by Tige

See disclaimers in part I.



`Working in the White House is an incredible dream come true. I still can not believe I'm here, working and conversing with the most powerful men and women in the country,' Political Consultant, Whitney Walstad, thought to herself, moving about the West Wing to the Roosevelt Room. `Everyone seems to accept me well. CJ was a little cold at first with that wit of hers. You really have to be on your toes to catch a joke with her, especially after I tried to talk to that good-looking reporter Danny Concannon. That territory doesn't look totally marked…so I must try, try again.'

Whitney entered the room where Toby and Josh were setting up to begin their Foster Home Appropriations proposal. Her conversation inside her head soon ended as the business was addressed aloud between the Consultant's co-workers.

"Did you contact your friend Daphne?" Toby asked the Deputy Chief of Staff.

"Donna's on it. I'm going to try to have Daphne in by the end of the day."

"Good. Her statement will aid Sam and I greatly on the upcoming speech about this."

"How does Daphne tie into Foster Home Appropriations?" Whitney asked.

"She lived in Foster Homes all through her childhood, and is a good friend with a good heart. Daphne likes to help people as much as possible. Let's just hope she sees this in that light." Josh replied.

"Yes, let's hope. Otherwise, I'll be writing a garble which would insinuate that I have no knowledge of the subject, and I don't want to appear like that, or have the President appear that way, either."

"Alright, we wouldn't want that. I have some numbers here, interviews with foster children and caregivers, and pictures." Whitney announced, pulling them from a folder.

"Let's organize them, then, so I can put it in the most appealing light to reform the system." Toby replied.

"This should take a while." Whitney retorted. She was answered with a glare from Toby. Whitney smiled smugly.


"Daphne!" Josh exclaimed as he walked through the threshold of his office door.

"Hi Josh." She replied, standing next to Donna.

"I was just about to come and get you." Joshua's assistant declared.

"Beat you to it, didn't I?" He playfully spat. She stuck her tongue out at him. "Women always seem to do that to me." Josh professed.

"I can't imagine why." Daphne said sarcastically, smiling at her good friend.

"OK, enough break time, let's get to work. If you'll follow me Daph." Josh motioned to his office. As they entered the room, Josh asked that he only receive messages from Senior Staff at the moment, and then closed the door.

Looking around Josh's office, Daphne turned back to him. "Nice office you've got. And a window."

"Well…I've been known to do my job enough to earn it." They both laughed. "So how have you been, Daph? I'm sorry I haven't kept in touch as much as I should."

"It's ok, Josh. Now that I've seen how many people are bustling around here with so much to do, I see why."

"Did Donna tell you why I asked you up here?" Josh asked.

"Something about aiding in some of your work."

"Yeah. The White House Bill 587, Foster Home Appropriations. Umm…knowing what you went through, I thought maybe, you could give us an idea of what it was like, so that we could outline a streamlined Bill."

"I..I don't know Josh. I'd like to help, but...the memories.." She trailed off, becoming lost in horrid recollection.

"Daphne, I don't want this to be heart wrenching for you. So, if you're not ok with it, I understand. You don't have to do it."

Thinking for a few minutes, the silence causing Josh to look at his friend in uncertainty. "If it means that little girls won't be treated like I was, then yes, I'll be happy to help you."

Walking towards her, Josh whispered his thanks. Reaching his destination, he pulled Daphne into a thankful embrace. "Come with me. I'm going to get the people I'm working on this with." The Deputy Chief of Staff said, pulling away and opening the door for Daphne to exit before him.

"Josh?" Donna asked, rising from her desk.

"I'll be back in the Roosevelt Room. We'll be there for a while longer. Get Whitney, she stepped out for a while, and I'll need her in there." He said, walking in his boisterous stride through the Communications Bullpen. Daphne was still star struck, taking in the scenery and bustling people.

"Toby, my man." Joshua said, knocking on Toby's door and opening it.

"Did you call me `my man'?" The Communications Director asked his fellow Staffer.

"Doesn't matter. I'd like you to meet Daphne Richards." He announced, as Daphne entered the room.

"Oh, it's a pleasure to meet you Daphne." Toby said, rising from his chair to shake hands with Josh's friend. "Excuse mea minute. Let me get Sam, he's with Leo. Have a seat." Toby announced, quickly exiting his office, to go next door.

"Daphne, nice to meet you again." Sam said, shaking hands with his friend's friend.

"Hello, Sam." Daphne answered, smiling.

"OK. Obviously, you agreed to help us out here, Daphne, and we're very grateful." Toby declared, leaning back on his desk.

"I'm glad I could be of service. So, what would you like to know?"

"Anything you'd like to share about your experiences growing up."

"Well, I guess the family that used foster kids for their make shift sweat shop would be a good example of what's wrong with foster care." Toby was writing notes as she began, and stopped during Daphne's sentence. "Or, maybe the rat and insect infested basements and attics that I seemed to be stuck with for bedrooms. I was like the cheese...the bait."

Sam and Toby exchanged glances with each other, and then with Joshua. "Well, I think those two will give us a good start." Toby said, rounding his desk to sit down and begin his work.

The month of November was becoming grimmer with each passing day. The Foster Homes Appropriations was coming along slowly but steadily. Senior Health Care became a pained priority. Whitney found a problem in it because it took some of the spotlight off what became her `baby', the Appropriations Bill. Josh mused to himself time and again as he worked with Toby and Whitney. They argued over everything-much like when Toby argued with CJ. But there was a certain glow in Toby's eyes every time he was at odds with Whitney. Obviously, Josh concluded mid way through a meeting one day that Toby was attracted toward her. Sometimes, Josh would wonder what would happen during Whitney and Toby's heated arguments if the Deputy Chief of Staff weren't there. At first glance, he assumed that his co-workers would have dismembered the other in their frustration.

`But today,' Josh thought during a mid-morning meeting in Josh's office as Toby and Whitney started at it again, `it looks like they're reveling in the sparring. That's freakish, but, hey, if it works. I bet they'd rip each other's clothes off or something if I weren't here.' "Look, you two, I'm going to go talk about something with Leo because I forgot to do it already. Just don't get any blood on my walls if you start scalping each other." Josh said with a queer face, exiting his office.

"What was that about?" Whitney asked.

"I have no idea."

"Are you going to leave those two alone?" Donna asked her boss from her desk.

"Well considering Leo will chew me out if I don't go talk to him, yes. But make sure the door is open at all times, and check on them every...thirty seconds or so." Josh said as he began to walk down the hall to the Chief of Staff's office.


***** END PART III *****


This Time Around - 4



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