Spoilers/Warnings/Disclaimers: See pt 1
BTW: Must give major major props to my friend Stefanie, for being the inspiration for much dialogue, and the actual voice of yet more. You've done a lot, and it's been so much fun. Thanks again Stef!! =)
C.J. threw her pen against the wall, not really caring if it splattered. It did anyway, leaving a stain. That was the least of her worries. She had three briefings to give, and an appearance to organize. Not to mention finding a way to surgically remove her best friend's head from his ass.
What was wrong with Josh? She knew he didn't adapt well to change. But this was above and beyond the call of egotism. He knew it was *her* damn love life. Besides, she reflected irreverently, Sam was hard to deal with when neurotic.
Even as she thought, there was a knock on the door and Sam flew in. "C.J., have you seen Josh? I need to find him about the EPA speech."
C.J. made a rude noise. "Are you sure you want to?"
"Well, no," Sam answered, an act that was tantamount to the apocalypse admitting he was angry wasn't something that was in his nature. "Still, I gotta run it by him. Toby'll chew my head off if I don't." He sat down on her couch. "C.J., do you have a clue what's eating Josh?"
"No, I don't." C.J. got up and restlessly began to pace. "But whatever it is, it's pissing me off."
"Thank you, Ms Understatement."
"Bite me." C.J. reflected a little too late that Sam wasn't the person she should say that to. He did too many things to her internal organs already. "Before you start, you know what I meant."
"Yeah, I do." Still, Sam couldn't keep the grin off his face.
"And proud of it." Sam crossed the room until he stood face to face with her. "C.J., you can't let Josh get to you," he said. "It's like you told him. We're both adults. He has no say over what we do."
"I know." C.J. turned away, a bit confused. She didn't want to hurt him, of that much she was sure. But she just didn't know how she felt. There was something there. But what?
Sam was a bit perplexed. Finally, he just said, "C.J., are you all right?"
She tried to shake it off. "Yeah, I'm fine." C.J. smiled vaguely at him. "It's just the stress."
Sam slipped an arm around her waist. "Believe me, I know the feeling."
"I'll bet you do." C.J. grinned. "It's a wonder Toby hasn't killed you yet."
"It's not my fault that he writes in a strange style."
"That's what he says about you."
Sam had to laugh. "I'll talk to you later. And don't let Josh get to you!" He kissed her on the cheek and ran out.
Even though deep down she knew he was right, C.J. still felt a nagging doubt chewing on her thought processes. If Josh felt that way and said so, how many people would feel the same way and keep it to themselves?
And what should she do with Danny? She'd told him she didn't want to date him for the time being. But she hadn't talked to him since that day. And he had left with scarcely a fight in other words, it had been far too easy to get rid of him. She didn't like things that were too easy.
Sighing, she picked up her files and left, heading to Toby's office. With luck, all Danny would have to badger her with would be work-related.
Toby was waiting for her. "C.J., have you spoken to Josh about that last briefing?"
"No, why?" C.J. was careful to keep her voice non-committal. The *last* thing she needed was Toby hounding her too.
"Well, the President wants to address the United Auto Workers' union in a few days. But given that he just made a point of speaking at the AFL-CIO banquet, Sam's worried it's going to look partisan."
C.J. snorted. "What, and piss off *more* people? That's rather difficult right now."
"Exactly." Toby reflected miserably. The administration's approval rating was at 41% - the lowest figure in two years. And, with a controversial test ban treaty coming up for review in the Senate, the number would only go down. Nuclear arms was an issue that took a politician to fully comprehend, and the American public often didn't follow. After nuclear issues administrations almost always took hits. "So what do you think we should do?"
"Well, it wouldn't look good to address the UAW; I can tell you that."
"So maybe counter-balance by addressing big business, or doing something for them?" C.J. hazarded. Her brain really wasn't in this right now. "You know. Ensure that we're still in their corner, as well as labor's corner. If such a thing is possible."
"Stranger things have worked." Toby said. "But I'm just not sure what we should exactly do."
"Wanna discuss it with Leo?"
"Let's," Toby answered, getting up. "Sam is annoying me today, and besides, he's gotta finish the EPA thing before two." He held the door for C.J. as he added, "Leo will probably tell us to handle it, of course."
"Of course," agreed C.J., deadpan.
"But we have to talk to him anyway."
The two headed down the hallway to Leo's office. Near the bullpen, however, C.J. felt someone brush by her and turned around.
It was Josh. He nodded coldly. "I'm sorry, C.J. Toby, can you come to my office as soon as possible? Sam -" and he said the word as coldly as possible, to C.J.'s mind "just gave me the speech for the Teachers' Union."
"Fine," Toby said, shooting C.J. an odd look. "Give me a half-hour, Josh."
"OK." Josh strode away without another word.
Toby turned back to C.J. He opened his mouth to ask a question, thought better of it, and turned into Leo's office. C.J. sighed. *Please,* she thought, *don't let this day get any worse.*