Disclaimers/etc: see part one.
For the rest of the week, C.J. was in a state charitably described as a fog. She floated from appointment to play date to dinner to event. The rumors were starting to fly, but she didn't care; wasn't even cognizant of them.
The issue really was a twenty-headed monster. There were so many damned questions. But she was honest enough to admit to herself that she could see it. Could see herself being sworn in on a cold January day though no rain, not for her Inauguration. She glimpsed Josh, waiting for the VP's oath. And she could see Sam, standing at her side, proud full to bursting. That vision carried some weight.
She arrived home, letting Alyssa run off to her playroom. Sitting at the kitchen table, C.J. ran through it all again in her mind. The PACs that would have to be set up. The realisation that it probably was a lost cause. The potential danger to herself, her husband and her daughter. All against a few supporters, ex-President Bartlet, and her own desires.
It was a damned tough call, that was for sure.
The phone rang, and eventually its rings got through C.J.'s consciousness. "Hello."
"C.J." Sam's voice was flat, the sort of tonelessness that preceded one of his rare rages.
"Turn on channel five."
" 'Kay." She picked up the remote and flicked on the set. For a moment she got the strangest sense of déjà vu sitting in her office during the Bartlet administration, watching her four TVs at once. It felt normal.
The news was on and the anchor was finishing a sentence. "...revealed that Seaborn may run for President. An unnamed source inside a Washington law firm revealed that he was approached about funding, which he denied."
"Funding?" C.J.'s mind, before connecting to fury, latched on to the unimportant. "You didn't talk to anyone at Gage Whitney about money, did you?"
"No, I didn't, dammit." Sam exhaled noisily. "He invented it to get the story more exposure. Now all the misogynists in the Beltway will be ganging up against us from the start, because it looks like we've done something wrong."
"Jack Irwin. He's a partner at Gage Whitney. Conservative, slimy and obnoxious. I shouldn't have gone to him."
The report went on, so C.J. didn't answer. "Asked to comment on the situation," the newscaster continued, "incumbent President Joseph Stewart said, 'Why should C.J. Seaborn worry me? Let her run. It's not a threat at all. She'll have her fun, and then a real candidate will triumph. It's not like the country wants a return to an administration that embarrassed itself and the American people."
Stewart's carelessly chosen missiles did to C.J. what the newscaster hadn't done, what Sam, Bartlet, and her own mind had been unable to accomplish. It pissed her off. "That son of a bitch."
"That lying, sleazy son of a bitch."
"No, Sam, you don't." C.J.'s voice was pure venom. "I don't give a shit what Stewart says about me. Well, maybe I do," she amended, "but that wasn't that bad. What bugs me is when Stewart insults Jed Bartlet when the scumbag wasn't even IN politics at the time!"
Sam knew his wife in this mood. "C.J...."
"Sam." There was a wicked sparkle in C.J.'s eyes. "I would like you to do me a favor."
At the moment she spoke, C.J. was unconscious of anything but her own adrenaline. "Sam, are you still friendly with Duncan Walker?" Walker was an accountant who'd done their taxes for years.
"Because." C.J. was quiet triumph itself. "I would like to inquire into the feasibility of setting up PACs right now. If we're going to do this we'll need more money than this."
"You're doing it." Sam had to repeat the statement so he was convinced of its validity. He was numb, weak with shock. "You want to do it."
"Yep." C.J. said firmly. "I want to do it. I want you to help run the campaign, I want Laine Martin, I want Kyle Gage and Maria Quinn. I want Josh as the VP and Toby as the Chief of Staff. I want things to be like they used to be. And we're going to do it, dammit."
Sam was so proud of her as he listened to her firebrand ideals. They sounded like something... well, like something he himself would say. "So," he said, smiling, "we're going to play the game."
"That's right." C.J. still had the sparkle. She knew it would be resident for a while. "And we're going to have to play the winning way," she said, quoting Josh. "Mean."
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