Title:Mr. Fish Goes To Washington
Category: Crossover--TWW/Ally McBeal
Rating: Probably G
Summary: The Ally folk head down to DC and Elaine gets them in for
Crackpots Day. Chaos ensues, as it often does.
Feedback: Please!!! I love feedback!!! Good, bad, whatever.
email@example.com is my email--drop me a line!
Archive: Let me know, but you're welcome to it!
"Ow! Stop-what are you-?"
The entire business section of the large jet joined the Cage and Fish
associates in trying to subdue Richard. Every time a stewardess had
come down the aisle, he climbed over Ally and John and tried to either
get in a wattle or a kneepit. The other passengers had watched at
first in amusement, then in wonder, and had finally became so fed up
with this behavior that they all joined in this final effort to get
some peanuts and enjoy their flight to Washington, D.C. Richard was
sitting toward the front of the section so none of the stewardesses had
made it to the back of the section yet. The passengers back there were
annoyed, as were the stewardesses. Ally grabbed Richard and shoved him
back into his seat.
"What? Ally, I'm getting some bad vibes here."
"You're damn right you're getting bad vibes! You've been climbing
over us every time a stewardess comes in! Then when you reach her you
pull one of your obnoxious tricks on the poor woman. I've been on this
damn airplane for I don't know how long and I still haven't gotten any
peanuts 'cause YOU keep scaring off the stewardesses!"
"Boy, Ally, I guess this conference was a good idea. There's an anger
management seminar on Saturday, you know-"Richard started in.
"I don't need anger management, Richard! I just want a little peace
and quiet! And some peanuts. Give me those," demanded Ally of
Richard. While he was up "talking" to the stewardess, he had taken
some peanuts off the tray. Ally now wrested them from his hands and
popped open the bag with a sulky expression on her face. The pilot's
voice suddenly came through the loudspeaker.
"Just a quick interesting fact for you all, but far over to our left
is Air Force One, the President is returning from his visit to England.
Also, we will be landing shortly."
"Hey, wow! I wonder if we'll see him at all while we're here," said
Ally like an excited child.
"I have a cousin in the White House," Elaine offered eagerly.
The Cage and Fish lawyers turned to look at her.
"You do? Who?" asked Ling, her condescending tone not quite hiding her
"Her name's Donna, Donnatella Moss. She's the Assistant to the Deputy
Chief of Staff, Josh Lyman."
"Wow, Elaine, I can't believe you didn't tell us!" Ally said in
"Yeah, I mean, you're not one to keep your mouth shut..."
"Richard! Jerk," she defended her secretary with a swat to his
"She's the one I'm staying with...She's gonna try and get Josh to
come and visit her at work. I would get to meet some of the senior
staff and maybe even see the President!" she went on, ignoring Richard
and happy to be in the spotlight.
A stewardess came into their section to tell them to fasten their
seatbelts. A few angry glares from his companions kept a reluctant
Richard in his seat, for once.
* * * * * * * * * * *
"Mr. President," muttered White House Communications Director Toby
Ziegler. "I don't know how many species of fish OR dolphins OR
anything else live in that ocean. Nor, for that matter, do I care.
Could we please drop it?"
"Ah, Toby. I'm sensing some hostility here. A little bitter, perhaps,
because I've finally stumped you?"
"Well, you could take into consideration that I'm suffering from jet
lag, and being forced to stay awake on the plane because I just happen
to be sitting with a master of inane trivia who also happens to be the
President of The United States," Toby said tiredly, in a low voice.
"Toby, Toby, Toby. You're a wise man. The lack of geographic
knowledge in my senior staff distresses me, though. Do any of you even
know what ocean we just flew over?" asked the President.
"The Atlantic, Sir," said Deputy White House Communications Director
Sam Seaborn quietly.
"I sincerely hope you knew that, Sam, and weren't just making a lucky
guess. Now, who can name the other three?"
"Pacific, Indian, and Arctic, sir," Toby replied.
"There are nights when I dream about him no longer being in office, you
know that, Sam?" Toby grumbled under his breath.
"What was that, Toby?" asked President Bartlett.
"That's what I thought. Now, which one of you wants to restore my
faith in humanity by naming the islands off of Maryland and Virginia
famous for wild ponies left there by a the wreck of a Spanish galleon?"
asked the President, moving back into his normal, more challenging
territory. There was silence from Toby and Sam, but a small laugh came
from Press Secretary CJ Cregg.
"You mean neither of you trivia buffs knows this?" she asked.
"And you do?" challenged Toby skeptically.
"Yes, as a matter of fact, Chincoteague and Assateague. Assateague is
the island on which the ponies actually live, now, and Chincoteague is
inhabited by humans."
"Ah, thank you, CJ. I'm feeling much better now. You don't happen to
know the number of fish species in the ocean, do you?"
"No, I'm sorry, sir," said CJ in mock dejection.
"Damn. Ah, well, that's all right. And her horse trivia is nothing to
sneeze at, gentlemen," he warned Toby and Sam who had begun to snicker
when CJ had had to admit to not knowing something.
"How'd you know that, anyway?" Sam asked CJ grudgingly.
"I read all of Marguerite Henry's books when I was little," gloated CJ.
Charlie Young, the President's body man, walked over to his boss.
"Sir, I'm to remind you all to fasten your seatbelts now,"
"Thank you, Charlie. Oh, Charlie?"
"Make sure to put yours on."
* * * * * * * * * * *
"Is he ok?" Elaine whispered as the Cage and Fish crew stood in line
for the guided tour of the White House that Richard had insisted they
go on. She was staring, as the others were, at Richard. He was
staring at the White House. His eyes were glazed over, his mouth was
hanging open, and the look of excitement on his face was greater even
than the one he got looking at his stock portfolio. None of them had
ever seen him like this before. But what really had them worried was
that he hadn't uttered a word in ten minutes.
"I'm troubled by this. Richard? Are you ok? Can you hear me?
Richard?" John performed smile therapy and took a moment
"I know what'll snap him out of it," said Ling determinedly. She went
over and whispered in his ear.
"Sex!" shouted Elaine triumphantly, garnering astonished looks from the
other tourists in line. "She said sex," explained Elaine
matter-of-factly. But Richard was unaffected.
"I don't understand! Nobody's ever heard me say...that word...without
reacting!" Ling complained.
Ally was not surprised, however. She went over and whispered in
Richard's ear as Ling had. This time, though, he whipped his head
around frantically in all directions. "Hey, Ally, you lied!," he cried
"What'd she say?" asked Nelle.
"She told him there was a twenty dollar bill on the ground," Elaine
"Richard, what the hell as that? Did you even hear me say sewhat I
"Anchovy? What are you talking about?" he inquired.
"Before! You were in...like, shock, or something. I whispered in your
ear. You just kept staring at the White House like you were possessed
"Rhubarb! It's..." Richard got a gleam in his eye which made the others
suddenly envision him standing in front of a rippling American flag
with a Sousa march playing in the background. "It's the ultimate
symbol of power! Possibly the most powerful building in the world! It
represents all the pillars of our society!"
John had become inspired by this speech and leapt up beside Richard in
front of the flag. "The pillars of virtue! Honesty! Liberty and
justice for all!" John shouted passionately. Suddenly Richard pushed
him away from the flag and the Sousa march screeched to a stop.
"No! I said the pillars of society! Power, sex, and, most of all,
"RICHARD!" they all chorused.
"What?" he asked indignantly. "Did I miss one?"
"Go on, Richard, the line's moving," Nelle said, shoving him forward
* * * * * * * * * * *
"Good morning, Josh. Want some coffee?" The White House Deputy Chief
of Staff stopped in his tracks next to his assistant. "What?" he
asked, his mind filling with dread.
"Josh! I brought you some coffee! I'm your loyal, faithful,
hardworking assistant! That's all!" his assistant Donna defended
"Well, let's review. You've worked for me since the campaign. And
you've brought me coffee...twice. The first time, I was this close to
being fired. The other time, I was hungover on the floor with women's
underwear around my neck and due at a meeting in half an hour. And
even then it was cold. So you tell me, Donnatella Moss, what was I
supposed to think?" He paused for a moment, thinking hard. "But,
seriously, what'd I do?"
"Nothing! Really! I just brought you coffee cuz you're such a great
guy and I'm glad to be your assistant!" Donna pleaded.
"No, Donna, whatever it is that you want, no!" Josh said, beginning to
catch on. Relieved that he hadn't done anything (yet), he continued
toward his office.
"Josh! I haven't even asked you yet! "
"No, no, no!" he sang out. "But you can ask me if you want, I could
always use the entertainment."
"Josh...I have this cousin, Elaine. We're really close, and she's in
Washington with the law firm she works for. And I kind of told her she
"Donna!" said Josh, clearly annoyed.
"Just for a day, Josh, please?" Donna begged.
"Come on, please? For me?"
"Donna, I can't just randomly let people in here! This is the White
House, not the YMCA!"
"Leo randomly lets people in for Crackpot Day," Donna pointed out.
"Yeah, well, it's not Crackpot Day, is it?"
Sam Seaborn stuck his head out of the Oval Office. "Hey, Josh, I know
by your standards you aren't late yet, but Leo's gonna brief us in
advance for tomorrow. Crackpot Day!"
Josh looked at Donna. "Did you know that was gonnanever mind. You
know what? Your cousin can come. As a matter of fact, tell her to
bring all her friends. Who gives a damn," Josh said, done in at last.
"Thank you, Josh! Thank you! She'll be so excited!" Donna threw her
arms around Josh's neck. Josh just looked down at the top of her head.
"I'll go now," she said embarrassedly.
"Bye," Josh said tiredly, looking mildly bewildered in the direction of
his assistant's retreating back.
* * * * * * * * * * *
"Guys! Great news!" said Elaine excitedly, putting her cell phone back
in her purse. "That was Donna. She said we can all go visit the White
House tomorrow! She called it something like Crackpots Day...said
something about Andrew Jackson and two tons of cheese...but whatever that
was about, we can go meet the senior staff tomorrow! Actually, I'll be
spending the day with Donna, but you each have an appointment with a
senior staff member. They're actually glad...Donna said they usually
have to meet with crazies who want to fight for UFO rights and
stuff...whatever cause they want...but they're looking forward to a break
"Oh, yeah, well, they won't get any of that crazy stuff from me,
Ally said rather too quickly.
"No, nor I," John spoke up.
"I just wanna know what it's like to run the country." Richard said,
getting the now familiar gleam in his eye.
"Sounds pointless to me," said Ling hastily.
"I'd rather go shopping," Nelle said uninterestedly.
"Well, come if you want. I'll be there all day," said Elaine sounding
* * * * * * * * * * *
"Donna, what the hell was that?" Josh asked his assistant when she met
him in the hall and tried to hand him a folder after the staff meeting.
"Josh..." she said timidly.
"Donna, you had to do that? And you had to do it in front of Sam?"
"Oh, so that's what it's about? You just have to be "cool" in
your guys? Swear to God, Josh, throw in some hair gel and a bookbag
and I'd swear this was a highschool, not the White House," Donna cried,
"Donna, it's not like that! It's just, well, Sam has certain ideas
about us...I'd just rather not encourage," Josh protested.
"So you're yelling at me because Sam Seaborn, relationship guru, has
some idiotic idea? Honestly, Josh, let's look at his relationship
record. He sleeps with Laurie. He manages to tell Mallory, his boss'
daughter about this, and then proceeds to date her. Now, all that is
bad enough. But on top of this, he tells Leo, his boss, about both of
these women, neither of whom, predictably enough Leo was too thrilled
to hear about. And you're worried about Sam's ideas."
"First of all, Laurie? That was the hooker, right?"
"Call girl, Josh! And she just had to get through law school. She
doesn't like her...night job! But let me get this straight, even after
you tried to make all those despicable bargains with her, you visited
her apartment to try and use her to fit your political agenda, and
you've thought of her all along as "the hooker"? Take this. You're
late for a meeting," Donna said bitterly, shoving the folder at him
and walking briskly away.
"Donna? Where did that come from? What'd I do?" He shook his head and
started walking. Then he realized something and stopped. He turned
and yelled after Donna's quickly disappearing back. "Donna? What
meeting do I have? Donna?" Her only response was a tilt of her head
that he knew meant she was snickering. "What the hell?" he wondered
quietly to himself.
* * * * * * * * * *
The next day, the lawyers of Cage and Fish awoke to blaring patriotic
music. Richard had burst into each hotel room with a portable CD
player playing a CD he had bought yesterday. The entire CD was of a
loud, brassy, slightly off-key band playing songs which were very
difficult to tell apart but all had the effect of making you want to
jump out of bed and fight for your country. Of course, the first
person you'd try and patriotically defend the nation against would
probably be the one playing the CD, but Richard was unfazed.
"Richard! What the hell? How did you get in here anyway?" shrieked
Nelle, who, along with Ling had been the first victim.
"I'm paying for the rooms, they gave me all the entry cards at the
desk," Richard explained, as if it was the most natural thing in the
"You aren't paying for the rooms, Richard. You're taking money out of
our paychecks and handing it to the man at the counter. That doesn't
constitute you paying," Nelle explained slowly.
"That's as close as I get to paying. Bygones," Richard shrugged.
"Richard, if you don't get out of here with that music, you'll find out
what paying really is!" Ling threatened over the "music".
"Tangelo! Zucchini bread!" he started to plead.
"Out, Richard!" shouted both women together. He finally got the hint
that he would be very lucky indeed to escape with his life and ducked
out. His next stop was the room that Ally and John were sharing. He
showed a little more respect here, knowing that Ally and John were
"together" and John was his best friend. A very little more respect,
that is; he knocked once, giving them just enough time to pull the
covers to their chins before Richard and his brass band entered
"Damn it, Richard! Have you no respect? Pokip-pokip-po-piccolo!
Leave!" John spat out.
"Ooh, so I take it you two were already awake, then," Richard replied
unaffected. "There wasn't a sock on the door," he said in response to
"Richard, I have some very sharp heels packed in my suitcase and if you
don't take your God Save America The Beautiful Star Spangled Banner and
get the hell out, I may be forced to act in a distinctly un-American
manner!" Ally threatened shrilly.
"Geez. Good morning to you too," Richard said sulkily as he retreated
quickly toward the door.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Elaine awoke in a slightly more pleasant manner...to the smell of hot,
strong coffee. She sat up on her cousin's sofa-bed and looked around.
Donna's roommate's cat was on the end of the bed, but the roommate was
not home from work yet. She had a midnight shift at a radio station,
so Donna rarely saw her in the mornings.
"Hey, sleepyhead," Donna affectionately greeted her cousin. "You
better come get some coffee and get dressed. We have to go in like,
half an hour." Donna was sitting at the kitchen table impeccably
dressed and holding the largest cup of black coffee that Elaine had
"Are you serious? Donna, it's 6:00!"
"I noticed. But when your boss is in his office for like, 18 hours a
day or more, you learn to exist on little sleep and lots of coffee.
Get dressed! Hurry up! Josh is already...more pissed at me than usual...if
I'm late he'll try to actually be mad at me," Donna said, glancing
nervously at her watch.
"Try?" asked Elaine, a bit confused.
"Yeah, organization is...not his thing...so if I'm not around constantly
remind him what he's doing, he's lost...he's excellent at what he does
meeting and stuff, but as far as actually getting to meetings? Or ever
getting there on time? He sucks. So he can never stay mad at me. But
I don't like it when he tries," said Donna pensively.
"So, Donna, explain to me why you're so interested in him? From what
you've told me about him, he sounds like a pissy guy who is completely
clueless and disorganized most of the time, he's completely dependent
on you...and he can't even hold his liquor. He's like a mean, spaced
out, often smelly little puppy! I don't get it," Elaine racked her
brain to think of anything solid about Josh that was good. But the
only good things her cousin had told her were abstractions like "He's
great". Elaine was really beginning to wonder about this guy.
"Elaine! He's not like that...except about the liquor...and the being
dependent...and sometimes he's pretty clueless...but he doesn't smell! At
least, he doesn't smell when he's had time to go home and shower
instead of staying overnight at the office or going to a party! And
he's not always pissy, he can be really sweet," Donna said, remembering
the inscription in the book he had given her for Christmas. She was
determined to defend her boss and object of her affection. "He's
great! You just have to meet him. At least after this you can't try
and steal him," Donna said angrily to her cousin. She remembered what
Elaine had been like in highschool and had been a little nervous about
what Elaine would do around Josh. "Now get dressed. We have to go."
"Donna, I'm sorry! I didn't know just how strongly you felt...he
be that bad if you like him so much," Elaine offered penitently. She
could tell that it had been a mistake to criticize Josh so harshly even
though everything Donna had told her supported it.
"Elaine, I don't just like him. I think I'm in love," Donna quietly
For once Elaine had nothing to say. She and her cousin sat thinking in
silence for a moment, but were interrupted by the insistent ring of the
phone. Donna let the answering machine pick up in case it was a call
for her roommate. Suddenly the women were forced to cover their ears
as a deafening blast of patriotic...noise...issued from the machine. "This
is for me!" Elaine grimly shouted to Donna. She ran to grab the phone
and shouted one word into it before violently hanging up. "RICHARD!"
* * * * * * * * * * *
Josh hurried through the hall toward his office. He had had an early
meeting and now needed his schedule before going to the senior staff
meeting. He walked past Donna's desk and the words, "Hey, Donna, what
do I have today?" were half out of his mouth when he stopped and looked
around. "Donna!" he bellowed. "Donna? Where are you? Why are you not
here? What the-"
"Here, Josh! I'm here! I'm sorry! We...we had a thing, and her
boss...the other people on my floor nearly had us arrested for noise
pollution...and by the time we got out, the traffic was hell...this is my
cousin Elaine...don't you have senior staff...you do, Joshua, go!" Donna
said hurriedly as she ran in out of breath with Elaine in tow.
"Um...what?" A somewhat astonished and confused Josh shook his head and
blinked sleepily at his assistant. "Donna...why...I know that it's late
for the time that you come in, but it really is early in the morning
right now, why are you on fast forward?"
"Donna, is he...has he been drinking? You did say he had a sensitive
"I have not been drinking! And my system is not that sensitive!
Donna, why do you tell people these things? Who is this? Who are you?"
he said, addressing first Elaine, then Donna, and then Elaine once
"Shh, Josh, stop. It's ok. I'll slow it down," said Donna gently.
"This is my cousin Elaine. Remember, you told me I could bring her
today?" He nodded weakly. "Well, her boss is like you in that neither
of you cares about the fact that your staff might have personal lives-"
"Joshua," she responded sweetly, "and he called her this morning at my
place. He was playing some ungodly patriotic racket over my answering
machine, about seventy decibels too loud, and the neighborswhen we
opened the door, there was sort of an...angry mob outside-"
"I wouldn't have been surprised to see pitchforks," Elaine cut in
"Not now, Elaine, you'll confuse him. Best to talk simply in the
mornings," Donna cautioned her cousin. "Anyway, by the time we got
out, there was a ton of traffic. We were late, and so I was late in
giving you your morning reminder that-" she was interrupted once more
by a ringing phone. She lifted the receiver and held it out at arm's
length. The three of them heard the angry bellows of White House Chief
of Staff Leo McGarry.
"Damn," sighed Josh.
"He's on his way," Donna shouted toward the phone. She quickly hung it
up. "Anyway, I was late in reminding you that you're late to your
senior staff meeting. You need your crackpot assignment."
"Donna," he started, sounding annoyed.
"No. Oh, no. Don't even try to blame me. I told you within thirty
seconds of walking through that door. You could have been...well, not on
time, but on "you time". But you made me stop and explain everything
over. And now you're just plain late."
"But Donna, you-" he began to lecture.
"GO!" she yelled at him.
He remembered why he was yelling at her and took off at a jog for the
Josh timidly opened the door to the Roosevelt room where the meeting
was being held.
"Well, Josh, glad you decided to join us," Leo said dryly.
Josh winced. "I-Donna's cousin's boss created an angry mob with pitch
forks...they made me late, I think...I'm really not sure, though...oh, just
yell at me now," he said, finally giving up and dropping into a seat.
"Oh, you really don't think you're gonna get off that easily, do you?"
Leo said, beginning to smirk.
"Well, I figured it couldn't hurt to try...I'm almost afraid to ask,
do I get?"
"Richard Fish," spoke up Sam Seaborn, grinning.
"Huh? Is that, like, some bacteria infested seafood restaurant?
You're sending me on the lunchbreak from hell?"
"No, although it is nearly lunchtime," Leo responded, pointedly looking
at his watch.
"Richard Fish is Donna's cousin's boss. I was against him in court
once, briefly. You know, I had never known that you could be thrown
out before your opening statement was done," Sam said reflectively.
"Oh, God, a real Crackpot," Josh moaned.
"Well, you have fun, Josh," Leo said chuckling. He handed Josh a
folder. "All right, you all have your assignments for the day, enjoy!"
* * * * * * * * * * *
"So that's Josh, huh?" Elaine had said to her cousin as they watched
him run off to the meeting.
"Yeah. That's him. Not him at his best, but that's him. That's him
after about four hours of sleep and two hours here without me. He'll
be better later. But when he's at his 'norm', he's great. You'll
see," promised Donna, grinning.
"Well, I can see why you might like him," said Elaine, appreciatively.
"But I promise, hands off."
"There are enough guys in the White House for you to have fun with,
anyway. I'm sure you'll meet plenty." Donna began looking through a
pile of papers on her desk. "Well, let's see...depending on how long
Josh's thing is, we'll either sit here for a little while and wait, go
see some of the others, drink coffee...we'll see. I've got a bunch of
stuff to do."
*Wow, sounds like she does work here! * Elaine thought. *This could
get boring. *
"Hey, Donna? What do you do for fun around here?"
"Well...I sit in Josh's office and watch for him through the window...that
probably wouldn't be much fun for you, would it. Let's see...I seem to
recall you enjoying gossip-"
"Ooh, sit down and start talking!" Elaine said, suddenly very excited.
"Ok. Let's see...ok. Well, the closest we really have to
CJ and Danny, and then there's Sam and Mallory. CJ is the press
secretary and Danny Concannon is a reporter. That's been a fairly
touchy thing. It's been mostly him going after her, but you can tell
she's got it bad for him, too. He is really a sweet guy...he gave her a
fish," Donna giggled.
"A fish?" Elaine asked wonderingly.
"Well, Josh told Danny that CJ likes goldfish. Danny thought he meant
actual goldfish. Josh meant the little party crackers. But there you
go. And now she has a fish. Named Gail."
"I like this guy," said Elaine with interest.
"Yeah, and he's nice to all the staff, too...me and the girls, Charlie,
everyone. He's not the type to look down his nose, you know?"
"Yeah. We have a few who do...course, from where their heads are the
view down their nose has got to be pretty dark," said Elaine, making a
face. "But mostly it's a great place."
"Yeah, same here. There's always a few, though...anyway. Sam and
Mallory," Donna said, deftly changing the subject. "Sam had an
interesting year, to say the least."
"I like interesting." Elaine leaned forward attentively.
"Well. Way back before Christmas, he slept with this woman Laurie who
he met in a bar. Their pagers got switched the next morning. As a
result of this he found out that she was a call girl, trying to put
herself through law school. So later that day, he got a call from
Leo's wife (Leo was his boss who was on the phone bellowing when we
came in) asking (or telling) him to give Leo's daughter's 4th grade
class a tour and a brief history of the White House. He knows nothing
about this so he sort of...ad libbed. The teacher noticed and pulled him
out to find out why this idiot was lying to her class. He told her his
whole story about what a day he'd had, mainly with Laurie, in an
attempt to win her sympathy. And it turned out that the teacher was
none other than Leo's daughter Mallory."
"Leo's daughter's fourth grade class..." Elaine said, realizing.
"That's what he said, only I don't think he was smiling. So anyway,
despite the charmless first impression, they're together. Sort of.
Except he is still also sort of seeing Laurie. The good news is she
graduated and hopefully can get a better job soon. The bad news...a
tabloid got a picture of them hugging on her graduation night. We
shall see. And Leo was not thrilled about Sam dating Mal, either, he
pulled all kinds of tricks to keep them apart. I guess that's really
about it, other than Zoey Bartlett and Charlie, the President's body
man. They are doing ok, but there is some hate mail because he's
black. Hopefully that'll be ok. Plus of course the President and
Elaine was almost jealous of all the things going on, but she thought
of her friends at work and smiled. "Hey, Donna...I need to use the
unisex," she said.
"Oh...that's what we call our bathroom..."
"Over there...but I want to hear about that when you get back," Donna
said with a laugh.
* * * * * * * * * * *
While Elaine and Donna were chatting away, the lawyers were making
their way to the White House. Richard, as it had turned out, also had
a cousin in Washington who worked at the White House. At leastin
"Richard? A minivan?" Nelle looked at her boss like he was crazy. *No.
Wait. He IS crazy,* she thought. Well, she gave him a look.
"Yeah. I have a White House cousin too, you know...White House
Rent-A-Car," he proudly explained.
"So...a minivan?" John asked delicately.
"Yeah...he said this one isn't in much demand. So we got it free. Free,
ergo good. Latin Fishism," he remarked.
"I'm shocked," muttered Ling.
"Besides, Washington is even busier than Boston, we couldn't let Ally
just walk! She could get hurt. Or she could hurt someone. Don't take
this the wrong way, Ally...if you want to get hurt that's one thing but I
really don't want you hurting anyone here. The people in this city are
powerful. They'd win if they sued. They're real lawyers. Bygones."
"I'm touched, Richard. Do me a favor, okay?" Ally replied sweetly,
pursing her lips.
"Sure, what's that, Ally?" asked Richard.
"Die," Ally said as she clambered into the backseat of the van.
* * * * * * * * * * *
"You know, Leo, Lillienfield's still trying to screw us over," Josh
told his boss in an ominous tone. For the last half hour, he had been
trying to convince Leo that he was far too busy to take the meeting
with Richard, much to the amusement of his fellow senior staff members.
"Well, Josh, I'm glad he's a...how did you all put it again? Oh,
right. He's 'a hairdo'. A 'featherweight'," Leo said wryly.
Josh, you absolutely are not gonna get out of this meeting." He looked
around at the weary faces of his senior staff. "Guys. They're
tourists! Cheer up, all you gotta do is smile, give 'em the pen,
they'll look around and ooh and ahh and go home. Anyway, they should
be here soon, I've got work to do. Be nice, guys." And with that, Leo
walked out, leaving the senior staff to their fate.
"Well, this should be...interesting," said Sam optimistically.
"Yeah, Crackpot days are nothing if not interesting," laughed CJ. "But
honestly...40 million dollars for a wolves only roadway..." the others
grinned recalling CJ's last "Crackpot".
Just then they heard something in the hallway outside.
"Richard! Snap out of-oof! Er...heh heh...sorry about that...Richard! What
are you-" Muffled crashes and thuds could be heard and then there was
a knock at the door.
"Your Crac-I mean, the people you're meeting with are here,"
voice came through the door to the now very nervous senior staff.
"Send them in, Margaret," Toby said resignedly. The door opened and
five somewhat sore and windblown looking lawyers were shown in by a
red-headed secretary fighting to hold back a smirk.
"Leo said to have fun, guys," she said to the senior staff before
The groups just looked at each other for a moment before Ally began
speaking bashfully. "Uhhi...I'm Ally McBeanBeadleBeal. Ally
she stuttered. "Um, we sort of had a little trouble getting
here...the...uh...minivan (she said this with contempt) wouldn't...steer
well as one might wish, so we had a...a bumpy ride...and the windows got
stuck open...but, uh, we're here, so...um...how does this work?" she
"Well, we've each been assigned one of you, and we'll split up and
then you get to talk to us about...whatever you want, really," explained
"Who's Ling? Sam asked good-naturedly.
"That's me...that was a hard 'L'," she complained to the other
"A what?" Sam inquired curiously.
"A hard 'L'! In my name! Soft 'L' and soft 'G'!"
she told him
"Oh. My bad," he said, raising an eyebrow. "Well, we're over
he was cut off by a low threatening noise from Ling which was all too
familiar to the visitors but totally unknown to the senior staff.
Sam glanced desperately at his coworkers. "Did she just-" he
started quietly. CJ nodded, laughing to herself. Sam hurried
nervously after his charge.
"Well, Ally, you'll be with me," CJ said, checking her assignment.
Ally smiled as she followed the taller woman out the door.
"Nelle? We'll be in here. I don't have an office in this building,
but why don't I show you around a little first," Mandy said
"Whatever," Nelle shrugged, and the two women left.
"Which one of you is John?" asked Toby gruffly, looking in his folder.
"Pokip-pokip-politician...uh...I am," John said quietly.
"Okay, come on then, my office is that way," Toby said, stary\ting out
the door with John trailing after.
"Well, then, you must be Richard..." Josh said in despair. As the other
associates had left one by one, John was able to get the full picture
of Richard Fish. Richard had gotten "dressed up" for the occasion. He
wore a bright red suit with blue stars all over it. His shirt was
white with gold buttons, and his tie was adorned with sparkling gold
dollar signs. His shoes were blindingly shiny patent leather. But the
crowning effect was the towering black stovepipe hat, another gift shop
bargain, which he now balanced on the top of his head with a flourish.
"Okay. Hi, how ya doin?" Josh asked weakly as he rose and began to
lead Richard out of theroom. As the pair neared Josh's office they
passed Donna and Elaine. Elaine stopped Richard to comment on his
outfit. Josh pulled Donna aside. "Donna," he said earnestly. "Never,
never, never let me be late to a meeting EVER again. And remind me to
kill you slowly and painfully when this is over."
"Josh, you can't kill me," Donna smirked.
"And why is that, now? You got me into this," he gestured to Richard,
"So I think it's only fair."
"Well, you can kill me, but then you'll be really late to our meetings,
so I don't know if you wanna do that," Donna explained.
"Unfortunately, you have a point. Hey, I'll love you foreverif you can
rescue me soon. You know, start a war, plant a bomb in the building..."
"I'll see what I can do, Josh," she smiled.
"Thanks. Look, seriously, if you don't see me for a few hours, send a
"Damn. Here he comes. Bye Donna," he sighed.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Sam had his assistant Cathy similar instructions to those which Josh
had given Donna. He reluctantly entered his office, where Ling was
At his desk. In his chair.
"Um...Miss Woo?" he said timidly. He had decided to stay away from
pronouncing her first name.
"What?" she snapped.
"Uh...I just thought, you know, maybe I'd sit at my desk and you..."
faltered and swallowed hard, seeing her glare. "These chairs out here
are really quite comfortable...."
"Well, sit down then. I like this one better. That color bothers me.
It's too dark. And I don't like those wooden arms."
To his surprise and dismay, Sam followed her commands. "Okay, then,
Miss Woo...well, anything in particular you want to talk about or shall
we just...sit?" Sam asked awkwardly.
"Why did Elaine say this was "Crackpot Day" when she got off the phone
with that other secretary yesterday?" she immediately demanded.
Sam winced inwardly. "Because...ah...normally on these days...we try to do
it the first of every month...well, not really, but when we do it that's
when it happens...we, uh...the people who come in represent...less
conventional causes. Nothing like you ma'am-" Sam bit his tongue once
what he had just said caught up with him, but it was too late.
"MA'AM? Do I look like a 'ma'am' to you? You're really
least before it was Miss Woo...call me Ling, that's my name. But say it
right. Soft 'L', soft 'G'. Ling," she demonstrated. He barely had
time to nod before she went on. "And what's wrong with 'less
conventional causes'? I run an organization called 'Just Looking
Down'...it's about as unconventional as it gets, it was inspired by Ally,
after all...we provide inspirational messages via blimp, at no charge.
We're just now getting into billboards. And we're trying to put out a
line of kites. And I do have money but this all doesn't just come out
of thin air. And when Elaine had told me about these open meetings, I
thought I could see about getting some support. But a Crackpot I am
not!" she ranted, rising and beginning to yell at Sam over his desk.
Sam cowered back into his chair, but he was surprised and intrigued by
the sweet idea behind her intimidating show.
"Uhclearly, no," he agreed, not wishing to anger her further. What,
uh...what do you do with the money from the kites?"
"Why do you care?" she asked defensively.
"Well, I- if we're going to look into a grant, we'll need to know," he
"We donate it to cancer research, ok? Satisfied? I need water." And
with that she stalked off in search of a vending machine. Sam dropped
his head back, still in shock. Suddenly he heard a voice. His head
"And one more think. The Lakers bug me," she said, narrowing her eyes
at the Lakers T-shirt on his wall. She swept out once more.
"Ok, wow...wow," he repeated, quietly, shaking his head in confusion.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Ally looked around CJ's office curiously. "Wow, so...the heart of the
White House. Prettyuh, pretty important stuff, here, then, huh?" Ally
stammered, a bit tongue tied.
"Yeah, this is it. Spacious, isn't it?" CJ said sarcastically, but
Ally smiled. "Well...it's not that bad...but hey. You have...a
said, her gaze falling on a small fishbowl on CJ's desk.
"This is Gail," Ally laughed. I got her...it's a long story. But yes.
I have a fish. And the TV. And this mess," she said, indicating the
piles of peperwork on her desk. "And really, what more does a girl
need?" The two women shared a grin; the ice was broken.
"So, um...Elaine said something about you guys looking into 'different'
causes...I know you weren't really expecting it today, but...well, I know
this is gonna sound odd, but...well first of all, is it ok with you if I
throw something out there? 'Cause it's not that important, I guess,"
Ally said timidly, trying to find the confidence to share her concerns.
"Oh, by all means...look, the people we usually get come in here thinking
that their cause is the most blatant, horrible problem in the world and
not at all out of the ordinary. Honestly, it's not the causes we mind,
it's just the attitudes of some of these people...go ahead," CJ said
"Okay. Well...I guess to understand this, you have to know a little bit
about me," Ally began, smiling a little. "I'm not...normal. I see
things, hear things...my biological clock sometimes manifests itself as a
little dancing baby...it throws spears at me, for God's sake,
went on, a little embarrassed at her outburst, "So I started seeing a
psychiatrist. And she went awayoh, not because of me!" Ally explained
hastily, seeing the startled expression that CJ was trying to hide.
"She had a...thing...anyway, I saw her nephew that week. And
he...suggested...I try Prozac," she said, with more emotion than she
realized, remembering what it had been like. "I--Ithe visions went
away. But so did Allyson McVeal-er...McBeal. Suddenly I was...normal,"
she said, unconsciously lowering her voice to a whisper at the last
detestable word. "It was- I can't describe what it felt like-have you
ever had laughing gas?" Ally asked suddenly.
"Yes, a few months ago when I had to have emergency root canal. Why?"
CJ asked, wrinkling her forehead in confusion.
"That's sort of what it felt like. Like- like you're sort of floating,
and it's comfortable and kind of dim, and you know in your head
everything that's happening and maybe you don't like it but you don't
want to do anything about it because it's so comfortable-" Ally cut
herself off, stemming the wild tumble of words that she realized
couldn't come close to describing her experience with the drug. "But
my friends helped me see what was happening. But I don't know what
would've happened to me if they hadn't. And I know that not everyone
who's on Prozac, or is gonna be on Prozac, has friends like mine. And
I know that nobody should have themselves taken away...this medicine is
just given to people who are outside the mold, and if that keeps up
we're gonna have a world full of...normal. Something has to be done
about it. Maybe on a national level. And I thought you might be able
to help. I don't know what it would be. But...something." Ally finished
her plea with more conviction than any court closing.
CJ, who at first had been amused, had seen a light in Ally's eyes when
she had mentioned her visions. And she had seen the light flicker out
momentarily when Ally thought of her experience with the drug.
"Well...well, yes, I'll...bring it up. I I didn't
"That's the problem. Nobody does. Except the people taking the drugs.
And by that time most of them don't care."
"Wow. Umso..." CJ cast about for something to say, anything, but she
was literally struck dumb. To break the silence, she blurted out the
first thing that came to mind. "So, wanna meet the guy who gave me the
* * * * * * * * * * *
John, meanwhile, was not as successful. He was scrunched down in a
chair staring nervously up at Toby, who was perched on the edge of his
"So, you're here, welcome to Washington and the White House, yada yada,
I'm Toby Ziegler, White House Communications Director. Today is what
we call a Crackpot Dat, and you, sir, would be the Crackpot. Now,
since my boss Leo McGarry has decided that my time is better spent
meeting with you than, oh, say, meeting with a few members of Congress
to try and pass a gun bill or making some phone calls to work on
improving the public school system, why don't you tell me what you'd
like to do this afternoon so we can get on with the fun."
John swallowed hard and a slight whistle escaped his nose.
"Pokip-pokip-pokip-ribbit," he whispered. "Um. Frogs. Sir."
"Frogs." Toby looked at him. Now, that might not sound all that bad.
But being that it was gruff, powerful Toby Ziegler doing the looking,
and sweet, gentle John Cage being looked down at, it had some effect
John fainted and slid the rest of the way out of his chair with a thud.
"What the- Bonnie, Ginger, get in here!" Toby shouted, a bit startled.
His assistants came running into his office.
"Toby, what'd you do to him?" Bonnie asked reproachfully.
"You killed the Crackpot, Toby!" Ginger shouted in alarm. Leo heard
the commotion and rapidly made his way over to Toby's office.
"Toby, what the hell- oh, for God's sake, Toby! What happened?"
Toby just stared down at John, and up at his two angry assistants and
his irate boss who were surrounding him. "I-I don't know, he said
something about frogs..."
Leo turned to Bonnie and Ginger. "Will you please get the man some
water?" he snapped. They hurried out of the office. "Toby. I told
you all to be nice. I don't like to kill the Crackpots." Leo gave
Toby a parting glare and left the office.
"Mr. Cage? Mr. Cage, wake up. Mr. Cage- oh, good. Are you feeling
all right, Mr. Cage?" John had blinked groggily and started to sit up.
Just then, Ginger returned with a pitcher of ice water. Bursting into
the office, she threw the water over John. Quite a bit landed on Toby,
as well, and as the two men begin to splutter, Ginger's face turned
"Ginger. What. Was. That." Toby growled.
"I thought it would wake him up...they do it in movies," she said weakly.
"Yes, and they also push people off of tall buildings in movies,
Ginger, would you like to see if that works?" he asked sarcastically.
"No," she squeaked.
"You know, Ginger, when you came running in here to save the day, Mr.
Cage was already awake. Thanks to you, he is now wet, cold, and awake.
As am I," Toby pointed out slowly and deliberately.
"I guess I didn't look," she faltered.
"Get out!" bellowed Toby. Ginger did so, quickly.
"Now, Mr. Cage. I'm very sorry about my...incompetent assistant, is
there anything I can do for you?"
"I don't know, she seemed like a very nice woman to me, just a
bit...eager, perhaps." John had seen the look on Ginger's face, and the
look on Toby's face, and feared that things would not go well with her
for some time.
"Well, whatever you want to call it. Take a seat, please," Toby
grumbled. John did so.
"Thank you. Now, as I started to say, er...earlier...I'd like to talk to
you about frogs. The world is one big froggy death trap. I learned
this, unfortunately, from experience...if you would be so kind as to join
me in taking a moment in remembrance of my poor dead Stefan," and John
took a moment, motioning to Toby to do the same. Toby awkwardly
followed suit, with a cynical, puzzled expression on his face.
"Thank you. Now, allow me to tell you about the last week or so of
Stefan's life," continued John.
"Stefan was a-a frog, Mr. Cage?" Toby asked skeptically.
"Yes, a White's Tree Frog," John responded with just a touch of
haughtiness. "Anyway, poor Stefan was whacked with a folder, flushed
down a toilet, swam back up again only to be flung into a stall door
and rendered unconscious. When he unexpectedly came to, he was sent
flying out onto a window ledge by yet another whack from a folder. We
got him back in and went out for a celebratory dinner where my
co-worker accidentally asked that he be cooked instead of fed. These
are the kinds of things that can happen to today's frog."
"Really. And what do you plan to do about that, Mr. Cage?" Toby asked
"Well, I've prepared a list." John took out and unfolded a sizable
piece of paper. "Item one," he read. "Frog filtration and/or a slower
flush in toilets. This would either stop the toilet from flushing if
movement was detected in the bowl or at least allow the frogs to fight
the current. The toilet flushes today...why, it'd be like you or me
trying to swim up Niagara falls! But with a slower flush, anything
that was trying not to be flushed could stay above water, while
anything that...er...wasn't trying...would go down. Pokip-pokip-fresh
John explained, with a slight stutter at the end.
"I see. Mr. Cage, I have an idea. Why don't you give me your list and
I'll...I'll see what we can do. But right now, we're both dripping. I
can call you a cab back to your hotel to get changed if you like, or"
"I have a spare suit in my briefcase," John cut in. 'I like to be
prepared. If you could just point me to the unis-er, men's room..."
"Ok, it's just down the hall to your left...if you're sure you
to go back to your hotel and change..."
A broad smile spread over John's face. "No, I have to stay. I
promised my co-workers that I'd be the one to drive the minivan
back...I'll just go change now. "Well then. You go right ahead and do
that. I'll be right here," Toby sighed.
* * * * * * * * * * *
"So, that was the West Wing, what'd you think?" Mandy Hampton asked
Nelle as the two women walked back into the Roosevelt room. They wore
similar stiff, bored expressions on their faces.
"It was nice enough, I guess." Nelle dropped tiredly into a chair.
Mandy did the same.
"Usually people are a little more...impressed by the West Wing," Mandy
"I don't know...there were just so many little people...that doesn't
impress me. Granted, there were a lot of them, but...they're kind of
pathetic. I mean, look at that...Danielle one, fawning over Josh-"
"You mean Donna?" Mandy interrupted.
"Whatever. All she did was look at her watch and stare at Josh's door.
That's not even a job, she's paid to be a puppy dog!"
"The only reason she looks so nervous is because Josh is trapped in
there with your lunatic boss! Donna does a lot, she's vital to Josh
and therefore to this administration!" Mandy retorted hotly. She was
usually indifferent towards the staffers but didn't like Nelle's lack
of admiration and respect for the White House. "Now, if you want to
talk about someone who gets paid to do nothing, how about that
secretary from your office who's here? What was she talking about,
'All this paperwork is so boring, what do you do all day?'...what does
she do all day?"
"Elaine keeps track of all of the comings and goings in the office, and
all of the...important events in the firm! She does a huge job. You've
never even seen her in action, so don't talk about her like that!"
Nelle said angrily to Mandy before she had a chance to realize what she
was saying. She would never be so nice to Elaine in person but she
didn't like Mandy's D.C. arrogance. "This is stupid. You know what?
I'm going to go find someone who's not a pissy nose-in-the-air
"Good, go, you hypocritical ice-for-brains bitch!" shouted Mandy.
"I will!" Nelle stalked towards the door and turned the knob. Or
rather, she tried to turn the knob.
"Oh, God, don't even tell me the door is stuck," Nelle said in
"Well bang on it, then. This is the White House. Someone will hear
it," Mandy said hopefully.
Nelle savagely attacked the door, but to no avail. She sank
discouragedly into a chair.
"Well, I guess we're stuck. Someone will want to come in here sooner
or later," Mandy sighed.
"They'd better. I'm hungry." After a pause, Nelle continued
ominously, "You know, I'm distantly related to the Donners."
"You mean the ones who got stuck in a snowstorm on their way to Oregon
and...ate each other?" Mandy asked, trying to sound skeptical.
Mandy edged away a fraction of an inch.
"Kidding," said Nelle, straightfaced.
Mandy buried her head in her hands. * And to think, she's the most
normal one in the bunch * Mandy thought in despair.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Margaret knocked on Leo's door and walked into his office. He was on
the phone and rifling through a folders on his desk. Margaret stood in
front of him, waiting. After a moment Leo glanced up at Margaret, then
looked back down at his papers. Suddenly his eyes shot back up to
Margaret's face. "Margaret, what the hell...Jim, I'll have to call you
back, my assistant's turned into Hannibal Lechter. No, no, that was
Norman Bates. Hannibal Lechter's the one with the face..." he looked up
at Margaret again " "...thing. Yeah, yeah...ok. I'll talk to you
Bye." He hung up the phone. "Margaret, what the hell is this? What
is that..." Leo searched for words, but again he could only find one
"...that thing? Where did it come from?"
"It's the face bra. Donna's cousin Elaine invented it. Why, did you
want one?" Margaret asked her boss, holding out an order form.
"No I didn't want one! What do you need?"
"The President wanted to see you," she said apologetically.
"Oh...all right. Just take that ridiculous thing off your face, would
"Fine, but if I don't have a firm, young looking face a few years from
"If you don't take that thing off your face you'll be unemployed a few
* minutes * from now," Leo said through clenched
"Ok," Margaret said, hastily ducking out of the office.
Leo walked into the Oval Office, shaking his head. The President
"Hi sir. What's up?"
"Ah, nothing much. Something about mango trade in some country whose
name is bigger than it is...how're things, Leo?" the President said,
relaxing in his chair.
"It's going well, a relatively uneventful day. Margaret had some
absurd contraption on her head just now...something Donna's cousin
invented-the cousin who's here with our guests-"
"Our guests, Mr. President," Leo said good naturedly. "Anyways, this
thing looked like it was straight out of Silence of the Lambs. She
called it a-"
"A Face Bra?" the President inquired.
"As a matter of fact, yes, Mr. President, you've heard of it?" Leo
"I saw the infomercial when I was sick...let me tell you, it was better
than half the crap on daytime TV. And you say Donna's cousin invented
"Well yes, sir, why?"
"Hey, screw the mangoes, you know what we're doing today?"
"No, Mr. President, what are we doing?" Leo asked obediently.
"We are going to have a little get together in the residence in her
honor. And I am going to make some of my world famous chili.
"Sir, don't you think maybe some people might have other dinner plans?
Like ones that don't involve chronic indigestion?"
"Oh, well, Leo, I can see where a lot of people would be annoyed at
getting a dinner invitation from the President of the United States of
America," the President said, feigning anger. "So go out and spread
the happy word. Everyone, whoever you want. The more the merrier.
I'll make a quadruple batch. And I'll see that you are given any
leftovers to take home, so you'll want to be thorough."
"Oh, I certainly will, Mr. President.," Leo said, heading out to find
his fellow unfortunates.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Josh was slumped in his chair, his hand over his eyes. Richard was
talking at a very fast pace aboutwell, Josh wasn't really sure what.
The only phrases he had caught were 'money', 'money',
the President', 'money', and * Wait. * Josh suddenly thought to
himself. * Did he say 'meet the President?' This nut wants to meet the
President? No way. Absolutely not. *
"Mr. Fish." Josh finally spoke up. "Mr. Fish, I don't know what you
were told about today. But I'm afraid you're not gonna be able to meet
the President. I showed you around the West Wing, you have my ear
regarding...well, pretty much whatever you want to talk about. And I
will send you home with a very nice White House pen. But that's all.
I can absolutely guarantee that you will not get a chance to meet the
President for any length of time, perhaps he'll pass you in the hall
but I doubt it. And that's the most you could hope for. I cannot
bring you to meet the President."
There was a quick knock at the door and Leo stuck his head in. "Great,
Josh, Mr. Fish, the President sent me to find everyone, he's making
chili in the Residence tonight in honor of our guests, everyone's
invited, for the love of God, bring anybody you want to, he says I get
the leftovers." With that, he left before Josh had a chance to
splutter a protest.
"Ok, Mr. Fish. New plan. The President will be having you and all of
your friends over to dinner tonight," Josh said, sighing in
exasperation and defeat.
"Well, now, hasn't your authority been undermined. Bygones," Richard
observed with a shrug.
*Please, God, let the chili kill him, * prayed Josh silently.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Donna and Elaine sat at Donna's desk, giggling over their coffee.
"Where do you come up with this stuff, Elaine? We are going to have to
let them out sometime, right?" Donna asked in hushed tones.
"Shh, shh, it's getting good," Elaine replied, drawing closer to a
small black box.
"I will not yell for help, I'm not a damsel in distress, I can take
care of myself!" came Nelle's voice through the speaker.
"Then get yourself out of here!" Mandy countered testily.
"When I do, I'm not taking you with me," Nelle shot back.
Donna and Elaine laughed again. Donna grinned guiltily at Elaine.
"You know, locking them in the Roosevelt Room together was a good
idea...how you managed to bug the White House I'll never know...but what if
someone finds out?"
"Oh, I'll take all my stuff down later. Andit just looks as if the
door stuck. Besides, Nelle needed a taste of her own medicine, and it
sounds like Mandy was just the right prescription."
"Same for Mandy. I'll bet neither of them has ever met another truly
"Bitch! I can't believe you just did that!" came Mandy's shrill yelp.
With a start, Donna and Elaine turned back to the speaker.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Mandy was perched on the edge of the table, her feet tucked up next to
her. "Oh, come on, what's the big deal? All I said was I think I saw
a mouse," Nelle said innocently.
"I'm...I'm Musophobic," Mandy mumbled.
"I'm afraid of mice, ok?" Mandy shouted.
"Oh, I knew that," Nelle smirked.
"What? Who told you?"
"You started sweating when that little girl with the mailroom assistant
started talking about getting Mickey Mouse's autograph next to the
President's. Even I don't hate kids that much, so I figured it had to
be a mouse thing."
"You...I can't believe you! If only I'd worn my heels today..."
started menacingly. Suddenly, they heard a scratching noise.
"What was that?" Mandy asked querulously.
"Right, like I'm gonna fall for the trick I justooh, there it is
again!" exclaimed Nelle, who had tried to maintain her composure and
coolness but as the scratching, scrabbling sound grew more persistent
she was forced to give it up. "Are there...could there be mice in here?"
"I don'tI'm not--, ok, ok, it's just a mouse, breathe, breathe,
ok, it'sit's right there! Aaaahhh!!!!!!" Both Mandy and Nelle began
to screech. Nelle clambered up onto the table.
Suddenly the door flew open and Leo burst in. "What? What? What's
going on? What's wrong? Why are you on the table? Who are you?" he
said frantically, addressing first Mandy, then both women, and finally
"There was a mouse, Leo, right there! Right here in the Roosevelt
Room! In the White House, Leo! Shouldn't we have...traps or chemicals
or something? Get an exterminator in here!" Mandy squealed.
"I'll get right on it," Leo said dryly. "And you," he said,
Nelle, "still haven't answered my question. Who are you?"
"Nelle Porter," she said, quickly descending from the table and
smoothing her skirt. "I'm here with Cage/Fish and Associates." She
stuck out a hand, business-like, and Leo took it.
"Oh, hello, Ms. Porter. I'm sorry I didn't recognize you, it's just
that you looked a little too..." Leo searched for a polite way to put it.
"Normal?" Nelle suggested. "I know. They're a bunch of freaks. But
I'm biding my time. I have a plan," she said, smiling mysteriously.
Leo nodded slowly. "Well, it's nice to meet you. I just came in to
tell you that the President is making chili for dinner tonight, and you
both will be in attendance."
"Leo! I thought you made him promise the last time-I'm not going,"
Mandy said obstinately.
"Oh, yes you are. I'm going," Leo said with a tone of finality.
"Besides, our guests haven't tasted the President's chili. So Mandy,
Ms. Porter, I'll see you both tonight in the Residence."
Nelle followed Leo protestingly out of the Roosevelt Room, with Mandy
right behind. "So you're just telling us where we'll be eating? And
what we'll be eating, and when and with whom? Look, I don't work here,
and I-" Nelle stopped short. She had been so busy ranting that she had
followed Leo straight into the Oval Office and was now standing in
front of the President of the United States of America, Josiah Bartlet.
"It's a nice carpet I've got in here, eh?" he said jovially. Nelle
looked down and saw that she was standing on a large Presidential seal.
"So, do me a favor, round up all your friends and tell them your
dinner plans. You can go back to your hotel and freshen up. We'll be
eating in the Residence around 7:00 tonight."
"Yes, Mr. President. Sir," said a dumbfounded Nelle. She slowly
turned and walked out.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Ally and CJ walked along the hall from the briefing room. "I still
can't believe he gave you a fish," Ally laughed.
"Yeah, well. He's not bad. A little overzealous at times, but he does
keep things interesting."
"I think you like him," Ally said teasingly.
"I, um....well, even if I did, any office romance is hard, but the Press
Secretary and a reporter? Talk about a conflict of interests. It'd
never work out."
"Sure it could. When two people are right for each other, it can
always work," Ally said faithfully. Something in her tone made CJ stop
and look at her.
"Well, maybe. I don't know. I mean, how do you know if you're right
"You just...you'll know."
"A sign from above," CJ said with a grin.
"Why not?" Ally shrugged happily.
CJ pushed open her office door. The two women walked in. And stared.
On her desk was a single red rose in a vase, with a card attached. In
the fishbowl, a small plastic bouquet rested on the pebbles while Gail
swam curiously around it.
CJ turned to Ally, who pointed impatiently at the card. "See what it
says," she urged.
CJ picked up the card and read.
"To the mother of my goldfish, you are both as beautiful as ever. But
you're a hell of a lot wittier and more charming.
Ally looked at CJ. CJ read the card again, and looked back up at
"No, Ally-no, this is not a sign from above!" CJ said, catching on to
what Ally was thinking.
"Yes. Yes, I want an explosion. And an earthquake. Then, and only
then, will I, CJ Cregg, White House Press Secretary, consent to
anything of a romantic nature with White House Reporter Danny
Both women jumped, quickly turning in the direction of the door. In
swarmed Cgae, Fish, and their many associates.
"This is a very nice fish, what species is she?" John asked curiously.
"This chair is ugly. Why are all the chairs here ugly?" Ling said
"Ally, we're eating here tonight. The President invited us for chili.
We're going back to the hotel now to get ready." Nelle repeated her
message robotically, still a bit in shock from her encounter with the
"Flowers. Have a boyfriend? Good sex?"
"RICHARD!" they all shouted.
"CJ, I'm sorry, I'll take my coworkers and leave. Your poor office, it
looks like an earthquake hit," Ally said pointedly. "Sorry they all
exploded in here like that."
CJ sat, defeated. "That's...ok. See you tonight, Ally."
As the lawyers left, CJ picked up her phone. "Danny?" she said. "CJ.
Hey, um...a bunch of us are eating in the Residence tonight, the
President's making chili...the President invited you already. Ok,
then...I'll see you there, I guess. Ok. Bye." CJ hung up the phone and
looked at her fish. "Well, I guess I'll be seeing your daddy tonight,"
she said. She leaned her head on her hands and sighed.
* * * * * * * * * * *
That night, Leo and the President sat in the Residence.
"I'm telling you, Mr. President, it's a bad idea. It looks awful-"
"Which is why we hired Mandy."
"Who, by the way, I found screaming on the table in the Roosevelt Room
with Nelle Porter because they think they saw a mouse."
"Everyone's allowed a few quirks, Leo. Take it easy. It's hard enough
to find love as it is. If CJ Cregg and Danny Concannon want to get
together, I say let them. And we 'll take care of it."
There was a timid knock. "Who's there?" the President shouted.
"Um, Ally McBeal, sir. And the rest of the firm. Sir."
"Come on in." The door opened and the lawyers ventured in. On their
heels were Donna, Elaine, and Danny. "Have a seat, everyone. The
chili is cooking." Everyone found seats. Elaine made her way over to
"Hi. I'm Elaine Vassal, Donna Moss' cousin. Look, um...CJ Cregg is
going to fund you tonight. And I just wanted to make sure you knew "
Just then CJ walked up to Danny.
"Danny Concannon, did you actually send me one red rose today, as well
as a bouquet of flowers for our fish and the sweetest note I've ever
Danny looked bewildered, until he saw Elaine standing behind CJ nodding
vigorously. "Why, yes- yes I did. Because I knew you'd love me for
it." CJ threw his arms around his neck. "What, no passionate kiss?"
Danny asked in his boyish way.
"That's funny. We'll see. Let's go sit," she said, leading him
to a very large armchair in the corner.
Leo and the President were still arguing. "Mr. President, it'd be one
of the stupidest possible things we could-"
"Leo, let it be. I trust CJ and I trust Danny. They can make
eachother happy. And the last thing we need around here is a lonely,
depressed Press Secretary, not to mention a reporter who's feeling
hostile to my Chief of Staff. Hey, you therewhich one are you?" He
gestured to Ally, who was walking by on her way over to where John was
sitting. She turned, a little startled.
"I'm Ally McBeal, sir, from Cage/Fish and Associates. I spent the day
with CJ Cregg, sir. I would curtsey, sir, but my skirt's too short.
The President chuckled. "Perfect. You can help us out here, then.
Did she by any chance introduce you to a reporter named Danny
"Um, yes, Mr. President," Ally said with a warm smile. She had seen
them off in the corner, talking.
"So you know about their relationship and the obstacles which may be
preventing them from pursuing them any further. Now, what do you think
about this whole thing?"
Ally was a little daunted, sensing a situation, but found the courage
to say "Well, um, sir...I think that love is a pretty special thing.
It's also pretty rare. I think...well, if anyone can find love, they
should pursue it." She turned instinctively to Leo. "And, well,
sir...they have a goldfish together. It just wouldn't be right to break
that up." Ally's words were flippant, but her tone-and her large brown
eyes- were serious.
Leo sighed. "Mr. President, Ms. McBeal, you're right. I guess it's
not the end of the world. I trust them too, sir." Leo hung his head
in thought. "I'd best go tell them the happy news, then, before they
start making out like a coupla teenagers over there."
"And be nice!" the President called after him.
Leo walked briskly over to the pair. "Excuse me, Danny...um, CJ, could I
steal you for a sec?" he said, blushing slightly at interrupting.
"Sure, Leo, what's up?" she asked, following him out of Danny's
"CJ, I just wanted to let you know that I, uh, I trust you, and so does
the President, and, uh, so...don't let your work get in the way of, you
know, you and..." Leo gestured towards Danny awkwardly.
CJ smiled. "Why, thank you, Leo. And we were all set to figure out a
way around you, too...but I'm glad we have your blessing." The expression
in CJs eyes was halfway between a sarcastic twinkle and a grateful
"Very funny," Leo said. "You'll talk to Mandy?"
"She'll yell," CJ warned.
"Let her yell, she doesn't run things, she just makes it all look
"Thanks, Leo," said CJ as he walked away. She went back to Danny,
sitting just a little closer than she had before.
On the other side of the room stood Sam with Leo's daughter Mallory.
"You know Mal, um...I never know what I'm gonna get from you at these
things. I mean, first you kiss me, then you hate me...any hints for
tonight?" he asked hopefully.
"Nope. Come on, let's go talk. Over there on the couch," she said
decisively, grinning at Sam's confusion.
Richard had made a beeline for the President as soon as he saw Leo walk
away. "Mr. President! Mr. President, hello, I'm Richard Fish. Oh,
Mr. President, you're my hero, it's such an honor, Mr. President! I
mean, with all of that power and...and money," Richard said reverently.
He jabbered on in the same vein for several minutes, and the President
watched in amusement. Finally, though, he began to worry about the
chili burning. While Richard continued his stream of adoration
obliviously, the President beckoned to Bonnie.
"Do you have a dollar bill on you?" he asked quietly.
She pulled one out of her pocket. "Here, sir," she said, handing it to
"Thanks, Bonnie...I'll pay you back, but I don't carry cash and I need
get this guy to calm down and go away."
"Don't worry about it, Mr. President."
The President took out a pen and scrawled his signature across the
bill. "Mr. Fish? Mr. Fish," he said, trying to break into Richard's
"Oh, yes, Mr. President?" Richard said eagerly.
"Mr. Fish, I'm giving you what is now one of the world's most valuable
dollar bills. I'd like you to go sit over there and wait for the
chili. And...one more thing. I'm going to have one of my staffers bring
you a list of charities. I can tell you're a man of means; I'm sure
you'll be generous."
"Oh, yes, sir!" Richard said enthusiastically before he realized what
he was agreeing to. He went and sat bewilderedly, staring at the list
that Bonnie handed him after a few minutes.
In the meantime, Ling had run into Leo. "Oh, excuse me, Ms...Liu, is
"It's Woo, get it right. And don't touch me," she said irritably,
looking at Leo's extended hand with disdain.
"Hey! I'm sorry, Ms. Woo, but really, no need to get angry. I'm the
White House Chief of Staff. I'd like a little respect."
Ling's eyes widened briefly, then narrowed to slits. "Yes, you are,
aren't you. Powerful little man. But you mispronounced my name and I
won't have it." Ling gave Leo her best Ling Woo 'How can I best kill
you so that it will be both slow and extremely painful' look. He just
stared right back, unfazed.
"I've mispronounced more important names than yours," he said
scornfully. With a slow and deliberate look down at her designer
heels, he continued, " And you don't want to know what I could do to
the shoe industry with just a few phone calls."
Ling's eyes flew open. Her mouth did likewise. For once she was at a
loss for words. She slowly turned and slunk off to where Richard was
Elaine saw Nelle seated alone on the couch. She walked over and sat
down next to her. "Hey, Nelle. Look, um...I know you aren't real big on
this kind of thing, but I...wanted to say thank you. For defending me to
Mandy today. I really appreciate that."
"Elaine...I- wait, that was when we were stuck in the Roosevelt Room, how
"I've gotta go, uh, talk to Toby, I'll see you later," Elaine said
hastily, walking away from Nelle's angry shouts of realization.
Elaine strutted over to Toby and sat herself down right next to him.
"Hey there, cutie," she said in a sultry voice. Toby Moved over, away
from her (several inches) and grunted a reluctant "Hey."
"So, you're a pretty powerful guy, huh?" she went on.
"You're a writer?"
"So you control what comes out of the President's mouth?"
"Not as often as I'd like to," Toby replied sarcastically, "but
His fear and exasperation were both growing rapidly.
"You know, I've never been with a writer."
"Really," he said in a voice absolutely devoid of any interest
"I dated a fencing champion once," she offered.
"Why are you telling me this?"
Elaine smiled. "They say the pen is mightier than the sword..."
Toby swallowed and shook his head. "Please go away."
"Snappish...I like it," Elaine said, strangely titillated. She peeled
herself off of Toby and moved over to where Donna was sitting. "Hey,
so...this is nice. Today was more fun than I thought it would be.
"Yeah, I had fun too." Donna smiled and sipped her drink. "Oh, look,
here comes Josh," she said excitedly, smoothing her hair.
"Um, I'm gonna go...get another drink," Elaine excused herself and
"Elaine!" cried Donna in surprise. She had been counting on her
cousin's help talking to Josh. She was fine with him in the officea
little fluttery, perhaps, and a little thrill when she saw him coming
around the corner, but she could have a normal exchange with him, At
gatherings like this, though, she tended to feel shy and awkward. Josh
sat down in Elaine's recently vacated seat.
"Hey, Donna," he said amiably.
"Hey," she said back, trying to sound cheery but really coming across
in a small, strangled voice.
"So, how was your day?" he said, trying to make conversation.
"Oh, God, Elaine is so wild! It seems she got to everyone! She had a
rose delivered to CJ with a card from Danny, and now look at them over
there doing...God knows what. And she gave Margaret a Face Bra, that's
why we're having this, because the President wanted to meet the
inventor. She's been after poor Toby all night, there she goes again,
and what she did to Mandy and this woman Nelle from her firm...I really
think she got to everyone but you-"
Donna looked at Josh and stopped short. The soft pressure of his lips
on hers prevented her from starting again. After a few seconds, they
pulled back and stared at each other. Donna's eyes were round with
shock and full of a million questions. It was Josh, however, who spoke
"Actually, Donna, she did get to me."
"I can see that," Donna managed to gasp out.
"Donna, she...she told me how you feel. At first I didn't believe her.
But only because I didn't think I could be that lucky."
"Oh, Josh..." she said softly. The look in his eyes was the one she had
dreamed of seeing since the campaign. There were times- many times-
when she had despaired of ever seeing it. But here it was.
"Donnatella Moss, you're the most wonderful, captivating person...if the
President heard me using cliches like this he'd kill me, but...I'd be
lost without you. I love you, Donna. I love you when you're being
charming, I love you when you when you're annoying the heck out of me,
which is how I know I really love you...I love you at your best, I love
you at your worst, I love you all the times in between."
Donna had no words. Tears came into her eyes and she buried her head
in his shoulders, leaning into his embrace.
The President and Elaine surveyed the room from their different seats
with pleasure. He rose and walked over to the CD player. He pushed a
few buttons and a slow, pretty song came on. Richard yelped in
"Hey, that's Vonda Shepard! She sings at the bar downstairs from my
"Oh, sit down, Richard," Ling snapped, pulling him back into his seat
with a violent tug. She was still out of sorts from her run-in with
Leo. But the President was slightly more interested.
"Really...she's one of my favorite artists. I rarely listen to music
from the past century or four...but she's quite good. Perhaps you can
all come back sometime and she can sing for us," he suggested.
Richard began to vibrate. "Can we, Ling, can we, can we please?"
"I don't know. Dance," she commanded. He willingly obeyed and they
began to sway in time with the music. One by one, the others joined in
until five other couples were dancing. John and Ally, Sam and Mallory,
CJ and Danny, Josh and Donna, and Toby and Elaine (well, actually,
Elaine was forcibly restraining Toby on every fourth beat...but for
Elaine, that was often what she had to substitute for dancing).
Leo and the President sat watching contentedly. Leo threw the
occasional glance toward Sam and Mallory to make sure that Sam didn't
get too friendly.
Two lookers on didn't share in the happy atmosphere, though.
Mandy and Nelle sat, backs angled toward each other, on a small couch.
"Our secretaries locked us up today," Nelle said flatly.
"I know. Donna came and talked to me before."
"They aren't even really our secretaries."
"This makes me sick," said Nelle, looking around at the happy couples.
"You mean it makes you sad and jealous."
"Oh, you know you feel the same way," Nelle hissed. There was a period
where neither spoke. Then Mandy came out with it.
"We're both so damn..."
"So damn what?" Nelle's annoyed tone didn't quite cover up her fear of
what Mandy was about to say.
"We're so damn small. We're smaller than Elaine, or Donna, smaller
than the janitors, or-"
"Shut up!" Nelle exclaimed in pain.
The women looked at each other in surprise, then looked away. Each sat
silently with her thoughts, watching the couples and listening to the
Elaine beckoned to Ginger, who slowly moved toward Toby. "Here, dance
with Ginger now," Elaine told Toby, shoving them together. Awkwardly,
at first, but then with enjoyment, they danced together.
Only one more match, now * Elaine thought. *Well...ok, not a match. But
just for tonight. * Taking Margaret's arm, she led her over to Leo.
"Have some fun, you two. You work too hard." Despite their startled
looks, Elaine knew they'd enjoy being able to relax. As she sat
surveying her handiwork, she felt a tap on her shoulder. Turning, she
saw the President. "Oh, Mr. President!" she exclaimed in surprise.
"You're a good person, Elaine," he said with a voice full of real
admiration, resting his hand on her shoulder.
Elaine smiled, happy.
"You ran away with your conscience clear
There was a red flag waving in my ear saying
'Stay away, you've got something to fear'
Well why did I not choose to hear?
Well I am through with suffering
Gonna make better choices I don't need no wedding ring
I can sing I can dance
But I can't make this feeling cease
Cause deep in my soul you've left a permanent crease and
"We all got our cross to bear
Our Star of David, our dreadlocked hair
And oh yeah baby, I still care
And if you need some help you know I'll always be there
"Well it's been a strange year
You've been a very bad dog
As my fire went out
You'd put on another log
But it was worth never having any peace
And deep in my soul you left a permanent crease and
"We all got our cross to bear
Our Star of David, our dreadlocked hair
And oh yeah baby, I still care
And if you need some help you know I'll always be there
"Some nights I thought I'd cry forever
I'd wish him away and then I'd turn into a beggar
But it was worth always scraping my knees
And deep in my soul you left a permanent crease
"I wear my soul like a wrinkle on my sleeve
And I've got this aching love that only you can relieve
But I'm not afraid to go down with a sinking friend
I'm gonna live out my dreams even if they kill me in the end
"We all got our cross to bear
Our Star of David, our dreadlocked hair
And oh yeah baby, I still care
And if you need some help you know I'll always be there"
--Cross To Bear
by Vonda Shepard