Disclaimers: They're not mine. Sometimes I ask them out to play, but they go home with Mr. Sorkin, et. al.
Summary: "I saw the look on your face, Toby..." (Sequel to Righteous Indignation.)
"So you don't remember who was there?" Toby asked CJ again. They were still trying to figure out the witnesses to CJ's first-round knockout of Tad Whitney.
"I don't know, Toby. You know my morning wasn't fun. I wasn't looking to meet anyone's gaze in case someone from the press *was* there. You got up and roamed around the restaurant with your phone. Whom did you see?" she asked, resting her chin on her right hand out of habit. It hurt her injured knuckles, so she quickly changed to her left hand.
He closed his eyes. "The annoying couple at the next table who glared at me for answering my phone," he said then shook his head. "You, of course. I had just hung up from Leo and was calling Josh because I couldn't find Sam when I heard raised voices. When I decided it was you...and then Tad...I got your coat from coat check so we could make an immediate escape."
"I didn't need to escape," she said.
"Yes, you did," he stated. "Trust me." He paused. "I just remember there were faces. I don't think I recognized any."
CJ let out a long sigh. "Let's just pray that that's the case."
"Maybe they were all tourists. They'll have a great story about some wacko woman punching out a weasely-looking guy in a restaurant."
"Gee, Toby, how do you always know what to say to make a person feel better?"
"Okay, that was sarcasm." He rose from the couch. "In which case I'm going to leave."
He turned. "Yeah?"
"Thanks for helping me handle this."
"Don't mention it."
Neither Bonnie nor Ginger was at their desks as Toby passed by. He entered his office and sat in his chair with a heavy sigh. Then he heard his door close. He looked up. And in to the face of Danny Concanon.
"What do you want?" Toby asked with a snarl.
"We need to talk."
"Who let you in here?"
"It wasn't that hard. All of your guards are MIA," Danny said.
"I'll have to speak to them. I really don't have anything to say to you, Concanon."
"No, Toby, we have to talk."
Danny sat down in the chair on the other side of the desk from Toby. He was quiet for a moment.
"About?" Toby asked again.
Danny let out a long breath. "I had a craving for good lasagna this afternoon." He waited while Toby's wheels turned.
Toby deliberately picked up files and began to relocate them around his desk. He'd decided not to bite.
"Okay. So I went out for a late lunch at this little Italian place I know. It's usually quiet. The manager knows me and seats me in a corner so I can work."
"Toby, you know where I'm going with this."
"I haven't a clue." Toby looked him in the eye.
"I saw it all."
Toby narrowed his eyes. "What is it you think you saw?"
"I saw CJ deck Tad Whitney from State."
"Are you sure?"
"I...I...Hey! Don't try to work me, Toby! Yes, I'm sure. What's more, I heard what he said."
"What do you think you heard?"
"Toby, stop it!"
They stared at each other for a moment. "I don't know what you're talking about," Toby said, looking back to his desk.
"Toby, this is me. Danny!"
"Member of the press!"
"Is that what they call it now?"
"I hope she still considers me a friend. I know I've blown any chance I had at anything else."
Toby stopped shuffling files, but didn't raise his eyes.
"Wow, you've got it bad," Danny said. "I thought I wore my heart on my sleeve."
"I do not wear my heart on my sleeve."
"I saw the look on your face, Toby. When Whitney called her...that. It's okay. Half the guys here have crushes on CJ. We're in good company."
"Concanon," Toby warned.
"I'm not going to say anything, Toby."
"I said I'm not going to say anything," Danny repeated. "About anything."
Toby stared at him again. "Why?"
"Because I've spent the last hour doing some research. Tad Whitney is a creep."
"Yes," Toby agreed.
"I mean, if you knew what I know..."
"I do know," Toby said, cutting Danny off.
"And I understand it's been handled."
"And now you're just waiting for the other shoe to drop."
Toby abandoned all pretenses. "It's not going to look good when it gets out. There is no positive spin to be had."
"It's not going to get out," Danny said. "I was the only member of the press in the restaurant. And I didn't recognize any of the other diners."
"Good. What about Tad?"
"He left right after you did."
"I've got to make a call," Toby said.
"Like I said, the manager's a friend of mine. If you've truly handled Whitney, nothing's going to come of this. It's all handled."
Toby looked at his desk again. "Thank you, Danny."
"I didn't do it for you."
"I didn't think you did. But I'm sure you won't be telling her, so I'll thank you instead." He paused. And then, "I'm sorry it's not going to work out for you."
"No, you're not. You're relieved. You should tell her."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"You *really* should tell her," Danny repeated.
"It doesn't matter."
"Toby, it would make a difference."
"Why are you so interested?"
"It *could* be a good thing for her. For both of you. You need to go and tell her that this thing is officially dead. Then you need to ask her out for dinner. And dancing, Toby. You know she loves to dance."
"Danny, I've been dancing with CJ since long before the two of you met."
"That's half the reason I didn't take the editor's gig, Toby. I never really felt like I was the first one on her dance card."
After the afternoon briefing--which CJ handled flawlessly, mainly because there was no mention of a fight at a local Italian eatery--
"Nothing at all. Have you got dinner plans?"