Cousins a TWW vignette by Cait & Janie
RATING: actually it's probably G but we'd never admit it
SYNOPSIS: just another quiet dinner for a thousand of your closest friends
ARCHIVE: Sure, just let us know. HTML version available
DISCLAIMER: the characters in this work of fiction are solely the property of the Evil Genius, Aaron Sorkin, and of Warner Bros. For that reason the authors wish to state that we intend no infringement of their copyright, nor do we expect to make any profit from it.
The fare at the $1000 a plate dinner was predictably sparse. Looking up from the haute cuisine cunningly presented in the middle of his tiny plate, Sam grinned at his colleagues and demanded : "Okay, where are we going after?"
"After what?" Sarah Cooper asked.
A quiet chuckle ran around the table. CJ leaned over Toby and smiled at the first timer: "After dinner, Sarah. We always go together after one of these things, to get some real food. What would you like?"
"Pastrami on rye, since you ask," Leo answered before Sarah could form the words. "We were all over Georgetown the other night, looking for a kosher deli."
"Pastrami, sure." Toby agreed. "But don't let them forget the dark mustard, no mayo, and a stack of dill spears on the side about so high. And forget the rye, no one outside New York knows how to make it. The whole thing needs to be on..."
"... the darkest, thickest slices of pumpernickel that can possibly be found, outside Brooklyn." Josh finished, word perfect from memory.
"Why is it that more and more in this bunch I feel ethnically-challenged?" Sam asked nobody in particular.
"It's our white bread Protestant background, Sammy," CJ replied, laughing. "No spice."
"Get over it," Toby interjected. "Or I could find you a mohel. But that wouldn't do much for your appetite."
A laugh rose between Sarah, Josh and Toby, while Sam pondered a moment and then turned a few brilliant shades of red.
Cherie leaned over and whispered in CJ's ear: "What's a mohel?"
"They do ritual circumcisions," the Press Secretary replied. "Don't ask me how I know."
"Forget about converting Sam. Let's go get the pastrami. It sounds fantastic!" a warm, New Hampshire accented voice exclaimed from just behind Mallory's chair. Ms. O'Brien grinned brightly, and after making sure she wasn't going to topple her water goblet onto her gown, stood up to embrace the speaker as if she hadn't seen him in years. "Hey, Sam! Looks like you've caught the live-wire of the Clan McGarry, here!" that gentleman went on, when Mallory released him. "CJ, you are looking wonderful, quite the elegant turn-out." CJ rose, whirled in her sparkling evening pantsuit for his frank approval, and thanked the man with a fervent kiss. "I should come down here more often." the formally dressed, graying man noted. "And I would, if I expected that kind of response."
Sarah looked around the table in wordless confusion. It was exactly the response this person was getting from the senior staffers that seemed more than a little strange to her. None of the men left their chairs or even spoke to him in the way Sarah expected; and for some reason he was not sharing, Leo's eyes twinkled over a half-smile, the way he did when some kind of mischief was at play. Only Mallory and CJ had risen to their feet when the man spoke, and that was plainly to be hugged.
And now little Cherie Herriman was eagerly following suit, but her features showed she was just as bewildered as Sarah felt.
Why was everyone behaving in this totally casual way, in public, towards the President? Sarah wondered. Glancing up and over at the dais, she could see his place there was empty.
"I'm so honored to meet you, sir." the blonde enthused, pumping his hand as if she expected water to pour down his opposite sleeve. "I'm Cherie Herriman, sir. My father is Daniel Herriman. My dad wanted me to make sure I tell you he's so completely unhappy he couldn't make the dinner tonight. He-- he broke his ankle, out... um... hunting. But he asked me to bring you this check--" Digging eagerly into her tiny quilted Chanel evening bag, Cherie deftly retrieved and unfolded a business envelope, from which she drew a check written for an eye-popping sum.
"Well, this is quite generous, young lady. I'm sure the Democratic party up in Nashua will be really grateful for your father's donation. We've never been a very large group, and we certainly can't afford events like this one. Tell your father I gladly--"
"Ms. Herriman, please tell your father that I would gladly accept his donation to the DNC. But even outside the Oval Office I'm strictly prohibited from doing so, and so is he." President Jed Bartlet smiled, striding up to join the group. And now, all those who could - and who hadn't already - rose to acknowledge him. "He's remiss for not mentioning that little fact, and for not properly introducing himself either to you or to our friend, Sarah Cooper."
Sarah could feel her gaze jumping back and forth from one identical face to the other on the men who now stood directly in front of her chair, like a sports fan at their first Wimbledon match. She couldn't find a distinguishing feature between them, excepting that perhaps the President looked somewhat wearier. "Ms. Cooper, Ms. Herriman," the President went on, grinning. "please, allow me to present the person who was often referred to as the saving grace of the Shepherd administration, until Sydney Ellen Wade took over that role some years past. This is my cousin, AJ MacInerny."