Title: Fates Interwoven: Democracy and The Great Outdoors
Author's Note 2: Will Detrixhe has appeared in: Hello Again, Cookie; Dark, Light, and The Blues; and Traveling Companion. Marie appears in 'Til The World Ends.
Heaven knows what a girl can do.
June 14, 1995
Thump. Thump. Thump.
CJ's perplexed expression transformed into one of amusement as she recognized the source of the sound coming from Toby's new office. Though, she supposed after four months, the day was quickly approaching when she should stop thinking of it as such and rather as 'Toby's office.'
The desk outside his office was empty, and CJ was surprised only for a moment, until she remembered Marie was out of town for the week for her younger sister's wedding, and she wondered briefly how long the latest temp lasted before racing out of the building sobbing.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
The rhythmic beat grew louder as she approached the door. It was open slightly, allowing her to peek in and see a small, pink rubber ball fly through the air, then disappear as quickly as it appeared. CJ paused just outside the door and timed it's appearance with relation to the sound.
Ball. Thump. Ball. Pause. Pause. Ball. Thump. Ball. Pause. Pause.
Timing her move carefully, her hand rested on the door handle. Ball. Thump. She quickly opened the door and reached out her hand. Ball.
Toby shot her a menacing glare as she fell onto the couch, the ball still in her hand. Unfortunately for him, she had apparently grown immune to his glares sometime during their relationship. So, he watched quietly while listening to the voice on the other end of the phone, as she relaxed; laying her head on the arm of the sofa, and placing her crossed legs a top the back against the wall, causing her skirt to inch up slightly revealing a inch or so of previously covered skin. She began to toss the ball up into the air and catch it.
Resting the phone between his ear and shoulder, he opened a desk drawer and reached in to come up with another identical ball. Reclining back in his chair, he resumed throwing the ball against the opposite wall, only a foot or so above CJ. She didn't flinch as it hit and bounced back to his hand.
Their actions quickly became tuned to the other.
Thump. Pause. Pause. Thump. Pause. Pause. Thump.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, Toby said goodbye and hung up the phone with a heavy sigh.
"Irresponsible or reckless?"
"In regard to," she asked without turning her head.
"The President's tax plan."
"Yeah," agreed Toby, laying his ball down to scratch the change on the press release in front of him and place it on a stack at the corner of his desk. He looked back to CJ, as she gracefully placed her legs on the floor and sat up.
"Yes," he answered shortly, his actions clearly contradicting his words as he caught the ball she tossed to him and tossed it back.
"I, on the other hand-"
"CJ," Toby warned, knowing where she was going with this.
"I could take a three week vacation my schedule is so clear." She threw the ball to him.
"Most people would consider that a good thing."
"I don't," she replied emphatically. "And neither do you, so don't try to sell me that. Toby, I'm-"
"Don't say it," he quickly interrupted.
"I'm bored," continued CJ, ignoring his protests.
"Have you no concept of tempting fate," he asked in exasperation.
"Toby," she moaned. "I've come to the conclusion that not only does fate need to be tempted, but perhaps it needs to be provoked! The most difficult question I was asked by a reporter today was from the editor of the Food Section of the Dayton Daily News. She wanted to know whether Mrs. Hayden uses bread flour or all purpose flour in the recipe for her famous tea muffins."
He chuckled quietly as they continued to toss the ball.
"This isn't funny," insisted CJ, her lips curling up into a wry smile. "He doesn't do anything controversial. He doesn't say anything remotely remarkable. He doesn't vote for anything without checking the polls first."
"Sounds like a Press Secretary's nightmare," he observed dryly.
At that moment, a woman walked into the office carrying a large stack of files. "Here are the files you asked for." She looked up in surprise as she saw the pink rubber ball fly past her face. "I'm sorry," she apologized. "I didn't realize you were busy."
"It's okay, Ginger," replied Toby. "Uh, Ginger, this is CJ Cregg."
CJ studied the woman in front of her. She looked young, maybe college age. Her long strawberry blond hair was pulled back in a barrette and her eyes were bright blue. She looked familiar, but CJ couldn't figure out where she had seen her before.
"CJ, this is Ginger Detrixhe."
Her head snapped over to Toby in recognition. "Detrixhe?"
He nodded. "Will's niece."
The young woman tried to shift the files she held to one arm and awkwardly reached out to shake CJ's hand and smile somewhat nervously. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Cregg. My uncle speaks very highly of you."
CJ smiled warmly. "Please call me CJ, and your uncle is flirt. Do you work here?"
"As an intern," nodded Ginger.
"Where do you do to school?"
"I'm a senior at Seton Hall."
"She's covering for Marie while she's gone," Toby cut in. Ignoring CJ's raised eyebrow, he turned to Ginger. "Those are the files I need?"
"Yes," she quickly replied, setting the large stack on the desk in front of him. She divided it into two small piles. "This everything I could find on Mr. Coen," she gestured to one stack. "And these are on Ms. Webster."
"I've separated them into their speeches and public statements, articles about or that include them, and various independent information," said Ginger. "And I've arranged them in chronological order."
"Is there anything else you needed," she asked.
"Yeah, I need information on the 6th district in Virginia; it's makeup, economical, cultural, historical, and most importantly political," Toby listed, preoccupied with the files in front of him, as Ginger quickly jotted down what he was saying. "Anything you can find. Focus on how it has changed in the last few elections. See if you can find any correlating trends. Check out the local papers and see which way they lean and what kind of impact they make on public opinion. Also get all the information you can on any polls the DNC has conducted in that district in the last five years. I need that and a summarization no longer than fifteen pages."
"Toby," CJ said quietly. The slight hint of warning in her voice went undetected by Ginger, but practically screamed in Toby's ear.
He looked up to see the reproving look in her eye. Ginger watched uncomfortably as a silent conversation seemed to take place between the two friends. Finally, Toby sighed and turned back to his temporary assistant. "Wait until tomorrow and grab another researcher to help you. Also, check my schedule and block off a time in the afternoon for us to go over what you've found."
She nodded silently, as he turned his attention back to the files and said, "That's all for today."
"But, be here early tomorrow to get started on that," added Toby.
"Yes, sir," she smiled.
"It was nice to meet you, Ginger," said CJ and stood up from her place on the couch.
When she left the office, CJ looked back at Toby. "What's this all about?"
"And Lynchburg and Harrisburg," added Toby. "Roessler's retiring after this term."
"He's always retiring," she shrugged her shoulders. "What's new?"
"It's real this time."
"Republicans are going to be gunning for his seat, and you need a strong candidate," she gathered.
"So, why are you dealing with it and not the Campaign Division?"
"Because the Mid-Atlantic Director doesn't agree with the Virginia State Director's candidate and has a candidate of her own. Roessler won't give a straight opinion on either one, and Sloane," he said, referring to the Chairman of the DNC, "has decided to ruin my weekend, by making me go down to Virginia, meet both of the candidates and decide which one gets our support. So," concluded Toby, "if you have any ideas as to what I've done to Sloane to deserve this punishment, I would be happy to hear them."
"Perhaps it's your tie," she suggested helpfully, eliciting a baneful glare from Toby.
She laughed. "Come on, Toby. This is exciting! You'll be helping people choose the person that will represent them in their government. It's the democratic process in all it's glory."
He looked up, skepticism in his eyes. "The democratic process? A guy from Brooklyn picking which person will best serve the DNC so we can dump a lot of money into his or her campaign, most of which comes from people who couldn't find Roanoke on a map?"
"Well, if that's the way you're going to look at it."
He just sighed and went back to his reading.