Disclaimers: Not mine. Sorkin's, except for Felton and Houseman. Enjoy.

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J.B. Felton smacked her lips in a gustatory gesture of delight. "Raymond," she said, smiling, "that's the best chili I've ever had."

"Glad to hear it, Janie Babs." Raymond smirked as Jane Barbara Felton aimed a lighthearted blow at the back of his head.

"Do *not,*" she warned, "call me Janie Babs."

"I'll call you what I want." Raymond Houseman smiled as he dug into his own chili. "You may be J.B. Felton, hotshot Washington lawyer, to the rest of the civilized world, but to me you're just Janie Felton from my father's constitutional law class."

J.B. was about to answer when her phone rang. "Felton," she said, eyebrow raising at the hour. It was near on nine o'clock, which was an odd hour for a business call.

She understood why as the person spoke. "J.B.?" Josh Lyman was in bad shape; she could tell. His voice was racked with pain and fear and he kept catching his breath to get himself under control. "I'm in an appalling amount of trouble."

"What happened, Josh?"

"I'm at the jail."

"What!" Quickly J.B. covered the phone and explained to Raymond. "Josh Lyman is in jail."

"Well, talk to him!" Raymond urged.

"No shit," J.B. grunted. She turned back to the phone. "What happened?"

Josh told her the story, with only minimal loss of control. "And then I read the letter... and the detective took one look and hauled me in."

J.B. sighed. "And you want me."

"You're the best, J.B." Josh sounded as though he was about to start crying again.

It broke J.B.'s heart. "Josh..." she said. "You know I've never defended a Murder One case before."

"I don't care." Josh's voice was quietly obstinate. "I know you."

"Josh..." J.B. had to ask. "Forgive me..."

"I didn't kill him, J.B.!" Josh exclaimed, indignant and more than a little afraid. If he couldn't trust J.B., who the hell could he trust? "You think I'd kill my own best friend?"

"No." J.B. said slowly. "No, I don't." After a pause, she decided. "I'll be down there in ten minutes."

"Okay."

J.B. hung up and grabbed her coat. "Raymond, come on."

The paralegal got to his feet, bewildered. "We're going to the jail?"

"Yeah."

"You're taking the case?"

"I have to find that out first." J.B. stopped in her tracks. "Actually, Raymond, could you get to the White House? Find Donna Moss, and find C.J. Cregg. They need to know what's going on, and I don't think Josh was able to tell them. I was his one phone call."

Raymond nodded. "Right."

"Thanks." J.B. flew out the door.

"Good luck!" Raymond hollered after her.

Once she was gone, he made his own tracks. Ten minutes to the White House, fifteen getting past the Secret Service. Finally he stood in the West Wing, visitor's badge around his neck, looking for C.J. Cregg.

He must have looked lost, because a competent-looking black woman stopped him. "Excuse me, sir, are you looking for someone?"

He smiled. "Yes. My name is Raymond Houseman, and I'm trying to find Ms. Cregg. I'm not on her schedule, but I need to speak with her."

"Her office is down that way." The woman pointed to the end of the hall. "My name is Bonnie if you need anything."

"Thank you, Bonnie." Raymond went down the hall and tapped softly. Ms. Cregg's assistant had left, but there was a light under her door.

"Come in."

Raymond entered and first beheld C.J. Cregg. The President's press secretary looked at him with mild interest, ready to be polite and businesslike.

All that shattered quickly. "Ms. Cregg, I'm Raymond Houseman. I'm a paralegal for J.B. Felton. Ms. Felton is a friend of Josh Lyman."

"Yes?" Her guard was up, he could see it.

He had to be gentle. "Ms. Cregg, Mr. Lyman called my boss about thirty-five minutes ago. He's in jail."

"Oh my God!" C.J. made a last effort at control, and it worked to some extent – but not completely. "Mr. Houseman, call me C.J.," she said, "what is Josh being held for? And why the hell didn't he call here?"

"First, call me Raymond. And as to the second question, C.J.," Raymond said, "Mr. Lyman didn't call here because his one phone call was to my boss. He needs counsel, and quickly."

"Very well." C.J. fought to still the rising tide of panic in her throat. "But Raymond, what is Josh being held for?"

Raymond couldn't look at her. In a soft voice, he stared at the floor. "He's being held as a suspect in the murder of Sam Seaborn."

C.J. stared at him as though he'd lost his mind. "The murder – of *Sam?*" she choked. Her hands flew to her mouth. She fought the sharp sobs for a while, then dissolved into tears. Raymond waited in sympathetic silence as she endeavored to achieve control.

Eventually she did so. "Sorry," C.J. mumbled. She wiped the tears from her eyes with the back of her hand.

"No problem." Raymond coughed and shifted slightly. This was not his arena. "Um, C.J.," he said, trying to get back to business, "is there anyone who needs to be told immediately?"

"Well, the President, and Leo McGarry, of course." C.J. got to her feet. "And Toby, the Communications Director. Cathy, who's – who was Sam's assistant." She sobbed once, but held it in. Later, she resolved, she'd deal with this properly. "And... oh, dear God. Donna."

"Donna Moss?" Raymond asked.

"Yeah."

"Who is she, if I may ask?"

"She's Josh's assistant," C.J. said softly. "But... I can't put it into words. There's something between them."

Raymond didn't quite understand. "So they're close."

"Yes," C.J. said abstractedly. "Something like that." She turned numbly away. "I need to tell the President."

"I'll wait here."

"Okay." Still feeling lifeless, C.J. walked down the hall to the Oval Office, each step feeling like walking a mile.

 

Part 3

 

 

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