RATING: PG
DISCLAIMER: See part 1
NOTES: See part 1

"You ready for this?" Josh asked uncertainly.
"Will you stop asking me if I'm ready for this? I'm more ready for this
than you are and you're getting damn right annoying." Toby snapped. Josh
jumped a little and then nodded.
"Just making sure you were ready. I mean, Donna, she was asking me ten
dozen times this morning if I was ready -" Josh stopped talking when he
received a sharp look from Toby. He'd forgotten what ticked Toby off the
most: talking about your loved one. Toby got upset when he saw CJ and Danny.
He got tense when he saw the president and the first lady. But he got
downright annoyed and angry when he heard or saw anything to do with Josh and
Donna. Josh felt that it probably had something to do with Toby's strong
feelings for Josh, that they were some sort of version of friends, and it
scared Toby. Of course that was just his opinion. Everyone else thought it
was because Toby hated Josh so much he didn't want to hear about his
happiness, especially when he was missing his own. Josh noticed that Toby
virtually ignored Sam and Mallory but that may have been because they never
got too close in view of the public anyway.
"Guys, let's go." CJ exclaimed suddenly. Josh took a deep breath,
straightened his tie and followed CJ out into the room. Toby walked behind
them and sat down at the edge of the table, Josh in the middle and CJ at the
other end. Cameras flashed and reporters were scribbling down notes already.
Josh couldn't for the life of him figure out what the hell they were writing.
"Good afternoon." CJ started. "This press conference is to discuss the
issues of legislation bill 784, the bill specifically directed towards the
use of budgeting and other important aspects in the government's devotion to
the ongoing research of such fatal diseases as Cancer and AIDS. Here today to
answer your questions are White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joshua Lyman,
White House Communications Director Toby Ziegler and myself. Let's keep this
simple and businesslike. We meet with the State Senate later this afternoon
at three o'clock. For now, we will take a few questions. Let's open it up."
CJ finished and the voices started calling her name.
"CJ!"
"CJ!!"
"Katie." CJ called, pointed ahead of her.
"What is the exact sum of the budget that has been ensured for this
measure?" A young Asian-American reporter asked.
"We're proposing that nearly 3 billion dollars be redirected out of the
budget towards the ongoing process of investigating these disorders." Josh
answered efficiently.
"Jack." CJ pointed.
"Will any part of this large amount be devoted to one disease
specifically, or will there be a foundation established to focus on these
studies? How exactly will this be arranged?" The young black-haired reporter
asked from his seat, his pen poised to write.
"There are many research centers across the country that will receive a
fraction of this new allotment, including the Mayo Clinic, John Hopkins
University, Will Rogers institute and several other facilities that are
principally used for research." Toby started talking. "Yes, a fraction will
go to several government facilities as we want to regulate at least some of
the progress that is made with this new legislature, should we get the bill
passed through congress." He finished calmly. Josh was pleasantly surprised.
"Is there any doubt that you will?" Someone called out.
"There's always doubt, but we work around that." Josh replied. Several
people chuckled.
"Danny." CJ pointed uncertainly.
"Wasn't this KD Brody's project?" Danny asked strongly. Toby shot him a
glare across the room as the reporters got their pens poised again.
"It was. Dr. Brody recently took a leave of absence from the White House.
Rob-" CJ tried to move on, but it had happened.
"Why?" Someone else asked. Toby was turning pale.
"Excuse me?" CJ asked.
"Why did Dr. Brody take the leave of absence?" Katie asked. "Did it have
anything to do with this project?"
"No, it does not. Dr. Brody left for personal reasons and this bill was
passed on to myself and my colleague, Mr. Ziegler, here." Josh interrupted,
trying to bring the business back. CJ took a breath and prayed that the next
question would not be related to KD.
"Robin?" She called.
"What are the details regarding mental health care within this
legislature? Will there be specific allotments for study of such diseases as
Alzheimer's, Hanover's or schizophrenia?" The middle-aged Times reporter
asked.
"Yes, there is a specific subsection that will be devoted to mental
health care." CJ replied.
"Can you tell us what that subsection will entail?" Robin asked again.
There was a hesitant pause among the White House staffers. Josh looked at
Toby and then back at the press corps.
"We're still tweaking it." He announced. There was some soft muttering
from the crowd as they wrote down Josh's statement. Toby flashed him a look
and Josh tried not to look innocent. The murmuring increased as KD stepped
out from the opposite side of the room, trying not to look annoyed as she
took up a stance next to CJ.
"Sorry I'm late and to answer your question, the section is about
fourteen paragraphs detailing the exact split up of the 602 million dollars
that will be going for Mental health research specifically. 100 of those
millions will be going to the government research facility in Arlington,
Virginia. The rest will be divided up among the various facilities across the
country based on a study done by this administration as to which facility has
devoted the most of its resources towards the study of mental diseases." KD
exclaimed quickly, glancing furtively at CJ and then back at the press.
"Stan?"
"Why did you leave the White House?" A blonde reporter asked.
"Well, I hardly think that's relevant." KD replied with a smirk. Several
reporters chuckled, including Danny. "In any case, I've been on the road,
doing some polls and studies for the White House. They weren't quite aware of
it at the time, but hey." She paused as the reporters laughed again. "In the
meantime, here I am to answer your questions about this wonderful piece of
legislation." She finished sweetly to more laughter. Josh glanced at Toby,
who was staring at KD uncertainly, and then at CJ who was grinning nervously.
"Heh, um, Pam?" The press secretary called.
"Is there going to be any direction towards the use of medicare in this
legislation?" Pam Majors asked.
"No, not in this piece. We've got another bill being sent to the floor
that will gather up some bold moves for making sure that all American
citizens can get the medicare they deserve when they need it." Josh answered
confidently.
"There is a small sub-sub-sub-sub-section of a sub-paragraph on the final
page of this legislation that will refer to how the research will benefit
patients who suffer from the studied diseases, and it does explore how
patients with medicare will or won't benefit from whatever research is done."
KD added carefully. The reporters scribbled down her every word.
"Last question. Jan." CJ called.
"Does this mean you're back, Dr. Brody?" A woman asked. KD laughed.
"Do you really want to waste the last question? Your reporter friends are
about ready to crush you right now. Chris, do you have a better question than
that?" She asked.
"Does this mean you're back, Dr. Brody?" Chris asked with a grin. KD
paused and smiled weakly as the reporters chuckled to themselves and waited
for an answer.
"It means I never left. Good afternoon everyone." She concluded and took
off for the backstage. Josh was right on her heels as Toby and CJ calmly
walked after her. KD was already gone before Toby emerged in the back room,
and CJ could see the vacant look in her eyes. Josh took off after KD, moving
quickly to keep up with her.
"Kody! Wait up!" Josh called. KD sighed and tossed a paper to a staffer
that CJ had brought with them.
"Jack, they're ready. Call Maria and tell her they're set." KD called as
he caught the paper.
"You back, KD?" Josh asked hopefully.
"Never." KD replied hopelessly.
"Kody!" Josh exclaimed in heartbreak.
"Go away, Josh." KD told him weakly as they walked quickly.
"Talk to me." He pleaded.
"You have the amount of time it takes me to get to my car." She gave up
as she fished through her pockets for her keys.
"Why'd you leave us, Kody? Nothing could have been that bad." Josh
started quickly.
"I had my reasons." Came the weak reply.
"Tell me you don't miss us, that you don't miss him." Josh dared her.
"I can't, because I do." She replied as her voice began to crack.
"Then come back!" Josh snapped.
"Goddamn it, Josh, I can't!!" She exclaimed angrily as they reached her
jeep. He forced her to look him in the eye and found that she was near tears.
He gulped and paused.
"You can do whatever you want to, Kody." He whispered as he reached up to
stroke her cheek.
"I don't think he loves me any more anyway, Jolly. I still do my work for
you guys all the time and-" She started to ramble.
"He loves you!" Josh interrupted with an incredulous grin. How could she
think Toby didn't love her? "What could possibly make you think he doesn't
love you?" He asked.
"I've heard the rumors." She replied almost coldly, but with a weak
smile, as she fished out her keys.
"What, that crap about Andrea Wyatt? That's bullshit. He hasn't even
looked at another woman since you left, and that's been kind of hard with CJ
and Ginger and-" Josh started to rant.
"Josh." KD stopped him.
"I don't understand." Josh admitted.
"Sometimes we just don't get to understand things." KD said softly.
"That's not good enough." Josh snapped softly. KD paused and looked at
him with a tear streaming down her face.
"Josh, three months ago, Andrea Wyatt came into my office and asked me if
I would allow Toby to 'escort' her to a dinner so that they could see if
there was a chance for anything to be rekindled." She said, admitting that
day's events to another soul for the first time.
"Andy did this? And you said yes?" Josh asked in disbelief.
"I said no! I said that I loved Toby and that I wouldn't be letting him
go." KD retorted defensively and then paused again.
"But then what-" Josh started.
"Then she told me that if I didn't leave Toby, if I didn't leave town
altogether, she'd release some very damaging stuff to the press and make sure
that I became hell on earth for this administration." KD interrupted softly.
"She said she was going to use my past to not only bring me down but to bring
the President down for hiring me and trusting me, and she... She said she
would do everything she could, Josh. Everything she could to destroy
everything you and Joss and Leo and Toby, all of us have ever worked for."
"Andy said all this?" Josh asked again.
"I don't care who she is!" KD snapped. "Josh, she started talking about
how she 'got him first' and how I was being 'unfair' or something like that.
But the truth is, Josh, that I felt like Toby wanted to go out there and try
new things, maybe meet new people. Maybe I thought he'd be better off with
her. I just... I just don't know anymore." KD concluded as she looked at
her hands. Josh paused as he listened and then he took her face in his hands
and stared into her eyes so that she could catch his full meaning.
"Listen to me: he misses you. He doesn't love her anymore. Maybe they're
friends, yeah, okay, but nothing more. He stopped loving her the moment he
pressed you against your brand new desk and kissed you. I was there,
remember?" He asked playfully. KD shook her head and smiled very, very weakly
as she looked at him.
"Go back to your friends. I'm not needed any more." She whispered.
"What about me, huh? What if I need you?" Josh replied softly as he
watched her carefully.
"You don't." She assured him. He shook his head.
"You can't dictated that to me." He insisted. "Besides, you and I both
know that if Toby hadn't made his move a year ago, I would have." He added
playfully as he reached forward to bring her gaze up to his.
"That's because you're a ladies man, Josh." She replied softly as she
smiled weakly at him. "You and Donna have something together. Everything's
fine. Everyone has someone, even Toby."
"He hasn't talked to Andy in weeks. They're not together. Why won't you
listen to me?" Josh pleaded. KD shook her head and got into her car. Josh
watched her mournfully.
"I'm at the Whitford hotel, room 417, if anything drastic happens and you
need to call. Don't press your luck, Josh. I'm leaving tomorrow; you're
leaving tomorrow. I just came in because you guys were about to drown in that
conference there. That's it." She said softly before starting the engine and
driving off. Josh watched the car disappear into the distance and then looked
around for somewhere else to go. He didn't know where else to go. He looked
back at the building he'd come from and saw Toby moving for a taxi. CJ was
lingering behind their friend and then looked at Josh. Their eyes connected
and the message was shared that it was probably best to let their friend be.

TBC.....
Feedback? Comments? Please???

~D.C.
Batman

 

If You're Gone - 4

 

 

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