See part 1 for disclaimer.
"Itís a good speech." CJ remarked to Toby as they were listening to the State of the Union address.
"Yeah." He replied.
"You donít sound convinced."
"Iím not. I know itís a good speech, but Iím wondering what he will change."
"Youíre also worrying about the ĎMeet the Pressí interview."
"I donít want to even think about that."
"Okay." CJ said.
"We are still going directly home after this?"
"Yeah, I think we need to get home to Meghan." CJ replied.
When they got home, CJ collapsed on the couch. After putting Meghan to bed Toby came in and sat down beside her.
"Exhausted actually." CJ said quietly.
"Come here." Toby said . CJ moved until she was resting against Toby. He rubbed her shoulders. "Is that better?" He asked.
"Yeah., much better. Itís been such a long day."
"Itís only going to get worse this week." Toby said gloomily.
"You really are worried about ĎMeet the Pressí, arenít you?"
"I donít want to do it. Do you remember what a disaster my last meeting with Mary Marsh was?"
"Yes, the New York Jews comment, and everything else."
"Then you can see why I really donít want to do this. She will make me angry and Iíll end up looking like an idiot on national TV, instead of just to the White House staff."
"Donít let her bait you. Thatís what Sam, Josh, and I will tell you tomorrow. Now, I donít want to talk about it anymore tonight."
"What do you want to talk about?"
"Truthfully, Iíd rather just lay here in silence and feel your arms around me."
"That can be arranged."
The rest of the week went quickly. Much of it was spent preparing Toby for his appearance on Meet the Press. Josh, CJ and Sam spent a good part of their time trying to prepare Toby.
"You canít say that on national TV!" Josh exclaimed about Tobyís latest absurd remark.
"Why the hell canít I?" Toby said.
"Because itís absurd. Canít you even see that it is absurd?" Josh asked.
"In a nutshell, that is the position of this administration."
"No," CJ said, "in a nutshell that is the position of Toby Ziegler, a senior member of this administration, and it is said in the most condencending manner possible."
"Iím not being condescending!"
"Yes, you are." Sam said.
"Sam and CJ are right. You canít be condescending on TV, take it from someone who has done it. Itís not a good idea." Josh said.
"You do understand this is Mary Marsh we are talking about?"
"Yes, we understand that." CJ said. "We know you donít like her. Josh and I were there so we know exactly why you donít like her. But you canít let her get to you, especially on national TV. If you let that happen *it* will be the story. Youíll give her even more airtime than she is already getting."
"That woman infuriates me." Toby said.
"I can think of someone else that infuriates you at times." CJ said.
"Okay, guys. Itís late and I know you two want to go home. Weíll pick this up in the morning." Sam said.
"You wouldnít have been talking about yourself a few minutes ago, would you?" Toby teased CJ after Josh and Sam had left.
"What made you think that?"
"The someone else who infuriates me at times statement."
"Oh, that." CJ said.
"Yeah, that." Toby said. "I donít know how that is supposed to help."
"How do you keep from losing your temper with me?"
"That would not work with Mary Marsh."
"Sheís not the woman Iím married to, the mother of my child, and she certainly is not the woman Iím hopelessly in love with."
"Oh, really." CJ said as she put her arms around Toby. She then kissed him.
"We should go home." He said after a minute.
"By all means. Oh, the feeling is mutual." CJ replied.
"What?" Toby asked
"The hopelessly in love part." CJ said.
Although Toby was not happy about it, Sunday finally came. When he came into the kitchen that morning to make some coffee, he found that CJ was already making it. He walked up behind her and put his arms around her.
"Good morning." She said turning to kiss him.
"This would be the only good thing about this morning." He said.
"What would be?" She asked.
"Holding you." He said and then kissed her.
"It will be fine. Itíll be over with in a few hours."
"You think we could call and say Iím sick? It might work."
"Leo would send Mrs. Bartlet to see how you are."
"We donít have to answer the door."
"Nice try." CJ laughed. "Sheíd have the secret service break the door down."
"I really have to go."
"Yes, you do." CJ said. "It will be okay, just donít let her bait you, donít say anything stupid or condenscending.
"I know you are." He said.
"Are you going to listen to me then?"
When Toby arrived at the studio, Mary Marsh was already there. He was directed to a chair across from her and sat down.
"Good morning Mr. Ziegler." She said.
"Mrs. Marsh." Toby replied.
"It has been a long time." She said.
"Yes, it has."
"I understand congratulations are in order."
"For what?" Toby asked, wondering what she was up to.
"Your marriage and the birth of your daughter."
"Yes," Toby allowed himself the smallest of smiles at the thought of CJ and Meghan, "that has happened since we last spoke."
"How old is your daughter?"
"Rumor around town is that you are a proud and doting father."
"Yes, and also that you are a devoted husband. Most people who know you in the political world canít believe that you could be so different."
"Yes." It was a moment before she spoke again. " I donít like sitting across from someone for 15 minutes without speaking, so I hope you didnít mind that I spoke."
The interview had gone well so far, CJ thought as she watched it. Meghan was fascinated by seeing her daddy on TV, she kept pointing at the TV and saying Daddy.
"Yes, sweetheart, thatís Daddy on the TV. Heíll be home soon." CJ said as Meghan pointed to the TV. "Shh, Mommy wants to hear what Daddy is saying."
From the TV she could hear Toby speaking about how the Constitution prohibited religious expression in connection with the government. Mrs. Marsh was now talking about how 8 in 10 of the adults in some states wanted the Ten Commandments posted. From the look on Tobyís face CJ knew they probably had trouble.
"Eight in ten." Toby said. "Eight in ten adults support this."
"Yes, according to the polls they do." Mary Marsh said.
"What do you think of that Mr. Ziegler?" The moderator asked.
"What do I think, well to begin with I think the Constitution is clear on this subject. It doesnít matter if itís 10 out of 10, itís unconstitutional. Those who think otherwise should read the constitution and try to understand it. I hear you can find a copy at amazon.com."
CJ, who was on the couch watching it unfold, reached for the phone. As she was reaching for it, the phone rang.
"Hello, yeah Leo Iím watching it. How the hell should I know what happened. Yeah, Iíll be right there. I know we have *a lot* of damage control to do. Yeah, Iíve got Meghan. Mrs. Bartlet will watch her okay. Yeah fifteen minutes. Bye."
Toby walked into the storm brewing in Leoís office an hour later. Leo, Sam, CJ, and Josh were already there.
"Whereís Meghan?" Toby asked CJ.
"With Mrs. Bartlet."
"How many times did we tell you not to lose your cool with her?" Josh asked.
"A number of times."
"Why the hell did you do it then?" Leo asked.
"She provoked me." Toby said.
"You should have know better." CJ said.
"Yeah really." Sam said.
"CJ, is the press corps here?" Leo asked.
"More are arriving every minute."
"Great, youíll have to do a briefing." Leo said.
"Yeah, I know." CJ said.
"Explain it, if you can." Josh said.
"Thereís not much to explain." CJ said.
"Yeah, I know, but do the best you can. Why donít you go do that now? Weíll finish up in here." Leo said
CJ glanced out over the press corps and saw that most of the regulars where there. She begun to take questions. Things went well at first, but then it quickly went downhill.
"Yes, Jeremy." CJ said.
"CJ do you feel that there is a good explanation for Mr. Ziegler insulting the beliefs of the majority of Americans?"
"I think the explanation and intentions of Mr. Zieglerís statements are self explanatory." CJ said and then left the podium.
CJ had gone to the residence to check on Meghan after the briefing. Sitting and playing with her daughter helped her to calm down. What had happened could be fixed and it was work not personal so CJ was okay. She went back to her office to work. She had not been in there five minutes when she heard the door slam shut. She looked up and saw Toby walking in.
"What the hell was that out there?!!" Toby shouted.
to be continued...