TITLE: "The Flood" (6/8) 

AUTHORS: Luna (lunavudu@aol.com) and Jessica (bolander3@aol.com

See notes on part one.

* * *

"I don't think it's ever going to stop raining," C.J. stood by Leo's office window, peering through the blinds.

"Probably not. Do you know what you're going to say to this Bayliss kid?"

C.J. drained her coffee cup. "He's not a kid, Leo; he's forty years old."

"I'm just--" Leo was interrupted by Margaret.

"Tim Bayliss is here. Should I send him in?"

"Yes, thank you." He looked at C.J.. "Do you want more coffee?" She nodded vigorously. "Bring us more coffee, too, please."

Margaret nodded and motioned the waiting visitor into the office. The tall man entered and looked around shyly.

"Good morning, Detective Bayliss." Leo gestured towards a chair. "Have a seat."

Tim obeyed. He was shaky, half from nerves and half from the hangover gnawing at him. "Um. This place is really... wow."

"It's the White House," Leo said.

Tim looked at the floor. "Yeah."

Leo indicated C.J., who was standing near the window looking Tim over. "This is our press secretary, C.J. Cregg."

He nodded. "Hi. I thought I recognized you."

"You spoke to Josh Lyman and Sam Seaborn earlier," Leo said.

"Yes. Last night. Which is, I guess, this morning." Tim half-smiled at the recollection. "They were very damp."

Leo did not react. "Have you also spoken to your family?"

"I've called everyone I needed to talk to," Tim said, then thought of Frank Pembleton, which always hurt. *Almost everyone,* he added silently.

"I'm going to cut to the chase here, Detective." Leo folded his hands and looked intently at Tim. "We need to know whether you're a threat to national security."

Tim was unnerved. "What?"

C.J. spoke for the first time since he'd been in the room. "We need to know if you're going to sell your story."

"Sell my story," he repeated.

"Detective--"

"Don't keep calling me that," he interrupted. His voice had a sudden edge. "I -- call me Tim. Please."

C.J. stepped forward. "Okay, uh, Tim. Obviously there are a lot of people who would like to use your relationship with the Vice President to damage the credibility of the administration."

Tim looked back and forth between Leo and C.J. "You must think I'm some kind of horrible person."

"We don't think that," C.J. replied.

"You do. You think I'm a liability." Tim stood up. "You're wondering how much money I'll make off bedding the Vice President. Like I'm in this for a book deal!"

"Detective--" Leo began.

"*Tim*. See, the thing is, I wasn't sleeping with the Vice President. I was--" Tim blushed, but his eyes were fierce. "I was sleeping with John Hoynes. Not the office, just the man. I realize it was selfish to think that that would work, to ignore his career and -- and I didn't care. I didn't care what he did when he went to work. I was...." He placed a hand on the back of the chair to steady himself. "It was just good that we could be together."

Tim paused, remembering where he was. C.J. and Leo were quietly studying him. He took a breath and let it out slowly. "But you don't really need to know that, I guess."

C.J. looked directly at Tim and repeated herself. "What we need to know is that you are not going to sell your story."

Bayliss stared at his hands. "As far as I'm concerned, there is no story to sell." He looked up suddenly. "You must think I sound pretty stupid."

"You do," Leo spoke candidly.

Tim looked at his hands again and spoke very quietly. "Yeah."

C.J. found that she couldn't tear her eyes away from Tim. "I'm sure Sam and Josh told you not to speak to the press."

"I should tell you -- I got a call a little while ago from Danny Concannon."

"What?" C.J. was startled.

"I let him get to me, and I said some things I shouldn't have." Tim looked at her. "I'm sorry."

"What exactly did he say to you?" C.J.'s tone was measured.

"Uh... honestly, I'd rather not repeat it."

"He was trying to elicit a negative reaction from you, Det--Tim," Leo stared at him.

Bayliss blinked back unwanted tears. "Well, it worked."

C.J. looked at the wall. "Danny has that affect on people."

"Is--" Tim suddenly didn't know what to say. "Is it going to be a problem, what I said to him?"

"I'll take care of it." C.J. walked to the door and opened it.

Bayliss stood, wondering if he should extend a hand to Leo McGarry. One look at Leo's face told him that he should not. Tim left the office without a word. When he was gone, C.J. called to Margaret.

"Call Danny Concannon. Now."

* * *

C.J. stood very still in the dim light, scanning the books on her shelf. Carol leaned into her office. "He's here."

She nodded slightly. Carol vanished. A moment later, Danny came into the office, softly closing the door. He waited for C.J. to speak, but she didn't acknowledge his presence. The silence was broken only by the patter of rain outside. At last Danny began, tentatively, "Off the record." When she still did not face him, he added, "You already yelled at me an hour and a half ago."

C.J.'s voice was calm. "That was then; this is now."

"You really think it's the best use of your time and mine to keep calling me in here to argue with me?"

"I didn't call you in here to argue with you."

Danny frowned. "Then...?"

"I called you to warn you."

He was caught off guard, and took a step back. In an even tone, she continued, "We're not on the same side anymore. You've got to know you've slammed a door on yourself, Danny. I've let you get away with a lot around here--"

"I don't work for you, C.J.!" he replied indignantly. "I'm a journalist! You can't hold it against me if I act like one. If you don't like what I print, that's your problem, and you can't expect me--"

"I expect the same from you as anyone else in my Press Room, except that I've cut you more slack. We've disagreed before, and who knows, maybe you've even been right once or twice. But this crosses every line I ever...." Her voice turned colder. "It's over, Danny. Call up *The Enquirer* and ask if they'll give you a column, because you're not going to win back the trust or respect of this administration."

"I don't believe this. You're *threatening* me. Here in this office in the White House, you're threatening me!"

C.J. ignored this, and did not turn around. "Christy Cable is a sick man."

Danny couldn't dispute that, but he defended his source automatically. "He's entitled to his views."

"Of course he is. Of course. But his views are twisted, Danny, and for a respected national paper to put its weight behind them is wrong, because it's not news. It's perversion. You bought this man's perversion and you put it on the front page."

"A source is a source, C.J., whether or not they're politically correct enough for your tastes!" He raised his voice shrilly. "For that matter, who the hell are you to tell me what's right and wrong? I reported some facts, and I don't see anyone stepping up to dispute them! The Vice President walked out of a hotel and stuck his tongue down another man's--"

"You had to call him," she interrupted, quietly.

Danny flinched. "What?"

"You called him, not just to get your story, but to humiliate him. This naive, stupid, sweet man -- you crushed him, Danny. You treated him like he was less than human." He moved towards her, but she tightened her stance and stared at the wall. "You know, I think that's even sicker than taking the picture itself."

He was stung. "C.J., look at me--"

"I can't look at you, Danny." She folded her arms around herself. "You should leave."

"I did my job," he reiterated, sounding less certain than he had before.

"And I need to do mine."

She tapped her fingers on her arm impatiently. He ran a hand through his hair, trying to think of something he could say. Failing, he whimpered softly under his breath, turned, and walked out heavily. She didn't move until she was sure he was gone.

* * *

TO BE CONTINUED

 

 

The Flood - 7

 

 

 

Home        What's New        Author Listings        Title Listings