Title: Treason, Part 1
Category: Oh so many! Some season 2 resolution/a bit suspense and conspiracy/a little adventure/a dash of numerous relationships...stop being picky and just read it!
Summary: treason (noun)
1. Violation of allegiance toward one's country or sovereign, especially the betrayal of one's country by waging war against it or by consciously and purposely acting to aid its enemies.
2. A betrayal of trust or confidence.
"Who are you to condemn another's sin? He who condemns sin becomes part of it, espouses it." - Georges Bernanos
*****Friday, March 30*****
Keno had waited at his desk refusing offers from co-workers to go to dinner, insisting that he had so much work he'd surely be there until after midnight. The office had emptied, he took his cigarettes out of the top desk drawer, swallowed the last of his coffee and crossed the street to the garage.
At 3:20 AM the second floor of the parking garage was empty. The Washington D.C. businesses, shops and restaurants it serviced had closed hours ago. He lit a third cigarette and sucked in the calming nicotine, then blew the smoke out between his lips just as a man dressed in an expensive suit approached him from the far-left elevators.
"Mr. Court, how nice to see you on this lovely evening," Keno said.
"I've finally found a solution." Mr. Court answered and handed him an envelope. "Soon I'll give you specifics about approaching Mr. McGarry with this." He began to walk away, turning over his shoulder and with a twisted smile added, "I think it will soon be our time."
*****Wednesday, May 2*****
Danny Concannon was on a vacation, well, his version of a vacation. Which simply meant that he was working on a different kind of story, one that took him away from Washington for a short time. But still working on a story. The story involved interviewing all the former members of the Federal Election Commission, current members were not allowed to speak to the press.
Currently, he sat in the home of Cynthia Marrion, the older sister of Clark Marrion, who sat on the FEC for many years until he was killed in a car accident two years ago.
"My brother had always thought he could pitch for the Cubs as a kid and it was his life-long dream." Cynthia took a sip of lemonade and stared at the ice cubes in the glass. "He'd returned home after receiving a phone call that he could throw out the first pitch and sing the seventh inning stretch at the game. It was on the way to Wrigley that he was hit by an on-coming semi on the Kennedy Expressway and was killed instantly."
Danny suppressed the urge to laugh in spite of the gruesome tale. The picture of Clark framed and hanging above the mantle conveyed a gawky, short man in thick glasses. It was just too funny to imagine Clark as a major league pitcher, "probably would have been the Cub's finest chance for a World Series," he said.
Cynthia offered him dinner and though it had been ages since Danny had a home cooked meal, especially one made by a single female, his only desire in the world right now was to get back to the hotel, take a hot shower and fall asleep. Or maybe try to catch a little of the Cubs game first, he smirked. "Thank you for the offer, but I really must get going."
The 20-minute drive allowed Danny's thoughts to stream uninterrupted. Though he'd pretended to his editor that he was excited about this story, he was constantly giving himself pep talks just to continue working on it. 9 and ½ weeks since he'd left Washington and he'd counted each day. Memories of her smile would surface in the middle of interviews, moments alone with her would haunt his dreams. 9 and ½ weeks and 6 hours and 22 minutes, he pulled the car into the hotel parking lot, now 28 minutes. He exited the car and entered the lobby searching for his key card.
"Danny Concannon, you old bugger!"
Danny's head swung around to observe a man he wasn't completely sure he'd met before.
"Oh, come on, you don't remember me? Tad Whitney, we met once at a party. I read your column every day." Tad shook his hand, "Come on into the bar with me I'll buy you a drink. It's so lucky, I don't know anyone in Chicago and we both happen to be staying in the same hotel. How lucky is that?"
"Incredibly lucky." Danny plastered a smile on his face and vowed under his breath that he would never again take a vacation.
More than 600 miles away, a man sat outside Leo McGarry's office waiting and trying not to notice the secretary's stares. She was a tiny, nosey, annoying woman named Margaret that Marvin Keno never liked since the day he started working here. The previous administration had a sexy blond who worked for the Chief of Staff and she slept with everyone, including the reporters.
Keno sighed and pushed his bad luck out of his head, concentrating instead on Mr. Court's very detailed instructions; stick to the script, don't threaten or annoy, simply be a helpful friend just giving some advice. Half the money was deposited to his account yesterday, the other half would come today. If he stuck to the script.
"Mr. McGarry will see you now." Margaret said and gave Keno a small smile. He returned the smile, didn't hurt to flirt if it might come in handy later, he figured. He entered the office of the Chief of Staff and shook Leo McGarry's hand before they both sat down.
"We respect your work, Mr. Keno. The President always reads your articles." Leo paused, "I would suggest you get on with it, before CJ finds out she was skipped over and comes barging in here to kick both our asses."
"I'll be brief, Mr. McGarry. I've worked for the New York Times for two years, the Dallas Morning News before that, and I've always covered politics on some level. Frankly, I've never liked anyone more than President Bartlet." Keno recited it perfectly, to the point and with just a touch of sympathy in his voice to make it sound real. "I've been given a story and at first I was going to just forget about it, but my source will probably find someone else to tell. In my personal opinion, a reporter shouldn't tell it at all."
Keno slid a folder across to Leo and he opened it. A medical file containing a test run on the President seven years ago showed abnormal brain function. Leo sighed and closed the file than stood up.
"We'll go public within 2 weeks and you'll be among the first to interview him I promise." Leo tired to appear businesslike, but Keno could see the sadness in his eyes.
"You're a good man." Keno lied and rose to shake Mr. McGarry's hand again. He had done it exactly right, they should give him an Oscar. Of course the 10 thousand was probably better than a stupid statue anyway. Keno gave Margaret a wink as he left then slipped into the men's room to place a call.
Leo went next door and stood in the middle of the Oval office and looked into the President's eyes, "I think it's time we talk to some lawyers."
*****Thursday, May 17*****
In his office, Joshua Lyman watched the tape of the President's interview announcing to the nation that he had MS. The follow-up live press conference had yielded the finest example of Bartlet's ability to speak from the heart that Josh had ever witnessed.
"Josh, I have a concern." Donna interrupted without knocking. Like everyone in the damned office did, Josh grumbled in his mind.
"If I tell you that I could care less what your concern is, that still isn't gonna stop you from telling me all about it, will it?" Josh asked.
"No." Donna sat in the chair facing his desk and read from her notes on a small pad she held in front of her. "There is an unknown satellite orbiting the Earth, NASA has confirmed its trajectory to be..."
Her voice faded into background noise in Josh's brain. She wore a light pink sweater that dipped in the front, not too much that it would be inappropriate but just enough to make him notice. He watched the light play off her hair and the movements of her eyes and hands and shoulders as she explained this important issue to him. A week and a half ago he had almost asked her out. They stood in this very office and he leaned into her and could smell her perfume and feel her breath quicken. He had half the words out of his mouth when Leo interrupted. The President needed to speak with him and Toby would be waiting in his office after that. Everything changed.
From the moment she joined the campaign he'd always felt something, sometimes it was anger, sometimes annoyance, for almost a year it had been caring, then after the shooting that care turned into something more. Now, Josh looked at Donna and felt nothing. Jed Bartlet had taught him much over the years, last week he'd taught Josh that not only white supremacist groups but also someone you love and admire could shoot you through the heart.
"...And I'm begging you to find out who put this there in our skies-"
"Soviets." Josh interrupted her. "It's an old Soviet satellite."
"Oh. OK. You're not going to tease me for three days trying to convince me this could fall on our heads or something, you're telling me the truth?"
Josh looked into her eyes. She seemed almost disappointed. He wasn't sure how to answer her question. Truth? He wasn't even sure what that word meant anymore. He stared at her long enough that it made Donna nervous.
"This is like that movie 'Independence Day' isn't it? It's really aliens tracking us and preparing to take out our world." She said.
"Donna, I'm telling you it's an old Soviet satellite. It's been orbiting us for years maybe even decades. It passes over our heads like every 45 minutes. The real mystery here is how something so big and right in front of us wasn't noticed by anyone until now. How could we be so stupid not to see it?"
"Are we still talking about the satellite?" Her voice dropped to that low timber that used to make Josh's knees shake. He felt nothing.
"Go away, Donna. I've got stuff to do."
CJ sat on a bench in the Rose Garden. It was her place of solitude. It reminded her, even on the worst days, how wonderful her job was and how lucky she was to have an opportunity few people in history had. To work at the White House, to sit in the Rose Garden any time she wanted, few people could say that.
She often would sit here thinking about all the men who were president before and the troubles that they had faced, famine, wars, even the country itself crumbling apart. Then she'd think of President Bartlet and his place among these great men. He had so much potential. Often, she'd worry about the mistakes the staff made that could be costing President Bartlet his place in history. Not today, today she wondered about his mistakes.
She was sad and afraid for his health, of course, but mostly she was depressed. After years of loyalty, giving up her free time, taking a huge pay cut, moving far away from her family and friends, and most of all putting her love life on the back burner- this is what she got in return. His thanks for all that she's done for him. She was always a sucker and it always lead to her heart being broken.
Oliver Babish stopped mid-stride on his way to the cafeteria. Through the windows he saw CJ sitting on a bench. Her fingers were twisting around each other and her forehead was wrinkled in concentration. He didn't want to interrupt the obviously private time but he'd been trying to speak to CJ for two days and couldn't seem to find her. If she were one of his ex-wives, he'd wonder if she were purposely avoiding him.
He shifted his weight back and forth on his feet, to the right one nearest the cafeteria then to the left one close to the door outside. Back and forth three times before he pushed open the glass door and made his way to her.
"Hi." He watched her take a few seconds to come back from the world in her head.
"I wanted to tell you, I've gone over some of my notes and we should probably begin to talk about your testimony soon."
"Yea, OK." CJ responded while watching a robin feed her babies in a nest high on a branch.
"OK. OK, then. Sorry to interrupt." He turned away and took two steps, then stopped. "CJ, one more thing."
She lifted her eyes to him but didn't say anything so he continued, "Would you like to have dinner with me Saturday night? I know an Italian place with great gnocchi."
CJ was intelligent, strong, independent, but like all humans she had flaws. The biggest one materialized when she was depressed. The part of her that carefully analyzed everything shut down and she would act out by being reckless. This streak in her nature explained strange hair colors, a motorcycle phase, dropping out of school for a semester, and it would now explain her response to Oliver Babish, "Sure, I'd love too."
Later that night, the West Wing was dark except for the light in Sam Seaborne's office. For Sam, the news that the President had MS was like one day discovering the oceans were a mirage. Sam plunged into his law books for hours and only came up for air and to stretch his cramped muscles. He pulled off his glassed and rubbed his temples, a stress headache had been building over the last 25 minutes and now seemed invincible.
He shut the book he'd been studying and leaned back in his chair. Why did he bother? Stacks of notes sat in front of him, notes that would never be used. He was told last, his opinion was never sought, they were using another lawyer. He was inconsequential.
If he melted into the fabric of his chair right here, right now, would anyone notice he was gone?
*****Friday, May 18*****
Jed Bartlet put that expression on his face. The one Abbey hated but after years in politics he'd mastered it. It was very convincing, the other person absolutely believed Jed Bartlet was listening and they had no idea his mind was somewhere else completely. It was understandable why Abbey hated it so much. This particular evening, the President's mind was on the inscription over the mantel that he'd read for the 14th time in 8 minutes. The discussion around him suddenly stopped.
"I said, wouldn't you agree, Mr. President?" One representative asked. Jed's eyes shot Leo's and seemed to say 'save my ass once again.'
Leo answered, "The President isn't ready to comment on the Graffy Treaty yet gentlemen, you all know that." Then he took Jed's elbow and led him away to a quiet corner of the State Dinning Room. Dinner had ended 10 minutes ago and dancing, mingling and conversation now flooded the room.
"What's going on Mr. President, you're a million mile away tonight." Leo whispered.
"Yeah. I'm sorry." The President sighed and pointed to the inscription carved in the fireplace mantel.
I pray Heaven to Bestow the Best of Blessings on THIS HOUSE and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and Wise men ever rule this roof.
"John Adams, the first President to live in the White House, wrote that in a letter to his wife on the second night he stayed here, did you know that?"
"No, sir. But why doesn't it surprise me that you do, and that a full historical account is about to follow."
"It certainly will now." The President replied as the two men made their way outside and the noise of crowd conversation faded behind them.
"I've never paid much attention to that quote before tonight." The President turned to look across the South lawn and to the Washington Monument lit in the distance. "I mean it's a nice enough little quote for a fireplace. But, I know that Adams was trying hard to convince his wife to move to Washington and in the great tradition of husbands verses wives debating, men will stoop to any low including inventing great prose to try getting their way."
Leo chuckled before the President spoke again. "Tonight I couldn't help but go over it and over it. The part I keep getting stuck on is that he prayed not just for wise men, but honest and wise men. Being smart enough is not the only qualification for this job."
The President turned to look Leo in the eye. "It's Josh, Toby, CJ and Sam. They may believe I'm wise but they'll never again think that I'm honest. If I don't have them how can I expect the rest of the country..." The two men stood in silence for several minutes, neither wanting to interrupt the other's pondering of the unsaid.
"Leo, somehow, I think John Adams wouldn't have voted for me."
"Mostly because he's dead Mr. President."
"Yeah. Let's go back inside."
He walked in the State Dinning Room like he was the President of the United States. Only CJ knew he wasn't because she worked for the President and this was not Josiah Bartlett. This man was younger and much sexier. He was wearing a dark charcoal suit, he had broad shoulders, brown wavy hair and smoky eyes. He was beautiful and CJ was on the edge of drool.
"CJ, Leo needs to see you." Carol pulled her out of the daydream she was just beginning. CJ mentally shook herself and gave the mystery man across the White House State Dinning Room one last glance.
"Yeah, OK." She pulled her eyes away and followed Carol down the corridors back to the West Wing. Somewhere in the bullpen she put down her glass of champagne. Josh emerged from his office to walk with her. Normally CJ enjoyed these formal White House functions, but tonight even a new royal blue silk Vera Wang gown and a menu of decadent New Orleans food by Emeril couldn't cheer her up.
"How many eggs are in bread pudding?" He asked her.
"I don't know Regis, I think I'll take my 500,000 and quit now."
"Seriously, you'll freak when you hear this. Not to mention the butter."
"Josh, sometimes I just-"
Sam cut her off, "Something's going on, Leo said he'd meet us in a minute." Toby was leaning against the wall. They all stood in silence for two whole minutes before it started again.
"Let me just say one more time that we need to consider that we might not be here to-"
"Sam." CJ cut him off.
"But I think we-" Sam tried again. This time Toby jumped on him, "That's maybe your problem, trying to think for us."
Josh's snippy voice added in, "oh, see we forgot the nation gets democracy but the White House is ruled by Dictator Toby Ziegler."
"The President consulted me before he even told any of you so-"
Sam's voice rose higher, "Toby, when are you gonna stop holding that over our heads?"
"When you pull yours out of your ass." Toby yelled.
"OK, everyone calm down." CJ interjected to cool tempers down. Instead it made her the mutual target of all sides.
"Stay out of this." Toby barked at her and Sam added, "We don't need the advice of someone who was only hired to look good on camera." His words bounced off the walls in the resulting silence.
Leo opened his door. "You four are worse than a rooster on speed. Get in here."
He informed them that 2 freighters carrying illegal oil entered US waters near Atlanta and Customs believed some trade was made but they were called in too late to do anything. "By morning they hope to brief us with more." Leo explained, then excused them to join the party.
Instead, CJ walked out to the garden, it was a cold night and the small straps of the gown were the only things on her arms. But the cold air felt good, cleansing. She hated the fighting. She didn't blame anyone, it was just the tension. But she just hoped it didn't irreparably hurt the friendships they'd always had.
She took a deep breath and let it out slowly through her nose. CJ closed her eyes and tried to imagine the California surf, afraid she was starting to forget the sound. Someone touched her elbow and she jumped.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you."
"It's OK, I-" she turned to face the gorgeous man she saw earlier. "Oh."
"I saw you come out here, I hope you don't mind if I join you?" His voice was smooth like thick chocolate sauce.
"Yes, I mean no, I mean, It's fine."
'Oh, yeah I'm an idiot.' CJ thought. 'Why I am the most confident person on television in front of the whole nation and then a complete baboon in front of a cute man is irony at its core.' "I ah, I just had an argument with my friend and I'm a little thrown right now." CJ tried to explain.
"A friend that you came here with tonight, or just a friend?"
"No, I didn't come here I..." Something inside CJ didn't want to admit her job to him. He was trying to find out if she was alone and she very much wanted to be right then. "We didn't come together, I came alone."
"My name is Ian." He stuck out his hand and gave hers a strong shake.
"Claudia Jean." She gave him a smile, "But most people call me CJ."
"Claudia is a beautiful name, why would you allow others to call you anything else?" His eyes when he smiled were amazing to watch, like fireworks on the 4th of July.
"Yeah. Well, that's kind of a long story. Claudia is fine if you prefer it." They stood in silence for a second, then CJ asked, "Why are you here tonight?"
"I'm here on business. How about you?"
"I'm a friend of the Bartlett's. The First Lady is forever trying to set me up with men at these events." CJ regarded these kinds of things much like being in the pressroom; she just had to pick out which truths she was willing to disclose. Those truths helped her create the direction the story will go.
"So I take it your single?" He asked.
"CJ, Toby needs you in there." Josh called from the veranda. Ian smiled and took her hand, "Looks like your friend has forgiven you. It's too bad." He kissed her hand then floated away, or at least it seemed that way to CJ.
"CJ?" Josh called again.
"Yeah." She yelled back then mumbled, "you people are seriously gonna die."
After round two of verbal punches between Toby and Sam with a few thrown her and Josh's way too, CJ sat alone on the couch in her office. The party sounds in the distance were cheerful, she was not. Her laptop was open in front of her but she wasn't working.
"So I HEARD that you're good in bed." The voice floated from the hallway into her office and CJ groaned.
"Go away." She snapped without looking up. He ignored her request.
"Care to comment on that little nugget of info, Madam Press Secretary?"
"Why, oh, why are you the only one on earth who calls me that?"
"Because it turns me on." She finally looked up at Danny Concannon lazily leaning on the doorframe of her office. Just the sight of him after 11 weeks was enough to turn her insides to liquid. 11 long weeks he'd been gone and she'd been pretending not to notice.
"Are you back to stay or just for a visit?" She changed the subject.
"I'm here on a tip other than the one I just mentioned. I'm snooping around." He shrugged.
"Who told you, you know, about the thing?"
"Tad Whitney. Seems he thought I was another fellow jitter, he bought me a drink and offered for me to be on his 'team'."
"That's what I'm working on. I just stopped by to tell you to be careful. The President may not be the only one people are planning to come after. Keep your guard up."
"As if it wasn't up already?" She said more to herself than him.
"I forgot I was talking to the queen of being guarded."
Danny's voice was flat but CJ thought there was something he was hiding...pain? She gave him the look that she gave while announcing her secret service name was Flamingo. It was a look of challenge, then said, "Nobody here believes it anyway...the good in bed part."
"I never doubted it," he said in a husky, whispered voice, "not for a minute."
CJ wondered when her office shrunk? And became about 20 degrees hotter. 11 weeks of separation that should have helped them both recover from their...thing. Instead a two-minute conversation brought it all back.
"I've got things to do, Danny, please?" She turned to her computer and Danny left her.
(Part 2 coming soon!!!! Meanwhile, comments accepted at email@example.com)