All pertinent information is in Part 1.

Part 9

How did that cliché go? "Deer caught in the headlights." It really did fit this time. Leo looked from Toby to CJ and back to Toby. This time, he looked all the way down to Toby's slippered feet.

"That's a nice look for you. I would have chosen brown slippers to match that rather casual beige T-shirt. But that would be me."

Leo walked around the desk to stand next to CJ. He surveyed the damaged drawer. He "tsked" after a moment.

"Oooooo, maybe dark brown crayon would do a better job of covering that up." After a moment, "you know what...nothing's going work on that."

"Uh did you know I was down here?"

"Well actually, I didn't, Toby. Mind you, the entire White House, including the occasional tour group, is talking about some deranged staff member roaming the halls in his house slippers, but that's not why I'm here. Oh...CJ, you'd better meet with Sam & Josh before the next figure out how to spin this particular incident. Maybe you could say it was one of the many White House spirits gone-a-
haunting. How about the one that died with his slippers on...that was murdered by a First Lady? Hmmm...coming up with a press release doesn't seem that hard."

CJ gave Toby a look of sarcastic gratitude before asking, "Why are you here, Leo?"

He gave an impish grin, "I wanted one of Toby's balls."

"Sam and Josh said you already had one. What happened to it? know...I can't afford to lose any of my balls."

"The President has that particular ball."

Toby began to rub his head thoughtfully.

"Okay, it feels weird to use, "the President" and "my balls" in the same sentence. So, could we just not do that anymore? It's like treason or something. CJ, please open the damn thing and give Leo a ball."

CJ put her key in the lock and opened the drawer. Lo and behold, a treasure trove of pink rubber balls appeared. She pulled one out and handed it reverently over to Leo. He gave it a quick bounce and seemed satisfied. Leo's face turned grim, however, as he heard Josh and Sam's loud voices coming towards them.

"Hey Tobes, we came up with another plan to sneak you back into the...hi Leo."

More deer caught in the headlights. These two, Leo just wanted to go ahead, gun the gas and run right over them. Maybe even back the car up for good measure. Toby looked over at CJ, who was concentrating a little too hard on the ingredients of Gail's fish food container. What could they have possibly done now? The room seemed much cooler than a minute ago. When CJ finally looked over, Toby gestured for her to wait outside with Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb.

"Um...I'm just going to have Josh and Sam show me the razor sharp plant in your office." She stepped towards the two suddenly quiet young men, and together they walked out the door.


"Leo, Mr. Ball is our friend. We don't throw him so hard on the ground. He might bounce back right into our faces and that would really hurt."

"Do you know, how much I'm hating you right now?"

"Funny...I got the distinct impression you were hating Sam and Josh, then again I could be wrong. A lot of people have been hating me lately."

"That's not really true, you know."

"I know. What's up, Leo?"

Toby reached into the drawer and gleefully pulled out his beloved rubber ball. He gave it a reassuring squeeze before bouncing it a few times. All would be right with the world soon enough.

"They haven't told you, have they?"

Toby stopped bouncing the ball and looked at Leo intently, "told me what?"

"Sam had a shouting match with Seth Gillette and subsequently stormed out of the Clear Cutting Referendum session." It was Leo's turn to bounce *his* ball.

"Sam yelled at Seth Gillette?" Toby blinked in disbelief.

"Yup!" Thump...thump...thump.

"Did he say why?"

"Nope!" Thump...thump...thump.

"Are you sure, Leo? I mean, Sam and Seth are like granola in the same breakfast bar."

"Oh, I'm sure, Toby." Thump...thump...thump.

"You want me to talk to him, to both of them?"

Leo caught the ball. He hesitated for just a moment. Toby had gotten so few days rest.

"Could you? I know Sam must have had a reason, but we can't afford to make any enemies, especially now."

Toby took a sharp intake of breath as he remembered what they were facing. It had been so nice not to think about it, even for just a little while. Toby grinned at Leo.

"Don't worry, I'll take care of it."

Leo searched Toby's face. If he was tired or upset, it didn't show. Leo was grateful and began bouncing the ball again.

"Well, now that I have one of your balls again, I'd better head back to my office to make Margaret miserable with it. Oh and if I were you, I would march proudly down the halls of the West Wing in my badly matched house slippers...convention be damned! Besides everybody knows anyway."

Toby smirked, "I'll take that under advisement, Leo."

Leo stepped out into the hall. Toby could here him telling them to go in and escort the Communications Director back to the residence. CJ, Sam and Josh returned a little more subdued than before.

"So...someone want to tell me what happened with Seth Gillette?"


Part 10



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