Hi, everyone. This is my second West Wing fic, but my first one that really involves all of the cast. (For the Josh and Donna list, they are going to be in it for a good amount, but it's pretty much just flirting and their usual banter...Maybe a little more.) This story is a fun one that revolves around a Halloween party that the President is going to throw. I know, you're all thinking "Halloween? That's three months away." Well, that's true, but I got this into my head and I just didn't want to wait three months to write it. So sorry for the unseasonable story.
Well, I hope you all enjoy it and please let me know what you thought. I LOVE to hear comments from my readers! Thanks. ~Steph
Disclaimer: "The West Wing" and its characters do not belong to me. They belong to Aaron Sorkin, NBC, etc. This is just for fun out of a love for the show. No profit is made and no infringement is intended.
* * * At the Pleasure of the President: Part 1/2 * * *
President Josiah Bartlet stood in front of his Senior Staff, as he concluded that morning's meeting. The group was just about to disperse, when the President's voice halted them.
"Just one more thing before you leave. You will all be joining me tomorrow night at a Halloween party that the Mrs. and I are hosting at the residence. I look forward to seeing you all then."
CJ Cregg, Leo McGarry, Toby Ziegler, Sam Seaborn and Josh Lyman all reacted with surprise. This was the first they'd heard about a party. CJ spoke first. "Sir, didn't you mean to say that we are all invited to the party tomorrow and you'll be happy to see us if we are able to attend?"
"No, CJ, I didn't."
"But, sir-..." Toby began.
"Don't 'but sir' me, Toby. You are all coming...It'll be fun."
Toby sighed and grumbled, "No, sir, fun would be handing toothbrushes out to the brats and then watching their sad little faces, just like I do every year...Now that's fun, that's tradition."
The President smiled slightly and then shook his head at Toby, "As persuasive as that argument was, Toby, you're still coming."
Toby rolled his eyes and rubbed at the back of his neck. Sam spoke next.
"With all due respect, sir, don't you find it a little hypocritical of you to accept the title as leader of the free world and then order us to attend a Halloween party?" Sam inquired.
"No, Sam, I don't. Do you?"
Sam shook his head uncomfortably. "No, no, I was just asking if you did."
It was Leo's turn to speak. "Sir, it is unfair of you to demand that we attend a party that is not work related."
President Bartlet smiled at him. "It is unfair of me to force you to respond enthusiastically about my making chili, yet I did it anyway, Leo...I'm President, so I can...It's one of the perks."
Josh gestured to the President that he wished to speak. "Yes, Josh."
"Sir, maybe you've forgotten that I do not partake in Halloween festivities, so I'm afraid I must decline." Josh spoke, his head down.
"Tell me again why you shun the holiday, Josh." The President asked, a small smile pulling at his lips.
Groans spread throughout the room, as the group lamented the fact that they'd have to hear this story again.
"Well, sir, it was my seventh Halloween and-..." Josh began.
Toby sighed loudly. "If I am forced to listen to this idiotic story one more time, I will not be held responsible for my actions."
The President threw Toby a warning look and then gestured to Josh to continue. "It was my seventh Halloween and I was invited to a party at my friend Timmy's house. I went as a ghost-..."
Josh paused momentarily as he heard Sam's whispered comment to CJ, "The originality of that costume strikes me every time."
Josh then continued, but not before rewarding Sam with a glare. "I went as a ghost, a classic costume might I add. Anyway, I was having a grand time, until it was time to hit the Piņata. The third person to hit it was Billy Hert, this gigantic moose of a seven year old. Well, he went to swing and he hit it really hard. The Piņata then hit me in the head, knocked me off my chair and sent me flying headfirst into the apple bobbing bowl. I chipped a tooth when my mouth hit an apple and was *this close* to having a concussion from the Piņata impact...After that, I swore off all Halloween parties."
Sam pretended to sniffle and placed a dramatic hand to his chest. "That story always gets me right here."
CJ, Leo, Toby and the President tried to contain their laughter at Sam's antics, while Josh tried to control his urge to strangle him.
He responded with thinly veiled embarrassment. "Laugh if you like, but I can't look at an apple without thinking of that night and I don't do too well around stuffed animals either."
The group chuckled lightly at Josh, who proceeded to blush. The President spoke next. "Tragic as your story is, Josh, I feel that it is time you overcame your fear. And what better time to do that than my party tomorrow."
"But, sir, I-..." Josh started.
"No more buts about it. If you are all not there tomorrow, then I will personally subject each one of you to a two hour lecture on the history of Candy Corn on Monday," the President threatened.
Each staff member mumbled a reluctant "I'll be there."
The President smiled. "Now that's the spirit. Make sure you pass the word around to your staffs. Also, on your way out, pick up a sheet from Mrs. Landingham telling you which costume you've been assigned."
The mouths of the staff once again fell open. Leo spoke. "Sir, I'm afraid that you have just gone too far. Now you're telling us what to wear?"
"It appears that way, doesn't it, Leo? I feel that I must. If I didn't, then you'd all probably show up in work attire and say you were pretending to be compliant, serving at the pleasure of the President staff members...And that would just be too much of a stretch, now wouldn't it?"
A few hesitant and muffled "Yes, sirs" were said in response.
"Dismissed," the President said with a wave of his hand and a smile upon his face.
The disgruntled staff members slowly made their way out of the office and over to Mrs. Landingham. She handed them each a piece of paper. Five pairs of eyes widened almost simultaneously as they read their costume assignments.
"A clown!" Toby yelled.
"A crayon!" CJ exclaimed.
"Robin Hood!" Sam screamed.
"A puppy!" Leo grumbled.
"An apple!" Josh lamented.
They all sighed in exasperation. Leo shook his head. "Never let it be said that that man does not have a sense of humor...A strange one, but one nonetheless."
The next day, Donna Moss hurriedly caught up to her boss, Josh's side. She began talking quickly, as if he'd been involved in a conversation with her for some time. "...So I went to the store to buy my Halloween costume and this woman tried to buy the one that I wanted. It was the last one and it was my size. It *definitely* was not her size. We were practically fighting over it and-..."
Josh halted her ramble with a hand held up. "Is there a point anywhere in this incoherent mess?"
Donna shook her head. "No. Must I always have a point?"
Josh shrugged, while grinning. "Nah, why start now?"
Donna rewarded him with a light swat on the arm, as she tried to keep up with the quick pace he'd resumed. When she was finally dead even with him, she held her hands out in front of him, displaying her fingernails brightly painted with red nail polish.
"Josh, can you tell the difference between these two nail polishes?"
Josh glanced at her nails quickly, before turning to her with a look of absurdity.
"Donna, can you tell from the expression on my face that I couldn't care less?"
Donna briefly surveyed his face, before nodding. "Yes, I can."
"Then why are you still here with your nails talking to me?"
"Because I value your opinion."
"No, you don't."
"Starting now, I value your opinion."
Josh stopped walking for a second and looked at Donna. "I am a very busy man, Donna. I make decisions every day that affect people's lives. Some people around here even value my opinion. Now, do you understand that asking me a stupid question about nail polish may be just a tiny waste of my invaluable time?"
Donna shook her head, as she began walking with Josh again. "No, I don't understand that, Josh...I need to know which one is better, it's for my costume tonight. Come on, I always offer my opinion on stuff for you."
Josh nodded. "Yes, yes you do. You always offer your unsolicited opinion to me."
"See? So why can't you help me for once?"
"Because I don't care."
"But I care that your Friday tie is ugly and doesn't match your suit."
Josh paused, realizing it was Friday. He looked down at his tie and picked it up for a second.
"You think my Friday tie is ugly?"
"Yes, I do."
"Why didn't you ever tell me?
"You never asked."
"That never stopped you before," Josh replied with a small grin.
Donna sighed and then a tiny smile pulled at her lips. "If you don't help me then I am going to repeatedly remind you of the fact that you will be wearing an apple costume tonight."
"Donna, you know of my dislike for apples...Now I am going to look ridiculous while dressed up as one...Isn't that enough torture for one day?" Josh replied.
Donna laughed. "Oh please, it's such an absurd fear...I mean, a fear of apples?...Really, Josh."
Josh held a warning finger up to her. "There is no fear, Donna...No fear...I am just not particularly fond of apples, that's all."
Donna laughed and nodded. "It's still absurd."
Josh dropped his head and mumbled his response. "Hey, you weren't there...It...it was traumatic."
With one last laugh, Donna turned on her heel and was about to head in the opposite direction, when Josh's voice halted her. She turned back around to face him. He asked his question, a certain amount of embarrassment present in his voice. "So...What..um...costume are you going to be wearing that you need to have such a bright nail polish for?"
Donna smiled at him. "A belly dancer costume."
Josh's mouth fell open slightly and he had to raise a hand to the wall to steady himself. He stammered. "A bel...Wow, that...that sounds nice...Really good...You might be a little cold...But good...Okay...I have work to do...Work...Work to do...Okay, I'll be going now."
Donna grinned, as Josh turned to his left and practically walked into the wall. He smiled awkwardly at her and then pointed down the hall. "That's a wall...I have to go that way."
Donna nodded at him and then smiled to herself, as she watched his retreating figure.
Toby sat in his office reading over Sam's first draft of the speech the President was to deliver to the fourth grade class at Lincoln Elementary School on Monday. The President had decided that every year he would speak to an elementary school, so that children could develop an interest in their country at a young age.
Unfortunately for Sam, Toby was in an even more unpleasant mood than usual, due to the fact that he was being forced to wear a clown costume to the party that night.
Toby mumbled to himself, as he finished reading a line "This is no good. What was he thinking?!"
An irritated Toby looked up when he heard a knock on his door. Sam stood in the doorway, a smile upon his face. "So, how do you like the speech?"
Toby gestured to him to enter. "Oh good, you're here. I can yell at you now instead of later."
Sam's face fell, as he took his seat in front of him. "Must you yell? I've always responded better to criticism delivered in a soft voice with a smile."
Toby's hard eyes stared him down. "Yes, I must yell. Yelling makes me feel better about *you*. Yelling helps me stop myself from beating *you* to a pulp."
Sam managed a weak smile. "Do as you must."
Toby shook his head and pointed to a sentence in the first paragraph. "Tell me, Sam. Does the average fourth grader understand the word 'gregarious'?"
"I said average. You memorized the dictionary by the age of two."
Sam nodded. "Okay, I'll change it."
Toby shook his head once again, a grimace upon his face. "Is it really necessary to have the President comment that ' "Pokemon:The Movie" was a very fine piece of film making'?"
"It demonstrates a bridging of a generation gap on his part."
"It demonstrates an intelligence gap on your part." Toby responded bluntly.
"I see nothing wrong with it." Sam countered.
"Nothing wrong with it? Sam, you want the President to say and I quote 'Pikachu is a classic heroic character'. I see many things wrong with it...Many."
Sam sighed and shifted in his seat beneath Toby's glare. Toby continued. "First, may I inquire as to how you know so much about Pokemon?"
"I took my nephew to see it."
Toby smiled insincerely at him. "Heartwarming...Okay, besides the fact that Pokemon has nothing whatsoever to do with this nation, there is another reason that the President will not be saying one word about Pikachu and his compadres."
"And what would that be, Toby?"
Toby rolled his eyes in annoyance at Sam, his face reddening. "Because the President has absolutely no idea who Pikachu is! If you mentioned the word 'Pikachu' to the him, he'd respond with 'God bless you' and continue on his way!"
Sam moved forward in his seat and tried to smile at him. "Toby, would you like me to remove the Pokemon parts?"
Toby spoke through clenched teeth. "No, no, Sam, I wouldn't. In fact, from now on I would like you to include references to Pokemon in every speech for the President."
"I'll fix it," Sam replied, barely hiding his displeasure at Toby's sarcasm.
Sam leaned back in his chair and studied Toby, who was still reading the draft. As he continued to peruse him, he let a small chuckle escape.
Toby looked up at him with suspicious eyes. "What? What was that laugh for?"
Sam feigned ignorance. "Laugh? What laugh? I didn't laugh."
Toby slowly lowered his eyes back to the paper. Sam continued to watch Toby and then let another laugh, this time louder, escape from his lips.
Toby through his pen down and looked at Sam with agitation clearly sketched across his face. "What are you laughing about? You know I could be laughing now, too. I could be laughing at the fact that you have an amazing grasp of the English language, yet absolutely no idea how to express it in your writing...But I'm not. I'm not laughing. Do you know why I am not laughing, Sam? Because I don't laugh."
Sam did his best to hide his irritation at the insult. He grinned at him. "I apologize. I was simply trying to picture you, Toby Ziegler, the closest living thing to a statue that I've ever met, in a clown costume. Come on, give it a try...Picture it...Guaranteed to cure that inability to laugh."
Toby's face hardened at Sam, but then he managed a small grin. "The only thing that could make me laugh is picturing you in your Robin Hood costume. I'm sure those tights will accentuate your chicken legs nicely."
Sam's face fell. "Chicken legs?! I happen to have very nice, shapely legs, Toby."
Toby looked down at his work and responded without looking up. "I've seen you in shorts, Sam...There was a whole group of baby chicks lined up behind you last time."
Sam stood up and stammered for an appropriate rebuttal. "Well, you...you are...you're just-..."
Unable to think of anything, Sam turned around and left the room in frustration.
Toby smiled and spoke to himself. "Yeah, that grasp of the English language never ceases to amaze."
CJ was sitting in front of her laptop busily typing, when she heard a knock on her open door. She responded without acknowledging the visitor.
"It's me, CJ." Danny's voice responded.
"In that case, go away now."
Danny grinned, as he leaned on the frame of her door.
"I've always liked red."
CJ briefly glanced at him in curiosity before turning back to her work. "I am working, Danny. I really don't have any interest in discussing your favorite color and my favorite food."
"Moo Goo Gai Pan."
CJ turned to him, a smile pulling at her lips. "How did you...No, never mind, I don't care."
Danny smiled at her. "Blue's my favorite color, not red."
"Not that I care, but you just said you like red." CJ responded.
"As a crayon color...I've always found it to be very sexy." Danny's eyes focused on her, waiting for the look he knew he was about to receive.
CJ took her eyeglasses off and shook her head at him. "How did you find out about that?"
Danny grinned. "The President is very fond of me."
"He didn't inv-.."
Danny smiled widely at her. "Fond enough to invite me to his Halloween party tonight."
CJ placed a hand to her forehead. "Oh God."
"So I was thinking of going as a Burnt Sienna, what do you think?"
CJ raised a warning finger up to him. "No, Danny, don't. Do not wear the same costume as I am."
"I'm not...I'm going as a Burnt Sienna, you have at least 63 other colors at your disposal."
CJ bent her head, as she shook it back and forth. Danny watched her with a smile and then said. "But I'd go with the Red if I were you."
With that, he left the room. CJ sighed and fell back in her chair.
Leo sat in the President's office, briefing him on the day's events. "Josh is meeting with Senator Potter to discuss-..."
Leo's sentence was interrupted by the President. "Leo, have you gotten your costume for tonight yet?"
Leo shook his head at him. "Sir, with all due respect, I don't think you should be thinking about my attire for tonight and I do think you should be listening to what I am saying."
The President waved a dismissive hand. "Ah, it's always the same stuff, Leo. Josh this, Toby that. They'll be in here soon enough telling me everything that went wrong with what they were supposed to be doing anyway...It's Halloween, loosen up."
"Mr. President, you know that I've never been a big fan of this holiday or any other for that matter." Leo responded.
Yes, Leo, I do...And I've always thought that to be one of your biggest flaws."
Leo shrugged, as the President continued. "So, did you get your costume or not?"
Leo looked at him, with annoyance in his eyes that he was unable to hide. "No, I did not. A puppy, sir? Come on."
President Bartlet smiled. "Aw, I think you'll look cute. It'll soften that cantankerous attitude you've mastered so well."
Leo smiled slightly. "Actually, I think it'll only serve to enhance it."
The President grinned. "As long as you wear it, I don't care what it does."
"But a puppy? I-..."
"What's the matter, Leo? You are housebroken, aren't you?" The President asked with a well-hidden smile.
Leo nodded at him. "That's very funny, sir. You are a very humorous man."
"So I've been told."
"But don't you think that it is the least bit irresponsible of you to use your power in order to force your staff to do as you please, purely for the benefit of entertaining yourself?" Leo asked.
The President smiled widely at him. "Yes, Leo, I do....And I love the fact that I can."
Leo shook his head in defeat, a small smile on his lips.
Please let me know what you thought, I'd really appreciate it! Thanks for reading. Feedback link---> FEEDBACK