part two. Hey, how many ears does Spock have? Three. His left ear,
his right ear and the final front ear. Ha ha ha! Sorry. Story. Right.
"Josh! Congratulations. I didn't think you had it in you."
"Sir?" Josh stared at the President in confusion.
"This stripping thing. Wow, that takes guts."
"That's what I wanted to talk to you about, sir. I can't do it."
POTUS looked shocked. "Why not?"
"Think about it, sir! The press would go nuts! It's... undignified."
"You know, I've thought about that."
"I don't care." POTUS grinned. "I want to see this. Of course,
they probably won't let me go, I'll have to get CJ to take a video
camera and -"
"Well, Leo can't take one, because Leo has to stay here and run the
White House for me."
"We'll be fine without you for a few hours." The President smiled and
patted Josh on the shoulder, laughing inwardly at his expression.
"So, don't you worry about a thing, Josh. You just do your thing."
"Thank you, sir." Josh shuffled away to his office, feeling more
depressed than he would have thought possible, considering that it
was such a nice day.
Donna was waiting in his office, a huge grin on her face.
"Shut up," he warned, slumping into his chair.
"I didn't say anything," she replied smugly.
He glared at her. "I despair of you sometimes, Donatella Moss."
"I hear you're going to be stripping."
"Word spreads fast," Josh groaned.
"I've been fielding calls for the last fifteen minutes, mostly from
your fan club, wanting to know if it's really true so they can buy
"How did I get a fan club, anyway?"
Donna smiled at him. "Anyway, I can't wait to see it."
"Well, thank you so much for your support."
"You're very welcome."
Josh covered his face with his hands and wondered if it was too late
to become a priest.
"Encroaching... infringing? Transgressing? Trespassing?"
"You know, Sam, you walk around talking to yourself like that and
people are gonna start thinking you're a little weird."
Sam looked up, surprised. "Oh, hey, Josh. Know any synonyms for
Josh blinked. "Uh... Intruding?"
Sam nodded thoughtfully. "Could work... yeah, thanks."
Josh licked his lips nervously. "So, this charity thing is pretty
"Tomorrow. And let me tell you..." Sam grinned. "The only thing
keeping me sane at the moment is the thought that you had an 'exotic
dancer' in here yesterday to teach you some moves."
A flush crept up to Josh's ears. "What I do during my lunch break is
none of your business."
"Uh huh. Synonym for outrageous, only stronger?"
"Hey, do you know if there's an age limit on... you know, becoming a
Sam stared at Josh curiously for a moment. "No, no, I think that you
can be called by God at any age."
"You have to actually be called by God? Damn. Can't I call him? I
guess he's a busy man- er, being. Maybe I could fax him or something."
"Sam! Where's that first draft?!" Toby's voice carried easily down
the corridor. He did not sound happy.
Sam flinched. "Why couldn't I have chosen something easier to do with
my life?" he sighed, by way of farewell. "Like lion taming. I
would've been good at lion taming."
"Look at it this way," Josh called to Sam's retreating back.
basically the same thing, except the chair and the whip are
"That makes me feel so much better."
Josh smiled to himself, then checked his watch. Damn... he was late
for today's dance lesson.
The festival had several large circus-type tents set up here and
there for different events, with one stage out in the open. At the
moment, that stage was occupied by the Press Secretary for the White
"And they call me... the Jackal." CJ couldn't stop a giggle from
escaping as she wound up The Jackal. She'd never done it in front of
a large audience before, and it had been very well received. The
crowd applauded madly as she walked offstage.
"Doesn't she have a great laugh?" Danny asked dreamily, staring at CJ.
Josh, who had filmed The Jackal with the camera that CJ had brought
along, had to admit that he thought she did, even though *he* wasn't
in love with her.
"How was it?" CJ asked eagerly as she joined the two men.
"Great," Josh assured her.
"Spectacular," said Danny, still looking decidedly enchanted.
"He and Sam had to get ready for their... heh... boxing match." Josh
didn't even try to prevent a huge grin from spreading over his face.
Danny managed to get a coherent thought together and say, "Hey, you
know, I'd be happy to explain boxing to you in a patronizing way."
To Danny, CJ said, "Okay," and to Josh, putting on a disappointed
expression, she said, "They missed it?"
"No, just the last little bit. And I got it on tape, so they can see
Danny focused on the camera. "Can I get a copy of that?"
"How long 'til they start?"
Josh glanced at his watch. "Uh, five minutes."
CJ grinned. "I get to see Sam wearing nothing but those boxer-short-
like thingies boxers wear." Then another thought occurred to her.
"Hey, I get to see *Toby* wearing nothing but those boxer-short-like
thingies boxers wear."
Josh beamed delightedly. "POTUS chose their shorts personally, you
know." Then his smile dimmed as he added, "He also chose my
CJ laughed, causing Danny to go weak at the knees. "Look on the
bright side, Josh. Whatever costume he chose, at least you won't be
wearing it for long."
CJ, Danny and Josh arrived just as the ref announced the beginning of
"Now they hit each other, and the first one to fall down loses,"
Danny explained patronizingly. CJ slapped him upside the head.
Sam, who was wearing patriotic stars and stripes shorts, and Toby,
who had yelled at the President about improvised speeches, and was
therefore wearing embarrassing powder-blue teddy bear shorts,
advanced warily, meeting in the middle of the boxing ring, which had
been specially set up for the occasion.
"Toby," Sam said firmly, "I've told you before, and I'll tell you
again: I am *not* going to fight you!"
"So don't," said Toby expressionlessly.
"Toby-" Sam was cut off by a right hook to the face. He stumbled back
a step. "Toby!"
Toby hit him again, and Sam's bewilderment was replaced by anger.
"Toby..." he repeated warningly. Toby hit him again. "Okay,
*it*!" Sam yelled, patience exhausted. "I've had it up to *here* with
being pushed around by you!"
"I *am* your boss," Toby pointed out, and hit him again. This time,
quite unexpectedly, Sam hit back. And, much to the delight of the
assembled crowd, the fight was on.
Shortly afterwards, it was Josh's turn.
He stood behind the curtain in his tent, trembling with terror.
Disjointed thoughts ran through his mind. It wasn't too late to back
out. What *had* POTUS been thinking with this costume? Pirates didn't
wear pink eye patches. And what was with the wooden sword? At least
Donna hadn't been allowed to come. And Joey. Joey was still at work.
But CJ was out there with a camera. His master plan of using all the
film on CJ, Sam and Toby hadn't worked. The President had hinted at
curry and a look at CJ's video for everyone. Maybe he could kill CJ?
No, then Danny would record him as revenge and the tape would get out
anyway. He double-checked his pink shirt for the millionth time,
ensuring that it was easy to tear off. Oh, God, how was he going to
face his Secret Service detail after this?
He didn't hear his name being announced, but all of a sudden "You
sexy thing" was playing, the audience was cheering wildly, and
someone was shoving him through the curtain. He observed the crowded
tent from his slightly elevated point, giving a camera-holding CJ a
sick look. Then he closed his eyes, stopped thinking, and started...
showing a willing spirit.
The audience cheered.
Mandy's mouth twitched as her colleagues stumbled into the West Wing.
CJ was the only one that looked normal. Sam was gingerly holding an
ice pack under his left eye and had another balanced on the back of
his right hand, while Toby had one firmly duct-taped to the top of
his head. The tape looped under his chin, making it rather difficult
to talk. It was going to take many slow-motion replays to find out
how he had received *that* particular injury. Josh had neglected to
think of what he would do once he had ripped off all his clothes, and
as a result was wearing a too-small neon yellow sweatshirt and back
leather pants, both borrowed from enthusiastic supporters of his
venture. He looked slightly disheveled. Danny stood beside them,
trying to blend in.
"Hello," she said, smirking.
"Mmf," mumbled Toby, Josh and Sam. CJ said, "Hi!"
"We all watched the little bits they showed on the news," Mandy
informed them, as Donna and Joey walked up.
"The President wants to see you all as soon as you get in," said
Donna, winking at Josh. "And you're in, so..."
They sighed. Danny said, "Can I come?"
"CJ!" The President sounded annoyingly cheerful as he rose to greet
them. "Great job! They didn't show it all, but we'll watch the tape
"That fight was interesting," Leo dead-panned from his position
opposite the President.
"Yes," agreed POTUS. "My favourite part was when Sam jumped Toby
started pounding him and screaming, 'That's for calling my writing
shabby, you geriatric bastard!'"
"And what did Toby say in reply?" Leo thought for a moment. "Ah,
'Are you calling me old, you juvenile moron?'"
Sam smiled, then winced. The ice pack fell off his hand, and he
stared at it morosely for a moment before picking it up, clutching
surreptitiously at his ribs as he straightened. Toby just stood
there, looking ridiculous. At least his ice pack wouldn't fall off.
"Someone should teach you a few things about boxing," the President
said reprovingly. "For instance, kicking pulling is *not* allowed."
Sam blushed. "I wouldn't have kicked him if he hadn't pulled my
hair," he protested feebly.
"And hitting below the belt is generally discouraged," Leo added.
Toby had the good grace to look abashed, while Sam grimaced at the
"I won, didn't I?" Toby muttered sulkily.
"No, neither of you won. If you recall, you were both disqualified."
"So we both won."
POTUS sighed. "Anyway. Unfortunately, the news showed nothing of
Josh sagged with relief.
"So we'll save that part for tonight's highlight."
Josh groaned softly. CJ laughed. "You'll love the part when he was
trying to get off the stage, and that group of girls mobbed him and
pulled off his-"
"CJ!" Josh snapped.
"Last remaining piece of clothing," CJ finished defiantly. That even
wrung a smile from Toby.
"At least this year's Christmas presents are taken care of," mused
Mandy. "Copies of that tape for everyone."
"Including me?" Danny asked hopefully, then, as the President looked
at him speculatively, "Uh, I gotta go write an article." He left.
"And I," CJ said reluctantly, "have to go and prepare a press
briefing. Danny brought all his friends, and they're going to want to
laugh at us."
"And I've got to get back to that thing with Africa," Sam said.
"And I have a speech to write," Toby put in.
"Okay. Everything sorted between you two? No hard feelings?" No,
apparently. No hard feelings. "Maybe you should shake on it?"
Sam blinked. "My hands are full."
"Okay. See you tonight."
CJ, Sam and Toby went their separate ways, greeting Mrs Landingham on
their way out. The President looked at Josh, Mandy and Leo in silence
for a while. Eventually he said, "Well?"
"Oh, yeah, I have that meeting..." Josh looked down and examined his
outfit. "Maybe I'd better find some real clothes. Donna must be
hanging around here somewhere..." Josh wandered away in search of
"I, I, I have that thing with the zoo," said Mandy, and followed Josh.
Leo and Jed eyed each other for a beat, then Leo said, "Well, I guess
we have work to do."
It was, once again, a beautiful day in Washington. Even the birds
were taking the day off. And pretty soon, everyone was just too damn
busy to notice.