Title: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman glanced up from his desk as Kathy knocked on his open office door. "Kathy, unless you have some form of caffeine with you whatever you have to say can wait until I get some coffee."
The dark haired young woman shook her head as she stepped into the room holding a pink message slip. "Donna had to run a file to Leo but she wanted you to get this message as soon as possible."
Josh frowned as he stood and walked around the corner of his desk and headed toward Sam's assistant. "Kathy, nobody else is up at this hour of the morning."
Kathy handed him the message. "Except those who work on the Hill. It's from Lillienfield."
Josh snatched the paper from her. "What the hell does he want at six in the morning?"
Kathy shrugged as she headed out the door. "I don't know, Donna took the message."
"Thanks, Kathy," Josh replied as he followed her out the door scanning the bustling communications bullpen for his assistant. "DONNA?!"
The blonde woman in her late early thirties touched his left shoulder in response causing him to jump. "I'm right here."
Josh jumped back slightly. "Don't do that! Did you get CIA training that I don't know about?"
Donna glared at her boss. Everyone in the West Wing had worked late the night before getting the health care bill ready to be sent to the Hill next week. On top of that the President had called a five thirty senior staff meeting for this morning so he could be brought up to speed on everything before he left for the Russia summit.
"Josh, I haven't had any caffeine yet so please don't start," Donna replied as she moved toward her desk.
"Kathy just gave me this message," Josh commented as he thrust the piece of paper in front of her. "Does this really say that Lillienfield wants to meet now?"
Moss's expression instantly turned sober as she remembered the brief phone call. "He didn't tell me anything, just that he wanted to see you as soon as possible. I thought you and Sam made a deal."
Josh walked back into his office and snatched his coat from a chair. "We did," he replied firmly as he walked back into the room.
"Then what does he want?" Donna asked with concern.
Lyman placed a hand on her shoulder as he maneuvered them over to her desk. "Guess we'll find out, but don't tell anyone about this. Especially Leo."
Donna frowned. "Josh...."
"I mean it," Josh replied grimly. "I'll be back as soon as I can."
Josh arrived at the foot of the Washington Monument in pouring down rain.
"About time," Peter Lillienfield snapped as Josh ducked into the entranceway.
Lyman glared at the older man. "You're lucky I'm here at all."
Lillienfield chuckled as he leaned against the wall. "Careful, Josh, hostility like that will get you nowhere."
"What do you want?" Josh demanded as he shook rain off his leather coat.
"The deal to salvage McGarry's career is off the table," the Congressman replied with a cold smile.
Josh barely controlled the urge to deck the man. "The deal is concrete there's no way you can renege on it now. If you even try you'll have a war with Bartlet that you will not win."
Lillienfield took a step toward Lyman. "I like a fight which is why I thought I'd be a good sport and give you a heads up on a story the Post is going to run in tomorrow's edition."
Josh snatched the folded newspaper from him but didn't get a chance to open it before the congressman turned to leave.
"I'll be in touch within tweleve hours," Peter replied as he paused in the doorway turning back to face a fuming Lyman. "I'm sure once you read the article you'll be willing to talk more about our so called deal. Have a pleasant morning, Mr. Lyman."
Josh glared at the Congressman's retreating back before flipping the paper open so the front page was showing. He was expecting another attack on Leo but what he saw in five-inch bold type made his blood run cold:
/WHITE HOUSE STAFF MEMBER LEADS DOUBLE LIFE AS PROSTITUTE, CONTRACTS AIDS/
"Donna," Josh whispered as he quickly read the article wondering how the hell Lillienfield had gotten a hold of Moss's medical records.
At seven thirty Sam Seaborn was about to head to the Hill for what was sure to be a mind-numbing meeting on the upkeep of the city's parks when his phone rang.
"Seaborn," Sam said as he sat down on the corner of his desk.
"Meet me at Reeves," Josh replied in a quiet, angry voice.
Sam blinked in surprise. "Where are you?"
"Just meet me, Sam," Lyman replied as he signaled to make a left turn.
"I have a meeting on the Hill in twenty minutes," Sam protested half-heartedly.
"Blow it off," Josh replied tightly. "I had a meeting with Lillienfield this morning."
"On my way," Sam promised quietly as he hung up the receiver.
"Kathy?" Sam called as he walked out of his office gaining his assistant's attention. "Cancel my morning appointments."
"All of them?" Kathy asked in surprise.
"Just do it," Sam replied as he walked past her. "I'll do what apologizing I have to do later."