Title: Fates Interwoven: Traveling Companion
Author's Note II: Will Detrixhe and Jack and Kick Wellington are from 'Hello Again, Cookie.' Will is also mentioned in 'Dark, Light, and The Blues.'
"Perhaps he knew, as I didn't,
August 17, 1994
Toby glanced over to see CJ offer him her goldfish. "I'm not hungry."
She shrugged and ate another cracker. "I'm starved. I missed lunch today."
"If we had flown, like I suggested, we could have had dinner before we left," replied Toby unsympathetically.
"But then we would have missed this great scenery," CJ said, gesturing out the car window. "Just look at it. It's gorgeous."
"Yeah," he sighed, not moving his gaze from the path straight ahead.
"You're not looking at it."
"I'm looking at road."
"Oh," CJ smiled. "Well that's important, too. You keep looking at the road and I'll enjoy the scenery for both of us."
"Why aren't you driving, since the 'Great Road Trip' was your idea," Toby asked.
"It's your car."
"Why aren't we taking your car?"
"It's in the shop," she replied.
"I'd let you drive my car."
"You know the route better."
Toby rolled his eyes. She always had a damn answer for everything. "Then I'm in charge of the radio," he said, reaching to change the station.
John F. Kennedy Memorial Hwy.
"Oh look!" CJ exclaimed excited and pointed out the window. "Hawaii!"
Toby looked sideways at her, then said slowly, "CJ, the fact that you're pointing to the east and the Atlantic Ocean, when Hawaii is located in the Pacific Ocean to the west is prompting me to reevaluate your standing as my navigator."
"The car, Toby," she clarified, not allowing his sarcasm to dampen her enthusiasm. "It's license plate is from Hawaii."
"The license plate game."
"The license plate game," he repeated.
CJ nodded. "The license plate game," she said, as if savoring the words.
He waited for a moment, then asked exasperatedly. "What are you taking about?"
"The license plate game," answered CJ.
"No matter how many times you say it, CJ, I'm still not going to know what in the hell it is."
"On road trips, you keep track of how many different state license plates you see," she explained. "The license plate game. You and your brother didn't play it?"
CJ was quiet for a moment, her brow furrowed in confusion. "Then, what did you do?"
"We read comics."
"Oh." She paused, then said, "Hawaii license plates are the hardest to find. But, surprisingly Alaskan plates seem to be fairly commonplace."
"Escaping the frozen tundra, no doubt," Toby said under his breath.
New Jersey Turnpike
"We are not going to stop to do antique shopping!"
CJ laughed. "I just wanted to see your reaction."
"Give me one good reason not to leave you on the side of the road."
"I have better blackmail material on you than you do on me and better contacts in the press."
New Jersey Turnpike
"The Times has her leading by three points, the Post says five, and the DNC has her polling eight points ahead of Shearer," recounted Toby.
"So, we'll say she's up five points," CJ concluded and began to talk through it. "She's starting to hit her stride. If she does well in the debates, I think she can get an eight point bounce, maybe even ten. That'll break the campaign wide open and she'll run the tables."
"That's what Will thinks."
CJ glanced at Toby. "What do you think?"
He paused, then answered quietly. "I think Shearer doesn't stand a chance."
She smiled. "I'll have to get used to calling her Congresswoman Wyatt."
"Have you read the talking points Will sent," asked Toby, his expression blank.
"Yeah," CJ replied and begun flipping through the file. "They're good. I think we can work a little more on her answers on NATO, defense, and tax cuts, though."
"She's a U.S. Attorney, so they can't hang 'soft on crime' on her, despite her position on the death penalty and drug policy," Toby continued. "We can sharpen her attacks on Shearer's positions on the environment, social security, and abortion rights."
"And welfare reform," added CJ.
"Yes," he agreed. "In fact, that's what we should start with tonight. I think if she-"
"You think we should start on something else?"
CJ took a deep breath and said, "No, we're not going to start tonight."
"Of course, we're going to start tonight," responded Toby. "The debate is tomorrow night. We have a lot of work to do."
"We have very little work to do," she replied. "Will and his team have done a great job preparing her. Andy's ready."
"If you think she's ready, why did you come," Toby asked loudly with exasperation.
"To give my support," she said, her even tone in contrast to his. The car was silent for a moment, with the exception of the jazz playing on the radio. "Besides," she added lightly, "I wouldn't miss this road trip for the world."
"Now we reach your real motivation," said Toby. "You came to torture me."
CJ smiled and shrugged her shoulders. "That's just one of the benefits. And," she added, "since we're not working on debate prep tonight, you and Andy are going to have dinner together."
CJ's eyes were focused straight ahead. "Will made reservations for the two of you in the hotel restaurant."
"You and Will have set me up on a date with my wife?" Toby's voice was deceptively quiet.
His jaw tightened. "Okay."
The Roosevelt Hotel
Will and Andrea were sitting in the lobby when CJ and Toby arrived. CJ gave Andy a warm hug, then let Will to place a gentlemanly kiss on her knuckles. Turning back, she watched Toby and Andy look at each other uncomfortably, then finally share an awkward kiss on the cheek. To break the tension, CJ exclaimed, "This hotel is gorgeous, Andy."
Her friend smiled tiredly. "Jack and Kick Wellington are shareholders and insisted I stay here for the campaign."
"Andy," Will cut in. "Jim McDonald from the Times is here."
"I have to do this interview," Andrea apologized.
"Then we're finished for the night," said Will. "Toby, your reservations for tonight are under my name. I'm friends with the maitre de, so he'll get you a good table." He turned to CJ and flashed a flirtatious smile. "Our reservations are at an intimate, little French place just down the street, at nine."
"I'll be ready," she grinned.
"You're having dinner with Will," Toby asked when they were alone in the elevator.
"Yes. Then he's taking me to an art exhibition in SoHo."
"CJ," he said, then hesitated as they reached their rooms which were situated across the hall from the other.
He paused, then settled for saying, "Have a nice time."
"Thank you," she said. "You, too."
August 18, 1994
"Link his positions on tax cuts to Social Security," Toby said as they did a last minute cram session before heading for the debate.
"And education," added Will.
CJ continued the line of thought. "He is willing to risk the long term viability of Social Security and welfare of our children's education in order to give disproportionate tax cuts to the wealthiest one percent."
"When he argues that education is best addressed at state level, you reply..." Will prompted.
"Education needs to be addressed period," Andy smoothly answered. "Local, State, and Federal level. We all have a vested interest in the education system and we need to stop worrying about whose jurisdiction it is, and rather work together for the children."
"Good," CJ said. "You might say 'our children' and 'our education system.' You want them to identify with you rather than Shearer. You are one of them."
"He'll try to attack your positions on defense and foreign policy," Toby warned. "He wants to make you look weak and ineffectual."
"State your positions, don't back down, but quickly move the discussion back to domestic policies," advised Will.
"Won't it look like I'm dodging," she asked.
"Foreign policy is abstract," argued CJ. "It's not something the average New Yorker is concerned about. They want to know there will be money in the social security fund when they retire. They want their children to learn how to read and write when they send them to a public school."
"Social Security, Welfare, and Education," Toby recounted as he paced the room. "That's your message. Whenever possible, go back to those. That's what they want to hear."
"Right," Andy nodded her head. She already knew all this, they had gone over it a hundred times before, but it was nice to hear it once more. She took a deep breath and smiled. "I think I'm ready."
"Guys," CJ spoke up as she watched the way Toby nervousness was affecting Andrea. "Can you give Andy and I a moment?"
"CJ-" Toby started, when Andrea interrupted him.
"Toby, it's fine."
His reluctance was obvious, but he didn't argue.
"We'll go get the car," Will said helpfully.
CJ waited until they closed the door behind them, before turning to Andrea and smiling. "You are going to do great," she said sincerely.
"Thanks," Andy sighed. "When Will talked me into running, I never imagined I would get this nervous."
CJ laughed. "You'll forget your nervousness the moment Shearer says something stupid, which I guess, will probably occur in the first ten minutes," she said, reassuringly. "Is there anything you need?"
"Yes," replied Andrea. "I want to thank you for encouraging Toby and I to talk last night. I already thanked Will and he admitted that it was your idea." She paused, then said, "I'm coming back to Washington after the election whether I win or not. I have to stop running away."
"I'm glad," CJ grinned.
"And I need to ask you a favor."
"Keep Toby away from the auditorium during the debate," pleaded Andy. "He's giving new meaning to 'skittish.'"
"I'll make sure he stays in the conference room set up for us if I have to sit on him," promised CJ, laughingly.
Toby appeared at the door. "We need to leave."
Andy looked at CJ, then turned to her husband. "We're ready," she said confidently.
November 4, 1994
New York City, NY - Democratic candidate, Andrea Wyatt, won the eighth district race for the U.S. House of Representatives. She beat Republican candidate, Kent Shearer, with 63 percent of the vote.