TITLE: "The Flood" (2/8)
See notes on part one.
* * *
Hoynes sat shivering on the couch in his darkened living room, eyes closed, fingers pressed to his temples against a raging headache. He did not look up when Leo and Josh walked in.
"I know what you're going to say, Leo." John mumbled.
"Oh, I'm sure you do," he said in a carefully controlled tone. "Mr. Vice President, may I speak informally here?"
"I don't care."
"Good. What in God's name were you *thinking*?!"
"I wasn't. It just happened." The explanation sounded weak, even to himself.
Josh leveled his gaze at Hoynes. "You went to the trouble of dodging your Secret Service protection -- and by the way, the Secret Service is really not amused. You met this man secretly in an expensive hotel late at night. You kissed this man at two in the morning in a public street. Am I missing anything?"
"That's a hell of a lot to have just happened, John!" Leo said, annoyed. "Don't tell me you weren't thinking. Give me something I can use! You've got a pretty slim chance of getting out of this as it is, and you've got none if you're not going to work with us here."
Hoynes wished the floor would open and swallow him. "I really don't know what to tell you," he murmured.
"For starters, are you...." Leo couldn't believe he was asking this question. "Are you... sleeping with this guy?"
Hoynes raised his head. His eyes were bloodshot, but flashing. "I'm *seeing* him," he said, with difficulty. "Yes."
"Well, *that's* something the newspapers are going to love to hear," Josh remarked archly.
"If we're lucky, they're not going to hear it," Leo said.
"Yeah, but we're never lucky," Josh pointed out.
"John, we're going to have to talk to him. And it's going to have to be tonight, before this picture hits the cover of Weekly World News."
Hoynes seemed about to complain, but he stood up. He walked across the room, took a piece of note-paper and a pen, and scribbled an address. He folded the note and gave it to Leo. Outside, thunder rumbled. John hated the way Josh and Leo were watching him.
"Now what?" he asked, finally.
"The President's going to want to see you first thing in the morning," Leo told him. "He'll be expecting you, and he's going to be pretty damn furious. For the moment, there's nothing you can do except go talk to your family. Trust me, you'll be glad they heard this from you."
A stricken look crossed John's face. "Georgia's spending her spring semester at Choate. I'll have to call up there. Jesus, Andrew's only nine years old...."
Josh studied him for a moment. "You have a couple of hours to get yourself together," he said, not without sympathy. "At least, you have until the morning papers hit the street."
Hoynes nodded. Josh walked past him and out the door. Leo went to follow him.
He stopped. They were face to face.
"I was drinking," Hoynes said, his voice trembling.
"I know," Leo said. "I gotta tell you, I'm not inclined to feel sorry for you right now. I'll see you in a little while."
Leo crossed to the door. "We're all powerless over it, John," he said, and left.
Hoynes stood there, thoughtfully. His headache was maintaining a dull roar, matched by the unceasing patter of the rain. "Yeah," he said to no one in particular, and turned to go upstairs and talk to his wife.
* * *
Inside his room at the Madison, Tim Bayliss stood by a window and watched it rain. Brief flashes of lightning lit up the city, and Bayliss desperately wished he had left that morning as he had planned. He fingered the tie in his hand, the tie that John had left behind. Tim raised it to his face and inhaled, but he couldn't smell John's cologne on it anymore. He knew there would be so many questions. What he didn't know was how he was going to answer them.
The knock made Bayliss jump. He quickly stuffed the tie in his pocket, took a deep breath and opened the door. There were two men. The one on the left, the one with the square jaw, carried a briefcase. The man on the right was pale. They both looked very wet, very cold, and very annoyed.
The one with the square jaw spoke. "Are you...?"
Tim nodded and the men entered his room.
"Sam Seaborn, " said the square-jawed man. "This is Josh Lyman. We need you to tell us everything."
Bayliss watched Josh and Sam dripping and tracking mud all over his expensive hotel room, and couldn't suppress a chuckle.
Tim tried not to smile. "They don't have umbrellas in the White House?"
"Do you know where my umbrella is?" Josh asked. "It's in my house, which is where I was, asleep, when I got a page that said the Vice President of the United States was seen tongue-kissing a man in the middle of the street!"
"That's not--" Tim slumped into a chair. "That's not how it was."
Sam turned to Josh and whispered, "Your page really said tongue-kissing?"
"I was trying to make a point."
"Oh. Well, that was a nice touch."
Josh nodded. "Thank you."
Sam sat down on the sofa and opened his briefcase. "Start with your name." He pulled out a legal pad and a pen.
"Are you employed?"
A harsh, dry chuckle escaped Tim's lips. "I'm a homicide detective. Was. Am. A homicide detective."
Josh spoke. "Here in DC?"
"How can a cop afford to stay in a room like this?" Josh already knew the answer.
Bayliss knew it wouldn't sound good. "John is paying for it."
"What are you doing in Washington?" Josh sat on the couch beside Sam.
Tim rubbed his forehead. "I'm here to see John."
"How long have you been in town?"
"A few weeks." Bayliss cleared his throat. "I've taken some time off."
Sam looked up from his notes. "Vacation time?"
"Why did you take several weeks of personal time?" Josh stood and began pacing around the room.
Tim shifted in his chair. "I see dead bodies every day. I've stood over men and women. I've stood over drug dealers and murderers and--" he stopped. When he spoke again, he spoke softly. "Innocent little girls in the rain." Tim's voice caught. "Last year, I was shot, almost didn't make it. I took this time off to figure out what I want to do."
There was no easy way to ask the next question, so Josh just took a breath and did it. "How long have you and the Vice President been lovers?"
"Josh!" Sam exclaimed.
"We have to know," Josh said. "And I sure as hell didn't want to ask Hoynes."
Bayliss couldn't believe they were discussing this. "Six months."
Sam shot Josh an angry glance before going back to his notes. "How did you meet?"
"We met at Jimmy's, in Fells Point. This was right before I started back to work after I got shot. He was in line ahead of me. I spoke to him and didn't realize who he was until he turned around."
"The men surrounding him in dark suits and sunglasses didn't tip you off, Detective?" Josh sat down again.
"I wasn't paying attention," Tim whispered feebly.
Sam looked at his watch. "We need to get back to the White House. This should be all the information we need now. It'll just take me a minute to write something for you to say to the press."
"He's not saying anything to the press." Josh turned to address Tim. "You're not talking to the press."
"Why the hell not?" demanded Sam.
"Leo's orders." Josh looked at Tim again. "You are to avoid members of the press at all costs. If you have to speak to them, do not lie. This is very important. Do not lie. Just say 'no comment.' Do you understand?"
"Why can't he talk to the press, Josh?" Sam still hadn't put away his legal pad.
Josh was stunned. "Leo's orders, Sam. What is wrong with you?"
Sam shook his head and closed his briefcase. As he put on his coat, he walked over to Tim. "Things are going to be really bad for a few days."
"Things are already really bad." Tim realized that his teeth were chattering.
Josh shook his head. "Wait until sunrise. They'll get worse."
Sam stood by the door. "Josh, this is...I think this is an invasion of privacy, and I think any citizen of this country they should have the right to tell the cameras and the newspapers to get the hell out of their face."
"Sam--" Josh began to speak, and then thought better of it.
"I should have seen this coming," Bayliss rested his head in his hands. "We should have seen this coming. How could we have been so stupid?"
"You might want to call your family, friends, your bosses in Baltimore, whatever," Josh said softly. He and Sam took a final look at the man on the couch. They both felt sorry for Tim, ashamed of Hoynes, and sick at the whole situation. Without a word, they walked out of the hotel room and closed the door behind them.
* * *
TO BE CONTINUED