All the pertinent information is in Part 1.

Part 10

*No response*

"Okay...let's make this easy. Sam exactly why did you yell at Seth
Gillette, your "enviro geek" pal, and storm out of the Clear Cutting
Referendum session?"

"Tobes, can I just say..." CJ grabbed Josh's arm and shook her head.

"Mi compadre, let's stay out of this one."

Sam was squirming. He didn't want to tell Toby why he lost control of
his temper. Toby shouldn't know that Seth had so easily gotten under
his skin. Sam was suppose to be learning the tricks of politics from
Toby and once again, he was proving to be a bad student.

"Sam? Answer me."

Sam licked his lips. "Everything was going great. Josh was there, he
knows." Josh nodded his agreement. "Seth and I were finishing up, when
he made this rude remark about..." Sam hesitated.

"About what Sam?" Toby frowned in puzzlement, and then it dawned on
him. "Not about what, about whom. Seth Gillette said something rude
about me."

"Yes! Toby he pissed me off! He said it was such a pleasure to work
with me instead of a "pompous dickhead" like you. He said he was
waiting for the day that I would be the Communications Director and you
were out on your ass. It was the day after the President & Mrs. Bartlet
took you to the residence. When you looked"

Everyone could see Sam was getting angry all over again. Toby stood by
him and put a comforting hand on his shoulder. Sam went on.

"Seth told me that at the meeting I set up, you told a joke. So I
decided to tell him one too. You know that whole "If a tree falls in a
forest and no one's there to hear it thing? Well, I said if a tree
falls in a forest, I hoped it would fall on him."

First there was silence, then they all "snerked, then they started to
laugh. Only Sam didn't seem amused.

"Sam that's not even a joke. And I am so glad that it didn't turn out
to be the 4th stupidest thing *I've* said in as many days."

"Well he is *your* Deputy Communications Director, so it could count as
the 4th."

"Okay, so I realize now that it wasn't really a joke. You have to admit
though, that the image of a tree falling on Seth is pretty funny." Sam
looked dejectedly at his feet.

"Why the tree thing, Sam?"

"I was trying to be clever, tying it into the Clear Cutting

"Oh...yeah...really clever."

"Toby, I'm sorry. I know you've been trying to teach me what I need to
know about politics. I know you have plans for Josh and I..."

Toby and CJ stopped laughing and stared at the two younger men. Could
they have overheard the conversation in the Roosevelt Room so many
weeks ago? Was that why Sam and Josh were trying so hard to be focused
lately. Toby coughed a bit, but it was CJ who asked the hard question.

"Toby, why have you be so upset lately. We've been talking and we know
something bad is going on. Josh and Sam say you found something out the
night of the speech rewrite session. It's about the President...isn't

Toby began to shuffle, now he was really feeling drained. He had to say
something to re-assure them.

"Yes, it does, but it's not my place to tell you. The President will
talk to you himself, soon enough. All I can say is that you have what
it takes to handle it, regardless of what the outcome. I'm not worried
and you shouldn't be either. We'll be fine, as long as we each do what
we do best. Okay?"

They weren't very pleased with Toby's vague answer. They saw however,
that Toby needed to know they could do this thing. CJ, Josh and Sam
each nodded and agreed. Toby felt the lack of enthusiasm and decided to
say something totally out of character.

"I've always felt uncomfortable saying stuff like this. So, I don't
tell you very often. CJ and I get the distinct impression that maybe a
couple of weeks ago, you two overhead something similar to what I'm
about to say now. Toby stopped Josh and Sam before they could protest.
"I don't want to hear it, but we'll be talking more about that private
conversation later. They watched Toby intently as he continued.

"I am so very proud of each and every one of you. Josh, you can be
brash and loud mouthed at times. However, in the last couple of weeks,
when I wasn't sure if I was going to stay..." They began to protest.
"Hey, hey...let me finish." The three quieted down.

"Yes, I was seriously thinking about resigning. I even had the letter
written. What changed my mind was that I didn't want to leave you. I
wanted to keep working for the President, this Administration, and more
than anything, I wanted to stay with YOU. Josh, these last few weeks
you've amazed me with your political acumen. The way you've handled
yourself on the Hill was nothing short of brilliant. Sam, I'm jealous
of your writing ability. I may be the political voice, but you *are*
the President's voice. In the next few weeks and months, you're going
to be the key. I have no qualms about stepping back and letting you go
at it. It's going to be my pleasure to watch you." I *do* have plans
for both of you. Leo and I have a bet to see which one of you will be
President first. So don't make me lose a lot of money, Sam.

When it came time to say something to CJ, he couldn't. Toby took her
hands in his and swallowed hard. He started to speak, but she stopped
him with a squeeze. She looked at him with intently and shook her head.
They have always had this silent communication between them. She saw
volumes in his face and he knew it was enough for her. This time he
leaned forward and kissed her on the lips.

A small fit of throat clearing ensued behind them. Toby looked over at
Sam and Josh while still holding CJ's hand.

"Now, are you going to agree more enthusiastically with me that we'll
be just fine?"


Part 11




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