TITLE: "The Flood" (Conclusion)

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

See notes on part one.

* * *

Sam knocked on Toby's door and found Toby hunched over his desk, writing frantically. "Hey, Toby."

Toby didn't look up for a moment, not until he was finished. "It's done."

"The President's speech?"

"Yes."

Sam stepped forward and took the papers from Toby's hand. "You missed it."

"What?" Toby rubbed his eyes.

"C.J. She freaked out."

He looked up. "What?"

"Yeah, she got hysterical, starting crying and talking about her underwear."

"Why was she--"

Sam shrugged, paying more attention to what he was reading than to Toby. "I don't know, I just saw the end of it. Josh made her take a nap. This is shameful."

"Shameful?" Toby furrowed his brow. "Well, if the only people who heard her talking about her underwear were you and Josh, I don't--"

"I'm not talking about C.J. and her underwear, Toby. I'm talking about this speech."

"My speech."

"Yes."

"It's shameful?" Toby raised his eyebrows.

"Yes."

"Would you care to elaborate on that?"

Sam threw his hands up. "We're treating this thing with Hoynes like it's some sort of embarrassment."

"That's because that's exactly what it is." Toby looked at Sam.

"Why? I don't--why is it such an embarrassment, Toby? What's the big deal?"

"Sam--"

"I'd like to know, Toby. What's the big deal? Why does the President have to give a speech about it, a speech in which you have him saying things like, 'This is a difficult time for the administration'? Why can't be go out there and say, 'Shame on Christy Cable for taking this picture, shame on Danny Concannon for writing a story about it, and shame on America for buying these newspapers'? Or, better yet, why does he have to say anything about it at all?"

"Sam--"

"This is a man's private life, Toby! How would you like it -- you, or Leo, or Josh -- how would you like it if it was your picture out there, if people were making speeches about what you do when you go home at night?"

Toby studied Sam for a moment before responding. "First of all, I don't think that Leo, or Josh, or myself, would be so thoughtless as to carry on an adulterous affair under a streetlight."

"Well, what if you did? Why would it be news? Why is something so private, news?"

Toby sighed. "You know why it is, Sam."

"I--" Sam looked around the room, defeated. "I know why it is. I just don't know why it has to be." He locked eyes with Toby. "Will we get past this?"

"Eventually."

Sam swallowed. "It's a good speech, Toby."

"Yeah."

Sam was halfway out the door when Toby called to him.

"Is she okay?"

He turned around. "Who?"

"C.J." Toby looked at him. "Is she okay?"

Sam half-smiled. "She's fine." He walked out of Toby's office, shutting the door behind him.

* * *

As Bayliss entered the Mural Room, the guard closed the door behind him. He looked around, wide-eyed. "This room is so beautiful."

"It really is," Hoynes agreed drearily, from a chair by the window.

Tim paced around the room and stopped across from John. "So. Hi."

"Hi."

"I'm a little surprised," Tim confessed. "I didn't think we'd get to see each other again."

"The President arranged it," Hoynes told him.

"Really?" Tim was awed. "That's incredibly -- nice."

"Mmm."

"It makes me wish I'd voted--"

"I don't have a lot of time," John said, gently.

Bayliss and Hoynes regarded each other without speaking until Tim broke the silence.

"Your tie." He rummaged around in his pocket. "You left it. You look nice, by the way."

"I feel like hell." John reached out and took the tie. His fingers brushed against Tim's for a moment, but instead of letting their touch linger, he pulled away.

Bayliss folded his hands behind his back. "Are you angry?"

"Not at you."

"You should be."

Hoynes looked Tim in the eye. "I'm an alcoholic."

"John--" Tim shook his head. "God, I was the one who said we should get a drink."

Hoynes chucked dryly. "And I didn't refuse."

"You didn't."

"If I could change things, Tim, I would."

Tim shook his head. "No, you wouldn't. This is what you want."

"I just--" Hoynes fingered the tie. "I don't know what to say to you."

"You can admit that you want to be here, John."

"It's all I've ever wanted," he said softly.

"Well. I hope it makes you happy." Tim looked at the carpet. "I should go."

John rolled and unrolled his tie. "Yeah."

"Can I just -- I don't want to remember us in that picture." Bayliss couldn't look at Hoynes, and his voice cracked. "Can I have..."

"I can't." John couldn't look at Tim, either.

"Why?"

Hoynes cleared his throat. "Because this is the White House."

Tim walked slowly to the door. "Tell the President I said thank you."

"Yeah," Hoynes whispered, knowing it was a lie. The door closed, and he looked out the window. It was still raining.

* * *

"You've got to know when it's time to turn the page - When you're only wet because of the rain." - Tori Amos

* * *

End. 

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