Title: Uninvited Guest - Part 2 of 7
Author: Rhonda Dossett
Character: CJ, but everyone gets to play
Rating: PG13
Summary: Is the White House haunted?
Spoilers: Minor possible spoilers up to and including
"The Day Before."
Disclaimers: The normal disclaimers apply.
Feedback: dossett@azalea.net

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
One day before, Wednesday 7:30 am
Leo's office

Standing in front of his desk, CJ waited until Leo looked up.
"Leo, I think I need to take some time off."

"This isn't a good time CJ." Leo looked back down at the
opened file.

CJ continued to stand there, staring at him.

Leo tossed his pen down and leaned back in his chair.
"What's going on? You're not sick are you?"

CJ sighed, "No I'm not sick." At least I don't think so, she
thought. "I just need a couple of personal days, away from
here."

"The campaign is just getting started. We have the California
trip next week. We need you here." Without waiting for her
to reply, Leo went on, "This isn't still about that Haiti thing
is it? Because I'm not going to apologize about benching you.
If you are..."

CJ interrupted him. "No it's not about Haiti. Although I'm still
not happy about the lack of support I was shown."

CJ felt a tug on her suit jacket.

Carefully lowering her eyes without being too obvious about it,
CJ glanced to her side.

Looking back up at Leo, CJ cleared her throat.

Leo stopped reading and said "You're still here? Don't you
have a briefing in 30 minutes?"

"Right." CJ hesitated, then turned and left.

Leo watched her walk out the door, wondering what was really
going on.

He didn't notice the small boy trailing behind her.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
One day before, Wednesday 8:45 am
White House Briefing Room

CJ began gathering up her notes while continuing to field
questions from reporters about the reception for the British
Prime Minister scheduled for that evening. "Okay, ladies
and gentlemen, last question."

"CJ," shouted the Senior White House Correspondent from
his seat in the middle of the audience.

The Press Secretary looked up and pointed to him.
"Yes, Danny."

"CJ, the guest list you distributed has the name Patricia Blaine
on it."

"Very good Danny, now we all know you can read." CJ smiled
at him as a few chuckles escaped the other reporters. "But, did
you have a question?"

"Yeah, why is the White House entertaining a psychic?
Does Josh need help getting an accurate vote count?"

"Dr. Patricia Blaine is an old friend of the First Lady. They
attended undergraduate school together and sat on several
of the same charity boards for years. Although Dr. Blaine is
a well-known parapsychologist, and it's common knowledge
that Josh needs all the help he can get, President Bartlet won't
be requesting her services this evening."

CJ paused for effect and added, "Although if she has any insights
into when the House is going to pass the economic stimulus bill,
I'm sure the President will consider putting her on the payroll."
With that last answer, CJ stepped away from the podium and
briskly walked out the door.

On televison screens throughout the White House, those few
closely watching the end of the briefing noticed an oddly
positioned shadow. The shadow seemed to hover momentarily
near CJ's right elbow before passing out the door behind her.

Technicians began checking the lighting while photographers
cleaned already pristine camera lenses.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
One day before, Wednesday 10:30 am
CJ's office

"Claudia Jean, I heard you were taking cheap shots at me during
your briefing this morning?" Josh bounced into the room. It was
only midmorning but the condition of his suit would have led an
observer to guess midnight.

Shaking her head in mock disbelief, CJ replied "Josh, you do
know that a hot iron works better than a cold one?"

"What?"

"Your suit"

"What about my suit?" Josh looked down at his gray jacket,
unconsciously trying to smooth out a few wrinkles with his
hand. He stopped in mid-swipe and retorted, "No, you don't.
You're just trying to change the subject. What's this about
you telling the world that I need all the help I can get?"

Flinging himself in one of her guest chairs, he assumed his usual
sitting position; slouching with legs spread and outstretched.

"Josh, that information is not exactly classified."

Before, he could come up with a witty rejoinder, CJ picked up
a pen in one hand and began tapping the palm of her other.

Noticing the gesture, Josh raised his eyebrows and asked,
"What's up?"

Not bothering to deny there was something she wanted to
discuss, CJ replied, "Have you ever met Patricia Blaine?"

"Nope, thinking of having your palm read?" Josh joked.

Losing courage CJ stated "No, I just think she might be an
interesting person to meet." Looking down, pretending to
read a document on her desk, CJ followed up her comment
with a casual, "Think she's for real?"

"I don't know. As real as any of those people are."
Josh paused. "Mrs. Bartlet likes her."

Leaning forward, Josh went on to ask "Seriously CJ, what's
really going on? Toby said something about a book?"

CJ slowly raised her head and looked into Josh's face. Just
as she was about to try to explain the unexplainable, there
was a knock on her door.

Donna stuck her head in, and locating Josh, chided hin with
"Senator Stackhouse's office called. You're late. You had
a meeting on the Hill ten minutes ago."

Jumping up, Josh glanced at his watch.

Smiling both CJ and Donna looked at each other and chanted
in unison, "Your watch sucks."

Josh frowned and followed Donna out the door. Two seconds
later Josh stuck his head back in CJ's office. "We'll talk
later, okay?"

CJ, already on the telephone, nodded yes, and waved him off.

Neither noticed a small pink rubber ball rolling back and forth
on the floor under CJ's desk.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
One day before, Wednesday 12:49 pm
White House Residence

"Mrs. Bartlet, thank you so much for letting me invite myself
to lunch," CJ laughed as she hugged the petite woman.

"CJ, its Abby, please." Abby turned toward the blond, heavy-set
woman standing beside her.

"Pat, this is CJ Cregg, my husband's Press Secretary and a
good friend." Abby introduced the two women standing in
one of the residence's three dining rooms.

This room was the more informal of the three with yellow
walls, white rattan furniture, and massive windows on three
sides. Numerous living green plants were scattered throughout
the rectangular room giving it the airy feeling of a green house.
Abby always claimed that it was her favorite room in the
residence.

"CJ, this is Dr. Patricia Blaine, an old college friend. Please
be nice to her. She knows too many embarrassing stories about
my youth for me to ever risk annoying her."

CJ shook hands with Abby's friend, reflecting that Dr. Blaine
didn't look anything like CJ's preconceived image a psychic.

Dr. Blaine's appearance made her look more like a kindly,
cookie-baking grandmother than a ghost hunter or spiritual
medium. No dangling earrings. No black garments.

"Please call me Pat," requested Dr. Blaine.

"If you'll call me CJ," agreed the smiling Press Secretary.

Abby gestured toward the table set for three, "Well, I think
we should sit down now and let Joel serve us lunch before it
gets cold."

It wasn't until the sherbet dessert was served and Abby stepped
out to take a telephone call, that CJ broached the reason for her
interest in meeting the parapsychologist.

"Dr. Blaine, Pat, - please tell me about your work. It must be
fascinating. I'm very interested in what you do."

Taking a sip of coffee, Dr. Blaine replied, "Does your interest
have anything to do with the little boy currently sticking his
finger in your dessert?"

 

TBC