"Midnight Follies" A The West Wing story by CretKid
Characters from The West Wing are borrowed without malicious intent from NBC and Arron Sorkin. Copyright infringement is not intended. I have no idea who owns Nerf. Archive at your will, but please keep my moniker attached.
Summary: A late night at the White House. Need I say more?
Category: I guess you would call this general fiction. It takes place whenever, but C.J. does have the goldfish.
Rated G/PG: G for language, PG for implied fun violence. You know, like you see on The X-Men or Spiderman cartoons, though not really. You'll catch my meaning as you read on.
Comments are always welcome. I freely admit I know nearly nothing about politics. But I know lots about having to stay at work late (though in my case it usually has to do with resetting the email system for the department when the server crashes or preventing a very expensive piece of equipment from becoming a very expensive paper weight that's bolted to the floor). E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments if you'd like. Flames will be ignored. I haven't done this for quite some time, so bear with me. My last story was written when I was genuinely interested in the episodes of the X-files, and that hasn't happened in a really long time. Holy Interruptus, Batman!
"C.J.! Come out here and help me!" Josh bellowed through the open doorway.
"Joshua, must you yell? I am trying to get a little sleep before all the fun begins," C.J. replied, voice a little muffled.
"But this is fun!"
All he heard in reply was an incomprehensible gurgle of frustration coming from C.J.'s office. Curious, Josh propelled himself through the open doorway. He was kneeling on the padded seat of one of the computer chairs from the bullpen area, using one foot to maneuver his way around. In one hand was clutched a large, neon orange nerf ball; the other hand was holding on to the back rest. Leaning over the back of the chair and around the door, he saw the object of his curiosity lying down on the couch in her office. An arm was thrown over her eyes and forehead to block out the faint light coming from the desk lamp and whatever was filtering in from the hallway and the interoffice door. A throw blanket was draped over her legs, ankles crossed and shoes dangling precariously from her stocking feet. He had known she was feeling up to par, had cut out of the poker game early and gone back to her office for "some peace and quiet". But that was nearly three hours ago.
"Okay, why are you still here? Shouldn't you be home if you're feeling poorly?"
"Why be home and miserable when I can be here and miserable with my friends?" As he wheeled over towards her desk, he heard her mumble, "And I'm not sick. I have a headache. Currently the cause of that headache is pretending my office is the Indy 500. Go away, Josh."
Choosing to ignore her, Josh settled his vision on the goldfish swimming happily in her bowl. There was something different, and he couldn't quite put his finger on it. "You didn't kill Gail and replace her with a different fish, did you?"
"No, I didn't kill anything, but I am seriously considering changing my opinion on capital punishment if you don't leave me alone."
"My, aren't we bitter when we are up past our bed time. Did someone change the… fishy things in the bowl?"
"Yeah, Josh, the Fish Fairy came in last night. Why are you bothering me?"
Josh rotated 360 degrees on the chair, then did so again and again. "Because Donna went home hours ago and I have no one else to argue with that will actually argue back. I tried to bait Sam and Toby into a discussion of which superheroes were better, the ones from DC comics or the ones from Marvel comics, but things turned a little ugly. Do you have any nerf balls stashed in here? Koosh balls will work just as well."
"Wait, did you just say 'fishy things'? Mr. SAT can't come up with anything more descriptive than 'fishy things'?"
"That was like… five minutes ago. Stick to the topic at hand. Do you have any ammunition? And, you know, I could use a little help out there. Sam and Toby have teamed up against me, Charlie refuses to get involved, and don't tell Leo this, but Mallory throws like a girl."
"Josh, Mallory is a girl."
"Yeah, but that doesn’t mean she has to throw like one. You've got a better arm at third base than Cal Ripken, Jr."
C.J. slowly sat up, losing one of her shoes in the process. "Remind me again why am I here?"
Josh motored towards his office door and scooted through it in order to pick up stray nerf balls that littered the floor. He knew it was a rhetorical question, but he couldn't resist an opportunity to spark some lively conversation. "Because, my dear, we are awaiting the results of some filibuster campaign in some no-name school district in the middle of Po-dunk, Kansas, concerning Creation versus Evolution in tenth grade biology class."
"And I care about this because--"
"--You don't want to be caught unawares when some misfit reporter from the Balooka Bugle asks about the President's position on Creationism versus Evolution in our secondary schools when this blows up into another Stoke's Monkey Trial."
"It's not going to be another Stokes' Monkey Trial. Nothing is going to come out of this, other than me with less sleep because I have to wait if the teacher's union in Po-dunk, Kansas, decides this is enough of an issue to strike over. Where's Leo?"
Josh began stuffing nerf balls into his backpack he now had slung so that it opened in front for easy access. "He's in Residence with the President. He mentioned something about a college basketball game and a hefty amount of dough, and from the look on Leo's face before he left here, I don't think it was the monetary kind."
"The President is in one of his culinary moods?" C.J. asked, finding her missing shoe and straightening her blouse. "We're going to be guinea pigs again, aren't we?"
"We serve at the pleasure of the President."
"How much longer are we going to have to wait on this thing?" C.J. slowly stood up and walked around her office to get the circulation moving once again. "I would pay real money to get home at a decent hour at least once this week."
"Well, as you said, we're waiting to see if the teacher's union decides to strike, and we need to have a comment ready if they do." Josh started rummaging through her desk drawers, never leaving his chair.
C.J. slapped his hands away. "Which they won't."
Shaking his hand in an over-dramatic fashion, Josh replied, "But in the happenstance that they DO, we need to be ready. Thus, we are waiting here until the midnight deadline, and since Kansas is an hour behind us, we're here until 1 AM, which will be in… about… an hour, but as Donna likes to remind me, my watch sucks. So, somewhere around an hour from now."
"When all the fun begins."
"But if the teacher's union doesn't strike, there won't be any fun."
"So why are we here?"
"Because none of us have anything better to do?"
"That's what I thought. Mallory's here?"
C.J. opened the bottom desk drawer and pulled out a gift-wrapped box. "Happy early birthday. And no behind the backboard slam dunk shots from my office or I will take it away from you." She tossed the box to him, which he managed to catch against his chest.
Josh ripped the paper and box-lid off with one fell swoop. Inside was a Nerf above-the-door basketball set as well as two extra small nerf balls. With a yelp of triumph, he leapt off his chair and bear hugged her. "Claudia Jean, I could kiss you!"
"Please don't, I think you cracked some ribs. So, what's our position?"
"Huh?" Josh was preoccupied with freeing the nerf balls from their packaging.
"Marvel or DC superheroes?"
"Oh, ah, Marvel's better. Genetic mutations are far superior to gadgets and people from outer space."
As she walked past him and out of her office, C.J. slapped Josh upside the back of his head. "What were you thinking? Batman is far better than those yahoos."