*Note* This part is definitly rated R for nonconsensual sex. There's nothing explicit, but it's obvious what's going on, so be forewarned.

Chapter 4: Retreat and Regroup
~
Reach down your hand in your pocket
pull out some hope for me
It's been a long day, always ain't that right
and no Lord your hand won't stop it
just keep you trembling
It's been a long day, always ain't that right
-"Long Day," matchbox twenty
~
[August 27,2001]
I stand in the doorway and watch Leo talk to her softly. He's holding her uncasted hand and gently stroking her fingers. I don't find it terribly unexpected, but I know Sam, at least, was a bit startled at Leo's reaction to all this. I know Leo kind of considers himself as a sort of surrogate father to me, especially since my father's death, but I'm not sure too many other people have recognized that Leo feels fairly paternal towards CJ, too. The President is the more obvious father figure, and truthfully, CJ is not much older than Elizabeth. But CJ won Leo over completely during a campaign stop in Minnesota, despite the fact that she was the subject of a rather heated lecture from Abbey Bartlet (to be fair, Abbey had some harsh words for the rest of us "boys" as well).

Leo had already been impressed by CJ, but Minnesota clinched his complete admiration for her. It was the dead of winter, and we were in International Falls, Minnesota. There was close to three feet of snow on the ground and it was probably close to -60 with the wind chill. I don't think I'll forget CJ's completely dazed look as she got off the bus and faced what she said later was the most snow and the coldest temperatures she'd ever seen in her life. Most of us complained rather loudly about the cold, as I remember, but she didn't say a word about it, and honestly, none of us realized that she probably wasn't prepared for such weather. She probably didn't even *own* a really heavy sweater, or if she did, she certainly didn't have it with her. I saw her about 20 minutes after we arrived in our war room, wearing just about every article of clothing she had in her suitcase. She was running through something with Leo and her teeth were chattering from the cold. He didn't seem to notice, and I already knew enough not to comment. Abbey happened to come in at that point and told me to be sure to dress warmly because it was dangerously cold out before walking over to presumably deliver the same message to Leo and CJ. When she saw CJ, however, she got rather peeved and asked CJ if she had any warmer clothing, which CJ didn't. Abbey then told Leo he was letting CJ go to the nearest shopping center with her and get something warmer to wear before the poor girl died of hypothermia. Leo didn't protest and sent CJ with Abbey. I also happened to witness Abbey's later lecture to Leo about CJ being the girl in the boy's club and the fact that she would probably rather die than speak up when she needed something out of fear of being degraded or ridiculed. Leo actually agreed with Abbey, and later pulled CJ aside and told her, "CJ, when you need something, you tell me. You don't need to prove to us that you're as tough as the boys. We already know you're tougher than we'll ever be."

Amazingly enough, Leo reached her tonight. They took her off the drugs today, and she's more lucid, but not terribly communicative. Kris, the therapist, tried to talk to her, and told us that she wouldn't say a word to her. When Toby sat in on a later session at Kris's request, she still wasn't very responsive. She refused to talk to Sam and wouldn't even see Donna. Leo stood behind my chair as I tried to cajole her into eating some pudding. As I was beginning to get frustrated, Leo finally spoke up. He told her winter was almost over and that spring would be here soon. I was puzzled, since winter's been over for months, but it made CJ look *at* him, instead of through him, and it made her cry. She cried big gasping sobs that made me feel better despite the pain they caused. I had sense enough to retreat to the doorway and let Leo handle her. I think we may be almost home. If he can get through to her, she might be able to accept the help we all so desperately want to give her. One can only hope.

~
The next night he's over and over and under
And after he's finished she lies there and wonders
Just why does she need him,
and why does she stay here,
And then in the darkness, she'll quietly say, "Dear,
You've never really known.
That when the white flag is flown,
No one, no one, no one has won the war."
-"The Flag", Barenaked Ladies
~
[July 15, 2001]

"What did you do to your hair?!?" Josh exclaims as I walk into Leo's office.

"What are you talking about?" I ask, resisting the impulse to smooth it down.

"It's like...red. And different," he says, standing up to look at me.

"Yes, Josh, I have red hair. You've known me for what, 4 years now?" I say, sitting down.

"No, CJ, it wasn't red yesterday," Sam comments from his seat on the couch.

Damnit, I swear, I work with the only men in the world who would notice that I changed my hairstyle last night. "Sam. My hair is red. It may not have been as red yesterday, but my hair is always some shade of red." Half true. Sometimes it looks more blonde than red, but that's because I dye it so it looks blonder. Something about being less shocking and less obtrusive. Last night, I decided what with all that's happening, what the hell do I care about being obtrusive. Besides, I don't *want* to look pretty right now. Right now, I'm just focusing on survival, in more ways than one. Not that I can explain this to Sam and Josh, or anyone else for that matter.

"CJ, you changed your hair. It's not that it doesn't look nice, it does," Josh says, attempting to backpedal, "It's just different."

"Well, Josh, you know what? If I knew my hair was going to be a federal case here, I would have written you a memo, ok?" I snap.

"CJ," Leo says in a tone of voice that means I've probably taken a step too far. I turn to find him standing in the doorway to the Oval.

I drop my head into my hands and run my hands through my now shorter, redder hair. "I'm sorry," I say, muffled.

"Nah, I shouldn't be giving you a hard time," Josh replies.

"It's just...everything," I sigh.

"I know," Leo says, sitting down at his desk. "It'll be over soon."

Sam and Josh nod. I pause a moment, before doing the same. God, Lord, if you're listening to me, please don't let this be over today. Not today. Tomorrow would be fine, next week would be even better, just don't prove Adam right. Please don't let any of that be true. Because if it's true, I don't know what I'm going to do.

*
"Claudia Jean!" Josh calls from his office later that morning.

"What?" I yell back. I'd just get up and go talk to him, but I'm on hold, waiting to talk to someone about the latest polling numbers. We're running, yes, but it remains to be seen what we're going to be able to do with it.

"Wanna go swimming later?" he yelled.

"What?" I ask, not sure what he means.

"I said do you want to go swimming later?" He repeats.

"Josh, come here," I call.

"Can't. I'm on hold," he responds.

I shake my head. I should have guessed. We yell at each other all the time when we both happen to be on hold. "When do you think we're going to have time to go swimming?" I ask.

"Around 7. Sam has a meeting on the Hill until then, I'm going to meet him at the pool," he replies.

"Josh, I don't feel up to a long swim," I say. I already ran this morning for over an hour, it's not like I need another workout.

"It's not going to be long," he calls. "I've got a meeting at 8:30."

"With who?" I ask.

"Don't worry about it," he yells back. I nod, knowing that he means he's going to be talking to his therapist. Which is a good thing if you ask me. I'm not the only one stretched too thin around here.

"Still, Josh," I say.

"Hang on," he calls. I hear him start to talk to the person on the phone and wait. I'm still on hold when he comes into my office five minutes later. "Still on hold?" he asks.

"Yeah, I think they forgot about me," I sigh.

"So, swimming? I know you've probably already worked out, I just want you to come for moral support, more than anything," he admits in an unusual display of emotional candor.

"Moral support?" I ask, wanting to know why he's so gung ho about working out all of a sudden.

"Yeah. I had a doctor's appointment yesterday, and they said I've gotta start working out regularly. I just don't like working out alone, but if someone's there, I won't quit. Sam said he'd go swimming with me, but he doesn't really like to swim." He shrugged.

"Ah." I nod. "Does Sam know what he's getting into?"

"You mean does he know I've been a swimmer since I was five? No, he doesn't." Josh's eyes are lit up and I know he's looking forward to creaming Sam in the water. He'd consider it payback from the jogging Sam has dragged him on over the years.

I shake my head. "Ok, I guess I ought to come, if only to salvage his ego." I'm not a very good swimmer. I didn't learn to swim at all until I was 15, and I didn't learn to swim at all well until the first year we were in office. That year, when Josh learned that I barely knew how to swim, he decided he should teach me how to do it right. We stopped going after awhile because it was hard to find time where we could both go, and given a choice, I'd rather go running.

"Great!" he says, grinning at me.

"But no comments about me in a swim suit," I say, pointing my pen at him.

"CJ, I would never make disparaging remarks about you in swim attire. I do like the way my face is put together," he tells me.

"Damn straight," I reply.

"CJ? Josh?" Carol knocks softly on my door as she opens it. I look at her expectantly, and she continues, worriedly, "Leo says it's time, and you need to go to the Oval."

I feel the blood draining from my face as I hang up. "If they call back, tell them I'll call again later," I manage.

"Yeah," Carol says, watching us walk down the hall.

*
An hour later, I am sitting on a couch in the Oval Office with my eyes closed tightly against the pounding in my skull. When Leo said it was time, I assumed he meant it was going to happen within five minutes, maybe fifteen. Apparently not. He had things for everyone else to do but me, since we don't even know if I'll be giving a press conference. For one, we don't know if we'll be permitted to give one right now. Plus, if I'm indicted, there's no way *I'm* giving the press conference. So, I'm sitting here waiting and trying to decide if it's better for me to be indicted or for Adam to be right. Right now, indictment is looking pretty good to me.

I jump as a gentle hand brushes against my back. "Sorry," I hear Sam murmur as he comes around and settles next to me. I still don't open my eyes, but I let him squeeze my arm without pulling away. "You ok?" he asks.

"Yeah," I reply.

"Ok, just checking," he says, as Toby calls him over to look at something. He squeezes my arm again and gets up. I'm inexplicably cold once he's not sitting next to me.

The couch settles again and without opening my eyes, I know Josh has sat down next to me. He doesn't say anything, but reaches around and starts rubbing my neck, gently attempting to smooth out the knots in my shoulders. I feel someone standing over me and tense until Leo says, "CJ? Can you open your eyes for me a minute?"

I manage to blink and focus on Leo, who crouches down so I don't have to crane my neck. He obviously recognizes that my head feels about to explode, judging from the gentleness of his voice. "Sorry."

"Don't worry about it, kiddo. Listen, if we can give a press conference, do you want to be the one to give it?" he asks, and I realize he doesn't know that Toby, Josh and I already discussed this the other night.

"Yeah, unless, you know, I'm indicted," I say quietly.

"God forbid," Josh murmurs and Leo nods. Josh is safe, as are Sam and Toby. Leo and I are the only ones they would hold culpable, for reasons beyond my understanding. Sam tried to explain, but I told him I didn't want to hear it.

"Ok, then." Leo touches my knee and stands up, going over to where Toby and Sam are huddled over a laptop. Josh continues rubbing my back. I look around. The President isn't in the room, and I surmise that he's in his private office with Abbey, since I remember her being in the room when we got here, and she's not here, either.

The phone rings and everyone's attention is suddenly riveted to it. Leo answers it and after a moment, holds it out to the President who has slipped unnoticed into the room with Abbey. The President nods to Leo, who turns the speakerphone on so we can all hear.

"Mr. President, I am making this call as a courtesy. You are invited to come to Congress tomorrow morning to hear my recommendations in person," Gelernter is saying.

"Yes, I understand," the President says. He's holding Abbey's hand tightly. I'm vaguely aware that Josh's arm has tightened around me.

"First of all, the grand jury does not find enough evidence to recommend indictments for Leo McGarry or Claudia Cregg." I feel Josh let out a breath, but I don't feel any relief at all. All I can hear is the blood rushing by my ears and I barely hear that there will be no indictments for the President either. I manage to drag myself back to the present long enough to hear that the grand jury is recommending that Abbey be held over to the AMA for disciplinary action, probably a suspension of her license for some period of time, and that we can't hold a press conference until after the formal presentation tomorrow morning. The President hangs up and the room explodes. I can't move. Adam was right. That means he knew this was coming. That means that his superiors fixed this. That means he can make me do what he wants me to do. Oh my God, what have I stumbled into?

The celebration swirls around me, and no one notices my silence until I try to stand up and feel the blood rush down to my feet. "Whoa, there, sit down, CJ!" Leo says, trying to reach me before I pass out. I don't actually black out, but I don't manage to sit down before I fall. Leo grabs my arm and guides me to the couch before I hit the floor. Abbey is there in the next instant as Leo forces my head down onto my knees.

"I'm fine, I'm fine," I protest. "I just stood up too quickly, that's all."

I feel Abbey's hand on my wrist, and Leo is handing me a bottle of water and Abbey tells me to sip slowly. I sit quietly and let her count my pulse, closing my eyes against the worried stares. "Ok, no harm, no foul," Abbey says, in her most comforting doctor voice. "You're right, you just stood up too fast." She takes my chin in her hand and looks at my face carefully. "But, I'm ordering *all* of you to be out of here by 6:30 tonight. I don't care if you're not done with something, it can all wait until the morning. Everyone in this room needs some rest, and I'm demanding you get it tonight."

"I'm seconding that order," the President says in his sternest voice. "No arguments."

"CJ, honey, why don't you go lie down for a couple of minutes," Abbey says quietly. "Then get some lunch, ok? Take it easy this afternoon, too."

I nod, and let her and Leo help me up. The President nods at Josh who walks me back to my office. "I'm sorry."

"What for?" he asks. "Not a problem, CJ. Tell you what," he says, wrapping an arm around my shoulders as we walk down the hall. "We'll go and mess around at the pool tonight, and then we'll go get dinner, just you and me, how's that sound?"

"Your meeting," I remind him.

"Ok, we'll go get dinner *after* my meeting. It won't take long, I'll have you home in bed by 10, I guarantee it."

"Mmm, all right," I say slowly as I lower myself down onto the couch.

"Ok then. You be ready to go at 6:30 and we'll take off. Now," he said as he draped my blanket over me. "you rest and I'll tell Carol to wake you up in twenty, ok?"

I nod vaguely as my eyes close and I actually fall asleep for the first time in days.

*
Josh splashes water at me as I stand at the edge of the pool still wrapped up in my towel. "Get in here!" he calls.

I hesitate and shake my head. "I'm cold."

"You won't be once you get in. Come on, get in here," he says in a cajoling manner. The pool is deserted except for the lifeguard, and we're waiting for Sam.

"Mmm," I say, noncommittally, but I bend down and sit on the edge, dangling my feet in the water.

"You're going to get your towel all wet," Josh says, swimming over to lean against the wall next to my legs.

"I guess," I say.

"So just get in," Josh says, tugging gently on my leg.

"Oh, all right," I say, and slip into the water, closing my eyes as I slide under the surface.

"That's better," Josh says as I stand up, spluttering. Swiping my wet hair out of my face, I scowl at him, but he just grins. His grin turns into a frown as I turn to wipe my face on a dry corner of my towel. "Hey, how'd you get that?" he asks.

I twist and see a bruise on my side. I'd hoped it wasn't noticeable, but I guess that was wishful thinking. "I smacked into a chair. Didn't have my glasses on and the phone was ringing," I lie glibly.

"Ouch," he says, accepting the lie.

"Nah, not so much, actually," I shrug and push off the wall to float on my back. Josh swims lazily past me as I stare at the ceiling. Forget about Adam for right now.

My reverie is interrupted by Sam, who jumps into the lane next to me, splashing me without warning. "Sam!" I exclaim, capsizing and uprighting myself.

"Sorry, couldn't resist," he says, grinning.

"Boys," I mutter under my breath as Sam laughs. Josh swims back and starts challenging Sam to a race.

"Come on, Seaborn, you're not chicken, are ya?" I swear, it's a good thing that Josh isn't our speechwriter.

"I'm going clean your clock and you know it," Sam retorts and sometimes I'm not sure why *he's* our speechwriter either.

"Oh, we'll see about that," Josh says, pulling himself out of the water with a smooth practiced motion. "Get your sorry ass up here," he says to Sam. I duck under the lane rope and pull myself up to sit on the edge of the pool. "CJ, you're the ref. Down and back, whatever stroke you want, first person to touch the wall wins," he instructs.

"One hand or two?" I ask.

"Depends on the stroke. Butterfly or breaststroke have to be two handed touches," he says as Sam climbs out of the pool. "You ready?" he asks Sam.

"Let's roll," he replies.

"Ok, CJ, whenever you're ready," Josh says.

"On your mark," I say, and both men step up to the edge of the pool. As I say, "Get set," Josh bends forward into a race start and Sam just rubs his hands together. Poor Spanky doesn't know what he's in for, I muse as I say, "Go!"

Josh is so far ahead of Sam it's not funny. He's about two body lengths ahead of Sam when he turns at the wall. I move back as he slams into the wall and pops up automatically. "Um, I think you win," I say, looking at Sam, who's still about 15 feet away from the wall. Josh just laughs, and we wait for Sam.

"Ok, I concede," Sam says, out of breath. Josh, for all the fact that the man has probably not worked out since his physical therapy ended, isn't even breathing hard.

"Told you," Josh says, ducking into the lane where I'm sitting and pulling me back into the water as he pushes off the wall.

"Somehow, I'm surprised that you didn't know that Josh was on a swim team from the time he was 6," I say to Sam.

"You were?" Sam asks, surprised.

"Yup. Did summer swim team until I went to college. I did year round swimming too, from the time I was 10 until I was 15. I could have made the team at Harvard, but I hadn't done varsity swimming and it was too hard to get on the team if you hadn't," he says, flipping against the wall and swimming for the far wall at a pretty good clip. Sam just shook his head and pushed off after him. I just smiled and returned to my previously interrupted back floating.

*
I was so relieved when my apartment was empty when I came home. I had just collapsed in my bed, too tired to sleep when I heard the click of a key in the lock. Swallowing fear, I manage to lie still as I hear him walk through the apartment. Maybe if I look asleep he won't do anything tonight.

"So, Claudia. What do you think now?" Don't answer, don't answer, but I know my shivering has given me away. He knows I know he's there. He bends over and I feel his hot breath on my neck as he rolls me over and looks at me. Please no, I can't respond tonight. I'm so very tired, all I want to do is sleep. It's worse if I don't respond for him, so I try to imagine his hands are someone else's- anyone else's- but I'm too exhausted to fantasize. Maybe tonight he'll just have his way with me without demanding anything from me.

His hands start moving down my body as he presses himself up against me. I close my eyes and let him roam, feeling slightly sick at my unquestioned submission. He whispers in my ear, but I don't hear him. I manage to detach myself as he starts to slide his hand down the waistband of my underwear.

Contrary to popular belief, I haven't slept with all that many men. The exact number, not counting this, is five. I've heard it whispered in nastier circles that the number is three or four times as high. I will admit to having gone out on dates with maybe 20 people, but I did *not* have sex with all of them. Let's just say I'm pretty good at foreplay and leave it at that. But for an unmarried 35 year old woman, five is not that many. And with one exception, I was in a relationship that lasted more than six months with each of these men. The exception, of course, is Tad Whitney. Tad, however, was not my first jerk. No, that honor goes to Rick Gage, the only other relationship that lasted less than a year.

The first was Jamie Miller, a guy I met when I first got to Berkeley. And if things had been just slightly different, I probably would have married him. We knew each other for almost 4 months before we "got it on", so to speak. Neither of us had ever slept with anyone, and I remember it being rough and awkward. I barely had any idea of what to do with him, and he didn't have much more of a clue. After awhile, it became not unpleasant, but I was very young for 17, and probably too young to have been in college, and so I didn't know any better. We were together for two and a half years, and those two and a half years were probably just about the happiest of my life. Certainly they had been the happiest up to that point. Then, I got pregnant (how, I'm still not sure. We had been very careful.) and when I lost the baby we never could get it back together. I haven't talked to him since I was 21 and he left to join the Peace Corps.

Then came Rick, during grad school, shortly after I met Toby. I started going out with Rick for one simple reason: he was nothing like Jamie. I hadn't dated much after Jamie and I broke up, at first because I was so hurt, and then because I was just too busy. Where Jamie was a great guy, a real stand-up guy, Rick was quite simply an ass. It fit well with me at that point, because I didn't want to be a good girl for awhile. We went out for about six months, until Grace finally convinced me I deserved better. Rick served his purpose, better than he probably knows.

Not terribly long after Rick and I broke up, Grace and Jack died. Toby came out for the funeral and I went back to New York with him because he didn't want me to be alone. In New York, I met Christian, who came back to California with me. I'm not sure Toby or Andi approved, but they didn't stop me. And at that time, Christian was just the right guy- ready to play whenever, willing to let me lean on him, but not wanting anything permanent, which was good, considering how much traveling I did for EMILY'S List at that time. It was a nicer relationship than I expected, and we were both ready to move on after a year. I have no regrets about Christian, believe me- he's probably the one who started the whole good in bed thing.

Ah, the infamous Tad Whitney. I hated LA, but that's where I was sent, and so I went. And so Tad found me. I've heard tell that he chatted me up at a fundraiser because he thought I would be an easy lay. I was harder than he thought, but he did manage to get me into bed. And then he left. It was short, it wasn't anything spectacular, and I could have lived my whole life without seeing him again, let alone interview him for a job where he'd have to spend quite a bit of time with me. And I *really* could have lived without the whole Kennedy Center encounter.

The last guy I slept with, until now- which I'm not counting by the way- was Jeff Gamble. Oh, God, Jeff was almost perfect. I was with him for eighteen months, and if he'd been willing to give me about three more years, I might have married him. Andrea refers to him as the fisherman who didn't know how to play the line. He wasn't willing to wait as long as I needed, and therefore, I ran. Plain and simple. Toby asked me, just once, when we were both drunk, why I chose the *nice* one to run away from. I told him I'd run from all of them, and surprised myself by bursting into tears (I was extremely drunk. It was the only time he's ever had to put me to bed).

Oh, thank heaven, he's done. I feel him get up off the bed and I lie motionless as he dresses and gets ready to leave. "Now, Claudia, you have a decision to make," he says, leaning over to pin my wrists to the bed. "You know what's at stake here. It's a simple yes or no answer, but I'm feeling generous right now, so I'll give you until dawn. You better have an answer when I call or you'll pay for the extra time," he says. I don't respond, and he stares at me a minute more before releasing my wrists and leaving the room.

I wait for the front door to shut before moving. I walk to the door and make sure it's locked. Then I go into the bathroom and start running the shower. Mechanically, but gently, I start soaping my hair. The first two times I cried. The third time, I cursed, angry. Now, I've lost count, and I just feel empty as I carefully scrub the rest of me down. As soon as all the soap has been washed away, I start again with my hair, again with the body wash.

At dawn, I'm sitting on the doorstep to my apartment building, hair still wet from the shower. When he calls, I simply answer yes, and am off running before I even press the off key on my phone.

~
Today didn't have to be this way
Tomorrow is another day
Another chance to make things right
A chance to make sense of last night
"Tomorrow is another day," mxpx
~
[August 20, 2001]

Walking into his office, Toby found Sam sitting on the floor by his desk. "Sam? Why are you on the floor?"

Sam looked up, tiredly. "Too much effort to walk over to the chair."

"The couch is right by the door, you know," Toby said, dryly, but he sat down on the floor next to Sam anyway.

"Yeah." Sam didn't say anything for a moment. "Leo just called, they got the guy."

"They caught the son of a bitch?" Toby asked. Sam nodded. "Thank God."

"Yeah." Sam thunked his head back against the desk.

"You ok?" Toby asked, knowing it was a stupid question.

Sam was silent for a long moment before saying, "You know, I've never realized how difficult it was to be the one holding down the fort."

Toby regarded Sam as he ran through the events of the long night in his head. "You don't have to be as good at it as she is. Actually, I think we'd prefer it if you weren't. If you'll remember, that's part of why she's...we're in this mess."

Sam took a shaky breath. "Yeah."

"She's awake, you know," Toby said, suddenly realizing that Sam might not know that yet.

"She is?!" Sam said, confirming Toby's suspicion.

"Yes. She's drugged to the teeth, but she is awake," he replied. "I'm sorry no one told you."

"No, it's fine. I'm just glad she woke up. Did she say anything about what happened?" he asked.

"Carol didn't say she did, but I don't think so. Apparently, she was combative, so they sedated her right away," Toby explained.

"So, she wakes up, and they send her right back to sleep." Toby nodded and Sam sighed. "But they got the guy, so maybe the police will find out what happened soon," Sam finished.

"Maybe." They sat silently until Ainsley knocked on the door.

"Hey Ainsley," Sam said softly.

"Hey Sam," she said, walking over and putting her hand on his head. He reached up and kissed it.

"They got the guy," he told her.

"I know. Leo just told me. He wanted me to make sure you and Toby got something to eat if you won't sleep," she said, brushing back his hair.

"Then I suppose we'd better find food," Toby said, pulling himself up with the help of the nearby chair.

Sam stayed seated for another moment until Ainsley bent down and pulled on his hand. "Come on."

They walked down to the mess, which was still closed. Toby told Sam and Ainsley to sit at a table, as he went to raid the kitchen. He made sure to make some noise coming back to the table, more out of habit than out of any real belief that they would be into something. When he reached the table, Sam looked away and quickly wiped his eyes. Ainsley leaned close to him and said something softly that made him nod and get up from the table. Toby watched him go, and raised his eyebrows at Ainsley.

"He's gonna wash up a minute. He'll be right back," she said blandly as she took a cup of coffee from him.

"Ah." Toby figured it would be better not to comment, and buttered the roll he'd found.

Ainsley regarded him a moment, then asked, "Did Congresswoman Wyatt know anything?"

"Nothing more than we knew. She hadn't spoken to CJ in a couple months," Toby sighed. Andrea had been very upset when he'd told her what was going on. It had taken the better part of an hour to calm her down enough for him to feel comfortable leaving her. He knew Andrea felt guilty about not keeping in closer contact with CJ, but he knew that she had the mistaken notion that CJ didn't want her to. The opposite was true, but CJ didn't know how to go about doing anything about it. For all her talents, Toby thought, CJ may well be the most socially inept of us all.

Sam returned presently, and accepted a cup of coffee. "So, what happens next?" he asked.

"Other than waiting for something to happen? I don't know. I guess we should talk to Leo," Toby said.

"Probably," Sam said, eating a sweet roll.

"Well, let's finish eating first," Ainsley said, eliciting a small smile from Sam.

"Of course," he said to her.
*

"Leo?" Sam asked, knocking gently on his door.

Leo looked up from his desk and saw Sam, Ainsley and Toby standing in the doorway. "Come on in," he said, taking his glasses off. "Did you eat?"

Toby nodded. "Any news?"

"Not so far. The police said they'd call once they finished with Cardington, but not to expect a call until after 6." Everyone instinctively glanced at their watches. It was only 4:30. "So, it's going to be awhile," Leo sighed.

"And from Josh?" Sam asked.

"He called a few minutes ago to let me know that Carol is coming back here after she finishes her breakfast, and that he or Donna will probably be here by 7. There's no change in CJ's condition, and right now she's so drugged she barely knows her own name, let alone what happened to her." They all nodded.

"So what happens now," Sam asked again.

"Now? Well, now we all get changed, or get cleaned up, or whatever needs to happen to be ready for the day. All we can do right now is wait for the police to call, and as cold as it sounds, we might as well be productive while we wait," Leo sighed.

"It's not cold, Leo," Sam said softly. "CJ would be the first to be doing something."

"Very true," Toby said, agreeing.

"Well, then, we'd best get doing something," Leo said quietly. "I will let you all know if I hear anything new."

"If *anyone* hears anything new, we should definitely relay that," Sam said.

"Of course," Leo said.

"Then let's get on with it," Toby said softly as he turned to leave.

"Senior staff at 7," Leo said as they left. Sam waved to let him know he'd been heard, and he sat down heavily at his desk again to stare blankly at the paperwork in front of him.

 

 

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