"Love A Diamond"
Rating: PG-13, some very bad words.
Spoilers: Let's say everything after "Ellie."
Summary: "Love a man who loves a diamond, and holds it softly in the palm of his
Disclaimers: These people are not mine. They're Aaron Sorkin's. And the song
belongs to Tonic how I wish they were all mine!
Feedback desperately wanted! I need to know I've still got it! :)
Author's Note: My advice is to read this with the
Tonic song playing in the background. It somehow makes it better.
I'm sitting in my office after this hellish, godawful morning. Part of me is screaming. The other part of me tells me this isn't happening. Don't they say denial's the first part of the grieving process?
He lied to me. The sonofabitch lied to me.
Maybe I should go find Sam and cry. God knows I need a shoulder to cry on. And he'll be crying too. My heart aches for him, God knows. First Toby, then his father, now this. I think really it'll prove good for him in the long run, but right now it's killing him. Are there really any heroes left?
But at this point all I can think of is Babish. Oliver Babish! That name rolls out of my consciousness like a dart from a blowpipe. He couldn't make it any easier, could he? I can't remember the last time I got a bitch-slapping of that caliber. I realize he's doing his job. But he's the government's lawyer.
The President's lawyer. Technically he is not representing me. Should I have private counsel? I don't know. And who the hell could I get? All my lawyer friends work here.
I almost wish I had one of Toby's rubber balls to throw at the man. Or maybe something sharper. God, how I hate him. It makes me angry, but it's also frightening. Even more than it should be, I mean. He doesn't look at me like a person. To him I'm like a lab animal on the cutting tray. And that pisses me off. At this point, screw the pleasure of the President. I don't want to wind up in some minimum-security prison. I'll never look at another man the same way again if I do. Shit, every man I've ever known has betrayed me in some way. I can't sit anymore. I get up and start to aimlessly walk around my office. It's unsettling. Even when I try to pace I can't get anything done.
The sheer unfairness of it all strikes me. "It isn't fair," I say aloud, shocked at how frail my voice sounds, thick with fear. "Goddamnit, this is not fair."
I'm scared out of ten years of my life as a low voice answers me. "What, you ever thought it would be?"
I spin around, all fear excised quickly. Now I'm just mad as hell. "Oliver Babish!!"
He shrugs, a gesture that makes me angrier than this entire mess plus Tad Whitney rolled into one. "What, you were expecting Kenneth Starr?"
My voice drops to that low, fiery, do-not-fuck-with-me tone as I stare him in the face. "Get the hell out of my office. *Now.*"
"All right." Babish turns to leave, but stops as he tosses something on my desk.
I won't look at it; better to make him explain. "What's that?"
"It's a draft of the President's address to the nation." His tone is
offhand but I feel myself go pale under the import of his words. "It's going to happen the day after tomorrow."
I'm light-headed; no one told me about this. "All the major networks?" I
manage to speak with what little breath I have left in me. They didn't trust me again.
"Yeah." Babish turns back toward the door. "Anyway. Just thought I'd
give you a heads-up on it."
I'm still pissed, though. "Oh, you'd give me a heads-up on it. Just doing a favor, right, Oliver? Just helping me do my fucking *job.*"
Amazingly, he doesn't rise to this, though I half want him to. I want to pick a loud, gloriously venomous fight with him. So I can yell and scream and just get all this poison out of me. "C.J.," he says in what passes for a calm voice,
"I gave this to you because you need it. And because Leo forgot."
"For*got!*" I round on him. Despite my wish to get this over with I viciously fight the tears. I will not allow this maddening man to see me cry. "That's it. I'm gone. The hell with the President. The *hell* with it!"
"No!" My voice has risen to press room pitch, and that's pretty damn loud.
"No, goddamnit! Don't you see? Are you too busy playing Mr. Tough Guy to see that I have the most to lose and they're leaving me out of the loop?"
"You're not out of the loop. Leo forgot."
"Bullshit." I spit, and am rewarded with a very rare look of surprise from Babish. "Leo's looking for a *scapegoat,* and don't you fucking forget
Babish doesn't say anything and I just go on. Have to. "It'd be nice, huh?
The President's going down, you know that. And the First Lady will be in for something, though I doubt that either of them would serve jail time. Reprimands, maybe. Fines. Resignations. But I'm the only one who stands in line to head for a federal detention facility." Just saying the words makes me physically sick. "So Leo thinks, hey, why not give everything to C.J.? Make her look like a moron, and try and save Sam, Josh and me. She's never done anything for us anyway."
It's plainly obvious that Babish doesn't know what to say. He accused me the other day of volunteering far more than was necessary, but I think all of this is very necessary. I don't know quite what I'm saying anymore, but it needed to be said. I can tell you that. Finally, Babish turns away as if he's finally going to leave. I wish he'd never come in here anyway. But his words are a bombshell. "Do you own any diamonds, C.J.?"
I sputter. "What?!?"
"Do you own any diamonds." He comes back into the room now. "It was a
Ironically I remember his exhortation and tell no more than the simple truth.
"No, I don't own any diamonds."
"I do." He opens his coat pocket and shows me a man's signet ring. Inlaid
in it are initials entwined. OB.
What the hell to say to this? "That's... nice, Oliver."
"No, it's appropriate." He sits down on my couch. "This is about
twenty years old. My first wife gave it to me."
"Okay." I'm still fogged. Is he thinking to distract me or something? Does
he still think women are suckers for fine jewelry? Because he's about two seconds away from a tongue-lashing.
"The diamond is just like this administration." He runs a surprisingly gentle hand over the ring's facets.
I laugh mockingly. "Why Oliver, I didn't know metaphor was part of a law school education."
He ignores me. "With the diamond, C.J., you have to handle it very carefully. Rough handling will bring the tiny cracks onto the surface."
I'm interested despite myself. "That thing has cracks in it?"
"Tiny ones. Below the surface of the stone." Suddenly he turns those intense brown eyes onto me. It's weird. I shiver; there comes that lab-animal feeling again. "We've built an administration okay, you guys have
that's outwardly solid. But there's a network of little cracks inside. And they've got to be handled carefully."
Misstep number two. "I don't get it." My voice is bitter and sardonic.
"So I need careful handling? One of my many mistakes will fuck everything up? Or," I add as an alternate explanation occurs, "this administration needs a lawyer who won't bludgeon them with their past mistakes?"
Babish chuckles tersely, and I'm struck by how pleasant the sound is when there isn't malice behind it. "C.J., when I said 'careful,' I meant without
making any slip-ups. I didn't mean treat like a flower or something."
The distinction is fine, but I understand it. He has to be wary of anything that would look bad or jeopardize his case. In a way it's sort of like my job. But he often has to slam us to get the answers he needs. And it's just the way he is.
Before I can answer this, he stands. "C.J., don't think this is easy for
I'm shocked, but something tells me that's all the apology I'm going to get from him. "I... don't."
He looks at me again. "Look. I told you. I've never found anything charming in my life."
"Right." Suddenly, finally, I'm struck by what he's trying to say.
"But it doesn't mean you haven't loved anything." I finally get it. In his own way,
he's as idealistic as Sam. There's just different ways of showing that. It's enough to break your heart. All over again.
I finally get it.
Babish doesn't answer. He just holds my gaze and nods once. Then at long last, he leaves. And I'm struck by how badly I misread him at first. My mom used to tell me about people like him. There was a rhyme, I think. "Love a man who loves a diamond, and holds it softly in the palm of his hand. Keeps it warm and holds it directly under the pages of his heart's command." I'm glad I talked to Babish. Oliver. Whatever.
This will still be hard.
He's still an asshole.
But at least I understand why.