RATING: PG-13 (revised from part one rating, I changed my mind)
"Hello, if you'll please take your seats." CJ exclaimed as she stepped in front of the podium and the cameras. Several people began to shout out questions while still others took photos, but CJ managed to silence them. "Let me just get through this, ladies and gentlemen. It's been a long night for all of us." She interrupted them and they quieted down.
"Today at approximately four thirteen PM, White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry, Deputy White House Chief of Staff Joshua Lyman and White House Executive Political Advisor Kathryn Dylan Brody were leaving a ceremony at the center for Environmental studies when a man by the name of George Rueben Hallowell stepped forward and fired several shots. Three of the four bullets went astray while the fourth entered KD Brody's chest cavity. Dr. Brody is currently in intensive care at Bethesda Naval Hospital. The doctor's are predicting a 30% chance of survival. Questions?" She asked.
"CJ! Over here."
"Jane." CJ called.
"What are the exact injuries that Miss Brody suffered?" Jane asked. CJ sighed, feeling the dread of having to describe such things.
"The bullet impacted in Dr. Brody's lower chest cavity, slightly nicking her lung and causing severe internal bleeding. The bullet nearly impacted in her spinal cord, but due to the angle of its path, it missed narrowly and became impacted in her back muscles. She spent seven hours in the operating room and she is currently in ICU. Charles."
"Any information on the shooter?"
"Yes, George Rueben Hallowell, age 37, proclaimed his intention as being an 'attempt to eliminate Chief Of Staff Leo McGarry from the foundation of the greatest country in the world'. Mr. Hallowell is being held by the Secret Service and he's currently waiting for his lawyer to arrive." CJ replied, looking for the next hand and settling her gaze on Danny as he moved in the door. Silence filled the room as everyone looked at him. He gulped and moved to his seat. He was glad that he left his jacket in the car.
"Jack?" CJ asked, regaining her strength.
"I've got a source that says that Hallowell was a hired assassin. Can you confirm or deny?" Jack asked.
"I have no information on that at this point. No one has told me any such thing." CJ replied honestly. "Danny."
"How did the President and the other white house staff members react to this incident?" Danny asked, his voice weak. CJ steadied herself and looked down at her hands before looking up again.
"There was a great deal of shock that was shared by many, and grief by more. This is not something we're used to and we're all still a bit stunned." She replied shakily. "Last question."
"CJ, quick question."
"Ashley." CJ called.
"How has Mr. Ziegler reacted to this chain of events?" A young female reporter asked. CJ sighed.
"He's reacted like any normal man would have, I should say." CJ retorted. "Thank you. That's all for now." She added, grabbed her papers and walked off. As she stopped in the doorframe, she looked back at Danny who was writing slowly on his pad. He seemed so absentminded. CJ nodded to Carol and then moved into her office. A moment later, a soft knock came and Danny leaned in. CJ turned, pulled him into the office, closed the door and hugged him closer than she ever had before. He hugged her back, burying his face into her shoulder. They stood there a long while, holding each other. CJ cried softly. Danny sniffled and just held her tighter.
Toby muttered softly to himself as he moved around his office. He'd neglected to take his jacket off, and as a consequence he found it hard to move. Part of him realized that his difficulty moving more likely stemmed from the fact that he felt like he could hardly breathe, but he ignored that part. He gulped and grabbed a few stray pieces of paper and stuffed them into his briefcase. He moved over to the iBook and began to unplug it, not noticing the fact that Leo McGarry was leaning in the doorway.
"How you doing?" Leo asked. Toby looked up with a dark look on his face.
"How do you think I'm doing?" He retorted sharply. Leo winced slightly.
"No better than me, I suppose." He admitted.
"Probably a lot worse." Toby snapped. Leo frowned.
"I don't know about that. I feel really bad about this, Toby, like it's all my fault. If I had only kept my eyes open-" Leo started.
"Leo, no offense, but I honestly don't care. Ok? I feel like my heart's been ripped out, and I've been told that there's only a 30% chance that it will ever come back." Toby interrupted. "It's not your fault, so don't worry about that. Go home, or to Jenny or Mallory, or whoever. If you want to confess, go to church, or maybe the president. I don't really care."
"That's kind of cold, Toby." Leo retorted.
"Damn right, it is. I'm turned off, Leo." Toby replied harshly, gazing at his boss with brimming eyes.
"Maybe you should let other people in, instead of trying to make it through this alone." Leo snapped.
"I am alone, Leo. Believe me when I say this, I AM alone." Toby corrected him. Leo stared at his friend in disbelief.
"You can't be serious. We're all hurting about this, Toby. We all love her-" Leo started.
"But not like I do! Admit it, Leo, no one loves like I do, except maybe Danny out there, and he's got someone to take him in her arms and get him through this." Toby interrupted. "Name one person in this building who loves her like I do, who lives for her smile like I do, huh? You've never touched her, felt her, inhaled her presence, anything like that... You never have loved her like I do, Leo. No one has. I'm the only one, and that makes me alone." Toby finished before grabbing the iBook and shoving it into its place in his briefcase. Leo watched him solemnly, knowing he was right.
"Maybe you're right." He murmured. "But that doesn't mean that you can accept the condolences of your friends. We're here for KD, and we're here for each other, and we're here for you."
"I know how you feel, Leo. You feel guilty. But you haven't stop to think and realize that she stepped in front of that bullet. She made the choice to put her life on the line. So now she may die." Toby said softly. "And this has got to be one of the most gut-wrenching experiences of my life." He added.
"I'm trying to be your friend. Don't push me away." Leo replied softly.
"How did you feel when Jenny told you it was over?" Toby asked suddenly. Leo gulped and paused. "Take that feeling and multiply it by infinity, then you might get the slightest inkling of how I feel about all this. You got another chance with your love. I've got 30% of one." Toby added.
"If it weren't for KD, I never would have gotten my second chance." Leo replied softly.
"Give yourself some credit, Leo." Toby retorted with a weak smile. "Listen, I appreciate your attempts to be 'warm and friendly' but I just as soon would rather be alone."
"I'm not sure that's the best idea." Leo replied warily.
"What, you think I'm going to blow my own head off out of misery? Fat chance. I won't do that until I see her death certificate. Not until I see her dead body moving into the incinerator." Toby retorted darkly, and very sharply. Leo winced, a dark expression capturing his face.
"That's morbid, Toby." He replied sternly. Toby paused and sighed.
"If she dies, so do I. Believe it or not, that has nothing to do with you." He said resolutely.
"I'm beginning to believe there's nothing I can say to you that matters." Leo said finally.
"I'm glad we cleared that up. In the meantime, I'll be at the hospital. If there's an emergency, page me." Toby retorted as he grabbed the case and moved out of the room, leaving Leo behind.