Warnings/Spoilers/etc: See pt 1

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Later that morning, Danny Concannon knocked lightly on the door of Josh Lyman's office. It wouldn't have been politic for him to talk to C.J. right now, unless absolutely necessary. For his polite knock, however, he received a harried, "What!"

Danny opened the door. "Josh?"

"Danny!" In a flash Josh was up from his desk and in the reporter's face. "What in hell do you know about the gun package?"

"What do you mean?"

Josh filled him in on what had happened, yet the suspicious air about him saddened Danny. Did he really think the senior White House correspondent capable of something so low? Leaks, yeah. But on such an important package? Never.

He said as much. "Josh, I have a pretty good idea what you're not saying." Danny stared Josh straight in the eye. "But I would never try to injure this administration like that."

To Josh, however, Danny's circumspect wording only confirmed his worst qualms. "Maybe you wouldn't hurt this administration," Josh began. He had been going to sugarcoat his last point, but he decided against it. If his suspicions were true, he didn't deserve it. "Danny, would you do it to hurt Sam?"

"What?" Danny's voice was quiet and calm, and for all the world he sounded to Josh like his friend Sam, trying not to unleash one of his rare explosions.

Josh spoke fast. "Danny," he said, sighing, "Sam told me that when he said the *exact words* that CNN reported, you were one of the people in the room."

"So."

"So, Sam said that even if you wouldn't hurt the administration, you might hurt him because it was personal." Josh spoke fast and for once, couldn't meet his opponent's eyes.

Danny felt his anger boiling. This wasn't like Josh, and it was beneath Josh. He'd bet his press card that C.J.'d had nothing to do with it. She, no matter how she felt about him personally, would never have accused him of this. And it wasn't Leo McGarry, who respected him. So it was Seaborn, and so why not tell Josh the truth? "Josh, I didn't leak it. However much I would love to see Sam away from C.J., this wouldn't have done it. So why would I bother?"

Josh opened his mouth to argue, and then stopped. Danny was right. In every particular, Danny's logic made sense. So he simply said, "I had to ask."

"I know you did."

"I'll bet it was York, that new girl from the Guardian." Danny felt bad snitching on another press member, but it was her or him.

"Yeah." Josh smiled slightly. "Actually, that's what Donna thought. She was with Sam when they heard about the quote."

"Donna's smart." Though Danny meant it as a compliment, he didn't smile to back it up.

Josh's next words were designed to change the subject back to where it should have been. "So, Danny, what can I help you with? Going fishing for stories?"

"Uh, yeah, actually." Danny collected himself long enough to flip through his notebook. "We're doing a feature on the new welfare reform bill."

"Um..." Josh consulted his notes. "You'd want to talk to Toby."

"Okay." Danny moved to leave.

Still, Josh's words were sent from above to injure him; Danny was sure. "But he's not here right now; he's out of town. You'd have to talk to Sam."

Danny marshaled his anger; it would do no good to snap at the White House Deputy Chief of Staff. He'd save that for the Deputy Communications Director. "Fine. Seaborn in?"

"He should be." Josh's face was apologetic. "Danny, I'm sorry." He faltered a bit, grasping for words. Finally he spoke very delicately. "I know what Sam does to you, and quite frankly I'd be pissed off too if I were you. But you can't let it get in the way, right?"

Danny shrugged. "Yeah, I guess." But inside he didn't agree at all. Still, with the air of a condemned man, he set off down the hall to find Sam Seaborn.

Speaking of condemned men, Sam's office was even more frenzied than Josh's had been. Assistants coursed in and out of the office, each bearing more files than the last. Danny chuckled. Here was the perfect time, even if it theoretically wasn't, to interrupt Sam further.

His hatred for Seaborn somehow went beyond simple dislike. The man had taken his woman, the only decent woman he'd met in politics yet. Danny would eventually forgive that. He knew he'd heal and move on. But not now.

Thus he knocked on the door. "Seaborn?"

Sam looked up from his work. "Oh, Danny. Come in." Inside, however, he was swearing and throwing things. This was exactly what he did not need. Even if Sam hadn't suspected him of the leak, Danny would have been another thorn in the deputy's side. But still, he had to be civil. "Something I can do for you?"

After knowing Danny for so long, Sam didn't know why he was so surprised when Danny got right to the point. "Yes. I need a quote on the welfare reform bill. And I need you to stop accusing me of leaks. Got it?"

Sam blinked. How had he guessed? "Well, Danny, being honest with you," he said calmly, "I thought you had a good opportunity."

Danny's eyes narrowed. He was not doing a good job of controlling his temper. "Me and five other people, Seaborn. Now please don't accuse me of anything you can't back up." Taking a breath, he tried to be businesslike. "Now, about the welfare bill."

"Sure." Sam fumbled through his papers. Finally holding the right document, he began to speak as Danny turned on his tape recorder. "Well, the President hopes to accomplish great things with this bill. We can theoretically cut the amount of welfare spending and yet at the same time redistribute that spending to other areas."

"Such as?"

"Community centers, shelters, things like that. It's still in the poverty sector."

"All right." Danny stood. "That's all I needed."

"Well... actually," Sam said, "there's one more thing."

"Yeah?"

Sam avoided the reporter's eyes as he spoke. "C.J. told me she had to cancel your lunch date. She got roped into helping out with the tobacco hearings."

"That's your baby, isn't it, Seaborn?" Danny couldn't keep a tiny bit of bitterness out of his voice. "Why would she get roped into it?"

"Leo asked her."

Danny said nothing, lest he accuse a member of Bartlet's Senior Staff of lying to him. Finally he just said, "Tell her I'll call her to reschedule."

"Fine." Sam still looked away. Yet he had to try. "She really was sorry, you know."

"I'll bet she was." Danny couldn't resist. After all, this man had just accused him of leaking. He was entitled to a little mockery. "Sure Leo didn't have a little help in roping her in?"

Sam said nothing, just turned back to his paperwork.

 

Too Marvelous for Words - 4

 

 

 

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