Please see notes and disclaimers in Part 1.

Part 2

Sam had a few quiet moments before another knock sounded on his door. He looked up in surprise to see the First Lady leaning on his door frame.

"Good morning, Mrs. Bartlet."

"Sam, I'm sorry to bother you so early. I need your help with something."

"Of course." Sam cleared the books from a chair so she could sit down.

"I have a speech to give to a group affiliated with the Women's Bar Association. My own team has given me something I'd be embarrassed to read aloud in the shower. I need a lawyer to help with it. Not one member of my team has ever practiced law, so all I've got now is fluff which sounds a bit condescending to female lawyers, including a few bad fashion tips. Needless to say--"

"--You can't give that speech."

"Exactly. I was really hoping to get help from Ainsley Hayes, but she's out of town."

Sam took a deep breath and plastered a smile on his face. He really didn't need any more projects at the moment. And a second choice to the Blonde Republican. His day looked bad already. "I'm happy to help."

"Thank you. I knew I could count on you. Here's the draft my crew choked out. I'll need a new draft tomorrow."

"Yes, Ma'am." Sam smiled again and watched her leave.

The First Lady was, at least, gracious about saddling him with yet another project. He added the folder to the stack in his box and turned back to his first project.

A moment later a pink blur created a faint breeze in his door and CJ buzzed in and deposited herself in his chair and a large box of paper on his desk.

"Okay, I'm ready. I brought the stuff."

"What stuff?"

"You know, the stuff you said you help me with."

"I really don't know. Remind me."

"The speech for my college. I'm giving the commencement address this weekend. You said you'd help me."

Sam vaguely remembered that he told her he'd be happy to read it over for her. Somehow, he thought that was next month. This was really getting funny in a sick sort of way. Perhaps Mrs. Sanders from the file room would pop in next to remind him he'd promised to write her a speech for the PTA.

"It's really this weekend?"


"Okay, what have you got so far?"

"Nothing. This is just all my college papers and the latest newsletters."

"Have you written anything?" Sam tried not to sound as exasperated as he felt. He was really tired of writing speeches for everyone.

"Well, no. I thought you'd be able to zip something together for me that would really wow them."

"CJ, you are an extremely good public speaker. I'll bet you've written hundreds of speeches."

She settled deeper into the chair. "I know. I'm just afraid I'll choke on this one and I really don't want to look stupid in an official capacity."

Sam couldn't help but smile at that. Whenever she gave in and admitted insecurities, he was lost. She was one of the strongest women he'd ever known, and she rarely felt comfortable actually asking openly for help from any of them. He guessed that was why she hadn't thought of going to Toby with this request.

"Okay. Leave the box. Put together some talking points for me to put in there, maybe a few fond memory stories and such."

"Thanks, Spanky."

"You're welcome Ms. Flamingo. And may I say you look fetching in that pink suit."

She stopped so quickly on her way out the door she almost jerked.

"Oh, God. I forgot. I thought I put all the pink stuff away. If I have to be hit with that all day, I'm gonna kill someone."

CJ left his office and smacked a snickering Toby in the arm on her way out.

"So now you have to do the Flamingo's triumphant return to the alma mater speech?"

"Yes, as well as the one Mrs. Bartlet just dumped on me"

Toby looked up from his perch at the door. "What's she got you doing?"

"Something for the Women's Bar. Ainsley was her first choice, even." Sam couldn't quite keep the exasperation out of his voice.

"Since when are you an expert on what women, especially women lawyers want to hear?

"Never that I know of. I'm gonna wear gloves when I write it so no one hunts me down."


"I'm wearing gloves so my fingerprints aren't on it."

"Yeah. Just make sure you the important projects done first. And keep some time clear for anything that comes up." Toby tossed the comment over his shoulder and veered back into the hallway.

Sam stared expectantly at his door for a moment before he dared to go back to work, contemplating simply locking it in a token effort to avoid further bad news.

----Twelve hours later

Sam pulled his hand back slowly. He examined the plaster dust on his hand with clinical detachment. Then he looked up at the rather neat hole in the wall of his office.

He hadn't put his hand through a wall for years. It actually felt good. It felt good to lose some of the pain swirling in his mind to the pain he now felt flowing from his hand. It was a senseless thing. But most things done in the true panic of emotion were senseless. They were meant to stop the painful feelings. He knew that. He didn't care.

He turned around to see CJ looking at him from the doorway. She had a haunted look on her face. He thought she would simply turn and go away. She did go away, but only for a moment. She returned with a towel of some sort and cleaned the blood off his hand.

He just stared at her. He hadn't meant for anyone to see him now. She had. And she wasn't running away.

Sam raised his eyes to he and spoke, "I'm really tired of people not telling me things."

"It wasn't intentional. No one knew."

"Toby knew. He knew and he never told me."

"He didn't tell anyone. He says he really didn't know for sure until it broke."

"Yeah, it broke all right. It smashed everything in sight. Why did he think it wouldn't?"

"Speaking of broken, how's your hand?"

"It's not broken." He flexed his hand for her to observe.

"Why did Toby do this?"

"I'm gonna say he really wished it wouldn't happen . I'd also venture a guess that there's likely a hole in the wall of Leo's office right now. God only knows what Josh is doing."

Sam's head snapped up at that last comment. "Josh will be freaked by this. You know that. It's just the thing that really hits him. Has anybody checked on him?"

She shook her head and brushed the hair from her face. "No. Let's go."

He took a deep breath and followed her out of the office.

They found Josh sitting at his desk. Donna, for once, had gone home at a reasonable hour and wasn't there to hover over him.

"Hey." Sam said from the door.

"Hey." Josh looked up. His eyes looked tired but clear.

"Hell of a day, huh?" CJ flopped into the closest chair and watched the men.

"Yeah. But then, I didn't wake up this morning planning to deal with an act of bioterrorism and global stupidity on the part of people we trust."

"None of us did. What's Leo doing?"

"He's on the phone with the people from Fort Detrick."

"And Toby?"

"I don't know. " Josh started when his phone rang.

"Yeah." Josh bellowed into the receiver.

He listened for a moment then hung up. "Leo wants us in the Oval in five minutes."

"And here we go." CJ said softly, and headed out the door.


Part 3




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