TITLE: "Tiger on the Loose" 

AUTHOR: hannasus (hannasus@gmail.com)

RATING: PG 

SUMMARY: C.J./Danny (so all you despisers of the Fishboy be warned!) 

DISCLAIMER: The West Wing and its characters are the property of Aaron Sorkin, John Wells Productions, Warner Brothers Television, and NBC. No copyright infringement or disrespect is intended to this excellent show and its creators.

"Tiger on the Loose"

Sam lugged his briefcase, gym bag and laptop through the communications bullpen and into his office. He was running late this morning and as a result was totally disorganized. "Cathy," he called out from his office, "can you bring me the file on East Asia?" He set all his things down and waited, but there was no response from his assistant.

"Cathy?" Sam said, stepping out into the bullpen.

"Huh?" Cathy responded distractedly, not even turning away from the television monitor to which she was so transfixed.

"What's going on?" Sam asked, looking around the bullpen. All of the staffers were standing around watching the monitors.

"You haven't been watching the news this morning?" Bonnie asked.

"No, I was running late. What is it?"

"A tiger escaped from the National Zoo. They've been tracking it all night and they've finally got it cornered by the Jefferson Memorial."

"Cool," Sam said, looking up at the monitors, his East Asia file completely forgotten.

Everyone watched as zoo employees approached the cornered tiger with tranquilizer guns. "Is this live?" Sam asked.

"Yeah, they broke into the "Today" show when the tiger was tracked to the monument," Ginger said.

"I wonder what kind of tranquilizer you'd need to knock out a crazed tiger before it could maul you to death?" Sam asked.

"If they use a triple combination of Ketaset, Domitor and Torbugesic he'll probably be recumbent within 30 seconds," Cathy answered.

"I am afraid to even ask how in god's name you happen to possess *that* information," Sam said, looking at his assistant in amazement.

"I used to date a zoo veterinarian," Cathy said, shrugging.

"Did I miss anything?" C.J. panted as she ran into the room. "I ran all the way from my car."

"No, they're closing in on him now," Bonnie responded.

"Oh good," C.J. said, settling down on one of the desks to watch the monitors.

"Sam, do you have that draft for the DNC speech?" Toby asked, coming out of his office.

"Shhh," everyone in the bullpen said in unison.

"What the hell?" Toby asked.

"They're about to catch the tiger," C.J. said.

Toby rolled his eyes in exasperation, but stayed quiet as everyone watched the zookeepers close in on the tiger.

Suddenly, everyone gasped as the tiger leaped out of his hiding place, dodging past his captors and charging towards a couple of police cars parked nearby. Policemen wildly dove for cover as the zookeepers vainly fired darts at the retreating tiger. It leapt on top of one of the police cars then took off across the park until it disappeared into a patch of trees.

"Now can we all get back to work, please?" Toby asked.

C.J. stepped up to the podium in the briefing room and put on her glasses as she scanned her notes. "I apologize, ladies and gentlemen, for being late. We were all caught up watching the latest adventures of tiger on the loose."

"Did they catch him yet?" Chris asked.

"Nope, he's still out there, stalking poodles and pigeons all across D.C."

"Has the president been following the story on the tiger?" Steve asked.

"Yes he has. In fact, the president has nicknamed the tiger Clayton, after our esteemed Senate Majority Leader."

The press corps chuckled. "Okay, getting down to business, the president will be announcing a number of new appointees today. I'm sure you're all waiting with baited breath to find out who will be serving the Institute of Peace, the Arctic Research Commission and the U.S. Pacific Salmon Commission."

"C.J.?" Danny interrupted, raising his hand.

"The Salmon Commissioner's not doing it for you, Danny?" C.J. countered, peering over her glasses at the reporter.

"I was wondering what President Bartlet planned to do if Congress refused to allocate the extra money for the Asian financial crisis?"

"It would be hard for me to imagine, given how many millions of Americans are directly impacted by commerce in goods and services with Asia, that Congress would fail to heed the arguments that not only the administration but others in the international financial community are making about the importance of the very carefully designed program that we're pursuing."

"So the president has no backup plan?"

"I didn't say that. What I said is that we won't need a backup plan."

"You don't think you're being a little over-confident?"

"No, I don't," C.J. said, starting to get annoyed. "Now, getting back to the president's appointees..."

After she concluded the briefing, C.J. watched Danny out of the corner of her eye, half expecting him to come over and talk to her like he often did. But he merely cast a quick glance in her direction, then gathered his things and exited the room with the other reporters.

On her way back to her desk, C.J. popped her head into Josh's office next door.

"Hey C.J., did you know fisherman in the Sunderbans wear masks with human faces on the back of their heads to ward off man-eating tiger attacks because tigers usually attack from behind?" Josh asked as she entered. "I think I'm gonna send Donna out at lunch to pick up some masks."

"You think something like that might work with the press corps too?" C.J. asked.

"Probably not. But feel free to try it at your next briefing. Just don't tell Toby you got the idea from me."

"Speaking of sneak attacks, is it possible there's something going on with the Asian financial plan?" C.J. asked.

"What do you mean?"

"I thought it was a lock."

"It is a lock. Why?"

"Something Danny said at the briefing...I'm wondering if he knows something we don't."

"I doubt it."

"Do me a favor--look into it anyway. Just in case."

"Okay," Josh shrugged.

"Thanks," C.J. said, heading over to her office.

Josh walked purposefully into Leo's outer office. "I need to talk to him," Josh said to Margaret, nodding towards Leo's closed door.

"He's on the phone with Secretary Tribbey, but he should be done soon."

"Okay, I'll wait," Josh said, pacing around the office.

"I heard the tiger's been spotted around the southwest gate," Margaret said, sounding very concerned.

"Don't worry, I'm sure the secret service will detain the tiger for questioning if it tries to get onto the White House grounds," Josh assured her.

"You know, the fisherman of Sunderbans--"

"Yeah, they wear masks on the back of their heads," Josh said, nodding.

The opening of Leo's office door prevented any further discussion of tiger defense techniques. "Josh," Leo said, "were you waiting for me?"

"Yeah," Josh said. "We've got a problem."

"Has there been a single day in this administration where we didn't have a problem?" Leo sighed as he led Josh into his office.

"Not that I can remember," Josh admitted.

"What is it this time?"

"Eaton's convinced several key members of International Relations to vote against the Asia money."

"We had a deal! It was gonna slide through!"

"Well apparently he made a better deal."

"Terrific. How'd you find out?"

"C.J. warned me, actually. Something Danny said at the briefing set off a red flag."

"Well thank god for that. We've still got time to get this train back on the tracks."

"Toby!" C.J. called out as she spied the Communications Director in the hall.

Toby stopped and waited for C.J. catch up to him.

"Did you hear if they caught the tiger?" C.J. asked.

"You have no concept of the depths of my disinterest in that tiger," Toby said. "Eaton's trying to kill the Asia appropriations."

"What?" C.J. asked, startled. "I thought we had that all tied up."

"Apparently the Republicans untied it. Josh is on it. It's a good thing you picked up on Danny's question at the briefing, otherwise we would have been totally blindsided."

Toby continued off down the hall and C.J. hurried back to her office. "Carol, can you ask Danny Concannon to come to my office, please?"

"Sure," Carol said.

C.J. walked into her office and sat down at the desk, glancing through her messages as she waited.

A few minutes later, Carol came back. "I'm sorry C.J., he wasn't in the press room. Do you want me to try him at the paper?"

"No, that's all right, I'll catch him later."

TO BE CONTUNUED...

 

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