RATING: G
NOTES: New series. See Part One.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own the West Wing or any of its related
characters. Don't sue.
SUMMARY: Different people of the West Wing reflect on their lives so
far.

Danny seems to be in a strange mood today. Hell, everyone does.
Sam has been kind of grumpy, Toby's locked up in his office, Josh
isn't really speaking to anyone and the President just seems
distracted. I haven't even seen Leo at all today. I suppose this is
just one of those days where everyone is thinking about something
else; everyone's thinking about their lives and the way things work
out. We have those kind of days from time to time.
Makes it hard to get any work done. It's frustrating that way.
Every morning, I get up and get ready to go to work. When I look
at myself in the mirror, half the time I don't know who it is that I
see. Have I really gotten this far? It feels like only yesterday that
I was walking in and there was my old friend Toby waiting for me.
Then of course I had to fall into the pool, but that's an entirely
different story.
I don't have very good luck with pools. Makes me wonder why I got
that house in the first place.
Anyway, I'm here now. That has to count for something. In fact, I
know that it does. Every day I stand up there in front of reporters
and cameras and I tell the people what's going on in this great
country of ours. The whole thing makes me feel kind of important.
And then those four goons plus the President of the United States
come along and suddenly I'm undermined and underestimated. Someone
should point out to them that when I agreed to come and work for this
team, I had the expectation that they were going to work with me as
if I was a part of the team, because I am a member of this team, damn
it. It took two years, but they're starting to come around. Hopefully
it'll stick.
I've recently begun to wonder about whether or not we're allowed
to have personal lives in this office. I mean, we've all sacrificed
so much for our jobs and for this country. Leo lost his wife, Sam
can't date the woman he wants to, I can't date the man I want to, the
President and Josh and Ron all took bullets as a consequence of this
job. Where are we all now that we've become workaholics with no lives
whatsoever? Where has all this hard work gotten us?
I try to take things as I go. Life gets so complicated, I feel
like planning for the future would just be a waste of time. When I
was a kid, I planned for the future, but because I was so young, I
was also very idealistic; none of the things I had planned then have
come true and they show no signs of doing so. This job is certainly a
large contrast from the plans I had made. Even after I graduated
college, my career was PR and politics had never been a
consideration. Granted, I still know very little about politics,
especially compared to these guys, but I know more than I used to,
and hell, I know more than I want to know in some cases.
I have to feed my fish. After all, I just fed myself not too long
ago, so it's probably fair to feed Gail too. Gail... Well, anyway,
what was I thinking about? I don't like to stress out; or at least I
didn't until I got this job and got used to it. It's a sad, sad thing
that I get stressed out on a daily basis. It's incredibly sad. It's
depressing, really.
What do I have left to do today? I've already done Danny's
exclusive and I finally finished reading that damn report on income
tax fraud. Toby sent out an executive memo to the senior staff saying
that he and Leo have gotten CREP going, but that they haven't
mentioned it to the President yet. A wise move, I think. The last
thing the President needs to think about is running for re-election;
not until the State of the Union is good and done with anyway. He's
got too much on his mind and there are health issues. He still gets
little pains around the gunshot wound from time to time. I can see it
in his eyes.
The President and I have a connection that way.
This new year has gotten off to an interesting start. I think I
should start getting used to being given a run for my money. That's
one thing that Ann Stark did do for us: she got our eyes open. It
seems that one thing after another is opening ours. First it was
Mandy's memo, then it was the shooting, and now Ann Stark comes in
pushing her candidate. No one wants us to stand idly by and although
it's frustrating to deal with the consequences, it's still a good
thing to get a wake-up call every now and then.
Still, I wish I could get a little more heads up than I've been
getting for these damn wake-up calls.
When I was growing up over there in California, my parents called
me "outspoken". I was tall and skinny then too, and I didn't take
nicely to being pushed around. I don't think I've changed a bit in
that regard, but I think that the main thing that has changed since
then is my amount of control over such situations. I honestly think
that Leo and the others don't care when I get mad about being brushed
off, merely annoyed. Toby seems to care, but I think that's because
we're friends and he's known me longer than anyone else around here.
I still think it's him and not Leo that wanted me on this team.
Toby... Toby, Toby, Toby. What an odd fellow that guys is.
I've known him for what seems like forever, and he's still as strange
as ever. There was a period of time, when he had just gotten married
to Andy, that he seemed happier. He used to be a happier person, but
as he got older and as his marriage drew to an end, he became more
somber, grouchier, and sadly more of an alcoholic. Sometimes I wonder
if I shouldn't stage an intervention or something. There are times
when he drinks excessively and other times when he doesn't touch a
drop. It worries me though I do my best not to act like it. Maybe I
should talk to Leo about it. He'd know, right?
Maybe I should just stick to my own business and butt out.
I think my mother is going to call me soon. I always get this
weird feeling in my bones right before she calls. It's not like I
don't like her; I just don't enjoy talking to her on the phone. The
conversation starts out nice and friendly, and then slowly her voice
changes and I'm suddenly suffering an onslaught of questions about my
love life, about my job, about how Toby is doing (she loves him),
how "that one guy" Danny is doing; is the President working you too
hard? Is that Leo fellow being crabby? My mother and Leo don't get
along. Something about when they met, he grunted at her or something,
and she interpreted that to mean that he was a rude, grumpy old man.
I think he was just busy thinking about, you know, the welfare of the
country, but she'd hear none of that.
I'm quite proud of my father for having put up with her for
nearly forty-five years. They remind me of the parents from "Pride
and Prejudice". The mother was this hyperactive, superficial
worrywart who was trying to marry off her daughters to worthy men.
The father was this kind, sarcastic, gentle man who was a good father
to his children and made fun of his wife when she got too ridiculous.
This is my parents to the T. I wonder if Jane Austen was a
psychic and she saw my parents coming.
Danny seems to be avoiding me these days. When I see him, he
looks away; it's almost as if he's acting guilty about something.
Ever since the night of the shooting, we've been drifting further and
further apart. When he turned down the editor's job, I think that was
the ultimate statement about the two of us. I'm not mad at him for
turning down the job; I would never ask him to do something he didn't
want to do. His job is obviously important to him, just like mine is
to me. We're not going to change for each other, and that's the only
way we could ever be together. Change.
So that's that.
I'm gonna go talk to Sam about the State of the Union. The press
is already hounding me questions about it and the rough draft hasn't
even been written yet, as far as I know. Besides, isn't there
supposed to be an element of suspense to it? Heh. I love teasing
reporters. Carol's leaning in my office door. My mother's on the
phone. Here we go.

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