As always these characters do not belong to me but to the Producers, Writers, Actors and Broadcasters of the West Wing. I promise to return them in good condition. So something a little different, hopefully it works. I realize parts of this diverge wildly from what's going on in the series. In part of I have chosen to ignore some of the actual time -line, in part it's due to the fact that I am living in the Southern Hemisphere and we won't get season three 'til at least February or March. So spoilers cover the first two seasons but I'm not really expecting that to bother anybody. Feedback is not only welcomed but also desired. Re-posting is fine just let me know where. Title is from "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" Thanks as always for taking the time to read my work-B.G.

The Gales of November - Part 1
By the Bondi Gargoyle

From the hallway I could already hear CJ.
"Where the hell is Josh?"
"I don't know, CJ, he's due back sometime this morning."
"Due back? He's still in California?"
"He's somewhere between here and California."
"Well, Donna, you need to find him now!"
"Hey," I called out, stepping into the bullpen, "nobody gets to yell at her except me."
"CJ's looking for you," Donna informed me with a slight smile
"No kidding? Thanks." I grinned at her, tossing my coat and backpack her way. Then I noticed that Garret McHugh was sitting on her desk, I have to say at that point my grin faded.
"I need to talk to you now!" CJ was very close to losing it.
"All right lets go to your office." I pointed across the bull-pen. I was pretty sure what was coming and I didn't feel much like discussing it in front of McHugh.
"Don't you have a house to be building?" I asked, walking past him.
"Good morning to you too." He had that slightly knowing, smug look that he often regards me with. That look is just one reason that I dislike him. The fact that he struck me out twice last Fourth of July is another.

"Doesn't it strike you as really early for him to be here?" I asked CJ, closing her door behind me. "I mean its only seven-thirty. Nothing happens at HUD that would warrant being up and dressed this early."
"He's probably dropping Donna off," CJ said, her mind quite clearly on other things.
"See, CJ, I could have come to that conclusion on my own. I was kind of avoiding it and as my friend I expect you to do likewise."
"Josh, shut up!" CJ finally yelled.
"Okay what's got you so wound up?"
"We're going to take a hit."
"If this is about what Joey said to the Chronicle-"
"No, it's..." CJ stopped and frowned at me. "What did Joey say to the Chronicle?"
"That the government doesn't do enough for California's hidden poor."
"She said 'the government', nothing more specific?"
"No."
"Well that's unlikely to be laid directly at our doorstep."
"Except that she's married to the Deputy Chief of Staff which pretty much shoves her right past the doorstep and in our front door."
"I should be so lucky that the top story today will be that your wife made some ambiguous, if critical, statements in an area where we are quite strong."
"What are we going to take a hit on?" Now I was starting to get wound up and my week was already lousy.
"Hoynes."
"Oh what did the 'Texas two step' do this time?"
"He invited Danny to go jogging this morning."
"Better him than me." I leaned against the arm of CJ's couch.
"Hoynes is pulling himself off the ticket."
That brought me back to my feet.
"He told Danny this?"
"More or less. Danny told me as a favor and out of fondness for this administration but Josh we're going to owe him."
"That's fine, I'm quite willing to barter with Danny for whatever he wants. Hoynes said he's not running? Well we can deal with that, personal reasons, health issues-"
"He's running, Josh. He's running for the Senate."
"Say what?"
"Gruber's seat."
"I thought Pagoyan was running for Gruber's seat?"
"Well apparently Hoynes is going after it, too. He's going to run, and I'd say he's going to be distancing himself from this administration."
"Well he's doesn't have far to go. And the Texas primary is still months away, he'll get better numbers than Pagoyan can even dream of." I sighed, rubbing my jaw "He told Danny this morning?"
"About thirty minutes ago"
"Anyone else got it?"
"Don't know yet."
"Okay, I'll go tell Leo and we'll wake up the President. Find out what you can and update Toby and Sam."
CJ nodded in agreement.
"Well this has been an exceptionally good Monday. So far, my wife's attacked our domestic policy, my former boss's defected to the legislature, all I need is for my mother to hold a press conference denouncing our stance on China and I'll have the hat-trick."
"Were things a little rough with Joey?" CJ asked sympathetically. Claudia Jean has an amazing ability, even in crisis mode, to keep one corner of her brain free and clear for her friends.
"You could say that."
"It's your first year, Josh, there's bound to be a few bumps."
"Well these ones are starting to feel like the Rocky Mountains"
"Oh I'm sure they're no worse than the Appalachians."
"Thanks."
"Hey, Josh," CJ called after me as I started toward Leo's office, "Your mother's not likely to start giving press conferences is she? I know she's a department head at U.Conn."
"They're unlikely to ask her about China, she's the head of the Physics Department."
"That's why you're so sensitive about that."
"You want to see sensitive, call my mother a psychic."

But at least, as I headed to my boss's lair, I was almost smiling. I also noticed that Garret McHugh had vacated my general vicinity, which further improved my day. Thing was, I should have liked Garret, or 'Gar' as everyone seemed to constantly call him, and at first I did. He is a near brilliant policy specialist and the help he gave us on housing was invaluable. Unfortunately, then he started dating Donna. And given that this was not the first time that he'd been in my office and not his own before eight in the morning, I don't think they were going out for ice-cream sodas. In a perfect world I wouldn't have cared. In a perfect world I would have recognized that Garret McHugh is a nice guy and that Donna was long overdue to have a nice guy in her life. In a perfect world the fact that I was wearing a gold band on the ring finger of my left hand would have canceled out any interest I might have had in who Donna was sleeping with. And in a perfect world riding the Metro to work would be as entertaining as the roller coaster on the Santa Cruz boardwalk. In my world the Metro is tedious, I didn't know how long I'd be wearing that ring and if Donna had known how many letters I'd drafted to the HUD secretary to have McHugh transferred, she'd have killed me with her bare hands.

I was having a lousy day and I figured everyone else might as well join me, so I briefed Leo and together we briefed the President. By the time the morning staff meeting rolled around, the big guy had a full head of steam going.

"He's doing this a week before the New Hampshire Primary?" he growled, "This idea just came to him?"
"The Governors' Conference," Toby said. "He's the lunch time speaker today. You're keynote tonight."
"You think he's going to declare over lunch?" Leo regarded our Communications director skeptically
"In this case, yes," I replied. "Hit and run. Look he took Danny jogging; he's starting a buzz today for some reason. I think this is it."
"It could be worse," Sam offered, "At least he's not running against us."
"Yes he is," I interjected. "He's looking at 2006 and more or less declaring that he'd do better on his own than coming out of the Bartlet administration."
From beside me CJ asked, "What do you want me to tell the press?"
"Standard answer," Toby instructed. "The President will be sad to loose Hoynes as his VP but looks forward to working with him in the Senate and we offer him our support and best wishes."
"That's going to look pretty wishy -washy."
"Well you know what I'd like to say, " Toby retorted, his temper failing him. "I'd like to say that we think Hoynes is a self-serving, oil-licking mole with small genitalia and if he beats Pagoyan in the primary, the President will be endorsing the Republican candidate because we'd rather face a hostile Senate than one with John Hoynes in it."
"Go with the first one," I told CJ.
"Gee, thanks for clearing that up, Sparky"
Leo looked at me. "Perhaps we should start out by confirming with Hoynes that this is actually going down."
"Who do you trust more, Danny or Hoynes?" the President inquired
"Danny," Leo replied without hesitation, "but we're doing it this way all the same. Josh, go see him."
"Maybe somebody else should go see the turncoat. I can't promise that I won't deck him."
"Well you're the one among us he hates least, so you get to go."

Hoynes offered to take me along on his afternoon run. At that point I took the phone away from Donna and told whichever aide was on the other end that, in light of recent events, Hoynes would damn well talk to me in an office, his or mine, like civilized men, because the way I was feeling at the moment, the minute my tie came off, the gloves were going with it.

After I'd hung up I went and found Toby.
"What if we went with your answer?" I asked him.
"I think the party leadership would prefer that we didn't actually make statements about endorsing the opposition."
"Not that part. What if we cut Hoynes loose before he can do it himself?"
"When are you seeing him?"
"In ten minutes"
"CJ's next briefing starts in ten minutes. How convenient."
"He's not going to wait 'til lunch, we're going to get ambushed now."
"Ya think?"
"So let's turn the tables on him"
"What do you have in mind?"

Hoynes greeted us with an outstretched hand and a campaign smile. I ignored both of them.
"So what's up Josh, Toby?"
"Well," I began, "Mr. Vice-President or should I say Senator...?"
"You heard?"
"We should have heard it from you. We shouldn't have gotten this from a press leak. You owe us that much."
"I don't owe you a gawd damn thing. You used me to get the South and since then you've used me as a trained monkey to take the photo -ops the President can't be bothered with. I used to be regarded as a great politician. These days I'm Bartlet's boy."
"You are the Vice-President of the United States. You hold the second most powerful job in the country."
"Leo McGarry holds the second most powerful job in the country and we all know it."
"We could have gone to someone else."
"You would have lost."
"There's no proof of that, guess we should touch base again in November. For now, I need to know if, when you announce your intention to seek the Senate, you'll being making a statement in support of the President."
"Of course."
"A strong statement of support?"
"I'll offer my support."
"But not so much as to countermand the fact that his V.-P. no longer wants to share the ticket?"
Hoynes gave a brief shrug
"He's a good man, Mr. Vice -President, in fact he's a great man. You shouldn't do this, it will reflect badly on you in the end."
"You have blinders on, Joshua, and they're going to last until the first Wednesday in November. But don't worry; I've always liked you. Come November, I'll consider taking you on. You too, Toby"
"I'd rather flip burgers," Toby retorted as his phone began to ring.
"As long as you've got your plans worked out."
Toby took his phone out and answered it. He glanced at me and I gave him the slightest of nods.
"Go ahead," Toby said into the phone, then hung up. He turned to me "CJ's briefing is about to start. I'd like to see it."
"Well, Toby, anything for you," Hoynes said sarcastically, picking up a remote and turning on the set in his office.
CJ walked calmly to the podium, sorted her notes looked up and smiled.
"Bon Soir, Sportsif!" she declared cheerfully "That's just a little nod to Canadian Prime Minister Carolyn Pelltier who I'm told is a big Montreal Canadiens fan. The P.M. wrapped up meetings here yesterday on energy, environmental and defense issues."
"CJ, you do know its not evening right?" Danny pointed out
"Yeah, Danny, I figured the sun shining was a good tip. But they don't play NHL games at ten a.m. so Quebecois broadcasters rarely begin the game with 'Bon Jour Sportsif'."
"Actually I was just curious to see if you could say good morning in French."
CJ gazed out at her press corps.
"I know you've all heard mutterings so rather than me giving you details of the new Pacific Salmon accord with Canada, why don't we jump ahead to the cabinet re-shuffle. Yes it's true, we will be looking at some re-arranging; primarily the President has begun to consider several candidates as a new running mate. He'll be taking some meetings on that issue at the Governors' Conference and no I won't tell you who's on the shortlist 'til it's down to one person."
"Is Vice-President Hoynes on that list?" Steve called out
"Nope."
Katie leapt in, "Why not?"
"All good things must come to an end."
"CJ!" About a dozen hands went up.
"Look there's been no fight, no scandal, Guys. It's an amicable mutual break-up. This administration wishes John Hoynes success in whatever his future plans hold and will always consider him a friend."
"CJ, is it true Hoynes will be seeking a Senate seat?" Danny fed CJ the question he already knew the answer to.
"You'll have to ask the Vice-President's office what his plans will be. So now that we've talked about that elephant, lets talk about Canadian fish."
"CJ can you say fish in French?" queried Danny, cheerfully.

The Vice-President was white with anger when he turned toward us.
" What did you think we were going to do? Let you run the table? You wanted off the ticket. Congratulations you're off the ticket," I said, staring him down.
"The party leadership is not going to stand for this kind of game playing. Ellen!" he hollered to his secretary. "Get me Hilton Reesce!"
"Reesce has pneumonia," Toby reminded Hoynes calmly. "Sean Kieran's the acting Minority Leader in the Senate."
That brought Hoynes up short. He and Kieran hated each other. Not that Kieran was a big fan of ours but Toby and I knew that he'd back the President over Hoynes, if for no other reason than Kieran was also a graduate of Notre Dame. Calling the leader of the Democrats in the House, Jess Jefferson, was equally pointless; she was a long time Bartlet supporter, going back to the first campaign.
As with the President, you're supposed to wait until you're dismissed before leaving the V.-P.'s presence, but I was damned if I was asking Hoynes for anything ever again. Without a word Toby and I left the room.

That evening there was an e-mail waiting from Joey. Two words: "Still mad?"
I picked up the phone and called her. Obviously we don't have these discussions through Kenny. Usually what we do is use the computer and phone simultaneously. We could probably just use the computer but I like the sound of her voice.
"I'm not mad anymore," I typed.
"No, you're too revved up from firing Hoynes to be mad at me," she said, half-laughing.
"Could you try though, not to make to many more statements attacking my boss?"
"I never attacked the President."
"Come on, Joey, you've got how many degrees? If use non-specific terms like 'government', our relationship is going to put you on the front page. Or is that what you wanted?"
"For a guy who's not mad anymore you do a passable imitation."
"I'm sorry."
"As a matter of fact, Joshua, while I wasn't misquoted, the statement was taken out of context. The line was in the middle of a discussion on the voting record of my opponent. If you'd heard the whole thing, it would have been quite clear that I was talking about Congressional response to the problem."
"Why didn't you tell me that this morning?"
"Cause you don't get to boss me around. You come home and you forget that here, you're not the White House D.C.S. I expect you to give me the benefit of the doubt for not being a complete idiot, and apart from anything else not attacking an administration from my own party lest the D.N.C. cut off my funding. You guys have been known to do that from time to time."
"The President's not going to cut off your funding, he likes you too much."
"I'm not married to the President and neither, and this may come as a shock, neither, Joshua, are you."
I sighed. She was right; I'd been out of line.
"I love you," I typed.
"Think that's going to get you off the hook?"
"You can't see how contrite I look. It's the best I can do."
"Okay, apology accepted."
"Thank you."
"What's happening with Hoynes?"
I filled her in on the basic details.

"... With Kieran and Jefferson backing us up, he had no choice but to fall into step. He announced that he'll seek the Senate seat but it looked like a response to us taking him off the ticket."
"How much will it cost you?"
"It'll cost us Texas."
"You never had Texas."
"So no big loss. He plays well to the mid-American housewife with his Hollywood smile but hopefully it's long enough until the actual election that they'll have forgotten this slight."
"Gillette plays well on TV."
"We're not putting Gillette on the ticket."
"Why not?"
"Well for a start, Toby has to employ trickery to get him on a committee. You think I'm going to get him onto the ticket?"
"This has become your job, has it?"
"Lucky me."
"How come?"
"Cause I'm there. Wanna be the Vice-President?"
"I'd prefer a job with some power and influence, like freshman congresswoman."
"Shouldn't that be freshwoman congresswoman?"
"Yeah whatever. You're looking at the Governors?"
"Joey, currently I'm looking at the guy who dry cleans my suits."
"Donna deals with your dry cleaning."
"And I've prepared a brief survey for her to give him. Hey its Washington, everyone has an opinion."
"And some of you have ones to spare."
"I thought I was forgiven"
"Oh yeah"
"I wish you were here," I told her.
"Me too. But you guys are coming to California in six weeks."
"I don't know if I am."
"Josh."
"I have to find a running mate, I'm not sure I can spare three days to go to California"
"Josh!"
"Look I'm skipping the Lisbon, Buenos Aires and Florida trips in the vain hope that I can work this out in under six weeks, for many reasons, the re-election campaign being just one but at this point I can't make any promises. Why don't you come here?"
"Because I'm in the middle of a campaign."
"And I'm not?"

The Gales of November - 2

 

 

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