Title: " Asking Questions, Making Choices" (a sequel to the "House

Divided" series) Part Four

Author: Marie Rossiter (jonrie@adelphia.net)

Spoilers: Up through "17 People"

Rating: PG-13

Synopsis: Lots of questions, many answers, few choices...

Disclaimers: As always...these people are not my creation, so I take no credit for them. That credit belongs to Aaron Sorkin and his team.


Feedback: I would love it!

Once again, my strong willed "beta", Jo-Ellen, is on me...so here we go again!




"Leo, you can't be serious." Josh says to me. He's in full-blown crisis mode right now. He's pacing all over the place. I need to pull him back down to Earth a bit.

"Josh, I understand that you think better on your feet, but could you please just.."

"Sit down." Toby says through gritted teeth.

Well, this meeting has started out on the right note.

"I think better this way." Josh retorts.

"Probably because you aren't sitting on your brains." Toby says evenly.

"Boys!" I interrupt. "If you want to go out to the playground to beat the crap out of each other, go for it. Otherwise, we're here to work, and we need all of our focus on this—or isn't this enough to challenge your 'highly superior minds'?"

Toby chuckles sardonically, as only he can. "Well, forgive us, Leo, you've just told us that the President is in the process of stepping down from office. Between that news and the MS, you haven't exactly been the bearer of great tidings this week, so cut us some slack as we try to deal with this, OK?" Toby snaps.

"Resign? Are you SURE he said, resign?" Josh asks.

"Yeah." I answer.

"What the hell is going on, Leo? He can't just quit." Josh adds.

"He's the President of the United States, Josh. He can do pretty much whatever the hell he feels like."

Toby sighs. "He lied, Josh. He's in shit waist deep right now. When this goes public, it's going to make all of our other crap look like a walk in the park."

Josh stops his pacing at this remark. "Are you saying he's running away from a fight?"

Toby looks over at me for the answer to that question. I wish it were that simple.

"Leo?" Josh turns to me, also in search for the truth—whatever the hell that is.

I say nothing in reply, because I can't. It's just not that simple.

"What the hell happened to 'Let Bartlet Be Bartlet'!" Josh fumed. "The President has never backed down from a fight before. He lives for these things. He's just going to give up?"


"Leo, I have a right to know this. We all do. Is he that sick?"

"He's not sick, Josh. That has nothing to do with it."

"Well, what then?!"

"It's the President's decision, Josh." I answer. "We can't make it for him. I'm not inside his head, so I can't tell you what led him to this decision." Liar....

"Bullshit." Toby fires at me. "You are in the President's mind every day—which I thank God each day that you have that job and not me—you are his right hand and practically half of his brain to go along with it."

"Watch what you say, Toby!" I warn.

"Oh, please, Leo! I mean no disrespect. But for you to sit there and tell us that you don't know what drove an otherwise healthy and successful President to decide pick up his jacks and go home is a bold-faced lie. We've had enough lies, Leo! We just want the facts so we know what the hell we're dealing with here. You want us to solve the problem? Then stop being so fucking ambiguous!"

He's right and I hate to hell when he's right.

"O.K. Toby. This is what I know, for whatever it's worth...."


I was expecting answers from my conversation with Abbey, not more questions. How the hell was I supposed to figure out that she was out of the loop? The First Lady is NEVER out of the loop—so, of course I was shocked to discover that she didn't even know about the President's pending announcement.

I'm more confused now that I was earlier and I didn't even think that was possible.

I'm hoping that Leo can get me in to see the President. I'm not sure what I'm going to say to President Bartlet, but there's no way I can deal with this and avoid him. Leo had better be in his office.

Well, Leo is here and I see that the latest meeting of the "Big Bad Boys Club" is in session—Leo, Josh and Toby. What a team. Three of the most brilliant political minds in the nation, hell maybe even the world. Put them together and you can almost see the resemblance to the Three Stooges. You know how they slap each other around? I've just about seen that happen right here in the West Wing.

"Hey, guys." I say, announcing my presence. Of course, they didn't notice that I even walked into the room until I said anything.

"CJ, glad you're here." Leo says.

"Ok, hold on a sec" I say. I need to grab my date book.

"What are you doing?" Toby asked in his typical aloof tone.

"I'm marking this day in my book. I don't hear 'CJ, glad you're here' very often in this place." I reply as I make at note in the appropriate box.

Larry , Moe and Curly can just sit there and wait.

"Are you done?" Leo asks after a moment.

"Yep. Whatta ya got?" I respond.

"Well, we've got a President on the verge of resigning—so, you know, overall things are pretty boring around here, as usual." Toby says sarcastically.

"Thanks for the update, Toby." I shoot back. "Leo?"

He's just sitting and shaking his head at this point. "Yeah?"

"I need to see the President."

"Damn! Yeah! I told him that I would send you in as soon as you got here."


"I'm sorry, CJ. I've been a little preoccupied here."

I'm out the door before he can say anything else and I'm on my way to the Oval Office.

Walking in the foyer outside of the office, I see Charlie sitting at his desk. I guess he was called in, too. What a Sunday this is turning out to be.

"Hey Charlie."

"Hey CJ"

"Is he in there?"

"Yeah. He's been waiting."

Oh, God. Not that...I've kept him waiting. I'm doomed.

I walk into the office and find the President standing in front of the door leading to the outside. He's just standing there. This can't be good.

"Mr. President?"

"CJ? Hi." he says quietly.

"Sir, I'm so sorry to keep you waiting, it's just that Leo didn't tell me that you wanted to see me and.."

"CJ.." he gently interrupts, "It's alright. Don't worry about it. Have a seat." He motions for me to sit, which I do. He walks over and joins me.

He looks so...I don't know...is it tired? Stressed? Ready to chuck it all? Well, it's probably all of the above.

"Thank you for coming in on your day off."

"That's ok, sir."

We're sitting together in the Oval Office in silence. I feel awkward. I'm not usually at a loss for words, but this has got me stumped.

Finally, I manage to get out, "Sir?"

"Yeah?" he says from some distant place in that amazing mind of his.

"Sir, are you ok?"

"You know about the MS?" It's not really a question, though.

"Yes, sir."

He nods his head. "Well, don't worry, CJ. I'm feeling fine."

"Now, this press conference tonight, CJ..."

"Mr. President, if I may say something?" Oh God, I think I'm going to throw up.

"Of course."

"I think that you need some time to consider this more carefully." Wow, that sounded almost confident.

"You don't think that I have?"

"No, sir. I don't."

"Well, I hate to say it CJ, but you're wrong."

"Mr. President..."

"CJ, I appreciate what you are trying to say, but..."

"And exactly what am I trying to say, sir? Because I have no idea of what I'm saying." I'm edgy right now. I'd better be careful with my tone of voice and remember to whom I am speaking.

"CJ, I can't possibly give you the answers to the questions you have," the President says.

"I don't believe I asked you..."

"But you were going to," he interjects.

I'm about to lose it. I can feel it, and there's no stopping it. "Well, there's a shocker, sir. Because all of the questions I have are the same questions the roomful of reporters will have. What do you expect? That the press corps is going to just sit and listen as you announce your resignation? They aren't going to ask questions? They are going to bombard you, sir! They are going to bombard me! So, do you really want this press conference or not? Because if you do, I need some answers Mr. President and I need them now!" For a moment, there's an echo as my voice fills the room.

Did I just yell at the President of the United States?

Yeah, I think I can hear my crap being thrown out of my office right now...

End of Part Four





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