Chapter 21

Toby took a deep breath before opening the door.  He had prepared himself for yesterday, but the craziness that had ensued with that had unraveled his resolve.  He had spent most of the night trying to again steel himself for what was to come.

Detective Jacobs was looking much more lucid than when he had last seen him.  Toby ushered him into the apartment.

"Iím going to arrest you, Toby," he said soberly.  "I am going to arrest you for the murder of Marla Hendricks now."

Toby felt a heaviness descend upon him.  He let out a deep breath and raised his eyes to the meet the detective.

"Do you understand your rights?"

"Yes, I do."

"Donít bother with the bag this time.  I imagine youíll be back here in a few hours," Jacobs said in an almost gentle tone.

Toby nodded.  Then he looked at the detective and extended his hands.

"Iím not going to handcuff you, Toby," he said shaking his head.  Toby swallowed hard with relief.

"Iím ready."

"Why donít you call your lawyer now, before we go down to the station," Jacobs urged.

"Youíre going to let me do that?"

Yeah, I am.  And Iím going to do what I can to keep the media away from this for as long as possible."

"Thank you," Toby said sincerely.

"Go ahead, Toby.  Take your time.  Iíll wait right here for you," Jacobs said as he stood patiently.  Toby nodded and slowly headed off into his study.



"We have unconfirmed reports that former White House Communications Director, Toby Ziegler, was brought in by DC police in connection with the murder of Marla Hendricks, a call girl who was found brutally murdered a week ago at the Hotel Amsterdam.  This comes only two days after Ziegler resigned from the White House for reasons reported to be personal.  Sources state that Ziegler is currently in interrogation with DC police.  We will have more news on this breaking story as it develops."

CJís hand was shaky as she reached over and clumsily turned off the radio.  She was still fifty miles from DC with the manila folder on the car seat beside her.  She wondered if any of it really mattered now.  She pulled the car over to the side of the road for a few minutes until she could see through her tears.  Pulling up behind her, her four female comrades waited in their car patiently.  They instinctively knew that CJ was not seeking their comfort right now.



"Where the hell is everybody?" Sam shouted across the empty bullpen.

"This Toby thing has got to be hard on them.  Maybe they needed to clear their heads," Josh reasoned.

"Weíve got a country to run," Sam shot back.

"Nothing gets past you, you know that, Sam," Josh said wryly.

Sam didnít respond to Josh.  His attention had been captivated by the TV screen above him.  The sound was off, but there was clear video of Toby walking to a waiting police car with Detective Allan Jacobs.  The report was coming from CNN in front of the DC police headquarters.  Josh turned his head and looked up at the television.

Without a word, Sam grabbed his coat and headed for the door.  Caught unawares, Josh had to lunge forward in order to stop him at the door.

"Josh, make a hole for me, or somebodyís going to get hurt," Sam said in a low voice to Josh who was firmly planted in the doorway.

"Then I would imagine you and I are about to get bloody," Josh said impassively, never breaking eye contact with Sam.

"Everything in me is screaming out the injustice of this thing.  I canít sit here," Sam pleaded.

"You have to, Sam.  I say so.  Leo says so.  The President says so," Josh returned with urgency.  Then in a quiet voice, he added, "And Toby says so."

Sam sat down heavily in Gingerís chair dropping his head into his hands.  Josh stood by patiently and waited for Sam.  Finally, he lifted his head and looked at his friend. "If Toby and Leo hadnít extracted a promise out of me, do you know what Iíd be doing right now?"

"I know, Buddy.  Me too.  I kind of suspect I am going to have to make a similar promise in order to get through this mess with my liver intact," Josh said with a sad smile.

"I canít watch it, Josh."

"I canít not."

"Iíll be in my office then," Sam got up and disappeared behind his office door.  Josh waited until the door was firmly closed before he went searching for the volume control.



Leo peered around the door to the Oval Office.  He found The President sitting quietly at his desk with the curtains drawn.

"Sir," he said as he entered.  "I need to tell you some news."

"I have a TV, Leo," Jed Bartlet said quietly.

"Iím so sorry.  I wished we could said more about this earlier."

"I thought this thing was going to be about Tobyís finances or that they had blackmailed him with pictures of a girl, something embarrassing but not deadly.  The sons of bitches framed him for a murder," Bartlet said through clenched teeth.

"Actually they framed Sam.  Toby tried to fix it, and got caught by the DC police," Leo clarified.

"Am I going to lose both of them?"

"No, we squared the thing with Sam.  Heís okay."

"Iím coming out in support of Toby," Jed said firmly.

"This would not be a good time for that," Leo counseled.

"Tough shit, Leo!  Iím doing it.  Weíre not going to sit by and let this happen," Jed said fiercely.

"You can release a statement that supports Tobyís character," Leo reasoned.

"I want him back in this house," Jed demanded, his voice beginning to rise.

"No, Jed, his presence backs us into a corner.  People will begin to connect his murder charge to you.  Itíll be a disaster."

"Get him back here, Leo!" Jed shouted.

"He wonít come.  He understands this better than even I do.  Heís going to stay away," Leo said firmly taking a stand.

Jed Bartlet looked at his oldest and dearest friend for a long while.  He knew that Leo and his Irish stubbornness were immovable at this point.  It filled him with a rage that he didnít care to understand.  He started to shake his head slowly.  And then he fixed his eyes on Leo again.

"Get out, Leo.  I donít want talk to you right now.  Maybe later. Right now, I need some space to find my way through this," he said with anger and apology thrown in together.  Leo nodded silently and left the room.  Jed Bartlet sat in the hazy dimness of the curtained room, alone with his rage.



The Endgame - 22




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