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something sweet and sad

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Chevy wanted someone from Creative down there, asked for Don specifically. They didn't want a presentation, didn't want to look at art or tag lines or casting, he's got no pitches to make. They seemed to just want Don to come down and charm them while Ken played second fiddle for a while and maybe it's some weird power play or something but Don's happy to comply. It's not the worst thing he's ever had to do. It's kind of nice to be the one being wined and dined, kind of nice to be away from New York, to not think for a while.

They eat in the hotel; the best Detroit has to offer. It goes well, fake smiles and handshakes and steak. Ken's right, the Chevy execs are morons. He makes a good show of pretending otherwise though, all sunshine and pleasantness. Don doesn't remember much about that weekend but he remembers the clacking of Ken's shoes on the vinyl floor, remembers him stamping forcefully, saying over and over and over it's my job.

That's what makes him a good accounts man, Don figures. He's durable, willing to grin and bear it while people like Pete Campbell go for the jugular, fight tooth and nail for what they want.

Ken walks them out after dinner, claps Don on the shoulder as he passes by. "Don't wait up," he jokes.

Don smiles, laughs politely, says his goodbyes and retreats to the bar.

---

He doesn't know what sends him up to bed early. They've got a lunch meeting tomorrow, Don's flying out right after, he doesn't need to be up early and there's a girl in the bar that makes eyes at him, cool blue gaze like Betty's, warm open smile like Megan's.

He could take her upstairs and spread her out beneath him, make her scream and beg with just his hands if he wanted but every time he tries to picture it, every time he runs through lines in his head he thinks of Megan. Of how Megan would respond, how she'd grin, how she'd smirk, how she'd laugh before she kissed him, shudder as he brushed back her hair. How she'd arch and cant her hips up to welcome him.

He stubs out his cigarette and heads over to the elevator. It dings. The Chevy execs step out and Don doesn't immediately find this odd, Ken could have invited them up for a night cap or something, maybe the room service in this place is fantastic. The scent of liquor rolls off them, their cheeks are flushed. One of them - George, he thinks - looks up at him, startled, starts stammering something out and pitches forwards. They're drunk. Really drunk. Another - Frank maybe - puts a hand on George's arm.

"Don," he says, beaming. "Turning in early? We can recommend a few places if the hotel bar isn't quite as lively as you're used to." He leans in closer, his breath hot and stale. "Places with girls, you know."

The look on George's face looks a lot the expression Roger gets when he's slept with someone he shouldn't have.

Don smiles. Fake and plastic. "Just tired. Figured I'd take advantage of the fact that I'll have the bed to myself for once."

Frank laughs. "Now that's no way to live, Don." But they move forwards so Don can step in, wander off laughing into the lobby.

---

Don's room is next door to Ken's. He passes by Ken's door on the way to his, figures he'll drop by and mention how drunk the execs looked, how one of them almost fell on him. When he knocks though, the door creaks open and he realises it hadn't been shut.

He frowns as he steps in, "Ken?"

The main rooms a mess. The bed sheets are tangled, Ken's tie and suit jacket are in heaps on the floor. The air in the room is hot, sticky. It smells like sweat and something else. There's a bottle of whiskey on the side board, four glasses. One half full.

The door to the bathroom's ajar. Maybe he's in the shower or something but Don can't hear the water and Ken hadn't shouted back. Don takes a few steps forward, calls out again.

"I'm fine, Don," Ken's voice is very small. "Just - "

Don should leave but his feet carry him forwards. He pushes the bathroom door open further.

Ken's slumped down in the cramped little space between the toilet and the bath and Don's always known that Detroit was about as far from New York as they could get but Jesus, is this really the best hotel they can get? But that's not what he should be thinking about right now.

What he should be thinking about right now is how pale Ken is, how he's trembling, how his hair is mussed and his shirt is button up all wrong and his pants are still undone. Don's not an idiot. He knows what those things mean.

Ken doesn't look up at him. He's curled up small, folded in on himself. "I don't wanna be their toy anymore," he says, quietly and Don crouches down so they're at eye level.

"I don't," Ken says, voice strained. "I can't - "

I'm calling the police, Don wants to say. That's what he'd say if it was Peggy or Joan. But he knows how that will go, he knows who'll end up on the losing side of things. If Ken doesn't get time, he'll lose his job, his reputation. Everything.

Ken's trying to breathe slow and deep, like he's trying to keep all this down, all this at bay but his exhales are shaky and his knuckles are white where he's gripping the rim of the bath.

"I should kick their teeth in." Don means to think it but he says it out loud and Ken shakes his head.

"No, don't, don't. I - It's my - "

Job, he's going to say.

It's my job to take them to dinner at eighty miles an hour. It's my job to go hunting with them so they can fire off their guns right by my ear and laugh when I get startled.

He thinks of Joan.

"If you - " Ken says. If you fuck this up this will all have been for nothing.

"Okay," Don says. "Okay." And Ken seems to relax a fraction.

The silence stretches.

"Do you need a doctor?" Don asks, eventually.

Ken seems to consider this a moment before he shakes his head. Who would they go to anyway? They couldn't say what happened. They'd only call the police once they figured it out.

So, okay. No police. No breaking Chevy's execs. No doctors. Okay. Don knees are starting to ache from crouching over. He keeps expecting Ken to stop shaking but it only seems to be getting worse, coming over him in waves.

"Should I call - " Don starts, realises he can't remember Ken's wife's name. Can't even really recall meeting her. It doesn't matter, Ken must know what he's about to say, turns to look at Don, eyes wide. He shakes his head.

"No, no. Call - Call Sal."

"Sal," Don repeats. "Sal Ramono?

Ken swallows and nods.

Shit, maybe they've drugged him. Maybe he's drunker than Don first thought. Maybe he's just that lost.

"Ken, I - " he starts to say.

"His numbers in my address book," Ken says. "It's in the - in the bedside cabinet. There should be a few numbers there."

Don starts to ask but Ken's shaking worse and maybe the shocks wearing off and the full gravity of the situations starting to hit him so Don scrabbles up, heads for the phone.

---

He gets Sal on the third number. "Sal Ramono," he answers curtly.

"Sal, it's Don. Ken Cosgrove asked me to call you," Don says.

The other end of the line goes quiet. For a moment, Don thinks he's been cut off or maybe Sal's hung up but then Sal says, "Where are you?"

Don rattles off the hotel address.

"I'll be there in twenty minutes," Sal says and hangs up.

Don sets down the receiver slowly. He still feels like he's playing catch up, has never really considered the idea that Ken - or anyone, really - still spoke to Sal. Hasn't thought about him at all since Lee Garner Jr.

To be honest, he's never really thought much about Ken outside of SCD&P. Ken's generally happy, generally competent. He's not a rampant disaster, doesn't pick fights at the office or bring his baggage in to share with his colleagues. He'd never gone missing under, never gotten drunk and ruined a meeting.

Don sits on the bed a few moments more.

You realise I have no power, Ken had said.

Of course you do as long as they like you.

Oh, they like me. I'm their favourite toy.

He goes back to the bathroom.

Ken hasn't moved but his eyes are squeezed shut.

"Sal's coming," Don says. He sits down on the floor. "Do you want - " he starts but realises halfway through he has no idea what he's going to say.

Ken doesn't respond, all there is is his laboured breathing.

"Ken," Don prompts, gently.

"I heard you," Ken says. "Thank you. Thank you."

---

Don doesn't move until there's a knock at the door. He stands up to answer it. Sal barely even glances at him. "Where is he?" he asks.

Don gestures to the bathroom. Sal doesn't look back at him, crosses the room and opens up the door.

Don has just enough time to hear Ken say, "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have called you." Before the door snicks shut.

Don lingers for a moment before he heads down to the bar.

---

He's five or six drinks in and just starting to forget the tremor in Ken's voice, all those things rippling underneath the surface, making him shake. All those things Don doesn't want to think about or know or remember in the morning.

He remembers one of the execs curling their hand around Ken's arm, laughing too loud. Remembers Ken flinching but smiling through it, smiling like he'd just been offered the whole godamn world.

"Whoa there," the bartender says and Don looks up. "You grip that thing any tighter and it'll break." He nods to the glass in Don's hand.

"Sorry," Don mutters. Lets his grip go slack.

The bartender nods and moves on. Don downs the rest of his whiskey. He's drumming his fingers on the bar, considering whether or not to order another when Sal slides onto the stool beside him.

"Whiskey," Sal orders. "Neat."

He knocks it back as soon as it's passed to him, tilts his head back and closes his eyes. Keeps them closed as he sets down the empty glass and shakes his head. He breathes out and opens them.

"He's asleep," Sal says, to Don. "Finally."

Don waits.

Sal glances at him side on a few times before he says anything. "It's not what you think," he blurts. "I - We - " he sighs. "Maybe it's exactly what you think."

Don sighs. He doesn't care. He grew up in a whore house; he's had a while to get to grips with the whole queer thing. As long as whatever's happening between Sal and Ken doesn't ruin anything for the company, he's fine. But Sal's got that look that says even if Don tells him that, he'll try to explain so instead Don says, "What exactly do you think I think?"

Sal looks at him. "I'm not going to spell it out for you," he says and he sounds more tired than angry. "But it - I didn't -" he closes his eyes again, pushes the next word out past his teeth in a pained hiss, "force him or anything."

Don frowns, "I know that, Sal."

Sal arches a brow, looks back to his empty glass. Don calls the bartender over. "Same again," he says. "And for my friend."

Sal nods at him gratefully, drinks this one slower.

"I knew he'd break my heart," Sal says, shaking his head. "I just thought it'd be because - well, you know. But then after I was fired he came to see me and..." he trails off.

"I hope you're not expecting me to apologise about that," Don says.

Sal snorts. "Well, it didn't make you my favourite person but I understand. Business is business. Besides, I landed on my feet."

"I'm glad," Don says and he means it.

Sal nods thoughtfully, drains his glass. "I want him off this account."

Don does too. "We'll put Pete on it. Or that new kid." Benson or something his name is.

"You won't tell them what happened?" Sal presses.

"No. I'm not an idiot, Sal. I wouldn't do that to him. I'll find something."

Sal looks mostly convinced.

Don shakes his head. "We should have switched him after that car wreck." At the time it hadn't seemed like that big of a deal. It was an accident, Ken was driving. He'd overheard Ken telling Joan about it. They had their hands over my eyes. Joan had pressed a hand to her mouth.

"Yes," Sal says, coldly. "You should have."

And Don feels a little sting of anger at Sal's tone but he lets it slide. "He told you about it?"

"Of course he did," Sal snaps. "He's my - " But he breaks off, looks back to his glass. He was married once, Don remembers but his ring finger is bare now. Ken's isn't. Ken still has a pretty wife to go home to.

"I should get back to him," Sal says, standing up. He drains his glass and sets it back down. "Thank you, Don. For calling me and for - being there for him." He holds out his hand.

"You're welcome," Don says, taking it. "It was good to see you, Sal. I'm glad you're happy." He settles for.

Sal's smile is brief but it's the kind of smile Don always wanted to see on Betty's face. On Rachel's. On Megan's. On everyone in between's. "You too, Draper."

---

Ken's already in the lobby ready to go when Don gets down. He smiles when Don steps out of the elevator, like nothing at all happened. There are dark circles under his eyes, they make him look ill.

You don't have to do this, Don wants to say but Ken's here, Ken's smiling. If Ken can pretend, Don can too.

"Ready?" Ken asks.

Don smiles, nods. Waits until they're in the cab to say, "I had a call this morning. They want you back in New York, apparently a few of your other clients are feeling neglected." This is a lie, of course. But Don did call the office. Convinced the partners Pete would be better placed to handle Chevy.

"It's up to you, of course," he says, when Ken looks over at him. "But if you fancy taking a break from Detroit then - "

Ken nods slowly. "Well, I'll certainly... take that under consideration."

---

Don gets a call a week or so later, at home not at the office.

"Thank you," Sal says. "I mean it Don, really. Thank you."