ITLE: "Dies Irae"
RATING: My characters don't say anything they haven't said on the show...
SUMMARY: I'm not going to say because I think it's a little better if
you're surprised.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I know this is a subject that's been done a lot lately, but
I just had to do my version. Also, the scene between Josh and Mandy may be
slightly reminiscent of a scene from LBBB, but I swear I wrote it before
that. There's also reference to a certain Gore gaffe that Clinton mentioned
at the Correspondent's Dinner, but I wrote that before the Dinner aired too.
DISCLAIMER: The West Wing and its characters are the property of Aaron
Sorkin, Warner Brothers Television and NBC. No copyright infringement or
disrespect is intended.


"DIES IRAE"


TUESDAY
9:45 A.M.

"C.J.?" Sam called as he walked through the open door of the Press
Secretary's office. He stopped short at the sight he found inside.

"Hey, Sam," C.J. responded nonchalantly.

"May I ask what you're doing?" Sam asked.

"I'm blowing bubbles," C.J. said as she sent another cloud of iridescent
orbs floating in Sam's direction.

"I can see that," Sam said.

"Then why'd you ask?"

"I guess what I should have said was, why are you doing that?"

"It relieves stress," C.J. replied. "Helps me get my game face on before
briefings."

"Of course," Sam said, trying to sound as if he thought it was perfectly
normal for the White House Press Secretary to be blowing bubbles in her
office.

"Wanna try?" C.J. asked.

"Nope."

"Oh come on. You know you want to," C.J. teased.

"Really, I'm fine."

"Suit yourself. Did you need something, Sam, or did you just come in here
to make fun of my bubbles?"

"Uh, right," Sam said, struggling to remember why he'd come looking for
C.J. in the first place. "Oh yeah. Did you have a chance to read that
report I gave you?"

"Report?"

"On the new recommendations from the Surgeon General."

"Oh. Yes, I read it," C.J. said.

"Great. Well then I'll just go over and... I need to talk to Josh about
something."

"Keep your head down," C.J. warned. "He's on the warpath today because of
all this China stuff."

"Thanks for the tip," Sam said. He lingered a moment, as though he were
reluctant to leave.

"You're dying to blow some bubbles, aren't you?" C.J. asked, sensing Sam's
hesitation.

"Yes," Sam admitted. C.J. leaned over her desk and pulled out another
bottle of bubbles. Sam eagerly accepted it and joined her in filling the
office with bubbles.

C.J. and Sam were so caught up in their bubble-fest that they failed to
notice Leo's approach. He stopped just inside the door, a smile playing
across his face as he watched the two senior staffers.

After a moment Leo cleared his throat, attracting the bubble-blowers'
attention. "Leo!" Sam exclaimed, setting the bubbles down in a hurry as
C.J. tried to stifle a laugh.

"Sam," Leo said.

"We were just... uh, I mean, C.J. was just demonstrating how she relieves
stress before the press briefings," Sam stammered.

"What can I do for you, Leo?" C.J. asked, ignoring Sam's discomfort.

"There's a situation in New York," Leo said, all hint of amusement gone.
Sam and C.J. snapped to attention.

"A retired Army master sergeant walked into the New York Federal Building
with a modified Colt AR-15 at 8:35 this morning," Leo said. "He's holding
17 people hostage. So far there have been no reports of any casualties.
Sam--"

"I'm on it," Sam said.

"C.J., for now, just tell the press we're in contact with the FBI and we'll
give them something more when we've got it," Leo said.

"Right," C.J. nodded.

Giving Sam and C.J. one last look, Leo turned and left. Sam started to
follow, but C.J. called him back.

"Hey Sam."

"Yeah?" Sam asked, turning back to her.

"You wanna take some bubbles back to your office?"

A devilish smile appeared on Sam's face. "Definitely." He grabbed the
bottle of bubbles off C.J.'s desk and headed out the door.

As he passed Josh's office he leaned his head in the door. "Josh."

"What?" Josh answered impatiently, without looking up. He was up to his
ears in briefs and was in a rotten mood this morning.

"How'd the State Department meeting go?"

"Don't ask," Josh said glumly.

"Did you hear about the thing in New York?"

Josh nodded. "Leo told me."

"Shaping up to be a dandy of day, huh?"

"Tell me something I don't know." Josh glanced at the bottle in Sam's hand.
"What's that?"

"Bubbles. Want some?"

"Go away."

"You bet," Sam said, and headed back to his office to get his FBI contact
on the phone.


An hour later Josh was still buried behind the stack of briefing memos. He
didn't seem to have made a dent in the pile and his mood had worsened
significantly.

Unaware of Josh's foul temperament, Mandy breezed into his office. "Hey
Josh, do you think the President should wear a suit to the Internet
conference or go business casual?" she inquired.

Josh looked up from his work, exasperated. "What, exactly, makes you think
I care?"

"The President's going to be addressing the most influential members of an
extremely fast-growing and powerful industry," Mandy explained. "I would
think you'd be concerned with the kind of an impression he makes."

"Jesus, Mandy. There's a hostage situation at the New York Federal
Building, the latest human rights violations in China are about to blow the
trade agreement we've been working on for the past nine months, and you're
asking me what kind of clothes the President should wear for a bunch of web
heads?"

"It's my job, Josh," Mandy said, piqued by Josh's display of attitude.
"Remember when you hired me to do this stuff?"

"Well, go do it somewhere else," he growled.

But Mandy couldn't let it go that easily. "It may seem trivial, but one
wrong move and our favorables could drop even lower than they were before
you hired me. What I'm doing is important to this administration."

"Try telling that to the people being held at gunpoint because some guy's
retirement check got lost in the mail," Josh snapped. "Forgive me if I fail
to take your photo ops seriously enough, but some of us have real work to
do."

Mandy was taken aback. "You're a real bastard sometimes, you know that, Josh?"

"Yeah? Well the feeling's mutual."

At that Mandy turned and stormed out, brushing past Donna on her way
through the door.

"What's with her?" Donna asked.

"Nothing," Josh said brusquely. "She'll get over it."

"You know, Josh..." Donna started.

"Donna, I'm really not in the mood," Josh said, cutting her off.

"Fine," Donna said, dropping a file on Josh's desk. "I'll leave you alone
in your grouchiness."

"Thank you," Josh said as Donna went back to her desk. He sighed and tried
to find his place in the memo he'd been reading.


The elevator doors opened and President Bartlet, Mandy and C.J. stepped out
into the hotel lobby, followed by Charlie and several Secret Service
agents. They were flanked by more agents waiting in the lobby and began
making their way towards the front entrance of the hotel.

"Well, that went well, don't you think?" Bartlet asked cheerfully.

"With the possible exception of that part where it sounded like you were
taking credit for creating the Internet," C.J. answered, "I'd say it went
very well."

"I'm going to ignore that remark, C.J.," Bartlet said sternly. "You know,
Mandy, I thought you were out of your mind when you told me not to wear a
tie, but I think you were right. I felt a real bond with those people. I
think we had a special connection in there."

C.J. and Mandy exchanged a smile as they stepped out of the hotel. The
Secret Service had cleared a pathway to the waiting limousine. The crowd
cheered as they caught site of the President, who smiled and waved as he
walked by.

"Yes, Mr. President," Mandy answered. "I'm sure you're right."

Suddenly gunshots rang out and the crowd erupted into screams. The scene
dissolved into chaos as people began running in every direction and Secret
Service agents sprang into action, trying to get the President to safety.


"'Sup?" Josh said as he walked into Sam's office and sat down. His mood was
much improved from this morning. He was halfway through his pile of briefs,
he'd had an encouraging phone conversation with one of the foreign policy
advisors and he'd just heard from Toby that the hostage situation in New
York had ended peacefully.

"We were lucky this time," Sam said. "The FBI negotiator managed to
convince the guy to give himself up. No one was hurt and there won't be any
news footage of federal agents raiding the building and gunning people
down."

"We're gonna have to look at more handgun legislation," Josh said.

"Ya think?" Sam retorted sarcastically. "Hey, did you know C.J. blows
bubbles in her office before press briefings?"

Josh nodded. "I'm right next door. Sometimes they drift over into my office."

"Oh."

"Did you hear Stan Lee left Marvel to go work for D.C. Comics?"

"I know!" Sam said. "It's like making Han Solo captain of the Enterprise."

They were interrupted by the sound of someone crying out in shock from the
bullpen. Sounds of screams could be heard coming from the television
monitors as Bonnie called out urgently, "Toby! Sam!"

Josh and Sam jumped up and hurried into the Communications bullpen, where a
small crowd was gathered around the monitors. Toby came out of his office
to stand nearby, as everyone silently watched the scene in front of the
hotel being replayed.

On television a reporter breathlessly reported on the event. "This was the
scene only moments ago, as shots rang out in front of the Washington
Hilton. The President had just finished addressing a group of Internet
industry CEOs, and was walking towards his limo when the assassination
attempt occurred. President Bartlet is reportedly uninjured and was rushed
away by Secret Service agents. No word yet on whether anyone was hit by the
shots, although several ambulances were called to the scene. Witnesses
report hearing anywhere from two to five gun shots..."

Leo stepped into the bullpen, looking solemn. Everyone turned toward him
expectantly.

"Leo?" Josh said

"The President's fine," Leo reassured them. "He's shaken up, but otherwise
uninjured. He'll be here in 10 minutes."

"Was anyone hurt?" Sam asked.

Leo hesitated, unsure how to break the news.

"Who was it?" Toby prompted.

Leo turned to look directly at Josh and said quietly, "Mandy."

TO BE CONTINUED...

 

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