TITLE: May Day
"You're going to ruin your back that way."
C.J. raised her head slowly, struggling to make her eyes focus. "What?"
Leo stood in her doorway. "Sleeping hunched over your
desk like that.
She pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes and rubbed
them gently. When
"You haven't been evicted, have you?" Leo wondered.
"You have working heat and running water where you live, right?"
"Then you don't have an excuse. Go home."
"No." C.J. sat up straight. "I can take a
shower downstairs. Carol can
"Or you could go home."
"I have too much to do," she said adamantly.
Leo shook his head and walked away. C.J. yawned for a long
"Sorry!" Donna helped her up. "See, Josh? Further evidence."
"Sorry, C.J." Josh rolled his eyes at Donna. "You're overreacting."
"I'm a freak."
"A freak, Josh. I am. I should go join the circus."
"Right behind you," C.J. murmured, leaning against the wall.
"You're overreacting," Josh told Donna again.
"When I die, Michael Jackson can buy me at an auction
and display me next to
"Why do you think you're a freak?" C.J. asked.
"I didn't recognize Tom Unger yesterday afternoon."
Josh scoffed. "He's a freshman Representative from
Ohio, Donna, not a movie
"I thought he worked at J.C. Penney's!"
C.J. pinched the bridge of her nose wearily. "You
thought Congressman Unger
"No." She sighed miserably. "I'm a freak."
"You are not a freak." Josh put a hand on her
arm and guided her down the
"You think so?"
"I know it." He turned around. "C.J.?"
"You have newsprint on your face."
C.J. put a hand to her forehead. "Lovely."
Sam came up behind her. "Definitely."
She jumped. "What are you doing?"
"Agreeing with you," he said. "This is a
lovely morning. The sun is
"Yeah, that's really lovely."
Sam regarded her suspiciously. "Did you even go home last night?"
"Not as such," she admitted.
"You shouldn't do that. It's not good for you."
C.J. rolled her eyes. "Why is it that when one of you
guys sleeps in the
Sam paused. "Okay, I really don't have an answer for that, so you know what?"
"You're going to change the subject?"
"She knows me so well," he announced to no one
in particular. "I need you to
"Maury Barth hates me."
"Why do I have to talk to him?"
"He hates me more."
"No, I mean, why does anyone have to talk to him?"
"He wants a private interview with the
President," Sam explained. "And he
"This is not fair," C.J. told him.
"I know. But you'll do it?"
"You're a pearl," he called, walking away.
"I'm a diamond in the rough," she replied.
She turned. "Carol. Thank God."
Her assistant looked her over. "You need a change of clothes?"
"Please. Also, could you pinch me?"
"There's a pretty good chance this is all a crazy dream, right?"
Carol clicked her tongue sympathetically. "I can't help you there."
"It figures." C.J. yawned again. "I'm going
to take a shower."
* * *
"Sweeps month," Josh said, walking into Leo's office.
Sam followed him. "Also, April showers bring May flowers."
Leo looked up. "What are you two talking about?"
"The spring," Josh told him. "We're revelling in it."
"I'm thinking of making some New Year's resolutions," Sam added.
Josh glanced at him. "On May first?"
"I have my own fiscal year."
"Good," Leo said. "Now, if you two can
refrain from finding a maypole and
Josh pulled up a chair. "Haven't we established that I'm not a math guy?"
"I'm not asking you to do calculus, I'm asking you to read down a list."
"I can do that."
"I hope to God you can, because I'd hate to have to fire you."
"I wouldn't," Toby said, striding into the room.
Josh chuckled. "You can't fire me."
"I can fire Sam, and that would make you cry."
Sam wrinkled his nose. "Astonishing to me that I just
got brought into this
Toby ignored this and spoke to Leo. "I'm working on India. Second draft."
"How close is it to being finished?"
"Close enough," Toby said vaguely. He looked around. "Where's C.J.?"
"I hope she didn't fall asleep in the shower," Sam said.
Josh's eyes twinkled. "We could go check."
"I know seven ways to kill a man with my bare
hands," C.J. informed them
"Do you want to take that gamble, Josh?"
Leo looked at them ominously. "Yeah, because it's not
as if we have actual
"Point taken." Josh stood up. "I have
numbers to read. Firing Sam would
"I've moved on," Toby said dismissively.
"I think we all have." Leo pushed his chair back
from his desk. "Let's light
"I have the morning briefing and then Maury Barth."
"Not really; I hate Maury Barth."
"He meant you," Sam put in.
"Oh." C.J. smiled for the first time that day.
* * *
"Charlie!" The President hailed him as he walked
into the Oval Office. "Did
The young man blinked. "No, sir."
Jed shook his head reproachfully. "You should have
said 'rabbit, rabbit,
"You should be." Jed circled his desk and sat down.
Charlie stepped towards him. "May I ask why?"
"Ah," Jed said sagely. "I was waiting for that, you know."
"I know, sir."
"It's a tradition -- some would say a superstition --
passed down to me by my
"Abbey claims she never heard it either." Jed
frowned. "Is it possible my
Charlie raised his eyebrows. "Well, Mr. President, I
don't know your
"That's what I thought." He put his glasses on.
"What do we have going this
"You have a security briefing in five minutes,
followed by greetings to a
"Okay. And I'm assuming there's still a health crisis
in sub-Saharan Africa,
Charlie nodded. "Don't forget you have the budget
remarks tonight at
"Of course. It's a light day."
Leo came through the door. "Good morning, Mr. President."
"Good morning, Leo. Did you say 'rabbit, rabbit, rabbit' this morning?"
"No, sir. You know why?"
"Because I'm not your crazy grandmother." He
tilted his head. "Security
"As I'll ever be." He took his glasses off and
stood. "Let's go."
* * *
"Nine o'clock in the morning and we're already
screwing the people," Josh
"What now?" Donna asked from her desk.
"NASA." He emerged from his office, gesturing
with a file. "I don't know
"There are people who test that?"
"Maybe they're checking for differences among the
fifty-seven varieties of
Donna stood up and walked over to Josh, reading along with
him. "Well, can't
"Not without Congressional approval."
She looked at him with eyes wide. "Do me a favor?"
"If you're going to ask for a bottle of French's
Mustard and a ramp, I can
"I want you to send a note to Tom Unger."
Josh scanned her pleading expression and took a step back. "Not a chance."
"On my behalf, so he doesn't feel insulted that I didn't recognize him."
"If it's crazy to think that we should do what we can
to avoid alienating
He crossed back into his office. "Why do I have to be involved in this?"
She followed him. "Because I work for you, and if I
look bad, you look bad.
"You really thought I would buy that?" Josh sat
down behind his desk.
"But he already thinks I'm a freak."
"You know, I never thought I'd find studying a list
of budget figures so
"It's not obvious?"
"It's important to note."
"You think somebody's going to think you want to
spend three dollars and
"I'll reprint it." She gave him another
beseeching look. "Please send him a
"Go work," he scolded her. She sighed softly and
* * *
C.J. walked into the Mural Room with two mugs of coffee.
She set them on the
The pudgy, gray-haired man picked up a cup. "Miss
Cregg, you are living
C.J. sat on the sofa opposite him. "I... really don't
know what you mean by
"Me neither." Barth sipped his coffee. "You
got any hot chocolate around
"I'm afraid not." She crossed her legs.
"So, let's talk about this
"I consider myself a moderate conservative, actually,
but I'm not surprised
"Why should we grant you an exclusive with the President?"
He leaned toward her, folding his hands. "How can you
"Why do you expect us to give you ammunition to use against us?"
"Why do you answer every question with a
question?" Barth grinned toothily.
"He can give you twenty minutes at six o'clock this
evening," C.J. said
"Well, I suppose I'm grateful."
"Provided you stop misquoting his speeches in your columns."
"I have never done so intentionally." Barth
assumed an offended tone. "It
"Sam Seaborn doesn't see it that way."
"That's right. We're all out to get you."
Toby opened the door and caught C.J.'s eye. He inclined
his head toward the
"And I'll see you in a few hours." He shook her
hand. "Call me Maury next
C.J. withdrew her hand and followed Toby out of the Mural
Room. "Dear God,
"Barth is that bad?"
"You mean you can't see my skin crawling?"
"I'm really not paying any attention." They
rounded a corner. "We have a
C.J. groaned. "Who did what to whom?"
"They've been in the Situation Room for fifteen minutes," Toby informed her.
She stopped in her tracks. "Fifteen minutes? And you
just now came and got
Toby shrugged. "I have no more to tell you now than I
did fifteen minutes
"It's the principle--" She gave up and started
over. "What do you have to
"We're waiting for Leo." He led her into the
Roosevelt Room, and they sat
"Does anyone in here know what the Appalachian
Regional Commission does?"
"It develops the Appalachian Region," Larry volunteered.
"Somewhere along the line, someone's going to ask why
they need a hundred
Sam walked up behind Josh and scanned the list over his
"Yeah, but I can explain to them why I'm broke. I
can't explain the other
"So refer them to someone from the
Appalachians." Sam took a seat. "Does
"It's not a domestic situation," Josh said. "That's all I've got."
"That clears up a lot," C.J. grumbled. "So
some jet pilot stationed in Guam
"Guam's domestic," Sam said.
"I know. I couldn't think of a good example offhand."
"So there's nothing we can do right now but wait," Ed concluded.
"That's basically it," Josh agreed. "We
could start a round-table discussion
"Or not," Sam replied.
"I haven't been to the movies in a year, and Toby
always wins at finger
"All right, listen up." Leo walked briskly into
the room. "Half an hour
"That's a pretty big target," Josh murmured
aside to C.J. "You'd think
Leo shot a stern look at Josh. "This is funny to you?"
"Which part of the Pacific?" Josh asked.
"A good bit south of Taiwan. Three U.S. vessels were
within signaling range.
"Wait a second." Toby drummed his fingers on the
table. "The plane crashed
Leo frowned. "We don't know."
"Do I need to push back the two o'clock briefing?" C.J. asked.
"Maybe by thirty minutes. We'll have more from the Pentagon by then."
"Leo," Sam said, "Is there any chance that Americans were involved--"
"No," Leo said firmly.
"As sure as I can be on very little
information." Leo looked around the
As everyone began to file out of the room, Josh glanced
back at Leo. "I'm
"You should be," Leo said. His mouth crinkled
into the slightest hint of a
* * *
"...The plane was an HD-5 Beagle, carrying a
three-man crew, designed for
"C.J., can you tell us anything at all about the
investigation? Can you at
She leveled a steady look at him. "I choose not to
elaborate when the
"Should've left that one out," Danny said.
C.J. turned toward him. "Danny, do you have a question?"
"Sure. China has been building up missile defenses
over the past few years,
"I don't speculate, Danny. All I can tell you is that
the words and actions
Danny followed C.J. out of the Press Room. "How's your day going, Ceej?"
"It's -- Ceej?"
"I was experimenting."
"Don't ever do that again."
She rounded the corner into her office. "Not ever."
He leaned against the doorjamb. "How's your day going, C.J.?"
"Cloudy with a chance of rotten."
"You didn't go home last night," Danny said.
C.J. whirled around and looked at him. "How'd you know that?"
"I've never seen you wear a skirt with those shoes."
"I fell asleep over the HUD memo sometime after
four-thirty in the morning."
"Not really. Except to let you know that the HUD memo
is making the rounds
She dropped into her chair. "You have the HUD memo?"
"I haven't looked at it personally. Katie has it."
"What, you and Katie are passing notes in class now?"
Danny looked at the floor. "Kind of."
"Kind of?" She looked at him questioningly. "I was joking."
"We have a kind of a thing."
"I was joking." C.J. took a breath. "I don't want to know."
"You notice my shoes?"
"It's my eye for detail." He swung out of her
doorway. "I hope your day
"And I hope pandas will learn to fly," she said,
and began to rummage through
* * *