TITLE: May Day
AUTHOR: Luna (lunavudu@a...)
ARCHIVE: Coming soon to http://www.geocities.com/spark_fanfic/violet
See part one for notes and disclaimers.

"May Day"
Part Two

Sam pretended to knock on the air, and walked into Josh's office. "How's the
budget looking to you?"

Josh waved a hand in the air. "I'm a little concerned by some of the
small-ticket items, like... what was it, Donna?"

"The Railroad Retirement Board," she told him, slipping a file into his
bookcase.

"What about it?" Sam asked.

"Well, for one thing, I'm not sure how you retire a railroad," Josh said.
"But that's just another hundred million dollar thing."

"And yet, you won't give me a raise," Donna commented.

"Don't worry about the small-ticket stuff," Sam said. "Worry about how
you're going to justify the seven hundred billion dollars we're trying to
subtract from the Republican tax cut plan."

"I'm not going to justify it. You are. You're Communications."

Sam furrowed his brow. "So what are you doing here?"

"Lending moral support," Josh said innocently.

Sam scoffed. "We're going to have to go down to 850 billion on Education.
No way around that."

Donna approached them. "Can I ask a question, Sam?"

"Sure."

"Don't you think that in order to get our budget through, we need all the
Congressional support we can possibly get?"

"Of course."

Josh groaned. "Don't encourage her."

Donna let this pass and looked at Sam hopefully. "Don't you think if one of
us did something accidentally that soured the White House relationship with a
certain Congressman--"

Sam looked at Josh. "What'd you do?"

"I didn't! It was her. She mistook Tom Unger for a coat-check girl or
something."

"It was an honest mistake," Donna whimpered. "A stupid mistake. But it was
an honest mistake. And I just want you to write me a little note--"

"We haven't had enough trouble turning this place into a festival of
apologies?" Josh retorted.

"In all fairness," Sam said, "Tom Unger's only been in the House for about
five months. Could you pick him out of a lineup?"

"Sure. Of course." Josh leaned back in his chair. "No."

"Here's what you do." Sam got to his feet. "You write her the note, you
send it, you forget about it. Everyone feels better."

"I won't feel better," Josh said. "But I'll do it."

"Thank you!" Donna beamed at Sam. "And thank you."

"You owe me," Josh called after her as she started out.

"In your mind, maybe," she shot back, and left.

* * *

"Yes, sir," Bartlet said into the phone. "And I have the same wishes for
your country. Thank you." He put down the receiver and looked at Charlie.
"He's one arrogant guy. You wonder how the people of Lebanon feel about
that."

"Considering they're in the most war-torn part of the globe, sir?"

"Yeah, they probably don't mind too much."

Charlie stepped back toward the door. "Admiral Fitzwallace is waiting to see
you, sir."

"Send him in." Bartlet stood up as Charlie left and Fitzwallace entered.
"Admiral."

"Mr. President." He came to stand in front of the desk.

"What have you got for me?"

"From the information we have now, it looks like a case of engine
malfunction. The plane was not intentionally downed. We'll know more when
we find the in-flight recordings."

"And the crew?"

Fitzwallace bowed his head. "Two of the three bodies have been recovered."

Bartlet nodded slowly. "Do we know why it took so long for the rescue
operations to commence?"

"Not as of yet, sir. If the Chinese crew put out a distress signal, the
delay is significant."

The President frowned. "Fitz, if I find out that these American soldiers let
that plane sit in the water for one second...."

"Sir, if that's the case, they're no longer American soldiers."

Bartlet met his gaze. "You can guarantee me that?"

"I'll see to it myself."

"Thank you, Admiral." He extended a hand.

Fitzwallace shook it. "Thank you, Mr. President. I'll get back to you as
soon as we know more."

He turned smartly on his heel and left the room. The President watched him
go, shaking his head. He sat back down at his desk and reached for the phone.

* * *

C.J. heaved a sigh as she walked into the lobby of the White House. "Mr.
Barth--"

"Maury," he interrupted. "I told you already."

"You're forty-five minutes early."

"I'm not fashionably left-wing and I'm not fashionably late," he said smugly,
tapping his foot. "Where would you like me to wait for the President?"

"Actually, I wouldn't."

"Excuse me?"

"Do you watch the news, Mr. Barth?" C.J. inquired.

"I find television news repellently biased."

"That's unfortunate. You might have heard something about a plane crash in
the Pacific--"

"Read about it on the Internet," he interrupted. "It's the medium of the
future, you know."

"Be that as it may, the President's schedule has changed, and I'm afraid
we'll have to cancel you this afternoon."

Barth's eyebrows shot up. "You're backing out?"

"The President is otherwise occupied," C.J. said coolly.

"C.J.--"

"Ms. Cregg."

"Whatever. You can rest assured that I'll be writing about the lack of faith
this White House keeps with the representatives of the people."

"Actually, we are the representatives of the people." C.J. ushered him
efficiently toward the door. "And I'm sure your readership has already found
enough reason to hate us."

"You've given them plenty," he snapped. "And you can tell Seaborn that
inaccuracies do sometimes occur."

She stared at him. "Sam Seaborn is a lawyer, Mr. Barth."

He stormed out, scowling at the security guards he passed. C.J. ran a hand
through her hair and stood still for a little while. Then she turned and
went down the corridor to Toby's office.

He'd lowered the blinds and left the door barely ajar, the way he did
sometimes when he was having trouble writing. She watched him from the
doorway until she was sure he knew, without looking up, that she was there.
She smiled a little. "Toby Zachary Ziegler."

He kept his gaze on the screen of his laptop. "Why are you middle-naming me?"

"Why did you put me off this morning?"

"I didn't--"

"Toby Zachary Ziegler. T.Z.Z." She stepped into the office a little way,
shutting the door behind her. "It's like the zap when you tongue-test a
battery. Or if you do it backwards, it sounds like ZZ Top. Maybe if you
stopped trimming your beard--"

"Are you high?" he wondered, raising his eyes at last.

"Not remotely," she said sadly. "I've just been having one of the worst days
of my life. Do we know why that plane crashed yet?"

"Not really."

"I think it crashed just because I didn't have enough problems."

"You have plenty of problems."

"You're telling me." Her voice turned serious. "Why did you put me off this
morning?"

"I didn't put you off," Toby said. He pushed his chair back and stood up.
"I didn't have any information about what was going on."

"You should have told me right away, and not just because it would've gotten
me away from Barth sooner." She drew nearer to his desk and changed the
subject. "How's the India thing coming?"

"Almost finished."

"Wasn't it almost finished last night?"

"You want to write it?" He saved the file on his laptop and walked around
his desk, standing close to her. "Everybody's having a hard day, C.J.
Everybody's got work to do. Any day you work in the White House shouldn't be
counted among the worst days of your life. And I didn't put you off this--"

She interrupted him by pressing her mouth to his.

His first instinct was to kiss her back, and he did. His next instincts were
to remember that they were in his office, and stop her, but he didn't. He
reached out, possibly to take her by the shoulders, but found himself
touching her breasts, tugging at the buttons of her blouse. They came apart
under his fingers. She tilted her head back, and his mouth traveled along
her neck. She held onto his shoulders at first, and then started to pull his
shirt out of his trousers. His mouth found hers again, their bodies rising
into each other as he stroked her thigh underneath her skirt.

She was loosening the buckle of his belt when she made a tiny sound deep in
her throat. Hearing it snapped Toby back, and he knew where they were, and
who they were. He lingered for a split second more, and then the hands that
had been holding her against him pushed her away.

She looked at him, her eyes bewildered and blurred. He felt a surge of
anger, and did not know where to direct it.

"That," he said, catching his breath, "has to never happen. Here. Again.
Ever."

C.J. opened her mouth to say something sarcastic, but his eyes caught hers,
and she was suddenly flooded with guilt and fear. "I'm sorry," she blurted.

Toby wrenched his gaze away and looked at the floor, the window, anywhere but
where she was standing. Words did not come to him.

"You're going to the thing at the high school," C.J. said, trying for a
casual tone.

He nodded and managed to speak again. "You should go."

She tried to fix the blouse, realized a button or two had been lost, and
settled for smoothing down her skirt. Her skin was burning. She swallowed
hard and tried to fight the blushing as she hurried out to the hall.

Toby muttered several curse words under his breath, and straightened out his
clothes before going back to his desk.

* * *

"This motorcade thing's non-negotiable, huh?" Jed said as he walked to the
car.

"Kind of comes with the territory," Leo said.

"It's necessary. And it's nice not to get stuck in traffic. I don't miss
getting cut off, or hitting every single red light in the area."

Leo opened the door of the limo. "So what are you complaining about?"

"I do miss getting cut off and hitting every single red light. I miss
driving."

"Yeah," Leo said sympathetically as they got into the car. "You miss cursing
at everyone who passed you on the highway?"

"Yeah, but now I can just curse at this guy." Jed gestured to the driver.
"How're you doing, Gary?"

"Fine, thank you, sir."

"Your name is Gary, isn't it?" the President continued.

"It's actually Phil, sir."

"Never gonna get that right, am I?"

Toby opened the door and slid into the seat next to Leo. "Evening, Leo. Mr.
President."

"Toby!" Jed folded his hands. "How much do you know about the rites of
spring?"

"If you're referring to baseball, I know quite a bit."

"I'm referring to the ancient customs of the beginning of May," the President
said, in the tone he took when he was about to deliver a lecture.

Toby leaned back against the seat. "Then I'm sure I know considerably less
than you, sir."

Jed smiled. "The Celts and early Saxons celebrated Beltane as a major rite
of passage. People would go off into the woods to collect greening branches
and blossoms, and when they got there, they would enter into sexual liaisons
that society didn't normally accept."

Toby looked at Leo. Leo looked at the President. The President looked at
Toby.

"The Puritans had it banned by an act of Parliament in 1644," Jed added.
"And the custom didn't move with them to America."

"So essentially, your ancestors screwed us all up," Leo said.

"Seems that way, doesn't it?"

Toby glanced out the window. "So we still don't know about the plane?"

"The Pacific's deep," Leo said. "It might take them all night to sort
through the debris and find the recorder. May take a couple of days. We'll
hear as soon as possible."

Bartlet nodded. "Also, my grandmother's rabbit thing didn't work. You know
what that means?"

"Someone's pregnant?" Toby guessed.

Jed scowled at him. "It means I don't get an automatic month of good luck."

"Why should this month be different?" Leo asked. The car pulled away.

* * *

Josh strode into his office, shuffling through messages. He tossed a few
into the wastebasket and jotted notes on some others. Suddenly, he stopped
short and burst out laughing.

"Donna!" he shouted, between guffaws.

She appeared in his doorway, looking wary. "What's going on?"

He thrust a piece of paper into her hands. "This. From Congressman Unger."

Donna scanned the note, reading sporadic phrases aloud. "'Mr. Lyman, in
response to your note of this afternoon, no offense taken... didn't know the
young lady worked for you... thought she was...' oh, my God."

Josh grinned. "You got to the good part."

"He thought I was a deranged tourist?"

"Or a stoned college student. You didn't get to 'stoned college student'?"

"Oh, my God." She slumped onto his couch.

"Come on. You have to see the humor."

"I don't think I do."

"Really? Because that note made me feel pretty good, and when I feel good,
you feel good, right?"

"Not even a little bit," she said, covering her face with her hands. "Okay,
here's what I want you to do."

Josh crossed his arms and sat on the corner of his desk. "I'm not writing
another note for you."

"I don't want you to write a note. I want you to crush him."

"You want me to crush Tom Unger?"

Donna nodded emphatically. "Whatever it takes."

"Whatever happened to protecting our relationship with members of Congress?"

"That was before one of them called me a deranged tourist."

"And a stoned college girl," he reminded her, with a chuckle. "Why do you
keep skipping that part?"

"This is incredibly humiliating."

"A little bit," Josh said. "Donna, you're a smart person who makes mistakes
sometimes. Which means you fit in pretty well around this joint."

"I guess." She stood up, hugging herself. "Thanks for writing the note for
me."

"You're welcome."

Donna started to leave. "So you're not going to crush him?"

"Not unless he gets in the way of our education package."

She considered this. "Fair enough."

* * *

"Did you spill something on yourself?"

C.J. looked up. "What?"

"You changed your shirt," Danny said, from the threshold of her door.

"Danny, you're starting to cross that thin line between observant and creepy."

"Sorry." He held up his hands. "This is me backing off."

She reached up to rub her neck. "What do you need?"

"What time's the President coming back?"

"The event's due to end at nine-thirty, which means it'll probably be
sometime around ten when he finishes working the crowd. He'll be back by
quarter after. And that was all in the four-thirty briefing, so what do you
need?"

"I miss our little evening chats. Remember? We used to talk about things,
and then you'd give me a piece of hard candy--"

"We never did that."

"We could start. I like hard candy."

"Danny--"

"Actually, I wanted to tell you I won't be in next week. I'll be out of
town."

"Special assignment?"

"No assignment at all," he said.

"You're taking a vacation?" C.J. raised her eyebrows in disbelief. "You
don't take vacations."

"A little bird told me it was time to start."

"Okay." She rested her chin in her hand. "You and Katie?"

"I don't tan," Danny said cryptically. "I burn."

"Okay."

He took a step backward. "So we'll hear from you about the plane?"

"When I know."

"See you later." Danny strolled away.

"Later," C.J. said absently. She shuffled some papers on her desk.
Suddenly, a determined expression crossed her face. She gathered up her
reading and took it with her out of the office, closing the door behind her.

* * *

It was much later when Toby returned to his office. He set his briefcase
down in the dark. As he headed for his desk, he took off his jacket and
dropped it on the couch.

"Mmph," the couch said.

Toby turned on his desk lamp and saw C.J. pull herself into a sitting
position on his couch. His expression was guarded. "When did my office
become the Ritz-Carlton?"

"I wasn't sleeping."

"Sure."

"I wasn't," she insisted, pushing his jacket away. "I was just thinking."

"In here."

"Yes. We have to have this conversation, and since my day is already shot, I
figured we should do it tonight."

Toby shuffled his feet. "This is my office."

"I'm profoundly aware of that," C.J. said. "I messed up. And I told you I
was sorry."

"Yes."

"We're not supposed to be this way," she said miserably.

"No."

She looked at him. "Could you do something for me?"

"What?"

"Could you do anything but give me another monosyllabic answer?" she pleaded.
"I'm not used to being the one with all the words."

Toby sighed quietly. "We've been pitiful lately. This..." His hand made
circles in the air. "This is beneath us. There has to be some kind of
self-control and sensible behavior."

"We weren't going to sleep together anymore," C.J. said.

"I know."

"We weren't just sleeping together."

"I know." He paced toward her. "There is no switch on this. There is no
cure for this. We have to deal with it; we're not supposed to be this way.
Denial isn't working. Much as I hate to compromise -- this is in the middle."

"Well." In the lamplight, he could see her wry smile. "I always knew you
were an eloquent bastard."

"I am, in fact, both those things." Toby hesitated a little longer, and sat
down beside her.

They were quiet for a moment. "I'm sorry," C.J. said.

"Yeah."

"So what now?"

"Damned if I know."

She put her hands over her mouth and moaned into them. "I hate this."

"It will change, one way or the other," Toby told her.

"You sound unnervingly sure."

"I am."

* * *

"You have to be really quiet," Donna cautioned Bonnie and Ginger, leading
them through the bullpen. "Or they'll wake up and it'll ruin everything."

Ginger stifled a giggle. "I have to see this."

They clustered in the doorway. Josh and Sam were leaning against each other
in the middle of Josh's couch, both fast asleep, heads resting on each
other's shoulders.

"Precious," Bonnie said.

"I'm thinking we need photos for posterity," Donna said. "Eight by ten
glossies."

"Blown up to actual size," Ginger said, and couldn't help laughing out loud.

Sam started to stir at the sound, and his movement caused Josh to wake up.
He blinked at them groggily. "What?"

Donna and Bonnie started laughing, too, collapsing against each other.

Josh glanced down at the top of Sam's head. "Hey!"

"Huh?" Sam mumbled.

"What are you doing?" He shoved Sam lightly. "Get off!"

"Oof." Sam toppled over to the other side of the couch. He buried his face
in the upholstery.

"That was all him," Josh told the women.

"Sure it was," Donna and Ginger replied in unison.

Josh reddened. "You're not gonna, like, spread this around, are you?"

"How much is this worth to you?" Donna asked.

"You're blackmailing me?"

"Hell, yes."

"It's been a long day," Sam said into the arm of the couch.

"We'll negotiate our terms in the morning," Bonnie said matter-of-factly.
Still laughing, she and Ginger trudged off down the hall.

Donna wiped her eyes. "Do you two need to be left alone?"

"You're going to hell, Missy," Sam scolded her.

"Sorry." She grinned at them.

"No, you're not," Josh observed.

"Honestly, I am." Donna walked away. "I can't believe I didn't grab a
camera."

* * *

Toby rested his head on the top of his couch, staring at the wall opposite
him. He put one hand over his eyes; the other one was lying in C.J.'s hair.
She made a soft sound in her sleep, trembling under the jacket he'd draped
over her. He ran a finger very lightly over her cheek, barely touching her.

Leo coughed as he came into the doorway. C.J. raised her head a fraction of
an inch from Toby's knee, saw him, and sat up so quickly that she winced.
Leo glanced at her and didn't comment. "What time is it?" she asked.

Toby checked his watch and grimaced. "Ten after two."

"They found the thing from the plane," Leo said.

"What do we know?"

"The translators are still having at it, but first impressions..." Leo
shrugged. "It was a mechanical failure. They knew the engine was in
trouble; they had to know there were Americans in range. There was no
distress call."

C.J. rubbed her eyes. "They just went down?"

"They just went down," Leo confirmed. "Fitz's guy is going to do a briefing.
You can cover the rest in the morning."

"What time is it?" she asked again.

"Eleven after two."

"It's the morning now," C.J. pointed out.

"Yeah. So go home." Leo's gaze flickered back and forth between the two of
them, coming to rest on C.J. "You do not have my permission to spend another
night in this office."

With a great effort, she managed to get on her feet. "So all they had to
do," C.J. murmured. "All they had to do was call for help."

"Yeah." Leo frowned to himself. "Mayday. Mayday."

"What?"

"Go home." He turned his back on them and walked away down the hall.

C.J. began to follow him. She turned around shakily and looked at Toby.
"I--"

"I'll see you tomorrow," he said decidedly.

C.J. squinted at him and thought she saw the shadow of a smile. "Yeah?"

"Go." The smile was faint under his beard, but it was definitely there.
"Sleep in a bed, like a person. I'll see you tomorrow."

She turned and left. Her walk was unsteady with exhaustion at first, but
grew stronger as she went on. By the time she exited the White House, she
was smiling too.

* * *

End. Feedback would be deeply appreciated.

 

 

Home        What's New        Author Listings        Title Listings