Adventures in Babysitting

by: Steph

Character(s): Ensemble
Category(s): Humor
Rating: YTEEN
Disclaimer: "The West Wing" and its characters do not belong to me. They belong to Aaron Sorkin, NBC, et al. This is just for fun out of a love for the show. No profit is made and no infringement is intended.
Summary: The President forces the Senior Staff to babysit his four grandchildren.

CJ Cregg, Sam Seaborn, Toby Ziegler, and Josh Lyman all entered the Oval Office, engaged in an argument. Neither of them acknowledged the disapproving looks of Leo McGarry and President Josiah Bartlet, who stood before them.

"To acknowledge Senator Timmon's concerns publicly would be political suicide," Toby stated in irritation.

Josh sighed, shaking his head. "Stop being so dramatic, Toby. Every time you disagree on a matter, you try to argue against it like the state of the union depends on it...If we acknowledge his concerns publicly it simply means that we are acknowledging his concerns publicly."

CJ spoke next, "You're both wrong."

Sam held a finger up. "May I say something?"

"Shut up, Sam," replied all three in unison.

Sam ignored their response and continued, "I feel-..."

His sentence was interrupted by the President's voice. "Actually, I would like it very much if you would all shut up."

All four turned to the President, surprised by his comment. Jed Bartlet came closer to them. "In case you've forgotten, this is the Oval Office, not the playground at recess."

Josh tried to respond. "Sir, we were simply discussing a matter."

The President shook his head. "No, not one of you was listening to a word the other was saying. You have all been arguing like this for weeks. You couldn't even agree on the color of the sky right now. I don't know what's come over you, but I've just about had it."

Toby whispered to CJ, with a roll of his eyes, "He sounds like he's about to give us all detention."

Bartlet continued, "This is the White House and I depend on all of you to work together to help me run this nation. Now I know that you won't always agree on everything and that's what is best, it helps us to address every possible angle on issues. However, I will not stand for you all disagreeing with each other simply because you want to...And that is what you have been doing. It gives me a headache. I think you all need a refresher in teamwork."

Josh sighed and spoke softly to Sam, "Refresher?...I don't like the sound of that."

CJ spoke up. "With all due respect, sir, I really don't see the need. We are just going through a rough patch, that's all."

Bartlet shook his head, "CJ, your 'rough patch" has made me seriously consider tying you all to chairs and taping your mouths closed. But doing that could be grounds for impeachment I'm sure, so I've decided on it only as a last resort."

The group smiled halfheartedly and then Sam spoke, "So what did you have in mind as a refresher, sir?"

The President smiled. "I am glad you asked, Sam. You see, my second oldest daughter, Valerie, and her husband recently moved their family here to D.C. They live only ten minutes away, in fact. Since my wife and I have not spent much time with my daughter as of late, we plan on doing so at the residence all day tomorrow. However, my daughter would also like that time to be spent without the presence of her four young children. They are wonderful children, but she would like one day with only adult conversation. Here is the problem: Since Valerie is new here, she does not yet know anyone that she would trust with her children...Zoey has a paper to work on all weekend and Charlie has plans with his sister, so that's where you all come in. I trust you all completely. This is the perfect solution to both problems. My daughter will have good caretakers and you all will have to work together to take care of those children, thus refreshing yourselves on the art of teamwork," the President concluded with a wide grin.

Toby swallowed hard and tipped his head to the side as he spoke. "Sir, am I correct in saying that you want us, four highly qualified, degree-laden, White House Senior Staff members to do the job of a twelve year old girl?"

The President nodded, "That's correct, Toby. The only difference is that the twelve year old girl would get paid."

CJ, Toby, Sam and Josh shook their heads in disbelief. They couldn't believe that they were being forced into baby-sitting the President's grandchildren.

Josh ran a hand through his hair as he spoke, "Is there anything that we could say that would get us out if this?"

The President shook his head, "You've all said too much already, that's what got you into this."

Sam looked at Leo imploringly, "Leo, a little help here. Don't you think this is a tad unfair?"

Leo shook his head and smiled, "Actually, I came up with the idea." All four shook their heads at him in surprise, as he continued, "You were driving me crazy with your constant bickering. I would have gladly held you down while the President tied you to the chairs if it came to that...Consider yourselves lucky."

They all sighed in defeat, as the President spoke again. "I can see you're all looking forward to this. Mrs. Landingham will give you the address and directions to the house on your way out. Be there at 1 o'clock sharp. Here is a little information on my grandchildren to whet your appetites: Johnny is eight and the oldest. He enjoys playing outdoor games indoors, as well as video games until his eyes roll back into his head. Laurie is six and the second oldest. She loves finger-painting with her toes and wearing her clothes backwards. Petey is 4 and the third oldest. He loves to bark like a dog, moo like a cow and eat grass. Rachel is 6 months old and the youngest. She enjoys eating, sleeping, drooling, spitting up, burping, crying, yelling and messing her diaper. Well, that about does it. They sound like absolute delights, don't they?" The President ended, with all the pride of a grandfather shining in his eyes.

The mouths of all four fell open as they listened to the President. Josh's words emerged without his permission, "Where did you find these kids, the circus or the zoo?" Josh snapped his mouth shut quickly, but not before receiving an elbow in the ribs from Sam.

The President smiled good-naturedly, "They're on loan from the zoo, Josh...Their cages are being renovated."

Josh looked down uncomfortably, "I'm sorry, sir, I didn't mean-..."

"Yes, you did and that's all right. They are certainly unique children and I wouldn't want it any other way...Trust me though, they're angels," the President assured them.

All four nodded, before turning around and leaving with the President's permission. They received the directions from Mrs. Landingham and began walking down the hall.

Sam shrugged, as he walked beside the other three, "I don't know why I am being punished, too. You're the ones who are always telling me to shut up lately. I-don't-..."

"Shut up, Sam," they all replied, before heading off in opposite directions.

* * * * *

Josh sat in his office, thinking about how he was about to waste his Saturday taking care of a bunch of spoiled, little brats. Josh didn't like kids and kids didn't like him. He was going to have a miserable time. He ran a hand through his hair and yelled for his assistant, Donna Moss.

"Donna!"

Donna appeared a few minutes and a few bellows later.

"Yes, Josh."

"Why don't you ever come right away when I call you?" Josh asked.

"Because I love the sound of your voice," Donna replied sarcastically.

Josh feigned laughter, before Donna continued without the sarcasm, "Because I am usually doing something, despite your annoying insistence that I do very little all day."

Josh grinned, "Gossiping with Cathy and flipping through 'Cosmo' doesn't count."

Donna smiled slightly, as she shook her head. "Well, what is that you want?"

Josh shifted uncomfortably in his chair, while he tried to force a smile and soften his tone. "I...I just wanted to tell you that you look very nice today. Is that a new perfume that I smell?"

Donna shook her head, "No, that would be 'white-out' that you smell." She held up the open bottle of 'white-out' that she had absentmindedly carried into his office.

Josh smiled in embarrassment, "Well, it's lovely."

Donna looked at him suspiciously, "Josh, what exactly do you want from me?"

Josh responded nervously, "Want? Me? I don't want anything. What made you think I wanted something from you?"

"Because you only compliment me on my appearance when you want something from me that you know you have very little chance of getting," Donna responded.

"No, I don't."

"Yes, you do."

"Yes, I do," Josh relented and then spoke quickly, almost desperately. "Please, please, please, Donna. You have to help me, I-"

"No," Donna replied.

"You haven't even heard what it is yet," Josh countered.

"Whatever it is, the answer is no."

"Why?" Josh whined.

"Because I know that you are going to ask me to sacrifice yet another one of my Saturdays and I am not going to give in this time," Donna answered determinedly.

"Even if I say I'll fire you if you don't?"

"Empty threat," Donna said quickly.

Josh banged his fist on the desk, "Damn, I can never pull that one off."

Donna laughed and nodded. Josh stood up, walked around the desk and stood before her.

"You're going to make me beg, aren't you?" He asked hesitantly.

Donna tried to speak, but Josh continued. "There was a time when I was above begging, but people change."

Donna watched, her lips pursed, as Josh got down on his knees, clasped his hands together and then held them up to her. "Please, Donna, you have to help me. CJ, Sam, Toby and I have to take care of the President's four anim-, I mean grandchildren, all day tomorrow. And you know how I am with kids. I hate them, they hate me. I am going to go crazy, unless you come and help me. I need you to be my calming force, the person who will make me stop saying things like 'Nuh-uh, you started it,' to the children. Please, Donna, you know me and kids."

Donna bit her lip to keep from laughing at the pathetic man who knelt before her. "Yes, I know. Remember when you met my nephew, Derek? You made him cry for over an hour."

Josh shrugged, "The kid's too sensitive."

Donna shook her head at him, "Joshua, you told a six year old that he'd break the seesaw if he sat on the other end."

"Hey, it's not my fault the kid's had one too many twinkies," Josh replied defensively.

Donna's eyes narrowed at him, causing Josh to attempt to change his tune, "Although always being picked last in gym does have its advantages-..."

Donna interrupted Josh's miserable attempt at trying to be sensitive towards a child's feelings. "Joshua."

Josh smiled slightly, "Sorry, I'm just not good at relating to children. I always say something that makes them cry, scream, bite me or step up on my foot. See? This is why I need you. Your nephew is the perfect example...I need you to stop me from placing my foot in my mouth every five seconds."

Donna smiled at him, "I hate to tell you, but you're not much better at relating to adults."

Josh nodded, "True, so will you, please, please help me then?"

Donna shook her head, "No."

Josh sighed, "Even after all of that, after I begged you, you still won't help me?"

"Nope."

Josh slowly got to his feet, as he brushed at his suit. "You were still going to refuse, no matter what I said or did, weren't you?"

"Yup."

"Then why did you allow me to make a fool of myself by kneeling on the floor and begging?"

"Well, I tried to tell you it didn't matter what you said, but you knelt before I had a chance. Once you had, I couldn't help wondering how much of a fool you were about to make of yourself. I must say, you've reached new heights."

Josh sighed, "Well, thank you very much for that, Donna. So why are you so adamant about not helping me anyway?"

"Well, besides the fact that you always try to take away my precious Saturdays, I happen to have a date."

"A date?...During the day?"

"Yes, we're going hiking."

"Hiking?" Josh replied, with barely in check laughter.

"Yes, hiking," Donna responded bitingly.

Josh couldn't control himself and he let out a laugh.

"What is so funny, Joshua?" Donna asked in irritation.

"Nothing, it's just that I didn't peg you as the rugged type."

"I can be rugged."

"Occasionally missing your morning coffee does not classify you as rugged, Donna," Josh said with a smile.

Donna smirked at him and Josh continued. "What kind of date is hiking anyway?"

"Jerry likes the outdoors and he wants to share them with me."

"Jerry? You're going out with Jerry again? Isn't this the same Jerry that took you to Burger King on your first date, through the drive-thru no less?" Josh asked incredulously.

"No, we ate inside," Donna replied softly.

Josh laughed, "The guy takes you to Burger King on your first date and you still decide to go out with him again?...He must have wooed you with the prospect of an even less expensive date than the first, complete with sweat, dirt and bugs."

Donna shook her head at him, "Forget what I am doing, it doesn't matter. All that matters is that I won't be helping you."

With that, Donna turned on her heel, a smile on her lips. Josh ran a hand down his face and groaned.

* * * * *

Toby stood in the doorway of Sam's office, listening to his phone conversation.

"Mallory, please? Come on, you know I'm not good with kids. You're a 4 grade teacher, so I'm assuming you are. Please, help me. I don't do well with children. Remember the first time we met? I *lied* to those kids about the White House...I'm a liar...I lie to children. I am going to corrupt their innocent minds, unless you come with me and stop that from happening....Mal?...Mallory?...Are you still there? Mallory?"

Sam took the phone away from his ear and glanced at it before placing it on the hook. He looked up at Toby, who now stood in front of him. "I think she hung up on me."

Toby nodded and sat down in front of him, "I gathered. Of course, the way you were whining, I think your own mother would have hung up on you."

Sam's eyes lit up, "My mother...I should try my mother."

Sam began to reach for the phone, before Toby's voice halted him. "Give it up, Sam. You're on your own. We're all on our own."

Sam sighed and brought his hand down to the desk. "I can't believe Mallory wouldn't help me."

"Believe it. I just passed Josh in the hall and he said he begged Donna, but she refused. I just spent the better half of an hour promising Bonnie things that I had no intention of following through on to get her to help me, but she too refused," Toby stated.

"When did women become so unsympathetic?" Sam asked.

Toby shrugged, "Who knows? I still think they're bitter at us about the whole 'leaving the toilet seat up' thing."

Sam laughed, "It used to be that you could whine a little, make a few puppy dog faces and they'd cave, but not anymore...Or maybe it's just the women that we're whining to and making faces at."

Toby nodded, "I think they saw right through us. I mean, none of us know how to deal with kids and they know that. They knew that we were just trying to get them to come with us, so that we could hand the kids over to them, prop our feet up and watch some TV. Too bad they didn't fall for it. I don't like kids, you don't like kids, Josh doesn't like kids and CJ is indifferent. This is going to be great. We can't relate to kids, we're too immersed in our adult-soaked worlds. When I see one of those snot-filled creatures, I turn around and run the other way."

Sam laughed and nodded in agreement, "I can't talk to kids. I always end up using words they'd have to spend three hours looking up in the dictionary in order to understand. I spoke to Mallory's class on Career Day a few months ago and put the kids in a coma."

Toby laughed and shook his head. "My brother's got a kid. I went to see him when he was first born and my sister-in-law insisted that I hold him. I hadn't been holding him for more than a second before he spit up all over me. I practically dropped the kid, I was so disgusted. It goes without saying that Uncle Toby is not his favorite."

Sam laughed and then spoke seriously, "So do you have a plan of attack?"

Toby smiled, "Yeah, Sam, I was thinking we should ambush their right flank near the Easy Bake Oven and then finish them off at the Legos."

Sam grinned, while blushing slightly. "You know what I meant. Should we play them one-on-one or designate our areas of strength...Like one of us makes food, one cleans them up, one plays with them, one disciplines them. What do you think? Which way gives us a better chance?"

Toby smirked, "Well, first of all, I think you need to realize that they are kids, not the Chicago Bulls, and that we are baby-sitting, not trying to win a championship."

Sam nodded, "Okay."

Toby continued, "With that said, I like our chances because they don't outnumber us. We're on equal footing, although they do have a slight edge with home court advantage."

Sam muttered, "Now who sounds like a basketball coach."

Toby didn't hear Sam and continued, "Therefore, I think it's best if we designate assignments. CJ will clean them, Josh will play with them, you'll make food and I'll supervise, while also handing out any punishments that are needed."

Sam held up a finger in objection, "Why do you get the easy job?"

Toby shrugged, "You asked for a plan of attack, that was my plan of attack."

Sam shook his head, "Doesn't work for me and it won't work for CJ and Josh either. We'll just have to go with the flow and see what happens.

Toby relented, "Fine, but don't come crying to me when all hell breaks loose."

Sam nodded with a shrug of his shoulders. "We're just going to have to bite the bullet and make the best of it."

Toby shook his head, as he got up to leave. "Unfortunately, I hate biting bullets and I suck at making the best of it."

With that Toby left and Sam sat back in his chair, a long sigh following out of his mouth.

* * * * *

CJ sat on the couch in her office reading through some files. She heard a knock on the door, but didn't respond to it. The person opened the door, walked in and sat on the edge of the couch. CJ looked at him, as her glasses slid to the tip of her nose.

"I don't remember saying 'come in, Danny'."

Danny grinned, "You never say 'come in, Danny'."

CJ nodded in agreement, "So what do you want?"

"Nothing really. I was just wondering what the going rate was for baby-sitters with credentials like yours."

CJ shook her head at him, "How is that you always manage to find out things that have nothing whatsoever to do with the well-being of this country?"

"I always make it a point to find out what you're doing on Saturday nights."

"As scary and borderline 'stalker-ish' as that sounds, I am still compelled to ask: why?"

"So that when you refuse to go out with me every Saturday, I know why."

"And what about when I have nothing to do, but I still refuse you?"

Danny smiled, "That just confirms my theory that you are playing a masterful game of hard to get."

CJ smiled slightly, "You are nothing if not relentless, Danny."

Danny grinned. "So what kind of experience do you have with kids? Have you done a lot of baby-sitting in your time?"

CJ shook her head, as she looked down at her file, "No, not really."

"Do you have any nieces or nephews?"

"No."

"Any close friends with kids?"

"Not really."

"Ever work with orphans?"

CJ smiled, without looking up, "No, Danny, I haven't."

Danny continued, "Are you hiding a secret love child that you bore with an Elvis impersonator, or any other impersonator, for that matter."

CJ chuckled and shook her head, "Can't say that I am."

"Have you ever even seen a child, CJ?" Danny finally asked.

CJ lifted her head and smiled at him, "Yes, Danny, I have. I happen to be looking at one right now."

Danny laughed, "Well, that's going to be interesting. You four trying to take care of a bunch of kids."

"I'm sure we'll do fine," CJ responded.

Danny grinned, "I'm not."

"Is there anything more that you'd like to know, Danny?" CJ asked in annoyance.

"Just the address. I was thinking of doing a different kind of story for my paper, an uplifting, personal one. It'll be about four White House Senior Staff members who selflessly give up their Saturday to devote to a bunch of underprivileged children...It'll be heartwarming, inspiring," Danny replied.

CJ smiled at him, "They are not underprivileged children, Danny. They're the President's grandchildren."

Danny nodded, "I know, but underprivileged sounds a lot better than spoiled, rich kids...It sells newspapers, it brings up approval ratings, it sets a good example...I'll brings rags to put the kids in for the photo."

"No."

"No what?"

"No, I am not giving you the address. No, you are not doing a story on it."

"Why not?"

"Because it's a lie."

"I wouldn't say it's a lie, more like a stretching of the truth."

"No, Danny."

"What if I said the story was just a lie to get to spend time with you, then would you give me the address?"

CJ grinned, "No."

"Why not?"

CJ smiled, "Because taking care of four kids is enough, I don't need a fifth."

Danny smiled, "Fine, but I have sources that can get me that address. You should know that I like Oreo cookies and milk, so have my snack ready when I get there."

CJ laughed, as Danny stood up and left the room.

* * * * *

At one o'clock sharp the next day, all three arrived at Valerie's house. They stood solemnly in front of the door, as if awaiting their executions. They rang the doorbell and waited for it to be answered. It was almost immediately answered by a red-haired, freckle faced little boy. CJ bent down to talk to the child.

"Hi, you must be Petey, your grandpa told us a little about you. I'm CJ and this is Sam, Josh and Toby. We're here to take care of your for the day. Do you think you could go tell your mommy or daddy that we're here?"

The boy shook his head and responded with a loud, "Moo."

Sam smiled and whispered to Toby and Josh, "Interestingly enough, I once got that same response when asking a woman out on a date."

Josh and Toby tried to stifle their laughter, as CJ spoke again. "That was an excellent impression of a cow, Petey. Do you think you could go tell you parents we're here now?"

The boy shook his head and responded with, "Ruff."

Toby sighed and whispered to Josh and Sam, "I say we tie this one to the porch right off the bat." Josh and Sam both laughed, as they covered their mouths to block the sound.

CJ was just about to try again, her patience lessening, when a woman came to the door. She looked to be about thirty, maybe a little younger, and was the spitting image of what a young Abigail Bartlet must have looked like. Her short brown hair framed her kind face nicely and a smile lit it up. She ruffled the hair of the boy who stood next to her. "I see you've already met my son, Petey. He's the reason we don't have a pet. As you can see, we don't really need one."

All four laughed, as Valerie extended her hand to each of them and the boy disappeared. "I'm Valerie O'Neil, it's very nice to meet you all. My husband was called into work for a little while, so he will be meeting me at the residence. He sends his regrets and his wish to meet you all soon. My father speaks very highly of you. Thank you so much for doing this."

CJ nodded, as they all entered the house, "Oh, it's our pleasure. President Bartlet told us a little about the children, they sound wonderful."

Valerie nodded, her smile fading, "Oh yes, they are wonderful. But they can be a handful. They have very unique qualities. I am sure you'll all get along just fine."

The group nodded unenthusiastically, noticing the tone with which she delivered her words. Valerie walked over to a bassinet and picked up the baby, Rachel. Then she yelled for the other children. "Johnny, Laurie, Petey, please come down here."

All three soon arrived and took their places next to their mother. They all had dark, red hair and freckles, which lead the staffers to conclude that her husband must have the same. Valerie gestured to each one of her children. "This is Johnny, Laurie, Petey and Rachel. Kids, these are grandpa's friends. They are going to take care of you all day today, so I want you to be on your very best behavior."

The children, except for the baby, nodded with the smiles of angels. Valerie kissed them all and then began to walk to the door. She quickly handed the baby to Josh, who proceeded to hold it out in front of him like it had a contagious disease. Valerie waved once more and then hurriedly left.

Toby spoke, "The fact that she left here like a just freed hostage, shouldn't worry us at all, right?"

Josh wrinkled his nose and nodded his head toward the baby, "What should I do with *this*?"

CJ shook her head, as she took the baby from Josh, "It's a baby, Josh, not a stick of dynamite." She placed the baby back in the bassinet and then turned towards CJ, Josh and Sam. She smiled widely.

"This is going to be fine, guys, you'll see. I know you have your reservations, but I think we are going to come through this with flying colors. They are just children. We are adults...Adults who work in the West Wing of the White House, amid chaos and crisis everyday. I handle a roomful of eager press reporters each day, who are just waiting for the chance to rattle me. You three deal with congressmen all of the time who are out to prove you wrong and make their case. We do more difficult things than this everyday, we help run a country. These are just children, how hard could it be?"

At the moment the last word left CJ's mouth, a Nerf football hit her in the back of the head.

CJ's head jerked forward and her mouth hung open in surprise, as the other three doubled over in laughter. Sam finally recovered long enough to say, "This probably goes without saying now, but I'll say it anyway...Famous last words."

*****

CJ rubbed at her head and then turned around to face Johnny, Laurie, and Petey. She spoke as pleasantly as possible, "Could you please tell me who threw that ball? It's not nice to throw things at people's heads."

Just then, baby Rachel began to cry. CJ looked imploringly at Sam, Toby and Josh. "Could one of you please take care of Rachel, while I find out which one of them hit me in the head?"

Toby, Sam and Josh pointed their fingers at each other and then responded in unison, "You do it."

Sam sighed and stood up, "I'll be the bigger man and just do it."

Josh shook his head and also stood up, "There's no way I am going to let you be a bigger man than me."

Toby also stood up and placed his arms on their shoulders, "I'm a bigger man than the two of you could ever dream of being, I'll do it."

Josh and Sam raised their eyebrows and watched as Toby nonchalantly walked over to Rachel's bassinet. He gingerly picked her up and held her in his outstretched arms, as the baby wailed. "Look, kid, I'm not your Mom and I'm not your Dad, so I really have no sympathy towards you. Crying is a sign of weakness, so you should learn how to express yourself better. Now-..."

"Toby," Josh said, "She's a baby, it's the only way she can express herself."

Meanwhile, CJ looked at the other children, "Okay, which one of you was it? Who's got such a great aim?"

Toby sighed and looked at Rachel again, "Okay, how about this. Just try being quiet. That'll-..."

Just then, Rachel opened her mouth and let out a stream of projectile vomit that hit Toby right in the face.

Josh and Sam just about fell over laughing. Josh spoke to CJ through chuckles, as he pointed at Rachel. "Hey, CJ, I think we found the culprit. That baby's got *great* aim."

Toby's mouth hung open in disgust. He placed the baby back in the bassinet and wiped at his face in vain, "In the future, you better keep Mount Vesuvius here away from me!"

Sam bit his lip to control his laughter, "If it's any comfort, Toby, I think that shade of green looks lovely on you."

Toby glared at him, "Sam, after all of this time, haven't you learned that it is best not to provoke me when I am already angry?"

Sam nodded, "I'll keep that in mind for next time."

With that, Toby brushed by Sam and Josh, and headed to the bathroom.

CJ scanned the faces of the children, as she knelt down to their level. "I need you guys to tell me who threw the ball. When someone does something wrong, they have to take responsibility for it. I'm not going to get angry, I would just like to know who did it." CJ paused as the children stared at her blankly, she focused on Johnny. "Johnny, you're the oldest, so I think you understand what it means to take responsibility for doing something wrong. Did you throw the ball or do you know who did?"

Johnny smirked, "Look, lady, I'm not going to answer any questions without my lawyer being present."

CJ was taken aback by the intelligence and smugness with which the eight year old spoke. She swallowed hard, "Excuse me? You're only eight, how do you know anything about lawyers?"

Johnny grinned, "My dad's a lawyer, plus I watch 'Matlock' repeats a lot."

Sam chuckled at that, "I love 'Matlock', too. He always tries to act like he doesn't know what's going on, but he always does. And then he has those great outbursts in court. Oh and I love how he always wears those gray suits. Remember the time-..."

CJ shook her head at Sam, as Josh elbowed him. "Sam, CJ is trying to establish the fact that we are the adults here and that our authority must be respected. I really don't think this is the time to reminisce about our crafty, old pal 'Matlock' and his choice of attire."

Sam nodded and then CJ turned back around to speak to the children. However, all three of them were now gone. She rubbed at her forehead, "Great, now we've lost them."

CJ stood up and looked at Josh and Sam. She then looked down at Rachel, who was also covered in vomit. She took a deep breath and then turned away, "One of you is going to have to clean her up."

Sam and Josh's eyes widened and they responded together, "I'm not doing it. You do it, CJ."

CJ shook her head vehemently, "I can't. Anytime I see someone else's vomit, I feel like I have to vomit. My stomach is very sensitive about that. Sorry."

Sam held his hand up to her, "CJ, we really have no problem with you throwing up, as long as you don't do it on us."

CJ smiled slightly, "I think you missed the point, Sam."

"I'm with Sam," Josh nodded.

CJ shook her head, "No way, guys, One of you is cleaning her up. Just because I am a woman, that doesn't mean I am going to do the dirty work. But what I will do is delegate. Sam, you find Laurie and tell Toby to find Johnny when he's done. I'll find Petey and you, Josh, will clean up Rachel."

Josh scowled, "Why do I have to do it?"

"Because you agreed with Sam," CJ said.

"The fact that Sam is the one who came up with the comment to which I agreed means nothing?" Josh asked.

"And I like him better," CJ replied.

Josh shrugged and sighed, "Well, at least you have a good reason."

* * * * *

Sam caught up with Laurie in her bedroom. She was coloring quietly at a small table at the center of her room. Sam walked over to the table and squeezed himself into the tiny chair. He smiled down at her, "Now this is cozy."

She responded without looking up, "You're too big for that chair, you're going to break it."

Sam tried to lean back in the chair and respond casually, "Actually, I'm quite comfortable."

Just then, Sam heard a crack, followed by another and then the chair fell into pieces, leaving him on the floor. Laurie laughed at him, her eyes smiling. Sam grinned, "I think you may have been right about the chair."

Laurie nodded and began to color again. Sam knelt beside her. "So, Laurie, that's a very pretty name. I know someone named Laurie...But she's an adult, a big girl."

"Does she work for grandpa, like you do?" Laurie asked without looking up.

"No, actually, she used to be a pros-..." Sam paused and then spoke softly to himself, "And I just realized that would be extremely inappropriate."

"What would be inappropriate?" she asked.

Sam swallowed hard and spoke without thinking, "Well...um...it would be inappropriate to tell you what she really does, because she's a...a spy."

The girl's eyes widened, "A spy?"

Sam nodded nervously, "Yes, a spy."

"Who does she spy on?"

"People."

"Bad people?"

"Not very nice people, yes."

The girl smiled widely at him and Sam knew he had formed a small bond with her. Of course, he had done so by lying, but he just didn't know how to tell children the truth very well. The little girl spoke, "Cool!....Do you want to finger-paint with me now?"

Sam smiled, "And that means we would be using something other than brushes to paint with?'"

"Yup."

"And that doesn't get messy?"

Laurie smiled, "Oh, it gets messy."

Sam's expression was reluctant, but he couldn't say no as Laurie grabbed his hand and dragged him to her desk.

* * * * *

Josh placed Rachel in the bathing seat in the large kitchen sink. She was still fully clothed and Josh wasn't exactly sure what to do. He smiled at her, "Looks like it's just me and you babe. I'm must say you're looking beautiful today."

Rachel smiled and giggled at Josh. He looked wearily at the items around the sink and then picked up the black hose that extended out to aid in washing dishes. He smiled at his ingenuity, "Here we go now...This isn't so hard."

Josh turned on the water and began to hose down the baby. Rachel laughed as the water tickled her face. Josh smiled, then spontaneously picked up a spoon and began to sing. "Splish, splash I was taking a bath," he paused, "something, something-..." Rachel was enjoying Josh's singing, when it was suddenly interrupted by CJ.

"Joshua, what exactly do you think you're doing?"

"I was cleaning her up, just like you said to."

CJ shook her head and walked closer to him. She gestured to the baby, "Tell me, do you generally bathe fully clothed?"

"Not unless I'm drunk."

"Josh."

"No," he responded softly.

"So then why did you feel the need to bathe a baby while fully clothed?"

Josh shrugged, "I don't know, CJ. I thought you just wanted me to hose her down and then blow dry her or something."

CJ smiled and shook her head, "I wanted you to wipe off her clothes, throw them in the wash, clean any part of her that still needed to be cleaned and then dress her again."

Josh scratched at his head, "I really don't see how I was supposed to know all that. You might want to make your directions a little more clear in the future."

CJ sighed, "Excuse me for assuming that a graduate of Harvard and Yale would know better than to bathe a baby with her clothes on."

Josh smiled, "I didn't take the baby bathing elective, I opted for ceramics instead."

CJ shook her head and left the kitchen. Josh grinned and lowered his face closer to the baby. He whispered to her, "She's always trying to spoil my fun...I think she's just jealous because I have a better singing voice than she does."

* * * * *

A newly cleaned Toby entered Johnny's room. He was sitting on his bed, playing a video game. Toby sat down next to him, "What are you playing?"

"Immortal Rebels."

"Can I play?"

The boy turned to Toby with a smile, "I think you're too old to play video games."

Toby smirked, "Oh, I don't know. I'm sure I could manage to straighten my arthritic fingers long enough to play a little."

The boy grinned at Toby's sarcasm. Toby knew that he could speak to this kid on a level above what would be expected given his age. He could tell he was smart as a whip...Must be a family trait, he thought.

Johnny threw him a control, reset the game and pressed two players. They began to play the game, which consisted of one-on-one combat.

Toby spoke in irritation after a few minutes, "You're cheating!"

"No, I'm not."

"Yes, you are. You're not supposed to kick me in the head."

"Your head keeps getting in the way of my foot," he responded.

"Very clever...I guess I know where you get your cheating ways from...I'm not naming names but....GRANDPA!" Toby exclaimed.

Toby looked at him accusingly, as Johnny shook his head. "My grandpa doesn't cheat."

"Oh, yes, he does. He cheats at tennis, at basketball...I would have been suspicious about the election if I hadn't been directly involved," Toby stated.

Johnny sighed and paused the game. He turned to Toby, "Oh, you're one of *those* kind of guys."

"What...What are you talking about?" Toby asked nervously.

"You're the kind of guy who tries to blame everything on everyone else. You're never wrong, you never do anything wrong, you can't admit when you're wrong. You take everything seriously and you haven't cracked a smile since you were my age," Johnny said.

Toby was startled by the boy's accurate depiction of him. He responded weakly, "I smile."

"No, you don't."

"Yes, I do...I just do it sparingly."

"See, you never think you're wrong."

The boy then unpaused the game and a few moments later said with a grin, '"I won."

He then got up and walked out of the bedroom, while Toby yelled after him. "This game is under protest!...And...and I can admit when I am wrong!"

* * * * *

CJ had searched the entire house for Petey, to no avail. She finally decided to try the backyard, which, wisely, was fenced in. She walked outside and found the little boy sitting on the lawn with a fistful of grass. He also had a few blades falling ut of his mouth. CJ shook her head and sat down next to him. "Petey, you shouldn't leave the house without telling someone first."

"Okay, " he said through his mouthful.

"And you shouldn't be eating grass. It'll make you sick."

"But I like grass."

"Grass isn't for children to eat. Are you hungry?"

"Yes."

"Then why don't we go find something to eat inside, okay?"

The boy nodded, but then sat still. "Can I ask you a question?"

"Sure."

"Where do babies come from?"

CJ's eyes widened, "I'll look into it...Okay, that's all for today. I'll answer any other questions at our next briefing."

The boy tilted his head in confusion, "Huh?"

CJ blushed, "Oh sorry, I forgot who I was talking to for a moment. That's what I always say at my job when I don't want to answer something."

The boy nodded, his question seemingly forgotten, as a young child is prone to do. "Okay, let's go eat," he said.

* * * * *

Sam had spread newspapers all over Laurie's bedroom floor and then she had placed several pieces of white paper on top of them. She and Sam were now sitting next to each other on the floor, their legs stretched out in front of them. There were four jars of paint open next to Laurie. She smiled at him. "Okay, take off your shoes and socks."

Sam's eyes widened, "Take off my shoes and socks?...Why would I do that?"

"So we could paint."

"With my feet?"

"With your toes."

"Oh," Sam said, "Your grandpa mentioned that to me about you, I was kind of hoping he was joking."

Laurie shook her head, "Nope, no joke."

"I have an idea," Sam said, trying to sound enthusiastic, "How about we put on rubber gloves and smocks, then we go find some paint brushes and we can paint with them. So that way we won't get messy and my toes will stay...paint free...Doesn't that so sound like fun?"

The little girl frowned at Sam and gave him sad, puppy dog eyes. He sighed, "Oh no, not the puppy dog face...I can't resist the puppy dog face."

Laurie smiled and began to untie Sam's shoes, "Good!"

Once Sam had taken his shoes and socks off, Laurie pointed at a paper plate with paint on it. "Okay, dip your toes in it."

Sam looked at her in confusion, "Aren't you going to take your shoes and socks off and do it with me?"

The little girl shook her head back and forth, "No, I don't feel like getting dirty."

Sam sighed, "Then wait a minute, I-..."

Sam's sentence was interrupted by Toby entering the room, totally oblivious to what was going on. He knelt beside him, "Sam, do you think I can't admit when I am wrong?"

Sam spoke cautiously, "Well...I've never seen you do it, but I have faith that you could if you really put your mind to it."

"I can admit when I am wrong, Sam....Remember that time...You know that time...," Toby's voice trailed off.

"No."

"Sure you do...Remember when I insisted that the first Darren on 'Bewitched' was the real life half-brother of the second Darren on 'Bewitched', only they had different last names because they had different fathers? Remember? I admitted I was wrong when you convinced me they weren't."

"No, that's not the way I remember it."

"Sure it is."

"No, I seem to remember you having to call up the woman who played the little girl, Tabitha, and asking her. Then, and only then, did you begrudgingly admit you were wrong," Sam replied.

"Okay, so I like to have solid proof before I admit I'm wrong...There's nothing wrong with that," Toby said.

"You mean you need to have concrete, indisputable, beyond a shadow of a doubt proof."

"That's what I said."

Sam nodded, not paying attention to Toby any longer. Toby finally noticed that newspaper was all over the floor and that Sam's feet were bare. He looked at him with puzzlement etched into his features, "What the hell are you doing?"

Sam smiled, "Laurie and I are toe-painting."

"Toe-painting? You're toe-painting? What's the matter with you?" Toby asked in disbelief.

"Nothing...My pal, Laurie, and I just having a little fun."

Toby tilted his head and looked at the bottom of Sam's feet, "Well, did you happen to notice that 'your pal, Laurie', has painted the soles of your feet a lovely variety of colors?"

Sam's eyes widened in horror and he brought one of his feet up to look at it. Laurie smiled, "Don't they look pretty?"

Sam managed a weak smile, "Yeah, great...Just great."

Toby smiled at Laurie, "You've got some real talent there, Laurie...You're a real Picasso...But if you ever consider cutting off your ear, try cutting off one of Sam's first, I'm sure he wouldn't notice."

Sam scowled at Toby, who just laughed and walked out of the room. Laurie smiled mischievously and whispered to Sam, "Do you think I should have told him I painted the bottom of his shoes, too?"

Sam's eyebrows peaked in surprise, realizing that Toby was about to make quite a mess. But then he just smiled and shook his head, thinking Toby deserved whatever lashing he'd receive from CJ. Luckily, the whole house was composed of wood floors and this was washable paint.

"Nah, I think we'll let Toby discover that one for himself," Sam said. Laurie giggled and nodded in agreement.

Then Sam stood up and began to walk on the paper, making different designs with his feet. He grinned down at Laurie, "I must admit, this is strangely relaxing and therapeutic."

* * * * *

"There is almost no food in this house," CJ said as she slammed another kitchen cabinet door closed. She had searched all of the cabinets and the refrigerator, only to be rewarded with half a carton of milk, three eggs, four sticks of butter and about 100 boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

She guessed that Valerie really had *just* moved in and hadn't yet stocked up on food. She sighed, as she grabbed six boxes of macaroni and cheese, hopefully enough to feed all eight of them.

CJ looked around the kitchen wearily. She had no idea where anything was...And, to make matters worse, she could barely boil a pot of water. CJ always had preferred take-out.

She scrambled around the kitchen, beneath the watchful gaze of Petey. She finally found a large pot, filled it with water, placed it on a burner and turned it up to high. She smiled at Petey, "Lunch will be ready soon. See? Now this baby-sitting stuff isn't so hard."

Just as CJ spoke, she heard a loud thumping noise coming from the basement. She sighed, "I have got to stop saying things like that."

She took Petey's hand and they walked down to the basement. As they stepped off of the last stair, they stepped into a stream of soapy water. CJ's eyes widened and she lifted her head only to find Josh ankle deep in bubbles, with a diapered Rachel in his arms. He smiled slightly at her. "I kind of had an accident."

"Joshua!" CJ screamed, "What happened?!"

"Okay, before you start yelling at me, just remember that *you* told me to wash the baby's clothes."

"Yes, yes I did. I said wash them, not flood the basement!"

Josh shrugged, "I was just trying to be clear."

CJ spoke through clenched teeth, "What happened?!"

"Okay, but it's important for you to remember that this could have happened to any one of us...I could certainly see this happening to Sam," Josh said nervously.

"Josh," CJ said in a warning tone.

"Well, I came down here with her dirty clothes, placed them in the washing machine, poured some...a lot...of laundry detergent in and then I turned the knob to 'heavy'. Now, I can't get the water to stop flowing out and..."

"You did what?"

He spoke hesitantly, "I...can't get the water to stop flowing?"

"Before that," CJ said with a tight jaw.

Josh said softly, "I...turned the knob to heavy."

CJ rolled her eyes, "Josh, you don't turn the knob to heavy if you only have two small items of baby clothes in it!"

"See, now I didn't know that."

"How could you not know that?"

"I dry clean."

"Do you dry clean your underwear, too?"

"No, I usually just throw them out when they get dirty."

"Josh!"

"Okay, okay, so I let this old lady across the hall from me wash my clothes. She wants to, she enjoys it...I make an old woman happy, that's got to count for something."

"You know it would, if I weren't standing in six inches of soapy water right now hating you!" CJ exclaimed.

"Look at it this way, now you won't have to shine those nice shoes you have on," Josh said with a grin.

CJ spoke through clenched teeth, as she flung herself in his direction. "These are suede, you idiot!"

Josh grinned and managed to use the baby as a shield to block CJ. She instinctively took the baby in her arms, as she watched a scurrying Josh fall to the ground. He sat up, his entire body now covered in bubbles.

CJ smiled down at him, "Look at it this way, now you won't have to pay to get those clothes dry cleaned." She then added seriously, "Clean this up, fix it...Do whatever you have to do."

She then walked to the stairs, took Petey's hand in her free one and continued upstairs.

* * * * *

When CJ reached the top of the stairs, she was shocked to see a series of red, blue and green footprints leading all the way down the hall and to the living room. "What now?!" she screamed.

CJ walked to the living room and found Toby napping on the couch. She walked over to him, realizing that the footprints lead to him. She placed Rachel in her bassinet and let go of Petey's hand. Then CJ shook Toby with very little care. He woke up and glared at her. "What do you want?"

CJ pointed at the footprints, "I really don't think it was your place to redecorate, Toby!"

Toby was still a little sleepy, so he responded with a, "Huh?...Wha?"

CJ grabbed him by the collar, "The paint! You had paint on your shoes and now it's on the floors!"

Toby looked at her in shock and then at the floors, "I'm going to kill Sam!"

"No, no, before you kill Sam you're going to clean this mess up. Might I suggest finding a bucket and filling it up with the soapy water in the basement that is hopefully drowning Josh as we speak?!"

Toby barely heard her, he was so angry with Sam right then. He quickly got up and headed to the stairs. CJ yelled after him, "The shoes! Toby your shoes!"

Toby didn't hear her and just kept on walking. CJ tangled her fingers into her hair and looked down at the Petey, "Stay a child forever. Children are much smarter than adults."

* * * * *

Toby stormed into Laurie's room ready to kick some Sam butt, but was pleasantly surprised instead. He found Sam sprawled out on the floor, quite obviously asleep. Laurie was now painting his ankles and Johnny had joined her. He was using his paint-covered fingers to draw streaks across Sam's face. Sam already had red lines on his forehead, a blue nose and green cheeks. Toby grinned, "Mind if I join in the fun?"

Johnny held up the plate with the paint to him and smiled, "Dig in."

Toby sat down and dipped his fingers into the black paint. He then proceeded to paint a goatee under Sam's lips and around his chin. Toby laughed in delight.

Sam stirred and mumbled in his sleep, "That feels nice...Thanks, Mom."

Toby wrinkled his nose and spoke to Johnny, "I don't even want to know what *that* was about."

Toby was just about to give Sam some black eye shadow, when CJ came into the room. Her mouth fell open, "What have you guys done to, Sam?"

Toby smiled, "We gave him a makeover."

Just then, Sam slowly opened his eyes. He looked groggily at all of the people that surrounded him. "Hi, guys. What's going on?"

Toby shrugged, "Oh nothing, we were just finger-painting."

Sam looked suspiciously at Toby, "Oh, that's nice."

Sam then stood up and caught a glance of himself in the mirror, "Oh my God."

Toby grinned, "Have I ever told you that those shades of red, green, blue and black look lovely on you, Sam?"

Sam turned around and glared at him, "Toby!"

With that, Sam chased Toby out of the room.

CJ followed them with a large sigh. She was just about to enter the kitchen when it struck her, "The pot of water!"

Of course, it was too late by then. Once she entered the kitchen, she could see that much of the floor was covered in a very large puddle.

Before CJ could say or do anything, the doorbell began to ring. Josh rushed up the basement stairs covered in bubbles, hoping that it was a plumber sent from God to help him. Sam also rushed to the door, hoping to escape from the house via it, as Toby was now chasing him. Josh and Sam converged at the door and began to pull at the knob.

They heard voices from the other side, "Josh, it's me, Donna," and then, "Sam, it's Mallory."

Josh and Sam scrambled to unlock the door and finally pulled it open. They smiled when they saw Donna and Mallory, who, in turn, looked quite shocked by their appearances. Josh pulled Donna to him in a fierce hug, as Sam clung to Mallory.

Josh finally pulled back and grinned at Donna. "You came, you came to save me," he said desperately.

"What is the matter with you? Why are you all wet?" Donna asked.

"None of that matters now, all that matters is that you're here to save me." Josh's eyes widened as he realized that Donna was carrying a few bags of microwaveable popcorn. "And you brought food....We have no food here...Bless you."

Donna looked at Josh as if he were crazy, and she wasn't too far off. She shook her head at him. "I am not here to 'save you', Josh. My date canceled, so I figured I'd come over here to be entertained. The popcorn is for *me* to eat...I always need a snack during entertainment. Looks like you guys won't disappoint me."

Josh's face fell, as Donna walked past him. Josh raised his eyes to the ceiling, "I ask for a plumber and you give me the assistant from hell. Thank you very much." Josh just stood there, shaking his head.

Mallory looked at Sam in confusion, "Sam, why do you look like an art gallery exploded on you?"

Sam shook his head dejectedly, '"I tried, Mal. I tried to get along with these kids. I even made friends with the little girl. And I lied to her...I did, I lied to her, just like I said I would...I told her that Laurie was a spy instead of a prostitute...And then she, Johnny and Toby painted me. I didn't-..."

"Wait a minute. Why were you talking to her about Laurie?"

Sam could tell he had just made a major mistake, "Oh, well, I was just saying that-..."

"No, I don't understand, Sam. I mean, how could a call girl that you accidentally slept with more than a year ago and claim not to have seen in quite a while, somehow enter into a conversation with a child?"

"Okay, first you have to realize that I have been through what I would consider to be the closest thing to hell on earth...And then you have to stop looking at me with those eyes that have me proven guilty already. Please-..."

"I don't have to do any of those things, Sam."

"Okay, okay, then at least stop interrupting me. Can you-..."

"No," Mallory said and walked past him into the house. She then yelled back at him, “And to think I came here because I felt sorry for you!”

Sam sighed and looked at Josh, who still stood next to him. They said together as they shook their heads, "Women."

Just then Danny walked up the front steps and brushed past them, with a curious glance. "Lookin' good, guys. Did you do something different with your hair?"

Josh and Sam groaned and then slammed the door shut behind Danny.

*****

Danny walked into the kitchen and found CJ staring blankly at a large puddle of water on the floor near the stove. He looked from her, to the pot on the stove, and then back to her. He smiled, "You know, CJ, that water is supposed to go *into* the pot."

CJ turned to him, surprised to see him there. "Danny, what are you doing here? You're the last thing I need right now."

"I told you I was coming."

"Yeah, but I didn't actually believe you. How did you get the address?"

"I told you I have sources that could get me that."

"And what sources would they be?"

Danny grinned, "Actually, I just asked Donna."

CJ ran a hand through her hair, "I'll have to remember to thank her."

Danny nodded and then sat down at the table. He smiled at her, "So where are my milk and cookies?"

"You're kidding, right?"

"No."

CJ shook her head at him, "Look, Danny, I am not in the mood. We have been here for a total of," CJ paused and looked down at her watch, "...3 hours, 14 minutes and 5 seconds, and we have already suffered every kid-catastrophe I can think of. I have been hit in the head by a ball, Toby has been thrown up on, Josh has washed a baby with her clothes on and then flooded the basement, Sam is covered in paint and Toby has tracked that same paint all over the house, and I had forgotten about my trying to make macaroni and cheese, so this floor now looks like Lake Michigan!"

Danny nodded, "Chocolate milk."

CJ let out a loud breath and raised her hand to her forehead, "What?"

"I like chocolate milk, not white."

CJ stared daggers at him, "Get out of this kitchen, Danny...Go away."

Danny nodded and got up, "Okay, I'll come back later...I can see this isn't a good time."

"Go," CJ said and Danny left.

* * * * *

Donna sat on the couch, looking at the four children there in front of her. "Well, they look like absolute angels to me."

Toby snickered, "Devils in disguise."

Donna shook her head and walked over to baby Rachel, who now lay in her bassinet. "Look at her, she's absolutely adorable." Donna picked the baby up and then wrinkled her nose, "But she's not smelling so adorable." Donna walked over to Josh and placed the baby in his arms, "I think you need to change her."

Josh shook his head, as he took the baby. "That's where I draw the line. I have cleaned this kid's vomit, I've even sung to her. But I am not about to venture into that diaper and see what surprise she's got waiting for me."

Donna shrugged, "Okay, well, then I guess you'll just have to explain to the President's daughter why her daughter sat in a dirty diaper for hours on end. And then you can explain it again to the President on Monday."

Josh sighed and then smiled down at Rachel, "So, little girl, I think you and I are about to get a whole lot closer."

Rachel giggled, as Josh stood up. Donna smiled at Josh, "I'll help."

Josh looked at Donna with surprise, "And I didn't even have to beg."

Donna laughed, and then she, Josh and the baby walked up to her nursery.

* * * * *

Sam had been following Mallory all over the house, trying not to place his foot any further into his mouth. "Mallory, I swear I haven't seen Laurie in months."

Mallory abruptly turned around, "Oh yeah, then why did you mention her to a six year old?"

"Because they have the same name!...I was just trying to make conversation."

"Tell me, Sam, do you often tell children about the girl you know who used to be a prostitute?" Mallory inquired.

"Only when I read them bedtime stories," Sam joked and then let out a laugh. His mouth snapped shut when he saw that Mallory's jaw was clenched and her arms were crossed over her chest. "Okay, bad joke," he said.

Mallory nodded, with a slight smile. "You know, after I met you for the first time and you acted like a complete fool, I didn't think you could possibly outdo yourself. It seems, however, that you are constantly trying."

"Practice makes perfect," Sam replied, with a grin. He was rewarded with a roll of Mallory's eyes. He spoke softly, "Seems I've done it again."

Mallory tilted her head to the side, "You know, for a guy who writes speeches, puts words in other people's mouths, you sure have a hard time saying the right thing when it comes to expressing yourself."

Sam nodded, as he tried to hide his smile "That's because I speak without the benefit of editing."

Mallory sighed, turned around and walked away from him. Sam groaned, following and calling after her, "Mallory? Come on...Okay, now I hope that gesture was some sort of farewell that I am unfamiliar with...Don't be angry...Please...Mal?"

* * * * *

Toby had been left all alone in the living room with the other three children, even Danny wasn't present since Josh had somehow convinced him to take care of the mess in the basement.

Toby sighed, "So, can you guys do anything besides sit there and stare at me with drool dripping down your chins?"

The kids shrugged, so Toby clapped his hands together, indicating he had an idea. "Okay, then how about we play a game?"

Laurie and Petey jumped up and down excitedly, "Yeah! Let's play 'Candy Land!'"

Toby held up a hand in an attempt to silence them, "No, no, stop jumping...There will be no candy or lands in this game."

Petey and Laurie moaned with disappointment, while Johnny smiled in relief. Toby spoke again, "We are going to play a grown-ups game...Poker, anyone?"

Johnny smiled, "Now, *that's* more like it. Get ready to pay up."

Toby snickered, "Look, Doogie, I've been playing Poker since before you were even a twinkle in God's eye. Don't mess with me."

Johnny only shook his head at Toby with a grin. Toby rubbed his hands together and looked down at the children, "Okay, now you guys need some money to play with. So, go up to your bedrooms and shake those piggy banks until they squeal."

All three nodded and ran upstairs. They soon came back down, their hands filled with change. They placed their piles next to them on the floor. Toby had found cards while they were gone. He looked at them and quickly described the rules of Poker. When he was done, he asked, "Does everyone understand?" Johnny nodded, as Laurie and Petey just stared at him blankly. Toby nodded at them, "I'll take those looks of total bewilderment as a yes...Let's play."

Toby dealt five cards out to each of them and then told everyone to ante up. Laurie and Petey just threw a whole bunch of change on the table, laughing when some of it spilled onto the floor. Johnny, however, carefully considered his hand and then placed a bet of 25 cents.

Toby smiled, "I see your 25 cents and raise you 10 cents."

Johnny grinned, "I see your 35 cents and raise you 15 cents."

Toby nodded, surprised that Johnny seemed to be sticking with the cards he'd been dealt, as was he. They kept playing until the bet was up to a $1.50 and the pot had grown considerably, largely due to Laurie and Johnny throwing all of their money in it and then 'folding'.

Johnny finally said to Toby with a smile, "I call your bluff."

"Okay, little boy, I've got no problem taking your money." Toby grinned and placed his cards down on the table. "Flush...It's kind of fitting, actually, since you just flushed your allowance down the toilet...Beat that, kid."

Johnny smiled and placed his five cards down on the table, "Gladly, Royal Flush."

Toby's eyes widened in shock, "You little...How did you cheat this time, huh? What did Grandpa Bartlet teach you about Poker?" Toby shook his head, "Royal flush...Also fitting since you're a royal pain-in-the-..."

Johnny cut Toby's sentence off, as he pulled all of the money to him. "Grow up, Toby...And when you're done with that, deal."

Toby begrudgingly picked up the cards and began to shuffle them.

* * * * *

CJ had finally finished cleaning the kitchen floor. She was now venturing downstairs to see how Danny was doing with the washing machine. To her dismay, she found him floating in a pool lounge chair, reclined back. The floor was still covered with soapy water. "Danny, what are you doing? I thought you told Josh that you were going to clean this all up?"

Danny shrugged, "And what would you like me to use, CJ? My special evaporating powers?"

"I don't know...Can't you get one of those water vacuums or something?" CJ asked.

"Probably."

"But?"

"But I'd rather relax in this float...It's like having my very own indoor pool, only with bubbles," he smiled.

"You know what *you're* like, Danny?"

"What?" Danny asked with anticipation.

"You're like having my very own annoying mosquito, that keeps buzzing and buzzing in my ear, until finally I squash it with the palm of my hand," CJ said, smirking.

Danny grinned, "I love it when you talk dirty, CJ."

"Clean this up or get out, Danny. I have no other use for you. You have no real reason for even being here," CJ sternly.

"Now see, that wasn't nice. And to think that when I wrote my story about you guys, I was going to paint *you* in the best light," Danny said.

"No story, just clean this up," CJ said as she began to walk upstairs.

Danny called to her as she left, "And I'm still waiting on those milk and cookies, by the way!"

* * * * *

Donna and Josh had been standing at Rachel's changing table for 30 minutes now, waiting for him to gather the courage to take off her diaper. Donna finally sighed in agitation, "Just do it already!"

Josh held a calming hand up to her, "Don't rush me, Donna. If not done right, this could scar me for the rest of my life."

"Have I told you yet today what a baby you can be?"

"No, and I've missed that," Josh said with a grin.

"Just do it, Josh."

Josh took a deep breath and then began to undo her diaper. When he had finally taken it off of her, his nose wrinkled disagreeably and he turned his face away. "Okay, so it seems that some kind of animal must have crawled into her diaper, died and then exploded."

Donna bit her lip to keep from laughing, as Josh pinched his nose shut. Donna finally spoke, "It's not that bad, Josh."

Josh spoke, his voice nasally from pinching his nose. "Not that bad? Donna, even the diaper's lodging a complaint with Huggies."

Donna laughed, while shaking her head. "Well, you have to keep going. You need to clean her."

Josh sighed and threw the diaper in its proper receptacle. He then opened the tub of wipes and took one out. He smiled at Rachel before he wiped her clean, "Okay, kiddo, now this is going to feel a little cold, but you'll get used to it. And I'm not going to try to distract you by speaking in a stupid baby voice, like other adults insist upon doing. I know you're probably sick of that anyway." Rachel giggled and a gentle smile pulled at Donna's lips. She was genuinely surprised at how good Josh was with Rachel. He kept talking to her, as he wiped, "Believe me, I know how annoying those baby voices can be...I hate it when Donna talks to me like that."

Donna laughed and gave him a light swat on the arm. When Josh was done cleaning her, he took out a new diaper and placed it under Rachel's bottom. He then took out the powder, opened it up and began to shake it over her bottom. "Be careful with this stuff, okay? I once mistakened it for powdered sugar...Two very different things," Josh said with a smirk.

Rachel laughed again, as did Donna. It amazed both Donna and Josh how Rachel always laughed in just the right spots. Josh finished powdering her and then fastened the diaper. He smiled at Rachel, "There you go, little girl, sweet smelling again.

Donna smiled at Josh and then spoke, "Where did you learn to change a diaper like that? I'm quite sure this was your first time."

Josh nodded, "Yeah, you caught me, I was a diaper virgin...I saw how to do it on an episode of 'Full House' once."

Donna laughed, "Well, you did a very nice job." She then added softly, "You're great with her."

Josh nodded, touched by Donna's compliment. Then he grinned, "Well, you know how the Lyman charm works on the ladies...I don't have a fan club for nothing."

Donna smiled, while shaking her head at him.

Josh found an outfit for the baby and began to dress her, while he spoke to Donna. "So what happened to Jerry? Did he decide that hiking could never live up to the first date?" Josh said with a smile.

Donna shook her head, "I don't know what happened. He just never showed up. I called him, but I got his machine. I guess I was stood up."

Josh looked at her and spoke, his voice soft, "You deserve better than him, you know that don't you?"

Donna nodded her head slightly, her eyes focused on him. "Yeah, I do."

* * * * *

Laurie had wandered back into her room, after abandoning the Poker game. She was playing with her dolls on her bed. She smiled when Sam entered and sat down next to her. "You know, it's a lot easier talking to you than it is to a girl with an education past kindergarten."

Laurie nodded, as she brushed her doll's hair. Sam continued, "Take my girlfriend, Mallory, for instance. I made some totally innocent comments and she turned them around on me. I can't win."

Laurie kept nodding at Sam and then she handed him one of her dolls, "Here, let's play dolls...You can't lose at this."

Sam smiled at her, "Believe me, if there's even the slightest possibility of losing at this, I'll find it."

Laurie giggled and Sam picked up a brush. He began to brush her hair, while he examined the doll. Neither of them noticed Mallory poke her head in the door and silently watch them, "Now, this is a lovely doll. I love her ensemble. I especially enjoy the way you've paired the striped shirt, with the checkered pants."

Laurie grinned, "Thanks, Sam."

Sam then placed the doll on its legs and began to move it around, while he talked in a high, squeaky voice. '"I always love how you dress me, Laurie. And I love our trips to the mall. You have the best taste in clothes."

Laurie laughed at Sam's voice. Mallory smiled at Sam, as she shook her head. There was just something about this guy, she thought. She just couldn't stay angry at him for long.

Sam continued being the voice of the doll, "And, Laurie, remember the time my boyfriend said that stupid thing about how he liked brunettes, better than blondes? And how that, like, totally upset me because I am a blonde. Well, you were there for me and you told me that I have to understand that guys will say stupid things because they are guys. But they always mean well. Thank you for reminding me of that."

Mallory entered the room and smiled at Sam, "And thank you for reminding me of that."

Sam feigned surprise, "Mallory, I had no idea you were listening."

"Oh yeah, right. When did you realize it?"

Sam smiled, "I caught a glimpse of your hair around the mall part."

Mallory nodded and sat down next to him. She spoke softly, "I'm sorry I overreacted."

"And I'm sorry that I always say the wrong thing at the wrong time," he replied.

"Not always," she responded with a smile.

She gave him a quick kiss and then glanced at Laurie, who was still playing with her doll. Mallory's eyes danced mischievously, "You're really good with her. I bet you'll be even better with our kids."

Sam swallowed hard and began to stutter, "Kids...Me...You...Us...Kids...When did we have kids?"

Mallory grinned, "Well, we haven't yet, but we will someday. After we get married in a huge ceremony, buy a big house, get a dog, build a white picket fence...Then we'll have 2.3 kids."

Sam gulped, "Okay, I must have blinked and missed something. When did we become engaged, nevermind decide on a dog and a picket fence?"

"Do you mean you don't want to marry me someday, Sam?" Mallory asked with a well-hidden smile.

Sam spoke nervously, "That's not what I said...It's just...I mean, give a guy a chance. You have to remember that I'm slower than most."

"So you're saying you don't want to marry me, that the idea repulses you?"

Sam's face twisted in frustration, "Okay, either I'm speaking another language or you need to brush up on your English...I didn't say that, " Sam paused and then said softly, "The idea far from repulses me, it intrigues me."

A smile spread across Mallory's lips, "Oh, Sam, you can be such a sweetheart."

Sam grinned and nodded, suddenly understanding what Mallory had just done. He decided to turn the tables, "Actually, Mal, the idea intrigues me so much that I think we should fly to Vegas right now and get married. Come on, let's do it."

Mallory looked at him in surprise at first and then spoke calmly, realizing what he'd done, "Okay, let's do it."

Sam swallowed around the lump in his throat, his eyes widening, "What?...Huh? Do what?"

Mallory smiled and shook her head, as she brushed her fingertips across his cheek. "Don't play at my game, Sam, if you're not up to the task."

Sam smiled, understanding dawning on him, "Okay, I see what you did there."

Mallory grinned and then whispered to him, "And never, ever propose to a girl as a joke again. Trust me, it'll only get you in trouble."

Sam smiled and then said softly, "I'll remember that...Although when I do propose, it'll be for real...And knowing the girl the way I do, I'm positive she'll recognize the real deal when it comes around."

Mallory grinned and brought her lips to his in a kiss.

* * * * *

CJ was in the kitchen, once again trying to prepare some macaroni and cheese. She turned around when she heard Petey's voice. "Hey, CJ, look at me!"

CJ's mouth fell open when her eyes landed on the boy's figure. He was covered head to toe in mud. "Petey, what did you do?"

"I rolled around in some mud," he said proudly.

"I can see that. I guess a better question would have been why?"

"Because I'm a pig," he stated matter-of-factly.

"You are now," she said.

"No! I really am a pig!"

"No, you aren't."

"Oink."

"Petey."

"Oink, oink, oink!"

CJ sighed and then turned her head to the side to see where the laughter was coming from that had suddenly filled her ears. It was Danny. He smiled at her. "Geez, CJ, you didn't have to go and dump mud on the kid just to make him look underprivileged...Rags would have sufficed."

"Danny."

"Not that I don't appreciate the gesture."

"Danny."

"It really was very sweet of you."

"Danny!"

"Yes?"

"I don't want to hear your voice anymore."

"Why?"

"Because I'm afraid what I'll do to you if I hear it again."

"Okay."

"Leave now."

"What about Stinky over there?"

"What about him?"

"Are you just going to let him stay like that?"

"Yes, Danny, I am. I figured that a nice way to surprise the President's daughter would be for her to find her youngest son covered in mud when she came home."

"Really? Because I was going to offer to take him downstairs and let him wade around in the bubbles for a while, clean him up."

"You were?"

"Yup."

"Why?"

"Because I'm a nice guy."

CJ smiled slightly and nodded, "Okay, go ahead."

Danny looked at the little boy, "Come on, Petey, let's have a little fun."

"Danny, be sure to clean up that mess when he's done."

"Yes, ma'am."

"And Danny?"

"Yes?"

"If you ever call me ma'am again, I'll make sure that you're never allowed within five hundred feet of the White House for the rest of your career."

"Yes, ma'am," Danny said with a smile and then disappeared with Petey.

CJ could only laugh and collapse into a chair.

* * * * *

Danny had finally managed to clean up the basement with a hydrovac and then had helped Petey change into some dry clothes. An hour or so later, Josh, Donna, CJ, Danny, Sam, and Mallory entered the living room.

They found Toby sitting on the couch, his head in his hands.

"What's the matter with you?" Josh asked.

"Nothing...I just lost about 1 billion dollars to someone who is younger than most of my underwear...That's all," Toby stated bluntly.

"How did you lose money to one of the kids?" Sam asked.

"I challenged Johnny to a game of Poker."

"You what?!" CJ exclaimed.

"Was I not clear, CJ?" Toby asked in irritation.

"I can't believe you, Toby! You actually taught a little boy, the President's grandson no less, how to play Poker?"

"Hey, I didn't teach the kid a thing. He came fully prepared."

"You still played Poker with him."

"And I lost...I've learned my lesson, CJ, don't worry. Never play Poker with a kid who knows how to shuffle cards three different ways," Toby replied.

CJ shook her head, as the rest laughed. Then she spoke to Toby, "Well, where are all of the children now?"

Toby spoke quickly, "I just checked on all of them. Rachel's sleeping in her nursery. Laurie's creating a few more masterpieces, this time using crayons and without Sam as a canvas. Johnny is in his room, probably counting my money and arranging to buy a condo in Florida. And Petey is in the backyard grazing."

CJ's eyes widened, "Toby!"

Toby smirked, "Breathe, CJ, I'm kidding. He's taking a nap in his room. Apparently, that grass can really make you sleepy."

* * * * *

A little while later, Donna, Mallory and Danny went home. The staff fed the children and were now in the process of putting them all to bed.

Toby knocked on Johnny's open door. The boy looked over at him from his place at his desk.

"Lights out in five minutes, okay?"

"Sure, I just have to finish counting *my* money."

Toby smiled, "You're going to be a great lawyer someday, you know that?" CJ had told Toby that his father was a lawyer.

Johnny shook his head, "I don't want to be a lawyer like my dad...I want to be President like my grandpa."

Toby nodded in surprise, "And why is that?"

Johnny spoke with his head down, "Because he gets to work with nice, smart people like you."

Toby smiled and said softly, "Night, kid."

He then closed Johnny's door and a pride-filled grin spread across his lips.

*

CJ pulled the covers up to Petey's neck. "Goodnight, Petey."

"CJ?"

"Yes?"

"Did you know that you look like a giraffe?"

CJ smiled, a little chuckle following out of her mouth. "No, I didn't."

"You do, because you're tall and you have a long neck. But you don't have any spots...You should get some spots."

CJ laughed, "I'll keep that in mind, Petey. Goodnight."

"CJ?"

"Yes?"

"Thanks for taking care of me today...It was nice meeting you."

A gentle smile pulled at CJ's lips, "You're welcome, Petey...It was very nice meeting you, too. Goodnight."

CJ began to leave, when Petey's voice prompted her to turn around.

"CJ?"

"Yes?"

"I threw the ball," he said in a voice filled with shame.

CJ smiled sweetly and then said softly, "Well, you have quite an arm then. Goodnight."

"CJ?"

"Yes?"

The boy thought for a moment and then spoke very slowly, "Don't be so hard on Danny...He really is a nice guy...Nice guys give girls fish."

CJ smiled, "Did Danny tell you to say that?"

Danny nodded, "Yeah, but I do think he's pretty cool."

CJ nodded, with a slight smile, "So do I...Goodnight, Petey."

The little boy smiled and said, "Night, CJ."

CJ closed his door, shaking her head as a small smile played across her lips.

*

Josh placed Rachel on her back in the crib. He smiled down at her, as he rubbed her cheek gently. "I had a very nice time with you today, little girl. I think this was probably the best date I've ever had."

Rachel giggled at him. Josh continued, "I've never had much luck with women. I think it's because they can talk back, so you really are my type."

Rachel smiled, grabbing onto Josh's index finger. "No girl can handle me, except...Nevermind."

Josh tried to remove his finger, but Rachel held on tight. "You want to hear more? Okay, remember that pretty, blonde lady that was here? She's my assistant and about the only woman on this planet who can put me in my place...Well, except for CJ, but she doesn't really count because I give her way too much ammunition."

Rachel's eyes smiled at him, so Josh went on. "Donna's a great woman." Josh paused and then said softly to her, "Do you think I should ask-..."

Rachel's head bobbed up and down, while she made a little gurgling sound. Josh smiled, "I'll take that as a yes...Thanks, babe."

With that, Josh placed a kiss on two of his fingers and touched them to Rachel's cheek, "Sweet dreams."

He then closed the door to the nursery, having gained the courage to do something he'd always wanted to from the best listener he'd ever met.

*

Sam tucked Laurie into bed and then sat down next to her. "Well, looks like our time together is over, Laurie."

"I had fun today, Sam."

"Me too."

"I have something I want to give you." Laurie pulled the doll that Sam had been playing without from under the covers and handed it to him. "Here, I want you to have this. Her name's Samantha."

Sam smiled at her, "That was very sweet of you to name her after me."

"I didn't. That was the name that came on her box," Laurie said.

Sam blushed, "Oh, my mistake."

Laurie grinned and then said sweetly, "But I call her Sam for short now."

Sam grinned, "Thank you, Laurie...But I can't take your doll. You take care of it for me, okay?"

"Does that mean you're going to baby-sit us again, so you can visit it?" Laurie asked hopefully.

Sam eyes widened and he took the doll from her, "On second thought, I'd better take it with me."

Laurie smiled and nodded, "You know that girl that was here and made you talk all weird?"

Sam nodded, "Yes."

"I like her a lot."

"Me too," Sam said with a smile.

Then Laurie added with a wide smile, "Don't mess it up, Sam."

Sam grinned and nodded, "I'll try my best not to...Goodnight, Laurie."

Laurie waved to him, "Goodnight, Sam."

* * * *

After they put the kids in bed, the staff cleaned up any remaining messes. The house was put back into decent shape, not even a trace of paint could be found anywhere. When they were done, Josh, CJ, Sam and Toby collapsed in exhaustion.

They all fell asleep.

An hour later, the door opened, revealing Valerie, her husband, the President and the First Lady. The President had insisted on seeing how his staff had done, so he'd returned with them.

He smiled at what he saw.

On one couch, lay CJ. Her body was sprawled across it and a cold compress sat on her forehead. Toby lay on another couch, the bottom half of his body hanging off of it so that his feet touched the floor. Josh was leaning his body against the coffee table. His head was tilted and he had a small stream of drool strolling down his chin. Sam looked as if he had started out in the same position as Josh, sitting beside him, but had somehow moved during his sleep. Now his head lay on Josh's shoulder. The President wondered why Sam looked like a drag queen who had applied 'her' makeup without a mirror...It seemed they'd forgotten to clean up one thing.

The President knew he shouldn't, but he just couldn't resist. He placed two fingers between his lips and let out a shrill whistle.

Four pairs of eyes immediately opened and then groans followed out of their mouths.

Josh looked over at Sam and then carelessly pushed his head off his shoulder, "Get off of me."

Sam rubbed at his eyes, as straightened his neck. The staffers all stretched and then stood up. They stood before the President, looking utterly pathetic. Their hair was a mess, their clothes disheveled with various stains, and their eyes were barely open.

The President grinned, "You guys look like crap."

"Thank you, sir," they all said sardonically, a few muttered through yawns.

"It looks like my grandkids put you guys to the test. But you looked like you survived...Barely...Do you have anything to say?"

Toby nodded, "Yes, I would just like to say that I'd rather scrub the floors of every bathroom in the White House with a toothbrush than to ever have to baby-sit these kids again."

The others nodded and responded in unison, "Yeah, definitely."

The President smiled at them, "Ah, you can't fool me. I know you guys enjoyed these kids. I'm sure there's some stuff you'd rather forget, but I know you had a good time with them."

The staffers shrugged and then offered reluctant nods. The President continued, "Most of all though, I hope you learned a valuable lesson in teamwork. I would like to hear what each of you learned here today, regarding teamwork or otherwise."

"I learned that when left unsupervised Josh, Sam and Toby will make quite a mess," CJ said.

"I learned that baby's have the power to produce some of the most foul-smelling stuff imaginable," Josh stated.

"I learned to never agree to anything that involves the words: 'no shoes and socks' and 'toe-painting,' " Sam replied.

"And I learned to always hold a baby so that it's mouth is facing outward, and to never, ever play a game with a kid who's got a grandpa with the last name Bartlet, " Toby responded with a smirk.

The President smiled, "Immortal Rebels or Poker, Toby?"

"Both, sir."

"That's my boy," the President chuckled.

He then continued, "Well, I was hoping you all would have learned some more important lessons, but I guess I'll just settle for you being taken down by a bunch of kids, especially since those kids are related to me. Okay, go home. I'll see you Monday and you better look a helluva lot better than this. Your attitudes towards each other better have improved, too."

Josh smiled and nodded, "I think I speak for us all when I say we appreciate each other a lot more now and we just about *adore* our jobs."

With that, they all filed past the Bartlets, while giving sympathetic, yet somehow envious smiles to the O'Neils as they passed.

The President grinned at his family, "Those people who just left here looking like they'd been hit by a train, help me run this country. They could barely handle four kids and they help me run a nation...Go figure."

The President laughed and his family joined him.

Once outside, Toby declared to the rest in an unconvincing tone, "I'm never having kids. They're too much work."

"Yeah, me neither," CJ said in a similar tone.

"I agree," Josh replied, with same tone as the others.

But Sam shook his head with a grin, "Oh, I am, 2.3 in fact...Plus a dog and a white picket fence."

Toby, Josh and CJ erupted into laughter and just shook their heads at him. Toby spoke with a smile, "If you don't need that extra 0.3, Sam, I'll take it...I think I could handle 0.3 kids."

The others laughed and then continued on their way.

One thought, however, floated through their minds as they dispersed: Children have a wisdom that goes beyond their years and can bring joy to the hardest of hearts.

THE END

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