The King and Queen of Banter
Category: CJ/Toby and a little bit of Josh/Donna
Summary: CJ is bored and looking for somebody to
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters, plots,
dialogue etc of the West Wing. This insane little
hobby is not making me any profit...blah blah blah,
please don't sue me, a poor college student with no
money, sniff sniffetc.
Feedback: Greatly encouraged.
Archiving: Delighted. Just ask and ye shall receive.
Author's Note: Mostly CJ/Toby but Josh/Donna fans do
not despair! The ending is for you.
Spoilers: The Stackhouse Filibuster, Let Bartlett Be
Bartlett, In the Shadow of Two Gunmen
I'm bored. Really bored. This should not be
happening. I mean, there are only so many days when
nothing spectacular happens and a press secretary is
It was not a big day in the history of news casting.
It wouldn't be a big day in history. In fact, it
wouldn't even be a little day in history because
absolutely nothing of any noteworthiness, historical
or otherwise, had occurred. The longest running story
on CNN was about a dog in Buffalo who apparently had
helped its owner to realize his house was on fire,
Yep. That bad.
The only thing it appeared that the government was
doing that day, besides wasting the taxpayers money,
which was an everyday occurrence as far as some people
were concerned, was the vote going on in the House on
a healthcare bill. The healthcare bill, known to
those in the West Wing, as "that thingy, you know, in
the House this afternoon," was the spawn of the
Republicans and therefore to be scorned. Also, it
probably wouldn't pass. In fact, it couldn't pass if
the whole House was Republican. There was a better
chance of Friedo running for Senate and winning than
this bill passing.
No news will be created today.
Which results in me having a lot of time on my hands.
I could redecorate. Paint my nails. Read "War and
Peace" in the original- that is if I take the time to
learn Russian. Which I could do since there is
literally nothing else pressing at the moment.
The thing is, there are hundreds of things that I
could do, but none of them are very appealing. Sure,
cleaning out Gail's fishbowl is necessary, but it
isn't any fun.
I can't stay cooped up in the office. If I go out,
however, there's always the chance that something
could happen and I could get sucked into some
thankless task I don't want to do.
However, if I'm not in my office, they won't know
where to find me when they're looking for suckers to
dump it on.
I really should go and annoy somebody. I haven't done
that in...a couple days.
I know. I'll bug Josh.
Unfortunately, my evil plan has been foiled.
Apparently Joshua the Harvard fascist actually has
something to do. Not that I wouldn't love to snicker
at him while he's busy and I'm not, but since he's in
a kind of very important meeting with several heads of
state, I better wait until later. Donna seems
sympathetic to my cause. She promises that when the
frazzled Joshua returns from his meeting she'll be
sure to let him know that I am happily lazing the day
I see Charlie walking down the hallway. Fresh meat.
I sidle up to him.
"Chip! Chipper! Chipster!"
"Please, CJ...." he groaned.
I smile. He hates this. I couldn't be gladder.
"Charles, how's it going?" I ask, mocking a serious
tone and placing an arm on his shoulder.
"Just fine." Giving me a quizzical look, he
ventured, "And how are you today?"
"Me? Fine. Good. Great! Hungry?"
"Sure you don't want somethin' to snack on? Cuz I
can go get ya something, some bagels, some coffee..."
"CJ, did you break something again? Of the
"No!" I stop, removing my arm from him. "What the
hell made you think that?" I say angrily. What
started off as a wonderful little office conversation
with me teasing Charlie was destroyed. Charlie seems
to be very nervous. People around us seem to be
nervous. Good. Because you don't want to see this
press secretary angry.
"Talking to you, being nice to you? What, am I not a
nice person?" I said, addressing the bullpen. "AREN'T
I??!!" I said louder and more vehemently when no one
responded. Then there were murmurs of "yes" and "of
course." More like rapid responses of, "Yes" then
mutters of "oh please oh please CJ don't hurt us" but
"Good. You may all live to see another day," I say
regally, attempting to placate the interns who are
hiding under their desks. "Now really, Chipster..."
"You implied I was unkind. I get to call you
Chipster. Anyone about? Not busy, I mean?"
"Toby's in his office. I heard him playing with his
"I know what you meant, Chippy. Sure I can't get you
something?" I ask, beginning to walk in the direction
of Toby's office.
"Good. Cuz I wouldn't get it for you anyway," I say
and stick my tongue out at him. Yes, I'm juvenile.
But hey, Toby has toys in his office, Josh and Sam
whine like kindergartners, so I figure I'm at least
ten times more mature than they are.
Then, of course, so is Friedo, Lassie wannabe.
As I draw nearer to Toby's office, I can hear the
thunk-ka-thwap of his little rubber stress balls
banging against the wall. Sam always said he feared
for his life when Toby would get started with them.
Brute force went into the ka-thwaping and when it
appears those things are headed for you, you'd wish
you had a sand trap to bury your head into (Sam's
metaphor. Not mine.) I gingerly approach the door,
not wanting to get hit. Cuz then I'd have to take him
down and that would get ugly.
The thunking stopped. Spying my chance, I enter the
office and move aside from the target range, edging
closer to his desk.
"And to what do I owe this unexpected surprise?" he
asks, resuming his thunk-ka-thwaps.
"Freido the Wonder Dog who puts Lassie to shame."
"Long story. In fact, the only story on CNN right
now besides J-Lo's new hairdo."
"Doesn't matter," I sigh, watching the ball's path
through the air. "So, Toby."
"Toby, Toby, Toby."
"Anybody call you anything but Toby?"
"Oh. So, Toby."
"CJ, I am aware of my name and if you don't stop
repeating it, I will kick you out of this office,
leaving a size 10 imprint on that lovely ass of
"What the hell do you want? Whatever it is, the
answer is yes, so long as I don't have to do anything
and that it does not result in the overthrow of the
Ooh, he's getting mad now. I should bug Toby more
often. He's lots more fun to annoy than Josh. "How's
The thunking stops. He runs his free hand over the
top of his head, like he does when he's frustrated and
"Claudia Jean, I am fine. How are you? Did you take
your medication today?" he says, clipping his
Overlooking the insult, 'cuz I'm impervious to those
puerile kinds of remarks, I continue in my merriment.
"I'm fine too. I'm great. I'm dandy. I'm raring to
go. I'm feelin the groove. I'm..."
"Hell-bent on making my life miserable?"
"Maybe," I say with a devious smile. One of my best.
"Maybe?" He sighs heavily, shaking his head.
Score one for Claudia Jean! "You know, I think we
have a thing."
"I heard you. What thing?" He seems really confused
"You know, a thing. A give and a take. A verbal
parry. A "I speak, you reply..."
"Yeah. A banter system," I clarify, with a wave of
"Banter system. And this revelation came to you in a
bolt of lightning and you just thought you'd like to
share it with me?"
Good one, Ziegler. But I'm not through yet. "Yeah.
And we should practice."
"Practice. It's makes..."
"Perfect, yeah. Speechwriters are generally familiar
with cliches. Practice what?"
"Our bantering. You know, hone the skills."
"Yeah," he says skeptically. He gives me a look. I
hate that look. It's that you-must-be
"Don't give me that look."
"You realize that what you're saying necessitates the
"No, it doesn't."
"Yes, it does. This is crazy! You barge into my
"I did not barge!"
"You barge into my office with cock-a-mamie theories
about banter systems and people with names like J-Lo
and I'm supposed to think that you're not a least a
"Half-baked? Half-baked?" Now I'm fuming. He
interrupted me and now he's saying my theory is
half-baked. Hold on to your beard, Toby, you're about
to get caught up in CJ: Tornado of Fire. (Mental side
note- I swear I could have my own TV special and it
would be ten times more exciting than any of David
I put my hands on his desk and glare at him. "I
could take you, you know."
"You could go down. You could experience the kind of
fathomless pain that not even Arab torturers are able
to match. Now," I say, rising to my not-negligible
full height, "do you want me to hurt you?"
"No buts! All you have to concede is that we have a
thing and you can escape unscathed."
"CJ, don't you think that assaulting the Director of
Communications on White House grounds is a bit
far-fetched and, you know, stupid?"
"No, I think that several military and civilian
personnel will back me up. Maybe take a couple blows
themselves. You've got to learn how to be more
personable, you know?"
"No- you're antagonistic and forbidding. Not
personable. Ginger tells stories about how she's seen
temps physically injure themselves in various painful
ways in order not be available on the days she takes
"Ginger also believes that Margaret is one of the
smartest people in Washington cuz she found out about
the caloric content of the cafeteria muffins!"
"What about the muffins?"
"Never mind," he sighs again. The thump-ka-thwaping
resumes. I grab the ball mid-air.
"Do we have a thing?" I ask sweetly, dangling the
ball high in the air over my head. Too bad you're
short Toby. Hee hee hee. "Hmmmm?"
"CJ, if you don't give that back and I mean, now...."
"What? You'll what? I could so beat the crap outta
you- this we have covered. Just accept defeat and you
can have your toy again." I sit on the edge of his
desk and swing my feet back and forth. I can do this
"I'm getting lecturers on physical prowess from the
lady who I've seen fall, not just fall, but casually
walk headfirst into a pool, fully clothed, not once
Will I never live that down? I can see it on my
tombstone: Here Lies Claudia Jean Cregg, the Former
White House Press Secretary Who Fell Into Pools. RIP.
Damn him and Roberto Benigni but I would have victory
"Extenuating circumstances." I bring the ball a bit
closer to his level. He makes a grab for it. Wow-
completely uncharacteristic of him. I would have
thought he'd glare me to submission first. And
because it was completely uncharacteristic of him, I
didn't have time to properly react. Which ended up
with Toby and me on the floor in a tangle of limbs.
I still had the ball. Cregg is not a fumbler. I
can't go much farther with this analogy because I have
no knowledge of football whatsoever. But I still have
"Somehow I thought that rolling around on the floor
with you would be a more pleasant experience," says
Toby, trying to sit up.
I sit on him. "Toby, am I right?"
Long pause. Obviously he's debating how long he can
stand having a 6 foot girl place all her weight on him
versus how he'll have to stand admitting that I'm
"Yes, now get offa me before my bones turn to jelly."
I whap him upside the head and give him back his
ball. "Good. Remember that."
I leave his office. Let him nurse his wounds a bit
before the next round. I think I can definitely dub us
the King and Queen of Banter now. Or maybe I can get
the President to do it. Then it would be real
Still nothing to do. Damn. Maybe I'll go see if
Josh is back from his meeting yet.
What luck! He is! And he's in an argument/
discussion with Donna in his office. I listen
"I don't see how this has any relevance whatsoever."
"Look, I'm serious. This is good stuff. The
National Gallery doesn't make these things up."
"How do you know? It's part of the Federal
Government isn't it? Cover-ups and fallacies are our
middle name. Just watch FOX."
"The Egyptians believed that all of their rulers
needed to possess this divine righteousness, or
"Ma'at. Divine righteousness."
"Or truth. Or justice. Goodness vibes."
"A translation by archaeologist Donnatella Moss."
"There's no one translation of it. But it's
basically if you have it, it means you're a good
person with the grace of the gods and can live
"Well, why didn't you say that before? Of course, I
"No, you don't which was the whole point of me
bringing this up."
"No, you only brought this up to show off your
useless knowledge that you acquired from an art
exhibit this weekend."
"Yes and to tell you my concerns about the leadership
we have going on here."
"Why the concerns? I got ma'at. I got game. I got
a good looks, intelligence, and cable. What else do I
"Josh, you are hopeless."
I decide I shouldn't stand here anymore. I'm
beginning to feel conspicuous. As I walk back to my
office, I smile to myself. Toby's struggles were all
Josh and Donna truly were the King and Queen of
Oh well. I gladly pass on the title.
I think CJ: Tornado of Fire has a much nicer ring to
it anyway. And I don't have to share that one with
I should go and check CNN. Maybe something
interesting has happened. Outside of the West Wing,
that is. If they had any clue of what was going on
here, Friedo would be kicked off the circuit
indefinitely. Too bad.
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