TITLE: One More Night
"All right, so spill your guts." CJ exclaimed as she sat down on KD's new couch. It was customary for all the major players on the white house staff to have a couch for those particular evenings they decided to sleep over in the office. CJ had arrived just in time to not only interrupt whatever had happened between KD and Toby, but also to witness two large stout gentlemen try and squeeze a very nice looking blue couch in through the door. A half an hour later, CJ made herself very comfortable on the cushions and waited for KD's answer.
"Spill my guts?" KD repeated inquisitively.
"What happened with you and Toby before?" CJ asked with a mischievous grin. KD smiled shyly and shook her head as she picked through the papers on her desk for the packet she'd outlined for CJ.
"Absolutely nothing." She replied softly.
"Yeah, right. Come on, tell. Did he actually do something that could be considered human?" CJ probed playfully. KD flashed a glance, an equally playful smirk on her face.
"I'll tell you the day you tell me about Danny Canconnon." She retorted. CJ stopped and looked elsewhere.
"That really is nothing." She replied.
"Sounds like a regret to me. Here we go." KD exclaimed as she dragged out the thin blue folder.
"You and Danny know each other, right?" CJ asked. KD nodded.
"Ahem. Very well." She affirmed, almost nervously.
"About as well as you'd like to know him, perhaps?" KD said with a grin. CJ rolled her eyes.
"So not very well at all?" She retorted. KD sighed and sat down on the couch next to her friend.
"I'm not one to tell you anything you may or may not already know, but CJ, it's so rare that we as human beings can find a person that we care about. I can tell you right now, if Danny were your such person, you'd be a very lucky woman." KD exclaimed as she lightly tapped CJ's arm with the folder. CJ glanced at the younger woman and raised an eyebrow.
"That sounds like a regret." She murmured. KD paused.
"Nothing hurts more than looking back on the past and saying 'I should have done this instead of that', and that is a regret, yes." She replied as CJ took the folder from her.
"Why didn't things work out between you two?" CJ asked, wanting to know. KD sighed and looked at her friend.
"What can I say? Irreconcilable differences, I guess. We've both moved on, and we're both very good friends." She replied softly. "Beyond that, I'm not even sure either of us knows."
"Right." CJ murmured.
"CJ, just remember what I said. Nothing hurts more than remembering a should-a, could-a, would-a, especially with something like this." KD repeated, looking her colleague in the eye and being sincere.
"I understood you the first time, kid. Don't make me feel too stupid here." CJ added with a grin. KD chuckled and stood up, walking back behind her desk and sitting in the extremely comfortable chair Leo had gotten for her.
"I'm not trying to make you feel stupid. I'm trying to make sure that two of my best friends can find happiness when it bites them in the ass, or the heart, whichever the case may be." She retorted as she looked for her highlighter. CJ laughed and stood up.
"Maybe you should remember that as well next time you see Toby, eh?" She retorted. KD paused and looked up at her.
"Got a black ballpoint pen?" She asked. CJ smiled and shook her head.
"Nope, but I'll see if I can't get Carol to send one over." She retorted and moved out of the office.
It was such a beautiful sight to see the sun come up. A golden sphere of intense light and fire suddenly appears over a dark horizon, lighting up everything within its reach. The sky would turn a gentle purple as the nighttime slowly faded away. If Leo could miss that breathtaking sunrise every day of his life, he would, if only to get one hour more of sleep. In his newly designated bachelor's life, he'd come to realize how truly empty life was without someone to share it with. Jenny had left, and for good reason. Jed had told Leo not to let her go, but things can't change that easily. Jenny had left, so now Leo was alone. Now he got to wake up every morning, bright and early, and he got to watch the sunrise, lighting up the sky, as he got ready for the workday ahead of him.
And the day did begin. With a sigh and a moderately secure blue tie, Leo drove his car through the gate, as he did everyday and parked it in the same spot that he always did, the one marked Chief of Staff. He climbed out, grabbed his briefcase and hauled it to the elevator. As he waited for the doors to open, he glanced to the side and saw that Toby was not yet in. This was rare, for Toby seemed to always be in. In fact, Leo sometimes wondered if the communications director lived in his office.
The elevator opened its doors to reveal an empty car. Leo stepped in, pressed the corresponding button and checked his watch. It was nearly eight am. He was running a little late. The doors opened up and allowed him to step out into the hallway where nearly a dozen people were already running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Leo rolled his eyes and started moving his way through the various runners and dodgers of the daily life at the White House. Finally he reached his assistant's office and pushed his way through the doors, and he happened to find that Margaret had not yet checked in.
With a sigh, he moved into his own office, placed his case next to the desk and unbuttoned his jacket. He checked the memos on his desk and then moved back out into the hallway. He stepped down to the small hub where Josh, CJ, and now KD held their offices. He nodded hello to Donna Moss and then leaned into Josh's office to place a copy of the day's schedule on his desk. He then moved to KD's office and leaned in the door, finding KD already at home in her chair and yakking on the phone. She saw him, smiled and pulled him in with the simple twist of a finger.
"Yeah, okay. Lunch, then? Okay, that will be great. Okay. I'll see you then, Jen." She exclaimed into the phone. Leo stopped in his tracks. "Okay. Got it. Bye-bye." She added as she hung up the phone and wrote down an address on her brand new legal notepad with a flimsy blue roller pen. It was KD's third day on the job, counting her first four hour venue, and . The only noticeable problem she'd had was that Toby seemed to be avoiding her in the hallways.
"Who were you just talking to?" Leo asked quietly.
"Jenny. Your wife. Nice lady. We're having lunch." KD replied nonchalantly as she finished scribbling. "Hey, listen, I think it might come up eventually as to how the President wants-"
"You are having lunch with my wife?" Leo asked. KD looked up at him with a curious smirk.
"Well, yeah. Just because you two are separated doesn't mean I don't get to see her. She was, after all, one of my four surrogate parents. There was Jed, Abbey, you and Jenny. Four." She retorted and looked back at the notepad where she'd made various other scribbles.
"Yeah, okay, okay. I got it. Remind me to steer clear of your office around lunchtime." He retorted as he stepped forward to hand her a copy of the schedule that the entire senior staff got. She glanced it.
"Nice. I feel so comfortable here, a part of the family. Since when am I a member of the senior staff?" She snapped, halfway between gracious and overwhelmed. Leo grinned and nodded.
"When we said we needed you, we weren't exaggerating. Staff meeting at ten. Be there." Leo said with a grin as he stepped out. Then he leaned back in. "Oh, and we're sending a guy to you later. Name's David Beckwith. Treat him nice, okay? It's his first day."
"Okay, then. What does he do?" KD asked as she flipped through her latest project. Leo grinned.
"He's your new assistant." Leo exclaimed and then hurried away. KD groaned and started out after him.
"No, Leo!" She called and then turned back into her office, whining. "Don't need a damn assistant, don't want one. I hate this place. I hate this place, I really do. They don't have any ballpoint pens here, damn it. I love having stuff to do, I love the people, but I hate this place. I really do." She murmured to herself as she plopped down into the chair.
"Josh." CJ exclaimed as she moved into his office.
"CJ." Josh replied, looking up from the paper he'd found on his desk, more than obviously left by Leo.
"Josh." Donna started as she stepped into the office.
"Donna." Josh said.
"CJ." Donna said with a smile.
"Donna." CJ returned with a smile. Then both the women looked at Josh, who had just gotten confused.
"Um, Josh?" He tried.
"Josh, the press briefing is at two today. Is there anything you need to go into it? I just wanted to check before I head into the staff meeting and get blown away by a few million surprises." CJ exclaimed as she tapped the piece of paper that she'd received and that happened to be quite similar to the paper he was reading.
"I just wanted to say hi, and that there are no banana nut blueberry muffins today." Donna exclaimed as she put a few thin files on his desk. He groaned and thunked his head on the desk. CJ couldn't help but chuckle.
"Did you ask KD? She always seems to have everything." The taller woman suggested. Donna nodded.
"Where do you think I got mine?" She retorted and walked out of the office. Josh growled and CJ laughed.
"Come on in, CJ. You're lucky enough to have gotten here before I got busy. I think I might have the environmental cause somewhere around here. The President is getting into the environment and medical research next, I think. Of course, everything changes, every day." Josh exclaimed as he rifled through all the papers on his desk.
"Don't you have a system or something?" CJ asked, laughing as she watched him fish through the massive amounts of text.
"Yeah, yeah, I do. It's a very complex system, one that only I understand. Donna has a lucky day every once in awhile." Josh retorted with a grin. CJ smiled and sat down.
"Josh, do you ever worry about lost chances?" CJ asked after he fumbled around another minute. He stopped and looked at her.
"What do you mean?" He asked. CJ sighed and looked at her agenda.
"I don't know. I've just been thinking a lot lately, and the topic seems to come up so often these days when I'm talking to different people... Do you ever wish you could change something you've done in the past? Maybe taken a risk that you ended up avoiding?" CJ clarified. Josh sighed and found the environment cause sheet he'd been looking for. He took it in both of his hands and walked around the desk to sit in the chair opposite her.
"There are times, yes, that I wish things were different. I'm happy with my life the way it is, but-" He was interrupted by Donna walking in through the door and seeing a serious discussion.
"Oops. Sorry. I'll just leave this on your desk, Josh. I'm sorry for interrupting." She exclaimed as she left a thin blue file on Josh's desk. As she walked out, she patted Josh on the back in an endearing manner and then disappeared, closing the door behind her.
"Like I said," Josh said softly, staring at the door that had just closed on him. "There are some things that I wish were different, but I made some decisions and I have to live with them." He continued softly, watching the spot where Donna had disappeared. CJ smiled weakly, getting an understanding of Josh she'd never gotten before.
"So maybe you and I should start taking more risks in order to be happy? What do you say?" CJ exclaimed, leaning forward and patting Josh on the arm. He smiled and handed her the cause sheet.
"You're my surrogate sister, not my mom." He retorted. "But it sounds good to me." CJ laughed and nodded, standing up to leave. Josh stood up as well and watched CJ as she stepped out of the room. Another moment later, after he had moved back behind his desk to his chair but before he sat down, Donna stepped into the room with an apologetic look and another small stack of papers she needed to sort him through.
"I'm sorry again. I hope I didn't interrupt anything too... heartfelt. Well, look who I'm talking to." Donna joked as she wound her way around the desk to him. He smiled and looked at her.
"What are you doing tonight, Donna?" He asked. She looked at him, a little shocked, and fumbled.
"Uh, I'm going home to feed my cats." She replied.
"Want to get a drink with me?" He asked. She turned a slight shade of pink.
"It's just a drink. No pressure. You don't have to if you don't-"
"I'd love to." Donna exclaimed. "But first we have to get through all this." She added and put the pile on his desk. He smiled and nodded.
"Okay then. Sounds great." He replied as he leaned down to do what she needed him to. As he leaned down, Donna watched his head with a confused sense of wonder, and a brand new sparkle in his eye.
"Excuse me, Miss Brody?" A young male voice exclaimed. KD looked up and saw a young man with sandy blond hair leaning in her doorframe. She was standing up and writing on her desk, something she did quite often already. She didn't seem to like sitting down all that much, and was often found standing over her desk while writing, or rather, scribbling a few more notes down on her legal pad. Now she stood up straight and stared straight into the young man's sparkling blue eyes. He smiled weakly.
"Yeah, who are you?" She exclaimed. He tried not to cower. She could tell he was nervous.
"My name is David Beckwith. I'm-" He started.
"Oh, yeah. You." She interrupted. "Come on in. I won't bite you just yet." He smiled weakly and moved in.
"Mr. McGarry warned me that you're not exactly receptive to the idea of having an assistant." David admitted as he closed the door behind him.
"Hmm. We both work for him now, I suppose. You got a desk outside, right?" She asked. He nodded. "Well, I've been thinking about it, and I'm going to put you on what I call the star system."
"The star system, sir?"
"Don't call me sir."
"No, um, ma'am."
"Don't call me ma'am."
"What do I call you?"
"Try boss. That'll work. Anyway, the star system is this little game of positive and negative reinforcement. There will a series of goals and you'll have to reach those goals over time." She exclaimed, opening a drawer and rummaging through it.
"How do I do that?" David asked, a little confused. She tossed him a packet of colored star stickers.
"Every time you do something I like, you get a blue star. You do something I really like, you'll get a silver one. You do something that is truly excellent, you'll get a gold star. A certain number of stars will reach a certain goal." She retorted. He stared at her.
"Sounds demeaning to me." He retorted. She smiled and nodded.
"Good job. You just got a gold star." She retorted right back. He glared.
"This is something kindergarteners do. It's unfair and you can't honestly expect me to agree to this." He exclaimed.
"Well, the way I see it, and you are right, I'm being completely unfair, I don't need you, and you need a job. The star system is just to keep track of how much I like you, or tolerate you or whatever." She replied and sat down her chair. He looked at the stickers and then at her again.
"You're nuts." He murmured. She nodded.
"I know. Second gold star."
"How many stars per goal?"
"Three blue stars are equal to one silver. Three silver are equal to one gold. Thirty gold equal a goal." She explained.
"What are the goals?"
"Tolerance, acceptance, embrace, friendliness, excitement and normalcy." She replied. He laughed.
"Whatever. What are the red ones?"
"Whenever you do something bad, I give you a red star. It's equivalent to subtracting a silver star from your total."
"You're extremely nuts."
"I know. You get another gold star."
"This is nuts, and it's demeaning."
"I'll let your first goal be ten gold stars."
"I'm not five years old."
"I am." To this, David couldn't help but laugh again. KD grinned and stood up. "What do you say?" She asked.
"I say that as long as it's not the principle focus, if it's just something that's there, why not? It's an easygoing way to start." David replied with a resigned grin. KD smiled and nodded.
"Great. Your desk is right outside, but you know that. Do you happen to have a black ball point pen?" She asked as she shifted though the papers on her desk. David tossed her a black ballpoint and stepped outside to his desk. She looked at it, smiled, and then sat down to write on her legal pad.