Warnings/Spoilers/etc: see pt 1

Note: All these characters - except Eleanor Cregg - belong to Aaron Sorkin. Eleanor is my creation. :)

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Sam read the email again, this time with a healthy amount of trepidation as well as anticipation. It had been received some weeks ago, and now he was expecting his future mother-in-law at any moment. However, he didn't know anything about her, aside from her first name, and the fact that she was a political consultant.

He wondered what she would be like, and said as much to Josh Lyman. "With a name like Eleanor, she might be any number of things."

Josh stretched lazily in Sam's luxurious new desk chair. "What do you mean?"

"I don't know." Sam shrugged. "She could be imperious and cold – I tend to think of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Or she could be like my mom."

Josh chuckled. "Sam, no offence. But I think one of your mom is all the world can handle." Francesca Seaborn was loving, sweet, kind, and a human tornado when she got down to it.

"Don't worry, I couldn't agree more," Sam told his friend. Checking his watch, he said, "It's almost noon. She should be here soon."

"I have a meeting, then I'll come find you." Josh got out of Sam's chair very reluctantly. "I have to meet with Yates' political consultant about the confirmation hearings."

"Okay, later." Josh strode purposefully out of the office, leaving Sam to puzzle further over the mystery of his mother-in-law. Would she look like C.J.? Well, obviously she would, but how much? C.J. never spoke of her father, who had passed away when C.J. was thirteen. It would be interesting to see. And yet, Sam was still nervous. From all accounts C.J. and her mother were extremely close. He didn't want to come between that.

Josh, meanwhile, was establishing himself in his office. And not a moment too soon, because Donna called in, "Josh! Your noon appointment is here!"

He called his thanks, and tried to look busy when the door opened. "Joshua Lyman?"

It was a brisk woman's voice, used to being dealt with quickly. Josh instantly dropped what he'd been doing. "Yes. I presume you're Congressman Yates' political consultant?"

"Yes." The woman was tall, almost six feet. She was a bit older; Josh guessed she was probably in her early fifties. The suit she had on was simple but elegant. Altogether she looked the picture of the Washington professional.

Thus, her name was a complete shock, given his earlier musings. "Mr. Lyman, I'm Eleanor Cregg. It's nice to meet you."

Josh spluttered for a moment, not really caring if he looked unprofessional, even in the face of this utterly collected woman. Finally he got his composure. Even though it really was rhetorical, he said, "I have to ask, Ms. Cregg – is C.J. your daughter?"

"Yes, she is." Eleanor furrowed her brow for a moment. Then her pleasant face broke into a smile. "Of course! I don't know why I didn't connect you before. Claudia Jean has spoken of you often, Mr. Lyman."

Josh smiled. "Well, wait until you meet Sam Seaborn, before you pass judgment on me." He chuckled. "This is a coincidence."

"Definitely." Eleanor smiled. "Now, let's get this over with so I can see my daughter, if you don't mind, sir."

"Call me Josh, please." He could afford to be nice. Picking up the file, he said, "Jacobs wants to pick my brain about the Fenton confirmation hearings, correct?"

"Correct, and please call me Eleanor," She was now back in political mode. "Let me give you the polling figures we have. Then, once I'm done, you can correct me or add to what we have."

"Fine." Josh settled back in his seat and listened to her talk. It was a pleasing thing to watch. He could see where C.J. got her way with the press. Her mother spoke simply, with declarative sentences, yet got her point across with a multiplicity of well-chosen words.

Once she was done, he spoke up. "So Fenton's polling well, but Jacobs wants more confirmation?"

"Basically." Eleanor flipped a page. "Jacobs represents a sort of Senate faction that is pro-Fenton but they just don't feel like they have enough information."

"So basically, fence-sitters."

"Yeah."

"Do you have names?"

"I can get them."

Josh was surprised and sceptical. "You can get them?" he echoed. "Ms. Cregg – Eleanor – I don't mean to sound condescending, but –"

She cut him off. "Josh, I can get the names," Eleanor said, staring at him levelly. "I can have them for you in a day and a half." Her eyes became small slits of evil pleasure. "If I put some discreet pressure on the right people, you'll have what you need."

Josh stared at her in open admiration. "I begin to see where C.J. gets her political smarts," he said, smiling.

Eleanor grinned back. "Well." She closed her file. "Are we done here?"

"Yeah, I think so. But," Josh tacked on at the last minute, "if you happen to get the names, you come here tomorrow and tell my assistant Donna who you are. I'll tell her to interrupt anything so you can get those names to me."

"All right." Eleanor stood. "Where might I find C.J. at this point, Josh?"

Racking his brain, Josh finally responded. "Um... probably in her office. She may be in a meeting," he warned.

"That's all right." Eleanor was undaunted. "A lot of White House types know me."

"I'm sure." Josh smiled, extending his hand to her to terminate the appointment – against his will, for he had to go talk to five angry congressmen in a minute. "Eleanor, it was really nice to meet you."

"Likewise. I hope to see more of you, Josh – and not just at the White House," Eleanor said, standing. "You'll have to swing by for dinner with us some night, and of course you'll be at the wedding."

"Definitely."

"Until later then, Josh." Eleanor swept out of Josh's office and headed for her daughter's.

 

Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown - 3

 

 

 

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