TITLE: Current Affairs 

AUTHOR: Morgan morgan@camelot72.screaming.net 

SUMMARY: In the sequel to Past Tense, CJ and Toby explore their feelings for one another, with her former lover in the wings and the rest of the staff looking on. 

DISCLAIMER: The West Wing belongs to NBC et al. I'm not quite sure why I'm doing this, I just am - but its for entertainment purposes only - no disrespect is intended

Current Affairs - part 9
 
There are many rules for dealing with the press. CJ had spent her career learning these and had then refined the technique in her first weeks at the White House - and if that hadn't been a trial by fire then she didn't know what was. She had just never expected to be applying those rules to her own life.
 
She knew that in order to provide effective damage control over this story she needed to be absolutely clear about the difference between the elements of the story that were undeniable (that she had had a relationship with Phillip) and the elements that were based on speculation (any possible suggestion that a deal had been struck to persuade Phillip to help with the Social Security Bill) and then she needed to make sure her answers to any questions minimised the former and beat back the latter.
 
'Hey,' she looked up at the sound of a voice and concealed her disappointment that it was Josh, rather then Toby, standing in her doorway. 'You OK?'
 
'I'm doing fine.' It was a lie, but one that Josh wisely decided not to challenge.
 
'You going to give a statement at this morning's briefing?'
 
'Yes - Carol has the details for you, she's distributing the text now, I've highlighted how I expect everyone to respond if they are asked to comment.'
 
'Vey efficient, do you want me to go through it with you?'
 
'I think I can manage,' she regretted her abrupt refusal almost at once, but Josh didn't seem overly bothered. CJ couldn't help thinking that he was probably cutting her alot of slack, she wasn't sure how she felt about him being nice to her because he felt sorry for her. All in all she would have preferred his normal, more combatative attitude.
 
'Have you talked to Toby this morning?'
 
'I'm going to wait until after the briefing.' Avoiding Toby right now was a calculated risk; fighting with him before the briefing would leave her distracted at a time when she could ill afford it. On the other hand Toby was Toby, brilliant, mercurial and capable of challenging her on some obscure point she hadn't given enough thought to. It could be a mistake not to talk her statement over with him.
 
'He's worried about you.'
 
'I know he is.'
 
'And you aren't going to do anything about that?'
 
'Not right now. Josh, I'm trying to concentrate here. Toby seemes to have worked out that I don't need to be interrrupted at the moment, do I need to spell it out for you?'
 
'I suppose not.' Chastened Josh held up his hands, 'I'll let you get back to it, come by and see you later.' He backed out of her office like a cat trying to avoid getting his feet wet. CJ groaned and buried her head in her hands, she added Josh's name to the list of people she would have to apologise to at a later date.
 
'CJ?' She glanced up to see Carol standing in the doorway, 'shall I tell them you're on your way?' There was no question who she was referring to.
 
'They in there?' Carol nodded, 'did you get the briefing sheet out?'
 
'Everyone has it, they're all clear about what line to take.'
 
'OK,' CJ started to push slowly herself up from the desk, preparing herself for an ordeal, only to finish the movement abruptly at the sound of a familiar voice.
 
'Carol, can you give us a few minutes? CJ will be in the press room as soon as I've talked to her.' Carol looked from Toby to her boss and won herself serious loyalty points by not budging until CJ nodded.
 
'She's a little over protective today.' Toby observed as he pushed the office door shut.
 
'She isn't the only one,' Toby's response was an almost inaudible grunt as he opted not to respond to her criticism. Into the somewhat uneasy silence he added at last,
 
'The President wouldn't accept your resignation?'
 
'He talked me into staging a fightback.'
 
'I'm glad someone was able to.' It was impossible not to miss the bitterness in his voice.
 
'Did you come in here specifically to fight with me?'
 
'Yes.' No one else she knew would have made the admission so easily. 'I thought it might put you in the right frame of mind to deal with the press corps.' She shook her head at him, more amused than she was prepared to concede. 'I wanted to see you before you went in. We don't have to talk about your statement unless you want to.' He was being so - sweet, which was the last thing she might have expected and certainly in her opinion was the last thing she deserved.
 
'I keep pushing you away - and you keep coming back. Have you noticed that?'
 
'I think if you really wanted me to leave you alone you could make it pretty clear CJ. Its not that hard to stick with somethng that really matters - and maybe before this is all over you'll understand that.'
 
'What does that mean?'
 
'Nothing - I'm just speculating. I don't want you to think I'm a pushover.'
 
'Oh, I know you aren't a pushover.'
 
'That's all right then.'
 
A barrage of flash bulbs greeted CJ's entrance into the press room. She was almost used to it, except that this time she felt more exposed than ever. It was a completely different situation when the statemement you were about to make pertained to your own life.
 
'Good morning. Before we begin the briefing I'm going to make a personal statement. I'll take a few questions after that, and then I want to move on.' More flash bulbs, she looked out at a sea of expectant faces and wondered how many of the reporters looking back at her knew what was coming next.
 
'Four years ago I had a personal relationship with Congressman Phillip Cauldwell. The relationship lasted for  seven months and took place at a time when he was separated. The relationship came to an end when he reconciled with his wife, shortly before he announced his intention to run for the Democratic nomination for President.'
 
Step one in effective damage control - acknowledge the obvious, in this case her relationship with Phillip. Step two, deal with the supposition.
 
'Until recently I'd had no contact with the Congressman for over four years; I met with him two weeks ago to discuss the Social Security Bill.'
 
Step three, label any criticism as politics.
 
'We aren't expecting this story to divert us from out legislative agenda, although we expect that for some parties this will be a welcome opportunity to try to draw us away from the real issues. They won't succeed.' She drew breath, ready to announce that she would now take quesations - only it wasn't necessary. The room errupted with the sound of her name.
 
'Katie,'
 
'Did President Bartlet know about your relationship with Phillip Cauldwell?'
 
'Yes, he was told four years ago when I joined his campaign. Chris?'
 
'What was the nature of your meeting with the Congressman two weeks ago?'
 
'As I said, I met with him to discuss the Social Security Bill.'
 
'You don't think that was at all inappropriate?' She looked in the direction of the voice that had called out the question.
 
'No Arthur, the Bill was deadlocked, we were asking for help from whatever sources we thought might be prepared to listen to us. Congressman Cauldwell is a senior figure inthe Democratic party, he's been vocal in his thoughts about Social Security. Several senior figures from the administration met with him.'
 
'Did you meet him alone?'
 
'We had lunch.'
 
'Alone?'
 
'Yes - apart from the other diners and the waiting staff we were alone.'
 
'CJ?'
 
'Yes Steve?'
 
'Did you ask Phillip Cauldwell to help get the Social Security Bill through the house of Representatives?'
 
'Absolutely - otherwise there wouldn't have been much point in my meeting with him. It was a last ditch attempt to save the Bill, which - given the way our relationship ended could safely be described as a high risk stratagey. I'm sure if you were to ask the Congressman he'd be happy to confirm that he did not change his vote as a result of my meeting with him, or any other meetings with White House staff that he attended. He offered to talk to some colleagues who we felt might be wavering on the subject of supporting us.' She drew a breath, it really was time to move this along. 'I'm going to move onto...'
 
'CJ?' It was the one voice she hadn't wanted to hear, but she couldn't let that show right now.
 
'Yes Danny?'
 
'I have a White House source who says that you are currently dating Toby Ziegler - would you care to comment?'
 
In his office Toby loked up from the document he was reading at the question. Josh heard it as well and blew out a breath, muttered an expletive as he headed for the door. Sam rolled his eyes and moved to the edge of his seat.
 
CJ hoped her mouth was closed, she was going to look pretty undignified on TV standing there with her mouth wide open. How long had she been silent for? Another of those Press Secretary rules, you couldn't be silent, couldn't let the press think they'd asked you a questiopn you weren't ready for.
 
'I don't suppose you'd care to tell me who your source is, would you Danny?' She joked, slowing her voice done, winning precious extra seconds of thinking time.
 
'Sorry, no can do.' Everyone was watching her, waiting, was she going to confirm or deny. There was really very little choice.
 
'Yes - we're dating. Now, in other news.' The room erupted again in a cry of her name, but she shook her head. 'I'm sorry, we;ve discussed Phillip Cauldwell, I've commented quite sufficently on my private life, we are going to move on to talk about the Japanese government. OK?'
 
Half an hour later she blew out of the press room with her composure hanging on by a very fine thread, Josh was waiting for her.
 
'You OK?'
 
'I'm going to kill him!'
 
'Cauldwell?'
 
'No, not Cauldwell, it wasn't Cauldwell Josh - and we both know that. Danny said he had a White House source. Only one person that could be, Toby Ziegler.' Josh thought about pointing out that, technically, Toby wasn't the only possible candidate. But he didn't believe that, so there was very little point in saying anything, especially if it made him the target of CJs wrath.
 
'CJ,' Josh tried to steer her towards his office, 'he was trying to help.'
 
'He kicked the story into another day Josh. Tomorrow is going to be all about this as well.'
 
'He put himself out there for you, to deflect attention from the story with Cauldwell.'
 
'And did I ask him to do that?'
 
'It was a smart thing to do.' Josh finally succeeded in getting CJ into his office, he was slightly dismayed when she started pacing angrily back and forth. 'CJ - he was only trying to help, you really have to calm down.'
 
'I don't want to calm down!' She snapped back. 'He put himself, our realtionship, out there, in the public domain. Its the last thing I ever thought he'd do.'
 
'He was trying to help,' Josh repeated, slightly relieved that she seemed to be calmer. 'I can't believe he did it either, he's one of the most private people I've ever met. But he did. He must care about you a hell of a lot.'
 
'Don't say that,' CJ looked over at Josh as he drew the one, unshakeable conclusion from all of this, 'say it was strategy, say it was smart, but don't say he did it because of me.'
 
'Why not? CJ?'
 
'Because I'm not sure,' she whispered, the angry energy ebbing from her as she made the admission. Josh's eyes went wide as he understood what she meant. CJ looked up at him and then looked away, his expression did not seem to be encouraging of further confidences and yet having started this she had little choice but to continue. Choice. It was an interesting word to use, she didn't feel as though she'd had any choice about things for a while now.
 
'You aren't sure about what? How you feel about him?'
 
'Josh - this all started a couple of weeks ago. I'm just saying I'm not ready for...'
 
'CJ, he's in love with you. How can you not know that?' He came right up to her as he said this, it was about the last thing she wanted to hear at this moment. 'And you're telling me you aren't sure? Have you said anything to him?'
 
'Of course not.'
 
'But you're going to, right? CJ?'
 
'I suppose.'
 
'Oh no, there is no suppose about this. I am not going to stand here and watch you hurt him, you'll destroy him - you do realise that, don't you?'
 
'Toby's an adult, he'll be OK.' Her response was completely lacking in conviction and they both knew it. Josh shook his head, totally unprepared to let her get away with such a half-hearted statement about something so important.
 
'You have to tell him, make your mind up about what you want, tell him you're in or out and do it soon, because otherwise I will.' It was the last straw, CJ looked Josh in the eye for long seconds, anger and indignation burning in her again.
 
'Fine - do what you want - you know what? I don't give a damn.' She turned on her heel and walked out of the room, slamming the door behind her. Josh stared at the door for a few seconds before saying to himself,
 
'That wasn't exactly the response I was hoping for.'
 
To Be Continued
Current Affairs - part 9
 
There are many rules for dealing with the press. CJ had spent her career learning these and had then refined the technique in her first weeks at the White House - and if that hadn't been a trial by fire then she didn't know what was. She had just never expected to be applying those rules to her own life.
 
She knew that in order to provide effective damage control over this story she needed to be absolutely clear about the difference between the elements of the story that were undeniable (that she had had a relationship with Phillip) and the elements that were based on speculation (any possible suggestion that a deal had been struck to persuade Phillip to help with the Social Security Bill) and then she needed to make sure her answers to any questions minimised the former and beat back the latter.
 
'Hey,' she looked up at the sound of a voice and concealed her disappointment that it was Josh, rather then Toby, standing in her doorway. 'You OK?'
 
'I'm doing fine.' It was a lie, but one that Josh wisely decided not to challenge.
 
'You going to give a statement at this morning's briefing?'
 
'Yes - Carol has the details for you, she's distributing the text now, I've highlighted how I expect everyone to respond if they are asked to comment.'
 
'Vey efficient, do you want me to go through it with you?'
 
'I think I can manage,' she regretted her abrupt refusal almost at once, but Josh didn't seem overly bothered. CJ couldn't help thinking that he was probably cutting her alot of slack, she wasn't sure how she felt about him being nice to her because he felt sorry for her. All in all she would have preferred his normal, more combatative attitude.
 
'Have you talked to Toby this morning?'
 
'I'm going to wait until after the briefing.' Avoiding Toby right now was a calculated risk; fighting with him before the briefing would leave her distracted at a time when she could ill afford it. On the other hand Toby was Toby, brilliant, mercurial and capable of challenging her on some obscure point she hadn't given enough thought to. It could be a mistake not to talk her statement over with him.
 
'He's worried about you.'
 
'I know he is.'
 
'And you aren't going to do anything about that?'
 
'Not right now. Josh, I'm trying to concentrate here. Toby seemes to have worked out that I don't need to be interrrupted at the moment, do I need to spell it out for you?'
 
'I suppose not.' Chastened Josh held up his hands, 'I'll let you get back to it, come by and see you later.' He backed out of her office like a cat trying to avoid getting his feet wet. CJ groaned and buried her head in her hands, she added Josh's name to the list of people she would have to apologise to at a later date.
 
'CJ?' She glanced up to see Carol standing in the doorway, 'shall I tell them you're on your way?' There was no question who she was referring to.
 
'They in there?' Carol nodded, 'did you get the briefing sheet out?'
 
'Everyone has it, they're all clear about what line to take.'
 
'OK,' CJ started to push slowly herself up from the desk, preparing herself for an ordeal, only to finish the movement abruptly at the sound of a familiar voice.
 
'Carol, can you give us a few minutes? CJ will be in the press room as soon as I've talked to her.' Carol looked from Toby to her boss and won herself serious loyalty points by not budging until CJ nodded.
 
'She's a little over protective today.' Toby observed as he pushed the office door shut.
 
'She isn't the only one,' Toby's response was an almost inaudible grunt as he opted not to respond to her criticism. Into the somewhat uneasy silence he added at last,
 
'The President wouldn't accept your resignation?'
 
'He talked me into staging a fightback.'
 
'I'm glad someone was able to.' It was impossible not to miss the bitterness in his voice.
 
'Did you come in here specifically to fight with me?'
 
'Yes.' No one else she knew would have made the admission so easily. 'I thought it might put you in the right frame of mind to deal with the press corps.' She shook her head at him, more amused than she was prepared to concede. 'I wanted to see you before you went in. We don't have to talk about your statement unless you want to.' He was being so - sweet, which was the last thing she might have expected and certainly in her opinion was the last thing she deserved.
 
'I keep pushing you away - and you keep coming back. Have you noticed that?'
 
'I think if you really wanted me to leave you alone you could make it pretty clear CJ. Its not that hard to stick with somethng that really matters - and maybe before this is all over you'll understand that.'
 
'What does that mean?'
 
'Nothing - I'm just speculating. I don't want you to think I'm a pushover.'
 
'Oh, I know you aren't a pushover.'
 
'That's all right then.'
 
A barrage of flash bulbs greeted CJ's entrance into the press room. She was almost used to it, except that this time she felt more exposed than ever. It was a completely different situation when the statemement you were about to make pertained to your own life.
 
'Good morning. Before we begin the briefing I'm going to make a personal statement. I'll take a few questions after that, and then I want to move on.' More flash bulbs, she looked out at a sea of expectant faces and wondered how many of the reporters looking back at her knew what was coming next.
 
'Four years ago I had a personal relationship with Congressman Phillip Cauldwell. The relationship lasted for  seven months and took place at a time when he was separated. The relationship came to an end when he reconciled with his wife, shortly before he announced his intention to run for the Democratic nomination for President.'
 
Step one in effective damage control - acknowledge the obvious, in this case her relationship with Phillip. Step two, deal with the supposition.
 
'Until recently I'd had no contact with the Congressman for over four years; I met with him two weeks ago to discuss the Social Security Bill.'
 
Step three, label any criticism as politics.
 
'We aren't expecting this story to divert us from out legislative agenda, although we expect that for some parties this will be a welcome opportunity to try to draw us away from the real issues. They won't succeed.' She drew breath, ready to announce that she would now take quesations - only it wasn't necessary. The room errupted with the sound of her name.
 
'Katie,'
 
'Did President Bartlet know about your relationship with Phillip Cauldwell?'
 
'Yes, he was told four years ago when I joined his campaign. Chris?'
 
'What was the nature of your meeting with the Congressman two weeks ago?'
 
'As I said, I met with him to discuss the Social Security Bill.'
 
'You don't think that was at all inappropriate?' She looked in the direction of the voice that had called out the question.
 
'No Arthur, the Bill was deadlocked, we were asking for help from whatever sources we thought might be prepared to listen to us. Congressman Cauldwell is a senior figure inthe Democratic party, he's been vocal in his thoughts about Social Security. Several senior figures from the administration met with him.'
 
'Did you meet him alone?'
 
'We had lunch.'
 
'Alone?'
 
'Yes - apart from the other diners and the waiting staff we were alone.'
 
'CJ?'
 
'Yes Steve?'
 
'Did you ask Phillip Cauldwell to help get the Social Security Bill through the house of Representatives?'
 
'Absolutely - otherwise there wouldn't have been much point in my meeting with him. It was a last ditch attempt to save the Bill, which - given the way our relationship ended could safely be described as a high risk stratagey. I'm sure if you were to ask the Congressman he'd be happy to confirm that he did not change his vote as a result of my meeting with him, or any other meetings with White House staff that he attended. He offered to talk to some colleagues who we felt might be wavering on the subject of supporting us.' She drew a breath, it really was time to move this along. 'I'm going to move onto...'
 
'CJ?' It was the one voice she hadn't wanted to hear, but she couldn't let that show right now.
 
'Yes Danny?'
 
'I have a White House source who says that you are currently dating Toby Ziegler - would you care to comment?'
 
In his office Toby loked up from the document he was reading at the question. Josh heard it as well and blew out a breath, muttered an expletive as he headed for the door. Sam rolled his eyes and moved to the edge of his seat.
 
CJ hoped her mouth was closed, she was going to look pretty undignified on TV standing there with her mouth wide open. How long had she been silent for? Another of those Press Secretary rules, you couldn't be silent, couldn't let the press think they'd asked you a questiopn you weren't ready for.
 
'I don't suppose you'd care to tell me who your source is, would you Danny?' She joked, slowing her voice done, winning precious extra seconds of thinking time.
 
'Sorry, no can do.' Everyone was watching her, waiting, was she going to confirm or deny. There was really very little choice.
 
'Yes - we're dating. Now, in other news.' The room erupted again in a cry of her name, but she shook her head. 'I'm sorry, we;ve discussed Phillip Cauldwell, I've commented quite sufficently on my private life, we are going to move on to talk about the Japanese government. OK?'
 
Half an hour later she blew out of the press room with her composure hanging on by a very fine thread, Josh was waiting for her.
 
'You OK?'
 
'I'm going to kill him!'
 
'Cauldwell?'
 
'No, not Cauldwell, it wasn't Cauldwell Josh - and we both know that. Danny said he had a White House source. Only one person that could be, Toby Ziegler.' Josh thought about pointing out that, technically, Toby wasn't the only possible candidate. But he didn't believe that, so there was very little point in saying anything, especially if it made him the target of CJs wrath.
 
'CJ,' Josh tried to steer her towards his office, 'he was trying to help.'
 
'He kicked the story into another day Josh. Tomorrow is going to be all about this as well.'
 
'He put himself out there for you, to deflect attention from the story with Cauldwell.'
 
'And did I ask him to do that?'
 
'It was a smart thing to do.' Josh finally succeeded in getting CJ into his office, he was slightly dismayed when she started pacing angrily back and forth. 'CJ - he was only trying to help, you really have to calm down.'
 
'I don't want to calm down!' She snapped back. 'He put himself, our realtionship, out there, in the public domain. Its the last thing I ever thought he'd do.'
 
'He was trying to help,' Josh repeated, slightly relieved that she seemed to be calmer. 'I can't believe he did it either, he's one of the most private people I've ever met. But he did. He must care about you a hell of a lot.'
 
'Don't say that,' CJ looked over at Josh as he drew the one, unshakeable conclusion from all of this, 'say it was strategy, say it was smart, but don't say he did it because of me.'
 
'Why not? CJ?'
 
'Because I'm not sure,' she whispered, the angry energy ebbing from her as she made the admission. Josh's eyes went wide as he understood what she meant. CJ looked up at him and then looked away, his expression did not seem to be encouraging of further confidences and yet having started this she had little choice but to continue. Choice. It was an interesting word to use, she didn't feel as though she'd had any choice about things for a while now.
 
'You aren't sure about what? How you feel about him?'
 
'Josh - this all started a couple of weeks ago. I'm just saying I'm not ready for...'
 
'CJ, he's in love with you. How can you not know that?' He came right up to her as he said this, it was about the last thing she wanted to hear at this moment. 'And you're telling me you aren't sure? Have you said anything to him?'
 
'Of course not.'
 
'But you're going to, right? CJ?'
 
'I suppose.'
 
'Oh no, there is no suppose about this. I am not going to stand here and watch you hurt him, you'll destroy him - you do realise that, don't you?'
 
'Toby's an adult, he'll be OK.' Her response was completely lacking in conviction and they both knew it. Josh shook his head, totally unprepared to let her get away with such a half-hearted statement about something so important.
 
'You have to tell him, make your mind up about what you want, tell him you're in or out and do it soon, because otherwise I will.' It was the last straw, CJ looked Josh in the eye for long seconds, anger and indignation burning in her again.
 
'Fine - do what you want - you know what? I don't give a damn.' She turned on her heel and walked out of the room, slamming the door behind her. Josh stared at the door for a few seconds before saying to himself,
 
'That wasn't exactly the response I was hoping for.'
 
To Be Continued

 

 

Current Affairs - 10

 

 

 

Home        What's New        Author Listings        Title Listings