SPOILERS: Two Cathedrals
DISCLAIMER: I don't believe I own one person
mentioned in this story. Most of them belong to Aaron
Sorkin, while some of them belong only to themselves.
SUMMARY: Josh is having a day.
THANKS: To Jo, of course, for providing wonderful
insights when I was stuck, and to Morgan, for
insisting that I go to D.C. to protest. :)

You Sass
Ryo Sen


I should've known it was going to be a day when I
waltzed into the office at 7:15 and CJ was already in
her office singing along with k.d. lang.

Why should this have tipped me off, you wonder? CJ
only breaks out the lesbian country artists when she's
feeling particularly overtired. And stressed. And
just about ready to kill the next male who wanders
unsuspectingly past.

I wisely head straight for my office to devise a
strategy that involves avoiding CJ until at least
lunchtime. Donna greets me with a cheerful grin.
"What's wrong with CJ?"

"Good morning, Donna."

She takes a long, rapturous swig from her Starbucks
cup, then says, "And a bright and happy good morning
to you too, Josh. I'm Down to My Last Cigarette?"

I give her a puzzled look. "Since when do you smoke?"

Donna laughs. "It's the name of the song, Josh. The
one CJ's had on repeat since I got here."

I drop into my chair and rub a hand over my face. "Oh
god."

"Exactly." Donna perches on the edge of the visitor's
chair and I can smell her coffee. I am experiencing
homicidal urges.

"What happened?" I mean, really. I've only been out
of the office for eight hours. Ten tops. The country
couldn't have turned sour quite that fast.

With a guileless grin, Donna rises and shrugs. "Hell
if I know."

"Donna!"

She pauses at the door. "What?"

"Aren't you supposed to be, you know," I wave a hand
around in the air. I'm not quite up to my usual witty
repartee before my first cup of coffee. Which Donna,
of course, refuses to bring me out of some strange,
misguided fit of feminism, even though she stops by
Starbucks almost every morning and I've repeatedly
offered to buy us both coffee if only she'd transport
it here. But no, that's apparently--What was I
saying? "Research Girl?"

And there's that look she's perfected over three
years. The "Josh, you are the biggest dolt alive and
I can't imagine where this alleged intellect about
which you brag incessantly could have possibly gone"
look. "You want me to write you a memo on CJ's bad
mood?"

I roll my eyes. "I'm saying that perhaps CJ's bad
mood was precipitated by a political action
perpetrated by someone we routinely anger, slight, or
otherwise aggravate, and on the off chance that my
political expertise could--"

"All right, Josh," Donna sighs. "Stop talking now."

Donna and her coffee cup too disappear across the
bullpen in the direction of CJ's office. Well, that
was a nice bit of deputizing I did just there. Not
only did I farm out an unpleasant assignment, but I
bought myself five minutes or so without a schedule.
Because my motto is: If Donna hasn't gone over it
with me, it doesn't exist.

So I head almost cheerfully to the old, sometimes
petulant coffeemaker in the bullpen. It appears no
one has bothered to brew coffee this morning, since
they all seem to be addicted to Starbucks'
frappuccinos. I swear those things are like crack for
the majority of the White House staff. There should
really be some sort of governmental study on the--

"Josh!"

When I regain the power of speech, I forcibly relax my
shoulders and turn slowly. "Donna?"

Her lips press together in a valiant attempt to hide
her amusement. "Too loud?" she asks, a note of
laughter in her tone.

"Also strident." My gaze catches on the green mermaid
taunting me from her cup.

And there she goes with the hand on her hip. The hand
without the coffee cup, of course. "That was not a
strident tone, Josh! If you want to hear strident,
you should go talk to CJ about the water thing."

I struggle with the can of coffee grounds for a moment
before dumping a good amount into the filter and
shoving it in place. Damn. No water. With a glance
over at Donna, I take the empty coffeepot and head for
the small kitchen-type area next to my office. "The
water thing?"

"Yes," Donna says, falling into step with me. "She
thinks we should just invade Canada and then push
through some legislation--"

"Donna?" I interrupt, stuffing the pot under the
faucet. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"The water thing," she says, as if that should explain
everything.

I stare at her pointedly.

"Oh," she says. "You don't know what the water thing
is, do you?"

"Quick study," I comment, heading back towards the
coffeemaker with the now full pot.

"Blue gold."

I glance over at her. "Are we going to toss back two
word sentences all day, or--"

"Phrases."

"Donna," I sigh, pouring the water into the
coffeemaker and jabbing at the button a few times to
get the ball rolling.

"Neither of those were sentences, is all I'm saying."

"Donna, can we please talk about the water thing."
I'm staring at the coffee as it ever so slowly starts
to brew, willing it to move faster. I need caffeine;
Donna's making me dizzy.

"Blue gold," she repeats. "Which, I should point out,
doesn't have a verb and therefore can't--"

"Donna!"

She gives me a completely unrepentant look. "Sorry."

"Yeah, right."

"Blue gold," Donna says again, "is a reference to
water."

I bang my head into the wall a couple times. "Could
you please stop talking in circles?"

"Drinking water," Donna clarifies. "Less than one
half of one percent of all the water on the globe is
potable."

I blink a couple of times. "Okay. And this has what
to do with Canada and lesbian country artists?"

"Canada has about twenty percent of the world's
potable water," she answers promptly, taking another
sip of her coffee. I glare at her and she smiles.
"Sun Belt Water is trying to broker a deal to
privatize water to sell it to the highest bidder."

I can feel my forehead wrinkling, but I can't seem to
control it. "Privatize water? Isn't that like
privatizing air?"

Donna shrugs. "Well, you'd think. There's also a
tie-in to NAFTA--"

I hold up a hand. "No. Please don't tell me about
NAFTA at 7:23 in the morning when I've yet to have
even a drop of coffee."

She gives me a sympathetic look. "Bullet points in an
hour?"

"Whatever."

Turns out, I never get to hear Donna's blue gold
bullet points, because USAS stormed the president's
office.

***

"Josh!"

"Why must everyone shout my name as if I'm a
recalcitrant seven year old?" I inquire of the
blackboard staring at me from the wall. "Granted,
sometimes I do a damn good impression of a
recalcitrant seven year old, but I think lately I've
been--"

"Joshua Lyman, get your ass in here!"

I lean a bit to the right and peer out the door.
Well, I see CJ's mood has improved. She's standing in
the doorway to her office, her hands on her hips and a
scowl on her face. All that's missing is a little
black raincloud hovering above her head.

I stand, calmly, and walk past Donna's desk--ignoring
her horrified look--towards CJ's office. "You
caterwauled?"

She barely spares me a glance, her gaze shifting
between all four television sets, and occasionally
down to the notebook she has clutched in one hand.
"USAS is occupying the president's office."

My eyes must go very, very wide, because when CJ looks
at me, she starts laughing. "Not President Bartlet,
Josh."

I take a breath. "Okay."

"Elwood Shenkman, President of Georgetown University,"
CJ clarifies.

"Okay," I repeat, waiting for the punchline.

"It's a sit-in." She pauses, squinting at ABC.
"Something like twenty-five students."

I nod slowly. "Good for them. Why are you telling me
this?"

CJ purses her lips and waits for me to figure it out.

"No," I say, shaking my head. "Please tell me you're
kidding."

"Would that it were so, Josh," CJ sighs.

"Zoey?"

"Yes."

"Zoey Bartlet?"

"Yes."

"Zoey Bartlet stormed the President of Georgetown's
office to participate in a sit-in?"

CJ nods. "Yes."

I drop onto her couch and slump over, resting my head
in my hands. "This day is never going to end, is it?"

"Probably not," CJ answers grimly.

***

"A sit in?" Leo repeats incredulously.

CJ nods. "Yes."

Leo looks to me, apparently too shocked to believe
this from just one source. I give him a helpless
shrug, and he closes his eyes for a moment, then pins
CJ with a glare. "And we know she's there?"

"Yes."

Impatient, Leo demands, "And we know this how?"

CJ tilts her head a little bit in that way she has
when she's deciding on the best way to present
unpalatable truths. She clears her throat. "Well,
just before she joined up with her..."

"Fellow protestors?" I offer.

"Fellow protestors, yes," CJ says with a grateful
look. "Just before she left, she sent me an email."

Leo stares at her for a moment, slumped back in his
chair. "She sent an email?"

"Yes."

"What did it say?"

CJ pulls out a piece of paper and reads, "'I'm sorry
to have given you such short notice, but I am leaving
momentarily to join other members of USAS to occupy
President Shenkman's office until he agrees to--'" CJ
glances up, "I'll skip that part. She makes a very
good case for USAS, and then she says, 'I didn't tell
you earlier, because I didn't want you to have to tell
my father. I didn't want my parents to have a chance
to try to talk me out of this, because they probably
would have succeeded. I don't like disobeying them,
and they probably won't approve of this, but it's an
issue about which I feel strongly. I hope you all
understand that I'm not trying to use the press to my
advantage. In fact, if all goes well, the press will
never know that I was involved. I'll email you again
when I can,'" CJ finishes and looks up.

Leo's forehead wrinkles. "How is she going to email
again? Are they going to co-opt the President's
computer?"

"Apparently," I explain, "some of the protestors have
laptops with them. You know, so they can update their
site."

Leo's irritated gaze swings over to me. "Well, they
certainly are twenty-first century protestors, aren't
they?"

CJ and I exchange looks. "Leo," she says, "I think
it's important to remember that Zoey's doing nothing
to alert the press to her presence. She's not trying
to use her celebrity here, she's doing the same as 24
other kids."

"Those 24 other kids aren't related to the leader of
the free world." Leo taps one hand impatiently on his
leg. "We've got to tell the President."

"And Dr. Bartlet," I add.

Leo's eyes narrow. "Why the First Lady?"

"The cause," CJ answers reluctantly.

Leo groans. "Why do I get the feeling I'm not going
to like this next part? Just tell me it's not some
crazy-ass Republican issue, like tax cuts for the rich
or--"

"United Students Against Sweatshops," CJ interrupts
before Leo can work himself up into an even bigger
snit.

Leo gives us a pained look, then yells, "Margaret!"

***

Toby glares at us from behind his desk. "Leo's
telling him now?"

"Yes," I answer.

"The building hasn't come crashing down around our
heads, yet, so I'm guessing the President hasn't
actually been told quite yet," CJ observes.

Toby stares at his desk for a moment. "People really
still do sit-ins?"

"Apparently."

With a sniff, Toby says, "They're probably doing them
wrong. Disorganized, like the rest of the amateurs."

CJ rolls her eyes. "They brought a dustbuster to
clean up after themselves, Toby. They're not
disorganized."

Toby ignores her comment, asking, "And they're
protesting sweatshops where? In Asia?"

I defer to CJ, because really, I don't deal with
foreign relations.

With a tired nod, CJ answers, "Yeah. The name brands
over here--Nike, Reebok, etc.--they're getting
exclusive contracts with colleges around the country
to produce branded material for the school. And
then--"

"They subcontract the work to some hellhole in
Malaysia," Toby finishes. "Perfect."

"Right," CJ answers. "We need someone to go talk to
Zoey."

I shake my head a little. "No, we don't."

"Yes, we do, Josh," Toby argues. "We can't let this
go."

"Why not? She's an adult, Toby, it's not like we can
order her back to her dungeon." I point out.

CJ shifts beside me, one hand massaging her temples.
"No, but the President can."

"You don't think he'd actually--?"

"I don't know, Josh," CJ answers, exasperated. "But
if he does and she won't leave... This could get
ugly."

"Since when is Zoey in USAS?" Toby wonders.

"Zoey's in USAS?" Sam asks from the doorway. I turn
to look at him and he's grinning proudly. "Good for
her!"

Toby glowers. "Zoey and her fellow USAS-ers have
occupied the office of the President of Georgetown."

Sam's smile falters. "Oh."

"Yes."

Sam ponders that for a moment, then says, "Well, at
least she'll be in the papers for protesting human
rights abuses instead of, I don't know, underage
drinking or something."

Toby groans, "This can't be in the papers, Sam, is my
point."

I raise a hand. "Has everyone forgotten that the
Bartlet Administration is actually *against*
sweatshops? It's not like Zoey's protesting something
that we support."

Sam nods. "Right, and if it's something she believes
in, surely the President--"

"Sam," CJ interrupts, "the President can't officially
be involved in a dispute at Georgetown, but if this
becomes a story, China's going to hear about it, and
it's not like they're overly fond of us to begin with.
Nike and Reebok are going to hear about it and stop
contributing to the DNC. This is actually a thing."

I shrug. "I still say to let it go. If she's forced
to leave on her father's orders, that'll be an even
bigger story. 'Bartlet Kowtows to Corporate
America.'"

CJ waves off my conjecture. "We need to talk to Zoey.
And obviously, none of us can go anywhere near
Georgetown."

"Right," Sam nods. "Why don't we send Donna?"

I swivel around to face him. "What?"

"Donna Moss," he answers, smiling. "She looks like a
student. She hasn't been in the news lately, and Zoey
trusts her."

CJ nods. "Besides which, all she really has to do is
get in there and hand Zoey a cellphone."

I open my mouth to protest further, but Toby cuts me
off, yelling, "Ginger, get Donna in here."

***

"Zoey Bartlet is exercising her freedom of speech,
freedom of assembly, and more importantly, she's
standing up against human rights abuses supported by
American companies, which is more than I can say for
the majority of Congress." CJ pauses, awaiting
questions.

"Hell, no." Toby shakes his head, still glaring at
her sullenly from behind his desk. Sam, CJ, and I are
gathered on the couch and the armchairs, but Toby has
set himself apart.

"I like it," I argue. "Strong, firm, and a backhand
at corporate-owned Congresspersons."

"Exactly," Toby turns his glare on me. "We smackdown
Congress and corporate America in one fell swoop, our
re-election bid, which is already shaky at best, is
going to be incredibly underfunded."

Sam frowns. "I don't think that's true. Besides,
there are lots of special interest groups who would be
ecstatic if we came out against corporate greed."

Toby growls, "Yes, because backing from the
environmental lobby is really going to win us
re-election."

"Regardless," CJ interjects, "that's not the issue.
Zoey's right. What's more, we agree with her. Why
not use this--?"

"Because," Toby bellows, "the President can't look
like he's following his twenty year old daughter's
lead!"

"Why not?" asks a familiar voice.

All four of us leap to our feet, stammering variations
of "Good morning, Mr. President."

He nods at us, hands in his pockets, and takes a
couple of steps into Toby's office. "Morning. Now
why can't we support Zoey?"

"We can," CJ and I answer in unison.

"Because it'll look--" Toby stops, then gives the
President an apologetic shrug. "Weak."

The President's mouth quirks upward at the corners,
his eyes crinkling around the edges. "Taking a stand
against human rights abuses in Asia will look weak?"
he asks in that singsong, "see how stupid you're
being?" voice he does so annoyingly well.

Sam gestures at Toby. "I think Toby means that if we
make a statement now, after Zoey stormed--" It's his
turn to stop abruptly at the look on the President's
face.

"Occupied," CJ supplies.

Sam bobs his head up and down a few times. "After she
occupied the president's office, that's the part that
would look weak."

"I have a question," President Bartlet informs us.

"Of course, sir," CJ answers with a glance at me. I
shrug almost imperceptibly.

"Is my radical anti-human-rights-abuses stand a matter
of public record?"

Toby rolls his eyes.

CJ grins. "Yes, sir. You sent the Saipan bill to
Congress, and you renewed sanctions against several
countries who allow sweatshops and institutionalized
indentured servitude."

Toby shifts his weight, one hand coming up to
emphasize his point. "Mr. President, we can't very
well have CJ get up there and list your human rights
resume before pledging your support for Zoey's
actions. The President of the United States cannot
have an official stance on a dispute between the
students and the administration of a private
university."

President Bartlet glances over at me.

I shrug and admit, "Toby's right, sir. You can't
officially take sides." I tilt my head towards CJ.
"But you've got a hell of a press secretary, sir. I
say you send CJ up there to explicitly state that this
administration will not comment on the situation at
Georgetown. There will be questions, and CJ can list
the Saipan bill and the sanctions to show that the
position of USAS and Zoey is one shared by the White
House."

Sam's nodding again. "They'll ask, 'Are you saying
that the President supports his daughter's actions?'"

CJ plays along. "The White House does not comment on
the personal lives of President Bartlet's children.
Furthermore, the Bartlet Administration does not
officially favor either side of this struggle."

Behind his desk, Toby drops into his chair.

"Officially?" I jump in, grinning. "Are you saying
that the President unofficially supports Zoey?"

"I'm saying that although President Bartlet doesn't
have a position on this, it's probably a safe bet that
Josiah Bartlet does. And given his record on the
issue, it's fairly easy to discern which side of the
issue he'd support."

"And then she ends the gaggle," I say, turning back to
the President.

He watches us for a moment, considering. Then he
grins. "Let's do it."

***

"Josh?"

I snap out of my daze and meet the President's
expectant look. "Yes?"

He's amused. I can tell by the way he leans back a
little in his wingback chair, glancing around the Oval
for a moment before settling his gaze back on me.
"Your thoughts on this?"

Shit.

So help me god, I've lost the thread of the
conversation entirely. It's been nearly two hours
since Donna left for Georgetown, and she still hasn't
called. I've been tossing around the more dreadful
possibilities for the past half-hour, irrational
thoughts of tear gas and riot-geared police flitting
through my mind, and I no longer have any idea where
the conversation went. I stare at the president, my
mouth opening and closing soundlessly.

Then Charlie knocks softly and saves me. "Excuse me,
sir," he says. Then he looks over at me. "Josh,
Donna's on the line for you."

I glance back at the President, who rolls his eyes and
dismisses me. I follow Charlie out, taking the call
at his desk.

"Donna?"

"Josh, I'm in."

"What the hell took you so long?"

"'Why thank you, Donna, for doing this favor for me
and the rest of the Bartlet Administration. I'm sure
you made your way there as quickly as possible given
the traffic, the impossible parking situation, and the
growing crowd outside--'"

"Yeah, yeah," I interrupt. "Where's Zoey?"

"She's here with me. Listen, Josh--"

"Excellent. Can I talk to her?"

"In a second. Josh, I'm going to stay here."

I blink at the wall. Stay there? What the hell is
she talking about? "Excuse me?"

Donna answers in a rush. "Well, they explained their
position and I absolutely agree with them, and since
you do too I figured you'd understand. And don't
worry, I made a few phone calls to confirm the details
of Georgetown's current contract with Nike and the
sweatshop conditions in--"

"Donna!" I yell. "Get your ass back here!" Charlie
gives me a warning look and I nod, turning away from
him.

"Josh," Donna says, and I can tell she's pouting from
her tone, "that's not very nice."

"I need you here. And anyway, don't you have to be a
student to participate?" She's silent for a moment,
and I suddenly can't breathe. "Donna?"

"I was going to tell you, Josh. It's just one class
per semester. At night, so it shouldn't inconvenience
you too much. I was hoping I'd be able to earn my
degree by the time President Bartlet leaves office."

She pauses, obviously awaiting a response, but I'm
having difficulty soothing my instinctual panic when I
realized she might be leaving me. Leaving my office,
I mean. My employ.

"Josh?"

"Yeah," I manage. "No, that's," I clear my throat.
"That's great, Donna."

"Really?"

"Sure."

"So you don't mind if I stay here--?"

"Donna, you work at the White House. You know what
would be worse than Zoey's participation getting to
the press?"

"A White House employee participating in a sit-in at
Georgetown?" she guesses, her tone dejected.

"Thank you. When will you be back?"

"Soon," she answers. "Hey, Josh?"

"Yeah?"

"You support USAS, right? I mean, you agree with what
they're doing?"

I can feel my forehead wrinkling again. "Yes. Of
course. Why?"

"No reason," she says quickly. "Did you want to talk
to Zoey?"

"Yeah, the President does. But Donna--"

"'Kay, see you in a bit, Josh," she interrupts
quickly, then hands the phone off to Zoey.

"Josh?"

"Hey, kid," I answer. "You're hanging out with the
campus radical set nowadays?"

I can tell she's grinning from the tone of her voice.
"Well, our cause is a bit more noble than your
infamous Right to Party Drink-a-Thon, Josh, but--"

"Hey!" I protest. I can hear Donna snickering in the
background. "I told you that in the strictest
confidence."

"And I'm sure my father would thank you for sharing
drunken frat boy stories with his impressionable,
sixteen-year old daughter."

"You're twenty," I point out.

"I wasn't then," she answers. "Shall I tell him about
the time you--"

"Zoey Bartlet," I interrupt, laughing, "you are
becoming quite the political operative."

"I learned from the best," she answers in a syrupy
voice.

"Now you're just trying to butter me up."

"I was referring to Leo," she answers, giggling.

I turn around to catch Charlie's eye, nodding towards
the Oval Office. He smiles and starts in there to
alert the President to his daughter's call.

"See if I do you any favors ever again," I answer
Zoey. "Your dad's going to want to talk to you, and
probably CJ."

"Fine," she says evenly. "Oh, and Josh? Thanks for
lunch."

"Sure," I answer automatically. Then, "Wait--WHAT?"

Charlie pokes his head out of the Oval Office,
gesturing for me to let the President talk to his
daughter. With a half-laugh, half-groan, I obey.

Charlie exits the Oval Office, giving me a questioning
look. "She's okay, right?"

"Yeah," I answer. "In fact, the protestors are
getting a free meal care of Josh Lyman's sterling
credit."

Charlie grins at me. "That was real nice of you,
Josh."

I roll my eyes and head for the Oval Office. "Tell it
to Donna."

***

It's been almost 68 hours since Zoey and USAS stormed
President Shenkman's office, and things finally may be
drawing to a close. USAS is ecstatic--according to
their website--that due to Zoey's involvement, their
protest made the front page of USA Today. Zoey, I'm
guessing, is not quite as thrilled. But the last time
I talked to her, she seemed to understand that it goes
with the territory. It's hard to be a radical
protestor and the President's daughter at the same
time.

Donna's been back in the White House since her brief
but "life-changing" brush with student activism, and
she's taken rather annoyingly to peppering her speech
with phrases like, "Fight the power!" and "Free
Leonard Peltier." How she got from anti-sweatshops to
political prisoners in Leavenworth, I'm sure I have no
idea.

As to the press, CJ got the question only about ten
hours into the protest, and she handled it
beautifully, implying that the President supported his
daughter, supported USAS's demands, but refusing to
use language that could anger corporate America or,
you know, China. I'm just so amazed by her sometimes.
Okay, most times.

For their part, the Bartlets have been proudly
regaling us with tales of their own days of campus
activism. Which, from what I gather, was mostly on
the part of Dr. Bartlet, who was a member of an early
women's liberation organization and who marched in
support of the ERA. The President, it seems, was more
heavily involved in geeky campus clubs. The Economics
Club, for example. I'm pretty sure he spent a good
hour or so describing in excruciating detail what a
meeting of the Economics Club of Notre Dame entailed.
Apparently they considered discussing the downfall of
the federal budget as a form of political protest.
Luckily, Donna supplied me with a beer, so my memory
of that conversation is thankfully fuzzy.

"Solidarity now!"

I don't bother to look up from the memo on the state
of independently owned poultry farms. "May I help
you, Activist Girl?"

"Activist Grrl," she corrects, adding an appropriate
amount of growl to her words. I glance up to find her
leaning against a guest chair in my office, smiling.
She's just too adorable sometimes. Especially when
she looks at me like that. In fact, I'm so entranced
by the way her mouth quirks upwards when she's trying
not to laugh, that I nearly miss her words. "CJ's
listening to Joan Baez."

I smirk. "So thanks to you and Zoey, everyone around
here is reliving their real or imagined activist days
is what you're telling me?"

"I wouldn't make fun, Frat Boy," she counters.

"Hey!" I protest, "we had a genuine beef with
Harvard."

Donna rolls her eyes. "It wasn't Kent State, Josh.
You had a Drink-a-Thon."

"Still," I defend. Then I gesture towards the
bullpen. "So are people wearing tie-dye under their
clothes or what?"

She shrugs, "Well, it's not like Toby's cranking the
Phil Ochs or anything, but Sam has been listening to
Credence Clearwater Revival."

I laugh outright. "CCR's hardly protest music."

"For a rich white boy from California, southern rock
of the 70s is probably quite radical," she points out,
her eyes sparkling with amusement. "According to
Kathy, he even got most of the words to Susie Q
right."

"He doesn't know the words to Susie Q?"

"Well, he knows some of them." Donna leans closer,
her hair spilling down almost to the desktop. She
lowers her voice conspiratorially. "Margaret tells me
that Leo's been listening to Woody Guthrie."

"Really?" I ask, laughing. Leo listening to a 40s-era
political dissident just seems absurd. I figured him
more for some good, 1950s jazz.

"Did you know he has a record player in his office?"

"Is it a Victrola?" I smirk.

"Not quite. But apparently the Woody Guthrie records
didn't quite fit in his briefcase, which is how
Margaret figured it out."

I can't stop laughing. It's just absurd. Protest
fever has taken hold of the administration. Which is
good, I guess. We all need a way to blow off steam
during this chaos.

"Oh, good. You're both here."

Donna jerks away from my desk and turns, as I lurch to
my feet. "Mr. President," I greet, circling the desk
to stand next to Donna.

He grins at us. "Zoey and USAS got Shenkman to sign
the contract. The sit in is officially over."

Donna beams at him. "Excellent news, sir!" I nod my
agreement.

"In celebration," President Bartlet continues, and I
experience dread, "Abbey and I are having you all to
dinner tonight. To celebrate the triumphant return of
my activist daughter."

"Chili, sir?" I ask. Please say no. Donna elbows me
sharply in the ribs.

"No, Josh," he grins. "Real protest food!"

Donna's mouth drops open. "Protest food?"

"Trail mix and water?" I guess, smirking.

"Just for that, Josh," the President answers, rocking
a bit on his heels, "you're in charge of the
entertainment."

"Excuse me?" I sputter.

He regards me for a moment, grinning, then says, "You
watch what stories you tell my impressionable
daughter, Josh."

I pale. "I--"

President Bartlet waves a dismissive hand in the air.
"Don't worry about it, Josh. But I will hold you
responsible if Zoey ends up in the papers for
attending a--What was it?"

"A Drink-a-Thon, sir," Donna pipes up from beside me.
It's my turn to elbow her, but she yelps and then
glares at me.

"Now, Josh, be nice to your assistant," the President
says, a wave of sorrow passing over his features.

I'm fascinated, suddenly, with my shoes. "Yes, sir."

"Tonight," he repeats, his former cheer dimmed
slightly. "In honor of Zoey and the first political
activist I ever met, Delores Landingham."

Beside me, Donna straightens up. "I'd be honored to
attend, sir."

President Bartlet flashes us a grin, then turns to
leave. "Nine o'clock."

"Yes, sir," I call after him.

As one, Donna and I settle back against the desk, our
shoulders touching.

After a moment, she shifts against me. "I'm proud of
Zoey."

"Me too," I answer absently, my thoughts on more
sobering subjects. "You too."

Donna nudges me. "I just said that."

"No, I mean I'm, you know..."

Donna looks over at me. "Are you trying in your
typical, Josh fashion to say you're proud of me?" she
asks, smiling softly.

I shrug, trying to lighten the moment. "Don't get
all, you know, girlie on me or anything.
Just--classes at night. That'll be good for you."

She nods slowly. "So you're not freaking out
anymore?"

"Me?" I ask, turning my head. Wow, she's really close
to me. I'm mesmerized by her eyes.

"Yeah," she says, her voice sending a thrill of
awareness down my spine. "You."

"No," I answer. "I'm not freaking out."

"Good," she grins. "Cause I'm not going anywhere,
Josh."

I swear my face is in serious danger of splitting
right in half, what with the ridiculous smile I've got
right now. "Good."

Donna holds my gaze for a moment longer, then pushes
away from the desk, pausing to tangle her fingers with
mine momentarily. "I'm going to see if the President
needs help organizing the dinner."

"'Kay," I answer, circling my desk and dropping into
my chair. I really don't want to read anything else
about chicken-slaughtering techniques.

Then I start laughing, because I can hear Donna as she
heads to the Oval Office, shouting protest slogans
back and forth with the rest of the bullpen.

"What do we want?"

"Democracy!"

"When do we want it?"

"Now!"

Oh, yeah. We'll make it through this partisan
witchhunt. And better still, we'll do it with our
fighting spirit intact.

I should really make sure I thank Zoey for reminding
us what the hell we're doing here in the first place.

***

THE END

Author's note: In reality, Georgetown's chapter of
USAS held their 72-hour sit-in during early February
of 1999. The university agreed to the Worker's Rights
Consortium pushed by USAS, joining upwards of 57 other
colleges across the country, all of whom would have
done nothing without the urging of student activists.
Check out USAS's site: http://www.usasnet.org/

 

 

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