or the tone that had come out much sharper than Cosmo had intended. "I’m sorry." He started to sit up. "I shouldn’t be bothering you; I’ll leave."

Cosmo stopped Noah with a hand on his chest. "No, it’s okay. I’m not mad at you. It’s just...Sam. Go ahead: tell me what happened."

There was a hesitation behind Noah’s words as he spoke, giving a calm but halting narrative of his evening. Although his tone held the steadiness that Cosmo had come to expect from Newman, the broken flow of the words themselves hinted at a pain Cosmo had seen plenty of times during his years with Sam. The man broke more hearts....

"I just don’t understand what happened. Everything was fine, and then all of a sudden, it wasn’t."

"That’s Sammy – he never does anything half way." Too many years with Sam, and Cosmo had almost forgotten what it was like to think like a human being. So often, when Sam’s eye fell on a person, it was so easy to prod him into hunting mode. That was Sam’s game, and by extension it had become Cosmo’s. So rarely was Sam’s prey anyone Cosmo knew at all that he was in the habit of goading Sam into pouncing without really considering the consequences. Now he felt almost guilty. Newman was a person, a friend, someone who certainly didn’t deserve Sam’s bullshit, and Cosmo had practically dared Sam to seduce him. Noah deserved better than to be sucked into the madness that surrounded Sam Gerard, and Cosmo felt a twinge of remorse for the small part he’d played in getting Noah involved in this.

Well, a very small twinge. It wasn’t as though Cosmo was so deluded he believed himself actually capable of influencing Sam’s actions in any serious fashion. "You want my advice, Noah?"

"Sure."

"Just forget about it. Put it out of your head. He’s not worth it. Don’t let Sam Gerard drive you nuts." Cosmo stood up, went back to his own bed.

"I can’t help it. I thought – I don’t know what I thought. I don’t know what I was thinking."

A long time ago, Cosmo had stopped trying to apologize for Sam. He did his best to fix the chaos and destruction Sam created in his environment, but he never apologized for Sam’s actions. Almost never. "It’s not you, Noah. Sam...is his own problem. I’m sorry you got dragged into it."

"I still don’t understand what happened." Noah’s voice choked halfway through the sentence, but he finished it, then closed his eyes and took several deep breaths.

"My guess? He likes you too much. Sammy, he hates sleeping with people who’s opinion he has to think about, who’s feelings he has to worry about, who’s needs he has to consider. The man likes his partners the way he likes his criminals – quiet, obedient, and leaving a minimal impact on his environment."

Noah sat up facing Cosmo. "Then why did you tell him he should–"

"Look, it was dumb of me to say that. I keep forgetting what Sam’s like around real people. I’m sorry."

"Is he happy that way?"

It was not a question Cosmo had been expecting. "Happy? Sure, I guess. I mean, as much as anybody is. Why not?"

"It just sounds...lonely."

Cosmo shrugged. "Works for Sammy. Trust me – he doesn’t believe in suffering in silence."

"I guess not."

The young man still looked awfully sad. "If there’s anything I can do, kid, just let me know."

"Well, actually...."

"Come on, Noah."

The young Marshal looked away. "Would you mind if I stayed here tonight?"

"Sure, go ahead." Cosmo lay back down, pulled the covers back up. "But I’m going back to sleep."

"Thanks, Cosmo." Noah shed his jacket and shoulder holster. "Mind if I take a shower?"

"Go for it." Always considerate, Noah turned the light out before shutting himself in the bathroom, and even Cosmo’s fluttering conscience couldn’t keep him awake until Noah came back out.

*     *     *      *     *

Noah did go in to work the next day. Sam was in his office when Noah came in at one, went quietly over to his desk, and begin filling out the requisite piles of paperwork that followed any assignment. Gerard ignored him for most of the afternoon, barely so much as looked up from his desk, but that was hardly unusual. Sam focused.

He’d eaten breakfast with Cooper and Renfro. Savannah hadn’t questioned his presence there when she’d come in that morning, only asked him if he wanted eggs or pancakes – a comforting reminder that he was part of the family, Sam’s family. Sam’s children. She had asked him how his guard duty had gone, and he recited the events in careful, clinical detail. When he reached the part about being pinned down in the elevator, she ‘tched,’ but otherwise both she and Cosmo listened quietly. After that, the conversation had moved on to other topics. Noah had left the hotel mid-morning, stopping at home just long enough to change into jeans and a navy blue US Marshals t-shirt, then went to Denny’s and sat staring at the clock, trying to decide if he wanted to go in and face Sam or not.

As the clock approached 5, Noah crossed the nearly empty room to Sam’s office, rapped lightly on the doorframe. "Can I come in?"

"I thought I told you to take the day off."

Noah ignored the rebuke. If Sam had really wanted Noah to stay out of the office, he would have sent Noah packing when he’d first come in. Even after knowing Gerard as short a time as Noah had, he could tell the difference between a legitimate complaint and Sam just trying to make trouble. This time, Noah was on a mission, and it would take more than Sam’s half-hearted nastiness to scare him away before he’d at least had a chance to ask his question. "Are we still on for dinner?"

Noah wasn’t entirely certain what answer he was hoping for. On the one hand, Cosmo’s advice had been sound. There were many more intelligent things Noah had done in his life than get involved with his boss – especially this boss. As much as Noah loved his job, he could still admit that Sam was a difficult enough man to work for, and adding a personal relationship into the mix was just asking for trouble. Especially if what Cosmo said was true – and after last night, Noah had seen no evidence to the contrary.

But on the other hand, there was still that irresistible magnetism that had drawn Noah to him in the first place. Sam was fearless, brilliant, compelling. When he looked at Noah, Noah couldn’t turn away from that intense gaze. Sam expected so much from everyone, especially his deputies, and it gave Noah a quiet thrill every time he managed to live up to Sam’s expectations, every time Sam said he’d done a good job.

Deep down, Noah knew that somehow he’d failed Sam last night. He still wasn’t sure how, but the thought disturbed him, and he wanted a chance to make it right. He wanted to fix whatever error he’d made, or at least to find out what it was so he could avoid making it in the future.

"I don’t think dinner would be a good idea."

"Why not?"

For the first time that day, Sam seemed actively aware of Noah’s presence as he looked up and glared at his deputy. "The answer is no."

"Sam–"

"Don’t argue with me, young man." Sam closed the folder in front of him, seemed to resign himself to the fact that Noah wasn’t leaving. "Sit."

Noah sat. "Can I at least ask why?"

"This." Sam’s expansive gesture took in the whole office. "You see this?"

"Yes, Sam."

"All this belongs to me. This is my room, normally full of my people. In here, things are done my way. Are you following me so far?"

Noah wasn’t entirely, but agreement seemed the safest route. "Yes, Sam."

"While you are in this office, while you belong to me, I can’t have you feeling like you have the liberty to argue with me. It’s dangerous in the field and disruptive in here. Already, after a single night together, you’re standing here arguing. That’s simply unacceptable."

It made sense, but Noah didn’t think Sam’s argument held water. "Just because we’re involved doesn’t mean I’m going to stop listening to you on the job. I’m not stupid – you know a lot more than I do about everything in here. That’s why you’re in charge."

"I’m not convinced you can keep things separated."

"I’d like a chance to try."

Sam shook his head, tapped his index finger on his desktop for emphasis. "This is not a situation where you can just try, young man. If you fail, people could get hurt."

As opposed to Noah feeling hurt that Sam didn’t want to see him anymore. But that was an emotional argument, and one that wouldn’t get him anywhere, Noah was pretty sure. Likewise, Noah mentally discarded the ‘I thought we shared something special last night’ approach – it sounded a bit cheesy, even to him. "Why did you sleep with me in the first place?"

There was a flicker of annoyance – Noah wasn’t playing by Sam’s rules. "It happened; that’s all that matters, not why."

"It matters to me."

Sam threw up his hands. "Because I like you, because you were there, because you looked like you needed to get fucked. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. It was a mistake."

It had felt so good. Even now, it was still sinking in on Noah just how wonderful it had felt to be wrapped in Sam’s arms, to feel Sam’s weight on top of him, to hear Sam’s voice buzzing against his ear. "You really think it was a mistake?"

"Yes." One simple word crushed the last of Noah’s hopes.

"Okay, Sam. I’ll let you get back to your work." Noah managed a mild smile, just to prove to them both he still could, as he backed out of Sam’s office.

*     *     *      *     *

Sam didn’t watch him go, unable to keep his eyes on Noah’s face. In his eyes was that same wounded, begging, betrayed look that had been there when Sam had nearly shot his ear off. It was asking for exactly the same thing this time, apology, affection, a simple acknowledgment that Noah had done nothing wrong. Once again, Sam wasn’t going to give him that, and no matter how often Sam claimed that was all in the name of toughening Noah up, it was simply because the Great Sam Gerard was afraid.

Possibly afraid was too strong a word. Concerned, worried. Every single problem Sam had recited to Cosmo as reasons why he shouldn’t get involved with Newman still existed. Add to that the fact Sam really found himself warming to the young man, liking him in a way that made Sam positively uncomfortable, and it compounded the difficulty of the situation. What he’d said to Newman had been true – he didn’t want to put their working relationship at risk – and so much more that he hadn’t said to Newman.

The ding of the elevator didn’t interrupt his thoughts – he simply assumed it was Noah leaving for the day. Sam told himself once more that it was all for the best.

"Hey, Sammy."

Just what he needed. "Aren’t you supposed to be on duty, Renfro?"

Cosmo dropped into the chair across from Sam, kicked his feet up onto Sam’s desk. "Yeah, but Biggs sent his away today, then came over and relieved me. I think Savannah was getting tired of staring at my face."

"Who can blame her?"

"That’s what I really love about you, Sam, your warmth and affection for all humanity."

"Is there something you want?"

Cosmo shrugged. "Not really." He stayed quiet for a while, staring up at the ceiling, obviously building up to something. "Newman stopped by last night."

That was just what Sam needed – Cosmo and Noah talking about him behind his back. "What did he have to say for himself?"

"Mainly that you two screwed like bunnies, then you kicked him out for no apparent reason."

"He was in my way – being obnoxious."

"Yeah, I figured it was either that or you were just being an asshole."

It was bad enough that Sam had been forced to kick Noah out – he certainly wasn’t going to rehash the entire situation with Cosmo. "It’s none of your business."

"Well, the kid made it my business. You should have seen him last night, Sammy. Practically shaking, he was so upset. I mean, he could barely talk about it. Spent the rest of the night in my hotel room cause he didn’t want to go home by himself."

"And that’s exactly why I broke it off with him today. I don’t want to be responsible for that sort of thing."

"That’s nice. You don’t want to be responsible. Compassionate as ever."

Sam had no need to sit and listen to Cosmo’s sarcasm. "You’re the one who said I should fuck him. Changing your story, now?"

"Maybe." There was a note of resignation in Cosmo’s voice. "You ever think that maybe we’re both just horrible bastards? He’s such a nice kid, Sam, and you’ve got him all tied up in knots."

"Thank you for stating the obvious." But Cosmo was right – Noah was a good kid, and Sam had treated him badly, the way Sam treated everyone badly. It was just that usually Sam had the presence of mind not to involve himself with people he had to continue to see. "What do you want me to do about it?"

"I dunno." Cosmo leaned forward, dropping his feet back down to the floor. "What can you do, right? Let’s just get out of here. I’ll buy you a drink."

A night out with Cosmo would be just what Sam needed to purge thoughts of deputy Noah Newman from his mind. Sam snagged his jacket from the back of the chair and followed Cosmo out into the crisp evening air.

*     *     *      *     *

At first Sam couldn’t tell if the pounding was coming from inside his head or outside. As his brain struggled into wakefulness, he tracked the noise as coming from the front door. Sam stumbled out of bed, shouldered into a robe, and went to answer the knocking, fully prepared to unload a full clip into whoever was on the other side if this wasn’t an actual national emergency.

Throwing the door open, an angry "What?" was torn from Sam’s lips before his mind even registered that it was Noah standing there.

The boy flinched, but didn’t back away. "I’m sorry, this is probably a really bad time."

Sam had to fight down the overwhelming urge to bang his head against the doorframe. Three in the morning, and it was only now occurring to Newman that this might be a bad time. "Yes, it is, but now you’re here, so why don’t you tell me what it was you felt was so important it couldn’t wait until morning."

"I’ve been thinking – can I come in?" This time, Gerard did let his forehead fall against the door, took a long slow breath, and stepped aside to let Noah enter, rather than chewing his head off.

"You’ve been thinking?"

"Yes, sir." Noah stopped a couple feet into the room, turned to face Sam. "I’m not satisfied with your answer."

Sam closed the door and leaned back against it, still wishing Noah had chosen a more reasonable hour at which to bring this up. "What answer are you not satisfied with?"

"About us. I want to talk about this."

"Noah, go home. It’s way too late to be doing this." Sam tried to put every bit of the annoyance he was feeling into the words. It was important Noah know he was annoyed – it was important that he be annoyed, because if he let himself be not annoyed then he became very aware of Noah Newman standing in his living room at three-a.m.-in-the-morning, and if he became aware of that, then all his resolve to keep things on a purely professional level with his deputy started to wear away. It was easy at work to hold on to this resolve; environment counted for everything. At the office, Noah was his subordinate, and Sam was more than capable of compartmentalizing his brain enough to treat him as such. Here, in Sam’s apartment, Noah became a person, and, in that capacity, became dangerous.

And Noah wasn’t cooperating at all. "No, I’m not going to go home. I have some things I need to say."

Sam crossed his arms, gave Newman his most intimidating glare. "Think carefully, young man. Do you really want to argue with me on this?"

"Yes." The answer was a bit less steady – Noah was possibly slightly shaken by the force of Sam’s disapproval, but he wasn’t cowed. Obnoxious as the situation was, Sam had to give him points for standing his ground. "Please, just let me say this, and then I’ll leave if you want me to."

"Fine. Talk." It looked like agreeing would get rid of him faster than arguing would. "Quickly, Newman."

"Okay." Noah took a deep breath. "I think you were incredibly unfair earlier when you said I wasn’t capable of keeping our personal and professional relationships separate because I was arguing with you. I wasn’t arguing with you about anything work related, and maybe I shouldn’t have tried to discuss personal matters with you at the office, but I really don’t think that conversation proved anything about how I’m going to act with you in a work situation. Also, I think what you did last night – just kicking me out for no reason and without any explanation – was rude and I deserve an apology from you. I don’t think what we did was a mistake, and if I had the chance to do it over, I would. In short, Sam, I think you were wrong." The entire speech had been made practically in one breath, the words nearly tripping over each other again as Noah tried to get it all out. When it was done, he looked down and closed his eyes, as though bracing himself for whatever abuse was forthcoming.

Sam wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do more – yell at Noah or kiss him. On the one hand, he was arguing again, refusing to do what Sam told him. On the other hand, it was possible Noah was right. And Sam could respect the bravado, if not the sentiment, behind the fact that Newman had come here and said those things to him, knowing full well Sam was likely to kick his ass for it.

"Noah, I’m sorry." Sam hadn’t even been sure the words were coming before he’d said them. "You’re right; you do deserve an apology." It was possible to count on one hand the number of people in the world who had heard those words out of Sam Gerard.

"You...what...really?"

"But you’re not going to get one." The confusion, the hurt, the longing on Noah’s face: it was all too much for Sam. Grabbing Noah by the shoulders, he pulled him close and kissed him.

Immediately, Noah surrendered to the kiss, wrapping his arms around Sam and opening his lips to Sam’s probing tongue. Sam held Noah’s head still while he ravaged Noah’s mouth, running his other hand down Noah’s back to pull him even closer. It was a bad idea, a stupid thing to do, and the only thing Sam could think of.

"Can’t we try to work this out?" Noah asked, his voice shaky, as Sam pulled back slightly. "I don’t think it was a mistake – last night – and I hope you don’t really either."

Rather than answer, Sam kissed him again. He did think this was a mistake – all of this, but he’d almost resigned himself to the fact that it was a mistake he was going to be making. "Please, Sam." Noah’s lips moved against his, Noah’s voice barely above a whisper. "Give us a chance." What was it about this brave, gentle soul that touched Sam so deeply? When Noah pleaded in that low, breathy voice, Sam could hardly imagine denying him anything.

That thought washed over Sam with a shock as sharp as a bucket of cold water; the small part of his brain that was still free of the overwhelming sense of Noah against him was screaming the klaxon warnings of danger. Already, Noah had this much influence over Sam – how much more power would he gain when they had been sleeping together for a long time?

But Noah’s lips were soft against Sam’s, Noah’s body was pressed against him, and those thoughts were quickly losing voice under the onslaught of Sam’s desire for his deputy. "Sam–"

"Be still, Noah." Sam wrapped his arms farther around the young man and turned them both around so he could back Noah into the door. Newman let out a low whimper, tilting his head back to grant Sam easier access while twining one leg around Sam’s.

Newman was melting against Sam, his weight settling more and more in Sam’s arms until Sam was fairly certain he was supporting both of them. "Fine," he finally gave in to the obvious outcome of this situation. "You can stay."

"Yeah?" Noah’s blue eyes were wide and hopeful.

"Yes." Sam released the young man, sending Noah clutching for the doorknob to hold himself up. "But I’m going back to bed."

Noah followed him into the bedroom, as Sam had been assuming Noah would. Arousal warred with exhaustion as Sam’s attention moved from Noah, to the bed, then back to Noah. Arousal won, as Sam had suspected it might; if Noah was going to stay, he was going to put out.

"Come here, Newman." And Noah was in his arms again, kissing Sam with desperate intensity. Sam sucked Noah’s lower lip into his mouth, chewing on it lightly, causing Noah to squirm against him.

"Can I ask one more question?"

More talking. The boy was so quiet, so well behaved at work – why couldn’t he manage that now? "What?"

With eyes half closed and mouth half open, Noah didn’t look entirely focused on conversation either, but he asked his question anyway. "What happened last night? Why did you get angry with me?"

Sam pushed Noah down to the bed, stretching out on top and working his hands up under Noah’s t-shirt. "I don’t know. Doesn’t matter."

"I think it –" Noah’s sentence choked off as Sam rolled Noah’s nipples between his fingers. "Okay, that’s...wait, Sam, I do think it’s important."

Sliding the shirt up, Sam leaned down and took one of the erect nubs gently between his teeth. "You sure?" He flicked his tongue across the sensitive flesh, then sucked it into his mouth.

Noah moaned and arched his back; his fingers dug into Sam’s biceps. "Please...Sam...I need to know – so I don’t do it again, whatever I did."

"It won’t happen again. You simply caught me by surprise."

"Sam–" Working his hands under Sam’s robes, Noah pulled Sam up higher so they were face to face.

"Maybe it was because you wouldn’t shut up when I told you to."

Newman smiled and leaned up to kiss Sam softly. "Okay. You win. I’ll be quiet."

"Good boy." Sam ran a hand up Noah’s leg, over the hard bulge at Noah’s crotch. As he rested his hand there, Noah kissed him with more passion, caressing Sam’s tongue with his own. Noah’s arms wrapped around his neck, pulling Sam closer.

While Sam would have liked to draw this out, it was still the middle of the night, and he was still tired. He made quick work of divesting Newman of his clothing. A few strokes of the young man’s cock had him pleading for Sam to fuck him.

Noah’s legs wrapped around Sam’s waist as Gerard thrust into him. Sam ran his hands over Noah’s chest, enjoying the way Noah moved under his touch. With a sharp cry, Noah came explosively under Sam, dragging Sam into an orgasm of his own.

Sam rolled off Noah, hooking an arm around the young man’s shoulders to pull him close enough to kiss. "Sam–"

"Noah!" It was impossible for Sam to keep the note of exasperation out of his voice. "Be quiet. It’s time to sleep."

The deputy smiled, nestled in close to Sam. "Okay, I’ll let you sleep." Reaching over Sam, Noah flipped the light out. It took a moment of shifting for Sam to settle into a comfortable position against Noah’s warm presence, and Noah seemed determined to stay as close to Sam as possible. Just as he was drifting off, Noah’s breath brushed his ear.

"Sam?"

"What is it, Noah?"

"Thanks – for changing your mind." Noah’s lips brushed Sam’s lightly, then he rested his head back on Sam’s shoulder. "Good night."

Sam didn’t answer, claimed by the darkness of sleep that Noah had interrupted, for now, more than content with Newman’s company in his bed.