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A Great, Great Day

by: Jennifer Wilson (Send Feedback)
Jossgod (Send Feedback)

Series: TWW Fantasy Eight #7
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 14505
Rating: TEEN
Character(s): Josh Lyman, Donna Moss, Ensemble
Category(ies): General
Pairing(s): Josh/Donna
Crossover Shows: - No Show -
Summary: Josh's great, great day turns out to be not so great.

Author Notes: No Fantasy Season 8 episode was written by Jossgod. She only realized they weren't yet all here and believed they deserved to be read by everyone forever. Long Live West Wing Fanfiction!

Chapters: 1

EPISODE 8.7 - Written by Jen




She was looking out the window as they rode through the streets of Georgetown when she felt him put his hand on her knee. She glanced over at him, seemingly reading the Post as if his hand there was an accident, an unconscious decision, but she could see the slightest smirk on his lips. It wouldn’t be long before he started moving up her thigh. “Josh…” she warned quietly.

“Hmm…” he said innocently without moving the paper, the only thing giving him away his growing smirk.

She tried to ignore him and he upped the ante, his hand toying with her nylon covered knee and dipping underneath her skirt.

“Josh…” she said again.

He put the paper down on his lap and leaned in close to her ear. “Yes?” he whispered, his tongue flicking out to her earlobe.

She pushed his hand away and looked up to the front seat where his driver and secret service detail sat. “We’re not alone,” she answered.

He kissed her neck and put his hand back, drifting further up her thigh. “They’re not paying attention.”

She tried to suppress a laugh, maybe a moan, as his teeth grazed her collarbone. She could see the two men in the front seat through the rearview mirror, and although they weren’t looking back at the moment, they could any second. She turned her head towards Josh. “I thought you didn’t like them knowing… things,” she said with amusement in her voice.

He took his left hand off her leg and ran his fingers through her hair, moving it gently out of his way. “Cat’s out of the bag on that,” he said, going back to her neck.

He shifted his body, his right hand landing on her knee now, and she shook her head. This was all her fault; she should’ve known better. “No more morning sex for you.”

“Yeah, right,” he said against her skin, his right hand moving up under her skirt on her inner thigh.

She glanced into the rearview mirror again and crossed her legs, trying to dislodge his hand. He chuckled and moved from her leg to the button on her suit jacket. “I mean it. You’re unbearable all day long. Margaret’s figured it out.”

“She’s just jealous,” he smirked, unbuttoning the jacket and slipping a hand inside to rest just underneath her breast.

“Joshua,” she said as sternly as possible, her smile betraying her admonishment. “I have a meeting in ten minutes.”

“Mmm…” he said, moving up a little and nipping at her lips. She sighed as if he was a bother and let him kiss her, her eyes fluttering closed until his hand on her shirt-covered breast shocked her into remembering where they were. Her eyes shot open and she pushed his hand away again. “What?” he asked innocently, sitting upright and looking at her with a grin.

She shook her head and buttoned her jacket, looking into the rearview mirror again. She doubted they were the only two people in the world who’d ever made out in front of the secret service, but that didn’t make it any less sleazy. “I have a meeting in ten minutes and I need to be…”

“Relaxed?” he said, wiggling his eyebrows at her.

“No. Certainly not.”

He picked his paper up again, pretending to read it as his left hand snaked around her shoulders. “Either Congresswoman Payne likes Mrs. Santos better than the president or you better than me; otherwise she would’ve come to us with her computer thing.”

She glanced over at his hand on her shoulder, wondering how long it would be before it started wandering. “She came to us because it’s public relations and awareness, not legislation. But yes,” she added with a grin. “She likes me better than you.”

“Don’t they all,” he mumbled. “Ooh, look at his!” he said loudly in an excited voice, moving the paper so it was in front of both of them. Then he kissed her neck again, pulling her earlobe into his mouth and sucking on it.

“You’re incorrigible.”

“They can’t see us now,” he whispered.

“And this isn’t the least bit conspicuous,” she said sarcastically, wondering why they were even bothering to whisper. There could be little doubt as to what was happening in the back seat this morning.

“You love it.”

She smiled and kissed him. “You’ve brainwashed me.”

“It’s about time,” he mumbled, kissing her again.

“Ms. Moss…” There was a clearing of throat, then, “Ms. Moss, we’re here.” She pulled away from Josh’s lips when the driver, the poor, poor man who’d been forced to witness the last few minutes, said her name.

“Drive around the block. We’re reading an important article,” Josh said, leaning in to kiss her again.

“That’s alright,” she said loud enough for the driver to hear, pulling back and hitting Josh on the shoulder. The car came to a stop and she pushed the newspaper down. “I’ve read enough.”

“No, there’s more to read,” Josh said, attempting to put it back in front of them.

She shot him a look. “I’ll read it later.”

“Promises, promises,” he said with an exaggerated pout.

She shook her head, smiling at him as if he was a doofus, and picked up her attaché case before scooting over towards her door to get out.

He leaned over and winked at her, then kissed her lightly on the nose. “Have a good day, dear.”

She raised an eyebrow at the never used term of endearment and got out of the car, watching as Josh pulled the door closed behind her, then she walked up the steps and headed inside the Capitol Building.




Donna walked into the office a few minutes before eight and unsurprisingly found that the congresswoman’s assistant was at her desk working. It was no secret that assistants in Washington worked harder than anyone, and this woman appeared to be no exception.

The young woman looked up at her. “Ms. Moss?”

“Yes,” Donna said with a smile.

The woman smiled back at her. “One moment; I’ll tell the congresswoman you’re here.”

“Thanks,” Donna said. The woman stood up and went into another room, leaving Donna alone, and she walked around the small office looking at pictures on the wall. There were several of pictures of schools, of libraries, of the Red Wings, the Lions and the Pistons. Donna smiled at a picture of the congresswoman wearing a Tigers jersey and throwing out a first pitch and at a picture of her in front of an automobile manufacturing plant.

“Donna, hello.”

Donna turned around and walked up to the woman, holding her hand out. “Congresswoman Payne, how are you?”

“Well, and you?” the woman replied, leading Donna into her office.

“Wonderful, thank you.”

“It’s been too long, Donna. I haven’t seen you since stumping with President Santos.”

Donna nodded. “We appreciated that immensely, Congresswoman.” And they did. Meredith Payne was incredibly popular in the Detroit area, and with good reason. She was an excellent representative.

“It was my pleasure. And he did well in Detroit; I was happy to see that.”

“We were happy to see that too,” Donna grinned.

“I’m sure you were,” the congresswoman laughed.




Sam was walking through the lobby towards his office when he heard Josh’s oddly jovial voice greeting the security agents at the door. He stopped and watched with a smile as Josh went through the scanner and retrieved his book bag. “Good morning.”

“Sam my friend!” Josh replied. “It is a good morning indeed. A great morning, even.”

Sam’s eyes widened a bit and he studied Josh. The smirk, the strutting… “You’ve had sex this morning.”

Josh shrugged noncommittally and grinned even wider. “It’s going to be a great day, Sam. A great, great day.”

They began walking down the hallway towards Josh’s office. “It is?” Sam asked.

Josh nodded and said good morning to a staffer Sam didn’t recognize. “Republicans have pretty much stopped bitching about the volcano, Amy and Lou are on the Hill beating up congress and getting us our education bill, things are stable in Kazakhstan, and we have a vice-president. Give me a vacation home in Hawaii and my life’s complete.”

“You’d never go.”

“You think that, but you’ve never seen Donna in a bikini.”

Lester walked out of the Mural Room as they passed it and joined them. “I have good news,” he said.

“Lester my friend!” Josh said, slapping his back, “Good morning.”

Lester looked at Josh with a raised eyebrow, then went back to his news. “Do you know what I have here?” he asked, holding up a piece of paper.

“I have no doubt it’s good news,” Josh said with a smirk.

“Because I walked out of the Mural Room and said, ‘I have good news?’”

“No, because it’s going to be a great day. A great, great day.”

Lester looked over at Sam knowingly; subtlety was not Josh’s strong suit. Sam nodded and the two shook their heads slightly. He turned his attention back to Josh. “The first polling data since the volcano came out. Any guesses?”

“Seven points down,” Josh said.

“Nine,” said Sam.

Lester waved the piece of paper in front of them. “Three.”

Sam’s mouth dropped open and he smiled. “Really?”

“Really,” Lester said with a smile, handing the data to Sam.

“And do you know why?” Josh asked joyfully, hitting Sam on the back.

Sam looked at Lester and then at Josh. “This ought to be good. Why?”


“Because it’s going to be a great day,” he sang-song, walking into his office and leaving Sam and Lester in the hallway.




He walked inside where Margaret was either snooping or cleaning or maybe doing his work. He didn’t know or care which, but he said good morning to her as he walked around her to his desk.

“I’m making a new rule that you have to leave when I do if you can’t keep this place a little neater,” she said without looking up at him.

He chuckled. Margaret liked making rules he didn’t follow. It was becoming their thing. He doubted she enjoyed it as much as he did, but that didn’t much matter.

“I’m not asking for perfection, Josh, but it smells in here at least three mornings a week.”

“I have to be clean at home now; this is my only outlet.”

“So I get to suffer?”

“It’s one of the perks of working for me.” He sat down and looked up at her. “Guess what,” he said leadingly.

She looked at him with squinted eyes. “What?”

He grinned. “It’s going to be a great day.”

“It is?” she asked skeptically.

“A great, great day.”

She looked at him for a second before sighing loudly. “Donna and I discussed this.”

Josh ignored her and looked around his desk. He’d never find anything on it, so he leaned back and looked at Margaret again. “Bring me something of urgency that can only be solved by someone of my importance and intelligence.”

“You can start by finding your stapler,” she said in an even voice.

He smiled. “You can’t bring me down today, Margaret. And do you know why?”


“I have a theory,” she deadpanned.

“Because it’s going to be a great day, that’s why. A great, great day.”

“Uh huh,” she said with a fake smile before turning around and leaving through the door to her office. “I’m going to kill Donna.”



Lou and Amy walked down the hallway in the Cannon building towards John Tandy’s office. Although he was voting in favor of the education bill, he had pull with Ortiz, Nadler, Shaw and Wexler, who were all planning on voting against. Amy looked over at Lou, who was talking on the phone with Josh. He’d sent Lou to baby sit her, which was ridiculous. She’d gotten what she wanted out of John Tandy more times than she could count; she certainly didn’t need Lou’s help.

“Josh, please say you didn’t just call to tell me that it’s going to be good day.”

Amy rolled her eyes. Of all his moods, cute excited Josh had always been her least favorite. Why it was that some men found the need to act like children, she’d never know.

“Fine, a great day. Still, you must have something more important to do.”

They crossed another hallway and Amy saw Anna Seismore from NOW walking into Senator Hasting’s office. Probably just figured out that 722 was a threat and was trying to put a stop to it. Amy had the urge to shout out that she’d taken care of it, but thanks for nothing.

“I’ve got it… do I let anyone push me around?”

Amy looked at Lou talking on the phone. That comment was about her, she was sure of it.

Lou hung up a second later and they walked quietly until Amy couldn’t take it anymore. It wasn’t’ so much the meeting with John; she just couldn’t have Lou shadowing her all day. She had a meeting at two with Congressman Richards. “I can handle this meeting alone.”

“Josh wants me here, I’m here,” Lou said uninterested.

“I know how to handle John Tandy better than anyone.”

“Isn’t he married?”

Amy’s glared at her. “I’m not planning on seducing him.”

Lou raised an eyebrow. “I was just thinking that his wife could probably handle him better than you.”

Amy wasn’t sure she believed her, just as she wasn’t sure John Tandy’s wife could handle him better than she could, but she dropped the subject. “Josh wants you here because I couldn’t get Richards’ votes.” Which she could and did get. She just got them for something else. “And I don’t need a babysitter.”

Lou shook her head. “Josh wants me here because we’re five votes down and he’s not sure how Tandy will react to you. Stop being so paranoid.”

“John and I ended things fine.”

“I couldn’t care less,” Lou said as they turned down another hallway.

Amy sighed. “You’re wasting your…”

Three gun shots echoing through the hallway interrupted her and the next thing she knew, Lou was grabbing her arm and pulling her to the ground.





“No, we’re both fine,” Lou said to Sam on the phone. She was surprised word had gotten to the White House so quickly. The whole thing had only happened about three minutes before Sam called her. “We heard the shots but we haven’t seen anything.”

“Where are you?”

Lou looked around the moderate sized room. It held a large oval table with twelve or so chairs around it that were taken by people who were brought there before she and Amy were. She sighed and sat on the floor against the wall. “We’ve been herded into a conference room.”

“Is there a security guard in there?”

“Yes. He’s about a thousand years old though. I don’t know how much protection he is.”

“Just stay put.”

“We don’t have much of a choice. We’re on lockdown.”

“Right. How’s Amy handling it?”

Lou looked over at Amy. She was on her phone near a corner of the room. “Fine,” she said, rolling her eyes. “But if they come for a hostage, I’m volunteering her.”

Sam chuckled. “Hopefully it’ll turn out to be nothing, but they’re probably going to cut off your communication in a few minutes.”

“That should lead to an exciting day.”



Sam hung up the phone and looked over at Josh, who was pacing as he dialed his cell phone again. He’d done the same thing no less than five times since Sam had called Lou and there was no need to ask who he was calling; Sam knew Donna had a morning meeting in Congresswoman Payne’s office.

Her voicemail must’ve picked up, because Josh stopped pacing and spoke quietly into the phone. “It’s me again. You’re starting to scare me.” Sam watched as he stopped speaking and took a deep breath. “Call me the very second you get this.”

When he hung up the phone, he looked at it for a second before screaming for Margaret, who walked quickly inside.

“Call Donna’s cell phone every two minutes until you get her.”

Margaret nodded. “Ok.”

“Every two minutes, Margaret. That’s your job until we hear from her. Everything else waits.”

“I understand,” Margaret said, leaving and closing the door behind her. Josh walked to his desk and looked down at the phone there, sighing slightly when he saw an outside line being used.

“Lou and Amy?” he asked Sam without looking up.

“They’re fine. They’re in a conference room.”

Josh looked up at him. “Donna’s not in there, is she?”

Sam shook his head. “No.”

Josh put his hands down on his desk and leaned on his arms, hanging his head.

Sam walked a little closer to the desk. “Are you alright?” he asked with a worried voice.

“This is…” he paused, taking a deep breath before looking up at Sam. “It’s too familiar.”

Sam knew what he was talking about. He might not have been there, but he could guess how Josh had reacted almost two years earlier. “There haven’t been any casualties reported,” he reminded him.

“That just means they haven’t found any yet.”


Josh shook his head and held up a hand, stopping Sam. He stood upright and picked up his cell phone again, checking the screen for missed calls and then dialing.



Amy watched Lou hang up the phone across the room as Congressman Richards’ voicemail answered. Shit, she needed to speak with him.

“Congressman, it’s Amy Gardner. I’m calling about our meeting this afternoon. I’m not sure how long the lockdown’s going to last. We might have to reschedule. Please give me a call as soon as possible.”

She hit end and sighed. She didn’t need this. Not today. They were supposed to be hammering out details on how to kill 722 and how to introduce the congressman’s highway repairs bill. She needed this to go her way.

She looked at the table; all of the chairs were taken. Of course. She sighed again and walked over to Lou, who was sitting up against a wall. “This is ridiculous,” she said, sitting down beside her.

“What is?” Lou asked while punching something into her PDA. “The fact that somebody shot a gun in the Capitol Building or the fact that in an effort to protect you, you’re being forced to sit on the floor for a few hours.”

Amy glared at the side of Lou’s head. “I have a full day planned.”

“As opposed to the rest of us who might as well sit here because we’ve got nothing better to do,” Lou said without looking up.

“You’re not the most polite.”

“I’m not the one bitching about my day being more important than the rest of the room’s.”

Amy rolled her eyes and shook her head. She’d never had many female friends, and she had no desire to try to make Louise Thornton one of them. She looked around the room at the mostly tourists she was trapped with. A toddler was crying a few feet away from her and she rolled her eyes just as her cell phone vibrated in her hand. She looked down at the caller id and breathed a sigh of relief.

“I’m just gonna…” she gestured towards the other side of the room, which was pointless since Lou didn’t bother to look up at her or acknowledge anything other than her PDA. She stood up, walking several feet away before answering. “Amy Gardner.”

“Ms. Gardner, this is Congressman Richards’ executive assistant. The congressman got your message.”

“Oh, good,” she said in relief.

“The congressman had an early golf game this morning, so he’s not in the building. He asked me to tell you he’d meet you at two as planned; but at the White House.”

“No!” Amy nearly shouted. A few people looked over at her and she turned to face the wall. “That won’t work,” she said quietly. “I am in the lockdown.”

“Oh,” the woman replied. “I don’t think he was aware of that.”

Obviously, Amy thought sarcastically. “I think most things are going to be put on hold for the day. I’m hoping he and I can meet in his office whenever the lockdown ends.”

The woman paused, probably looking at a schedule that no longer meant anything. “That should be fine, Ms. Gardner. He has dinner reservations at seven, but I can’t imagine the lockdown lasting that long. I’ll call the congressman and let him know.”

“Thank you, I…”

Amy was cut off by an announcement on the loud speaker.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we apologize for the delay and assure you that we’re doing everything possible to resolve this matter in a safe and timely manner. We ask that you please turn off all cell phones, computers, and other portable electronic equipment. Failure to do so is against federal law and will result in prosecution. Thank you for your cooperation.”



Donna stood next to Congresswoman Payne in Eastern Market, both of them holding cafeteria style trays. She looked around at the loud, bustling market place and smiled. There was something about the international cuisine, the produce vendors, the butchers and fish markets that made it not only unique and not only a restaurant, but an experience. She made a mental note to convince Josh to bring her for a Sunday brunch soon.

The congresswoman ordered breakfast and paid, then stood to the side so Donna could do the same. It was hard to hear over the noise, but that only added to the ambiance of the market. She ordered a fruit bowl and eggs over easy, then handed the cashier a ten dollar bill.

They walked over to the pick up area and waited for their breakfast. “Breakfast was a wonderful idea,” Donna said loudly to the congresswoman. “I usually try to eat before leaving the house, but I ran out of time this morning.” She didn’t mention why she ran out of time; it was best not to talk to congress about such things.

“This is one of my favorite places,” the congresswoman replied. “I usually try to drag someone here with me at least three times a week.”

Donna smiled and nodded. “So what got you involved in this computer program?”

“I met Michael Dell a few years ago at a fundraiser for inner city after school programs. After several discussions, Dell Computers supplied two computers for every elementary classroom in Detroit. Within a year, reading and language scores were up and teachers were seeing that students were working better on their own; they were starting to type, to problem solve, to use the computers creatively... It was a huge boost to the school system.” A cook handed her a plate with an egg white omelet and an order of ham and the congresswoman put it on her tray. “We’d like to do the same thing nationwide, but even a company as large as Dell can’t provide that many computers at no cost.”

“Of course,” Donna said as they waited for her breakfast. “And with computers, it’s not a one-time thing. They need to be replaced fairly often.”

The congresswoman nodded. “We’re hoping to make them last seven years by adding memory and upgrading software, but that might be a stretch.”

Donna’s meal arrived then and they started walking through the marketplace to some seating in a somewhat quieter corner.

“Have you given thought to the type of roll you’d like the first lady to play?” Donna asked.

“Awareness, obviously,” the congresswoman said as they weaved through the building. “We’ve got to get other computer manufacturers involved. And, of course, if she’d like to be involved in any other way, I’m certainly open to suggestions.”

They sat down at a small table next to a window that overlooked the river. There were tables outside, which would’ve been nice, Donna thought, but it was still a little chilly out for that.

“I don’t think we should limit ourselves to computer manufacturers,” she said to the congresswoman. “We should find businesses that are willing to buy computers from the manufacturer at cost or just above and donate them to the schools.”

“That’s a good idea.”

“Thank you,” Donna said, stabbing a piece of honeydew. “The most important thing is to make it a national campaign. Get communities involved, individuals, businesses, schools themselves…”

“We’re arming students today with skills they’ll need tomorrow and we need everyone’s participation to do it.”

“Exactly,” Donna said with a smile. She took a drink of her bottled water before speaking again. “I’m sure you know the president’s in the middle of passing his education legislation. We’d like to tie this in with that as much as possible.”

The congresswoman nodded. “It’s wonderful legislation. The most comprehensive education bill to go through the house since I’ve been in it.”

“Thank you,” Donna beamed. “We’re very proud of it.”

“My only concern with tying this into the bill is that the bill will pass in the next few weeks and this project could take a few years. I don’t want it to appear as though the problem’s solved when the bill passes.”

Donna’s cell phone rang and she pulled it from her purse while speaking. “Absolutely, I agree completely. We want the education bill to catapult the program, get it off the ground so to speak.”


She looked at the display and saw a White House number. “Excuse me, Congresswoman. I’m sorry.”

“Not a problem,” the woman said before taking a bite of her eggs.

Donna flipped her phone open and said hello.






He could hear them talking, but he wasn’t paying attention. Not enough attention anyway. He was the chief of staff; it was his job to remain calm, to get things done during a crisis. And he could; any crisis, any problem. As long as it didn’t involve her. He looked at his cell phone, which he hadn’t put down in the twenty minutes since he’d called her the first time. No missed calls. And now the FBI had shut off communication in the Capitol and it could be hours before he heard anything. The thought made him sick.

“Lou has a meeting scheduled with Annabeth,” Otto said to the room.

“Do you know why?” Sam asked.

He shook his head. “Something about computers. That’s all I know.”

“Computers in inner city school classrooms,” Josh said absently without looking up from his phone.

“For the education bill?” Sam asked.

“No,” he said, reluctantly looking up at Sam. “Something the east wing’s working on with Congresswoman Payne. They’re still working on how to deal with the PR.” He sighed and looked at Lester. “You take it.”

“Just tell her how to deal with the PR?” Lester asked.

Josh raised an eyebrow. “Annabeth’s a media genius, you won’t need to. But they want to tie it into the education bill and this can’t be like the HPV announcement where they looked wonderful and we looked like idiots.”

Lester looked confused and Sam stepped in. “It can’t look like they’re getting computers for schools because the education bill isn’t.”

Understanding dawned on Lester’s face and he nodded. “Right, got it.”

“This is just a thought,” Otto said out of nowhere. “But wouldn’t getting people out of the Capitol and away from the gunmen wandering the halls be better than trapping everyone inside with them?”

“They lock it down tighter than Fort Knox over there; no one’s wandering around,” Sam said, glancing at Josh.

“What about Amy’s schedule? Who’s covering for her?” Josh asked, avoiding Sam’s stare.

“I think she’s…”

“Isn’t there some sort of White House authority we could use to get Lou out of there?” Otto asked, cutting Sam off.

Josh’s head snapped to Otto. “Don’t you think if we had authority in this, I would’ve used it by now?” he shouted.

Otto’s eyes widened but he remained silent.

Josh stared at him for another second before looking back down at the cell phone in his hand. “Amy?”

“Amy was um…” Sam stuttered, looking at Otto and Lester, who were obviously surprised and not quite used to these outbursts of Josh’s. Surprisingly, he’d been the picture of calmness since taking office. “I think she was scheduled to be on the Hill all day courting votes.”

There was a tap on the door and Margaret walked in quietly. “Josh, you have a phone call.”

Josh, who hadn’t even noticed Margaret walk in, looked up at her with questioning eyes. She nodded.

He looked at the others. “Everyone out.”

“What? What about…” Lester started, stopping when Sam looked at him and slightly shook his head. The three of them stood and left as Margaret went back out through the door to her office.

The doors hadn’t even closed all the way when he picked up the phone, asking in a panicked voice, “Are you ok?”

“Josh, I’m fine. I…”

“Are you safe? Is there a guard near you?” he rambled, cutting her off.

“I’m safe,” she said calmly. “The congresswoman and I walked to the Eastern Market for breakfast.”

“Is there… wait?” He paused for a second as her words sunk in. “You’re not…”

“I’m not at the Capitol.”

He sighed and rested his face in his hand. “You’re not at the Capitol,” he breathed.

“I’m sorry I didn’t answer when you called. It’s loud here and my phone was in my purse. I didn’t hear it ring.”

“I don’t care,” he said, shaking his head and taking deep breaths. “I don’t care. Just… just as long as you’re alright.”

“I’m fine.”

“Yeah… yeah, ok.”

“Josh,” she said softly. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah, I’m…” he took another deep breath and sat up. “I’m fine.”

“You’re sure?”

He stood up and leaned against the wall, ignoring her question. “You’re coming back here now?”

“I’m still meeting with the Congresswoman. I’ll be back in an hour or so.”

“You want me to send a car?” he asked, rubbing his free hand over his face. “Or come down and get you?”

“Josh,” she said slowly. “I’m fine.”

He nodded to the empty room. She wasn’t there, so she was fine. It was just taking a minute to fully comprehend. “I know.”

“I’ll be back in an hour.”

“Take a cab; don’t walk.”

“I will.”

He thought she was about to hang up, and found himself saying her name quickly to keep her on the phone. “Donna?” He just needed another second. Just another second.


He closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the wall. “I…” Choking on the word he stopped, unable to speak around the tightness in his throat.

“I know,” she said softly. “Me too.”



Lou leaned against the wall and closed her eyes. She’d shed the suit jacket she’d started the day in about an hour earlier, and she was tempted to wad it up and use it as a pillow or put it in the lap of the man next to her and use him as one.

She could hear a child telling his mother that he was hungry. She’d started counting on about the fourth time he said it, and was up to twelve. Each time, the mother told him she’d get him lunch as soon as possible. Somewhere in that room was a person who had a granola bar or something with them; why in the hell didn’t they give it to the brat?

She heard a noise; a quiet one, but a noise nonetheless, and opened her eyes. Amy was messing with her palm pilot. She’d been counting that too; Amy was up to eight. “You’re not supposed to have that on,” she said, closing her eyes again.

“I’m waiting on an important e-mail,” Amy mumbled. “I’ve got a meeting scheduled this afternoon.”

“Right,” Lou said. “I forgot that you’re more important than the rest of us.”

Amy shot her a look and she quirked a smile. Most people got on Lou’s nerves, and few with the frequency of Amy Gardner, but it was worth it. She’d never met anyone easier to irritate. “If the stupid security guard would turn around for a minute, I could call,” Amy said quietly.

Lou opened her eyes again. “If you’re going to do that, go to the other side of the room. I don’t want to be hit by the bullet aiming for you.”

Amy sneered at her. “It was just a thought.”

Lou leaned back and closed her eyes again just as the child told his mother he was hungry. “Thirteen,” she mumbled to herself.

It was blessedly quiet for a moment before Amy dramatically sighed, much the same way she dramatically did everything else. “How long have we been here?”

Lou rolled her closed eyes. “You just had your palm pilot on. You couldn’t have checked?”

“Why don’t you say that a little louder? Maybe they’ll arrest me.”

“Don’t tempt me.”

It was quiet again and she tried to relax. If she’d been in one of the coveted chairs instead of the floor, and had Amy not been there, it might have been the most relaxing day she’d had since they took office.

“That man is staring at me.”

“He must want you,” Lou replied without opening her eyes.

“He’s seventy years old.”

“So, seventy year-olds like sex.”

Amy made a sound as if the thought disgusted her. Good, that’s what Lou was going for. “We should’ve been allowed to wait in John’s office. We’re wearing White House badges; we shouldn’t have to be lumped in with the…”

Lou opened an eye and looked at her. “The…”

“With these people,” she whispered harshly, gesturing around the room.

“You know ‘these people’ can hear you, right?”

“I’m just saying, in John’s office, we could’ve gotten something done, at least.”

Lou shook her head. “Again, let me remind you that yours is not the only day being ruined here.”

“Whatever,” Amy said digging into her purse and pulling out a power bar.

Of course.




“How was your meeting with Congresswoman Payne?” Helen asked as Donna and Annabeth walked into her office.

“Very well, ma’am. She’s excited that you’re considering teaming up with her on this.” Helen raised an eyebrow at Donna. “I mean, Mrs. Santos.”

“Thank you.” Helen stood up and walked around her desk to one of the two couches in her office. Donna and Annabeth sat down on the other. “How far has she gotten?”

“About as far as saying it needs to be done and she’d like us to help.”

“Really?” Helen asked with wide eyes. “I thought we’d be coming in midway.”

Donna shook her head. “No, and I think that’s for the best. With the American Red Cross and the HPV vaccine, we just stepped in and helped out what they were already doing. The congresswoman wants us in from the beginning.”

“And this is good?” Helen said.

“It is,” Annabeth said. “We’ve got a chance to not only work on it, but to shape it.”

“And this isn’t two weeks of promoting the vaccine or a few months of helping out the American Red Cross,” Donna added, handing both the First Lady and Annabeth a copy of the notes she’d taken at the meeting. “This project will probably take a majority of the president’s first term.”

“It’s the sort of thing that can help define the role you’d like to play as first lady,” Annabeth said aloofly as she glanced through the notes.

“But only if it interests you,” Donna said.

Helen looked at Donna. “Inner city schools are smaller by nature. No one who can afford to move to a better district keeps their children in them. So they get less funding than a school with more students. That’s the first strike against them. Those schools then spend a higher percentage of their smaller budget on security, discipline, child safety, breakfast, school supplies, and other things most schools don’t have to offer. There’s a second strike against them. The lack of funding and alternate spending of the funding they do have leads to a shortage of teachers and teachers aids; there’s another strike. The shortage of teaching leads to lower test scores, which prevents them from receiving further federal funding. There’s another. Of course this interests me. I just don’t know that I’m ready for something this big quite so soon.”

Annabeth looked over at Donna and smiled. “Forgive me, Mrs. Santos,” she said, turning back to Helen. “But that sounded an awful lot like someone who’s ready.”

“We’ve gotten our feet wet,” Donna said. “I think we’re ready to see what we can do. And we’re both right here with you.”

Helen looked at them for several seconds before reluctantly nodding. “Then where do we start?”

Donna smiled widely. “Exposure’s going to be the key.”

“I agree,” Annabeth said. “I think you should take the press and tour one of the Detroit schools with the congresswoman. The two of you could do a joint interview on the successes and needs of the program there.”

“Meanwhile, our next step will be to get in touch with computer manufacturers,” Donna said. “HP, Compaq, Toshiba, Apple… all of them. I’m going to spend the next few days putting together a proposal packet.”

“That sounds fun,” Helen said with a grin.

“It better be,” Donna said. “Because then I’m going to work on a proposal for businesses to get involved. Although, I learned last week that they aren’t the bastards everyone wants to make them out to be.”

“We’ll want to start promoting it once we get some feedback from the proposals,” Annabeth said, making herself a note on the packet she’d received from Donna. “Get the buzz out right away.”

“How many schools are we talking about?” Helen asked.

Donna reached into her attaché case and pulled out several pieces of paper, stapled together. She chuckled as the first lady’s eyes widened. “It’s not complete, but the congresswoman thinks it’s a good start.”

Helen reluctantly took the pages from her. “I don’t want to step on Matt’s toes with this.”

“I’m meeting with the west wing today,” Annabeth said. “We’re going to try to work this in with the education plan.”

Donna shifted on the couch. “Speaking of working with the west wing…”

“Yes,” Helen said.

Donna put the papers in her hand down on the couch next to her. “Tomorrow’s Big Block of Cheese Day,” she said, looking at Helen and Annabeth. I think it would show some unity if we sent a few people over to the west wing to be involved in it.”

Helen’s brow furrowed. “What’s Big Block of Cheese Day?”

Donna smiled. “It’s a day where the unlikely get meetings with White House staff. Most meetings are with representatives of small, unheard of groups that can’t usually get meetings because they’re not contributors and they’re not lobbyists.”

Annabeth crossed one leg over the other and put her elbow on her knee. “That sounds interesting.”

“It is,” Donna agreed. “It’s usually… entertaining. Leo started it the first year of President Bartlet’s term. He wanted to remind the staff that we’re here working for everyone, not just the powerful.”

“That sounds like Leo,” Annabeth said quietly. Donna and Helen both looked at her and then at each other.

“It was important to him,” Donna replied quietly.

Annabeth took a deep breath and then looked at Donna with a smile. “Sign me up,” she said bravely. “I’ll take a meeting or two.”



The president was reading a report on low income housing fund distribution when Ronna knocked on the door and walked inside. “Mike Casper’s here.”

He looked up at her with a questioning face. “Remind me who he is.”

Ronna smiled. “He’s from the FBI, sir. He’s here to update you on the lockdown at the Capitol.”

“Right,” he said, nodding. He needed to get better at learning who some of these people were. “Send him in and tell Josh and Lester he’s here.”

“Yes sir,” she said nodding before opening the door and showing in a man who was close to Matt’s age.

“Mr. President,” Mike said to him as he walked towards the president’s desk.

“Mike,” the president replied, standing and shaking the man’s hand. “Thank you for coming.”

“It’s my pleasure sir.”

Josh walked in from his office. “Mike.”

“Josh,” Mike said with a smile. “How are you?”

Josh smiled awkwardly. “Fine. You?”

“Well, thank you.”

“Have you got an update for us?”

Mike shook his head. “Not much since we talked last.”

“Still no casualties?” the president asked.

Mike looked back at the president. “No sir, none.”

The president sighed and nodded. Something going their way; he wasn’t quite sure how to handle it.

Lester walked into the office and Josh introduced him to Mike. Then the president walked around his desk and the four of them sat down on the couches in the Oval Office.

“Tell us what you know, Mike,” the president said.

Mike took a deep breath. “Well, as you know, three shots were fired in the Cannon building at approximately 8:15 this morning. The seven buildings connected by tunnels, including the main Capitol Building were placed on immediate and complete lockdown, where they remain while the FBI does a building to building, floor to floor search for weapons and suspects.”

“Have you found anything yet?”

He shook his head. “No sir. But there are a lot of places to hide weapons in those buildings. We expect it to take most of the day.”

“Do you know how many people are in the lockdown?” Lester asked.

“Yes,” Mike said, turning to Lester. “2437.”

Lester nodded and wrote it down. “And no casualties, right?”

“No, and we don’t expect any.”

The president looked over at Josh, who was sitting quietly on the couch. “Josh?”

Josh’s name seemed to get his attention and he looked over at the president. “Sir?”

The president looked at him for a second before replying. “Do you have any questions for Mike?”

Josh raised an eyebrow and sat up straighter. “No sir. I’ve spoken with him several times today.”

The president nodded and looked back at Mike. “Have there been any problems with detainees?”

“One man went into insulin shock,” Mike said. “He was treated by an FBI medic and is fine.”

“Do you have his name?” Lester asked.

“We’re not releasing it.”

“Anything else?” the president asked.

“No sir. Until we find the suspects or weapons, it’s just search and find. I know it’s tedious, but let me assure you that everyone being held is safe.”

The president smiled and nodded. “I’ve been through these before.”

“Of course,” Mike replied with a chuckle.

The president stood up, followed by Lester and Mike. “Ok then. Keep us updated.”

“Absolutely sir,” Mike replied, shaking the president’s hand again. “I’ve been talking to Josh every half hour.”

Josh turned when he heard his name and quickly stood along with the other three. “Thanks Mike. I’ll talk to you soon.”

Mike shook Josh’s hand and then Lester’s before leaving the room. When the door closed, the president turned to Josh. “Everything ok, Josh?”

Josh nodded slightly. “Yes sir.” The president walked back to his desk and Lester and Josh stood in front of it. Josh took a deep breath and looked at Lester. “You’re briefing now?”

Lester looked at his watch. “In twenty minutes.”

Santos turned to Lester. “We used to through this about three times a year on the Hill. It’s nothing to worry about. The FBI does an outstanding job.”

“Yes sir. One of the reporters…” he looked down at his notebook. “Katie… asked me why they didn’t lockdown the White House.”

Josh looked at him. “Don’t let Katie suck you in. Direct any specific questions to the FBI.”

Lester nodded. “Also, I’m not sure if I’ll get a question about it, but Lyle Edmonds resigned from the USGS this morning.”

“Really?” the president asked in shock. “Really?” he asked again, sitting down and looking at Josh, who appeared to be looking at something on the desk. Firing Lyle would have looked incredibly bad, like he was looking for someone to take the fall for him. Still, there were obvious problems at the USGS and Lyle Edmonds appeared to be at the root of them.

“Yes sir.”

The president nodded. “Well, I hate to say it but…”

“This is a good thing,” Josh finished for him, still looking down at the desk.

“Yes. It keeps me from asking for his resignation.”

Lester cleared his throat. “There could still be speculation that you did.”

The president looked over at Josh. “Josh?”

Josh looked up at him. “There will be speculation.”


Josh raised his eyebrows. “And nothing. There will be speculation.” He looked at Lester. “Deny it.” Then he looked back at the president. “That’s all we can do.”

That answer shocked him and he looked to Lester.

“Sir,” Lester said. “It’ll help that we’re still continuing with the investigation. If we were convinced that Lyle Edmonds was the problem, we wouldn’t bother with it. I’ll push that. ‘Our main concern is making sure this doesn’t happen again. Mr. Edmonds’ resignation was his own choice and we’re not privy to his reasons. But it’s not stopping us from making sure the USGS is functioning properly.’”

He nodded. That was better. “Thank you Lester. And thank you for filling in for Lou today.”

“It’s my pleasure, Mr. President.”

When Lester left, he turned to Josh, watching him for a second. “The secretary of defense is ready to brief the vice-president on the Middle East and Kazakhstan?”

Josh paused and then nodded. “Yes sir. You’ve got about an hour before that meeting, but then you’ll be in there most of the afternoon.”

“That should be exciting.”

A ghost of a smile appeared on Josh’s face. “Then our opinions of excitement differ.”

Santos cracked a grin. That was a little more Josh-like.



Josh walked into his office from the Oval Office and nearly fell into his chair. He closed his eyes and tilted his head up towards the ceiling. He was distracted and the president noticed it; he needed to get a grip.

He leaned forward, putting his elbows on his desk and propping his head up in his hands. His eyes caught hold of the picture of Donna that he kept on his desk, and he took a deep breath and reminded himself that she was fine; it was just a lockdown and she wasn’t even there.

He looked over at his cell phone, sitting on his desk, staring at it for a minute before standing up and shutting the door to the Oval Office. He sat back down stared at it again, then picked it up and scrolled down to Bob. After a pause, he hit talk.

“Yeah,” Toby answered, choosing for once not to scold Josh for calling him.

“Hey.” He paused before going on. “I uh…” Josh closed his eyes and ran his hands over his face. “I wanted to let you know that there haven’t been any casualties in the lockdown today, so Andi’s fine. I was just briefed by the FBI.”

“I talked to her this morning,” Toby said. “She’s not in the office today.”


There was a short silence and Josh wondered if he should just say goodbye and go back to work. “But thanks for letting me know,” Toby added.

“Sure. I just didn’t want you to…” he trailed off and closed his eyes, rubbing them with his thumb and forefinger. “Donna was there.”

“Is she ok?” Toby asked quietly.

“Yeah,” Josh breathed out. “She left just before the shots were fired.”


Silence filled the line and Josh could hear Toby breathing. “I was… when you… when you first found out about the lockdown, did it...” He stopped and took a deep breath. “Did it, you know, feel like…”

Yes,” Toby replied quietly.

“Yeah,” Josh whispered, nodding.




The line went quiet again save for their breathing. Toby hated talking about that morning; that fifteen minutes between finding out there’d been an explosion and finding out Andi was ok. And it had been worse for Josh, he knew, because Donna hadn’t been.

“I’m moving to New York,” he said a minute later, looking around his apartment at half-full boxes and rolls of packing tape.

“What?” Josh asked, half confused and half surprised.

“I’m moving to New York.” It might not have been the appropriate time to mention it, but they both seemed to need a change in subject and there weren’t many opportunities to tell him. “I got an offer to teach at Columbia.”


“Yes,” Toby answered solemnly.

“You’re going to teach? Kids?”

“Young adults, yes.”

“But… you don’t like young adults,” Josh said in what would’ve been a teasing voice, had it not been for the strain Toby could hear behind it.

“I’m starting with a summer class to get my bearings.”

There was a slight pause and Toby wondered when that had happened between the two of them. Was it when Josh left the White House? When they fought? When he was fired?

“What about Huck and Molly?” Josh asked quietly.

“A weekend a month here; a weekend every other month there.”


“Yeah,” he sighed. “It’s going to suck.” He couldn’t believe he’d become that guy. That guy who would move hundreds of miles from his children and only see them once a month. He’d already been that dad once; the one who wasn’t involved, but since leaving the White House, things had been different. So amazingly different. Now he was leaving, and he couldn’t help thinking that Leo was wrong when he told him he’d be a good father.

“Did you apply at Georgetown? They’re poly sci…”

Toby cut him off. “I tried.” For months. Because father’s shouldn’t leave their children. “They’re less forgiving here. Maybe in a few years.”

“When?” Josh asked quietly.

“A few weeks.”

Josh sighed and Toby could picture him running his hands over his face. “We should get together before you go. Get a beer.”

“You know we can’t.”

There was another pause while Josh admitted to himself that Toby was right. “Are you keeping the same number?”

“Yes,” he said, the hint of a smile forming on his face. The phone had been their only means of communication for eight months, and although he’d never admit it, although he’d continue to tell Josh that his friendship was dangerous, he was more grateful than Josh would ever know that he hadn’t abandoned him the way so many others had. He should’ve expected that from him, but he hadn’t.


Silence filled the air again. “Lean on Sanders.”


“Lean on Sanders. He can get you three votes on the education bill. You just have to make him.”

“Lean on Sanders,” Josh repeated.


“I don’t care what you do,” Josh chuckled sadly. “You’ll always be a politician.”

Toby half-smiled, wishing he could thank him for knowing that.



Sam walked down the hallway towards his office after meeting with Josh. He wasn’t sure what leaning on Senator Sanders about the education bill would entail or accomplish, but Josh had been adamant about it.


He turned his head and slowed down as Ainsley caught up with him. “Why would a senator be able to get me house votes on the education bill?” he almost asked himself.

“A senator couldn’t.”

“That’s what I thought.”

“Unless he or she used to be in congress and has strong ties there.”

Which Senator Sanders had been. And three congressmen from his state were voting against the bill. Three congressmen he worked closely with. “That makes sense,” he said, looking at her with a smile.

“Thank you. What’s going on with Lyle Edmonds?” Ainsley asked.

“He quit.”

“Really? Because if the president fired him before the investigation was over, we could have lawsuit problems.”


Sam shook his head. “The president didn’t fire him.”

“Did Josh?”

“No,” he said incredulously. “He just quit.”

She looked surprised. “Really? That’s not just what we’re saying?”

He chuckled. “No, that’s not just what we’re saying.”

“Ok then.” She continued walking with him. “Where are you going?”

“To lean on Sanders about the education bill if he’s not stuck in the lockdown,” Sam said in a resigned voice. He wasn’t much of a leaner.

“You think he can get Gray, Wolfe and Lorenza?”

“We’ll see. How about you?”

“The Mess.”

He looked at his watch. “It’s almost two. Surely you’ve eaten lunch.”

She smiled innocently. “I need a snack.”

“Of course you do.”

“Eating every three hours keeps your metabolism from slowing down, Sam.”

He chuckled.

“Have you had lunch? You could join me.”

He stopped walking and looked at her wide-eyes. “I have… uh…. Sanders,” he stuttered.

She shrugged. “We can eat in your office.”

Sam shook his head; this was not a good idea. “Did you… is there something going on with the lawsuit?”

She looked at him strangely. “I didn’t mention the lawsuit.”


“I’ll meet you in your office,” she said with a smile before walking away.

He stood looking at her retreating form. Definitely not a good idea.


The sound of his name caught his attention and he turned his head and saw Ginger walking towards him. “Yes?” he asked, looking back towards Ainsley again.

“Congressman Richards is here for a meeting with Amy.”

“What?” he asked, looking back at Ginger.

“Congressman Richards is here. He says he’s meeting with Amy.”

“I thought all of her meetings were on the Hill today.”

She nodded. “There was some miscommunication; probably because of the lockdown. Should I have her assistant reschedule?”

“No,” he said, shaking his head. “She was probably going to try to get him to take the highways road bill for the education bill. I’ll take it.”

“You want me to put him in the Roosevelt Room?”

“Yes,” he said as he started walking towards his office. “Then find Ainsley and tell her I can’t have lunch.” That was for the best anyway.




“He shoots, he scores,” Annabeth said with a smile as she walked into Lester’s office just as he banked a balled up piece of paper off his desk into the trashcan.

“With the right training, I could’ve played in the NBA.”

She grinned. “Instead you decided to get an Ivy League education and change the world.”

He shrugged. “I didn’t make the middle school team; this was my second choice.”

Annabeth sat down in one of the visitors’ chairs in Lester’s office and handed him a packet of information. “This is very sketchy until we know which computer manufacturers are going to be involved.”


Lester leafed uninterestedly through the packet then tossed it onto his desk. “Pretend I know nothing about this and give me the gist of it.”

“Because you know nothing about this and you need me to give you the gist of it?”

He nodded. “Yes, which is not my fault. You were supposed to be meeting with Lou.”

She shook her head and smiled. “It’s fine. We’re trying to get computer manufacturers and businesses to join together to put at least two computers into every inner city elementary school classroom in the country over the next two years.”

“Which is a wonderful idea,” Lester said, sitting forward in his chair. “My problem is that you announce it and the first question I’m going to get is why the 2 billion dollar education bill doesn’t cover this.”

“That is going to be your first question,” Annabeth agreed. “But the bill is specifically for teacher pay and a longer school year.”

“Yes, but that means the next question will be…”

“If computers are needed so badly, why didn’t the bill include money for them?”

“Right.” He put his elbows on his desk. “This is our first major piece of legislation. It can’t look weak.”

“I agree,” Annabeth said. “That’s not what we’re trying to do.”

“Then how do I answer that question?”

“You say that the bill has money allocated for school systems, but where as those systems know their needs better than Washington, they decide how the money’s spent. Which doesn’t mean there isn’t need elsewhere. You push that this administration will do anything in its power to improve education and that we’re grateful to businesses who agree that educating today’s youth is everyone’s job; teachers, students, parents, and community.”

Lester sighed. “If you announce this while we’re still drumming up votes, we’re going to have twenty members of Congress trying to hang computer riders on it. That’s just going to stall it even more.”

Annabeth nodded and paused. “What if we wait? Announce on the heels of the win? We hold a press conference a day after the bill’s signed; say we’re thrilled that this monumental step has been taken to improve education. And now, the first lady’s office is ready to take the next step.”

Lester shook his head. “You can’t take the next step. It means ours wasn’t big enough.”

“Ok. Not ready to take the next step, Ready to… do our part.”

Lester paused. That might work. “Mrs. Santos would have to appear very favorable of the education bill through every step.”

Annabeth nodded. “She is very favorable of the education bill.”

“And you’ll wait until the bill passes?”

She nodded again. “We’re just starting on it ourselves. We’re not ready to announce anything.”

Lester took a deep breath and nodded. “That’ll work. Run the statement by Lou before the first lady gives it.”

“We will. In fact, we might ask Otto to work on it with us.”

“Even better.”

Annabeth stood up and smiled. “See? We’re working together. Isn’t this fun?”

“It’s like a party,” he said with a grin her way as he leaned back in his chair. “I hear you and Donna are getting in on tomorrow’s fun too.”

“We are,” she said with a nod.

“I already called all meetings about UFO’s or aliens.”

“Alien fan, are you?” she asked with a chuckle.

“I’ve seen ‘Independence Day.’ There’s something going on in Area 51 and before we leave office, I intend to find out what it is.”

Annabeth laughed and walked towards the door. “Read the packet from Congresswoman Payne and let me know if you have any questions.”




Sam walked into the Roosevelt Room while skimming the notes Amy took on her meeting with Congressman Richards. There wasn't much to them, but he knew the gist of it. The congressman was against the education bill. What Sam didn’t know was why Amy had scheduled a second meeting unless it was so she could pitch it to him again.

“Congressman Richards,” he said, walking up to the table where the congressman sat. “I’m sorry about the confusion today.”

The congressman stood and shook his hand. “That’s fine, don’t worry about it. I didn’t realize Amy was stuck in the Capitol.”

Sam nodded and sat down, the congressman following suit. “She had meetings scheduled there all day. How’d you manage to escape?”

“Early golf game.”

“I didn’t know you played,” Sam said with a smile. “Maybe we can play a round together some time.”

“I’d like that.”

Sam put the folder down on the table and turned to the congressman. “Congressman, I’m not sure how far you and Amy got on the education bill, but I was hoping we could go over your concerns.”

"Of course," the congressman nodded. “The longer school year is my biggest problem with the bill.”

“You’re aware that the United States has one of the shortest school years in the world?”

“But the best teachers and the most resources. We can get done in nine months what takes others eleven,” the congressman replied.

“Congressman, we’re falling behind in technology, math and science.”

“Kids need a break,” the congressman said, sitting forward in his chair. “I have three of my own and I’m telling you that come mid-May they’re fried. They have plenty of time to be adults; they need to be kids. They need to have a summer.”

“It’s only four more weeks, Congressman.”

The congressman shook his head. “It’s too much.”

“Congressman,” Sam said, sighing deeply. “This is the president’s first major piece of legislation. We need the win; it’ll make the entire party look unified.”

“Amy Gardner and I have been through this, Sam. I’m here to discuss the deal for the road repairs bill.”

Sam’s eyes widened. He thought the congressman had turned that deal down. “You are?”

The congressman nodded. “Yes.”

“Are you… I’m sorry, you’re willing to accept the deal for your vote and the six you carry?”

“I spoke with the others and they’re willing to agree to it. We just need to hash out the details.”

Sam stared at the man for a second. “I’m sorry, I’m a little confused. I was told you turned the deal down. You’re telling me that we can count on all seven votes for the education bill in exchange for our support on the road repairs bill?”

The congressman looked at him strangely. “I’m sorry?”

“The $42 million dollars for the road repairs bill in exchange for the seven votes you hold on the education bill.”

The congressman shook his head and smiled. “I think we’re talking about two different things, Sam. That’s not the deal Amy Gardner offered me.”

“Excuse me?” Sam asked in shock.

“Amy offered support of the road repairs bill in exchange for killing 722 in committee.”

“722?” He paused, trying to remember exactly what 722 was. But it certainly wasn’t the education bill. “Wilcox’s welfare and formula bill?”


Sam was reeling. What was 722 doing mixed up in this? “Let me make sure I understand this, Congressman. Amy offered you the road repairs bill if you killed Wilcox’s bill in committee.”

The congressman nodded as if Sam was just getting to the party. “Yes. Hamilton, Clark and Larimer all sit on Human Resources and have agreed to get it done for us.”

“But…” Sam flipped open the folder he’d walked in with. There was nothing about 722 inside. “That bill will never get out of committee. It’s ludicrous.”

“Amy said you didn’t want it stuck, you wanted it killed.”

Sam looked up and stared at the congressman for several seconds. She’d mentioned it. The week before when he was in Washington she brought it up and he told her they didn’t need to worry about it. His eyes widened as he put it together. She worried about it. “Can you excuse me for a minute, Congressman?”

The congressman smiled. “Do we need to reschedule for when she’s here? It seems like you two aren’t on the same page.”

“No,” Sam said, shaking his head. “That’s not necessary. Just give me one minute.”



Sam tapped on Josh’s door and Josh looked up at him and waved him in, then looked back down at the low income housing report on his desk and signed off on it before handing it to Margaret.

“What’s up?” he asked without looking at Sam. He signed off on the second report, the FDA ruling of the HPV vaccine from a few weeks earlier, and handed it to Margaret as well. He looked up at her then and held up a third, a health department report on HIV in Africa. “I want to look at this one again.” His mind had wandered again and he’d missed a large portion of it the first time.

“You need to mark-up the secretary of agriculture’s report before the end of the day as well.”

“I know,” he said defensively. “You’ve told me three times!”

“You forget things,” Margaret said unapologetically, opening the door to her office.

“Margaret,” Sam said. “Can you hold Josh’s calls for a few minutes?”

She nodded curiously. “Ok.”


Margaret left and shut the door behind her, and Sam shut the door he’d just come through, then walked to the door connecting to the Oval Office and closed that.

“What’s going on?” Josh asked with mild alarm as he watched Sam move around his office.

Sam sat in a chair across from Josh’s desk and folded his hands together. “I have Congressman Richards in the Roosevelt Room.”

“He change his mind?”

“Not exactly.”

Josh looked down at the report. “Not exactly?”

Sam took a deep breath. “The congressman’s here to discuss the deal, but told me that Amy offered him the road repairs bill in exchange for killing 722 in sub-committee.”

Josh looked up. “722 isn’t leaving sub-committee.”

“Apparently she doesn’t want it stalled; she wants it killed.”

“Damn it,” Josh said, slamming a hand down on his desk. This was the last thing he needed. “I told her to hold that deal for campaign reform or the budget.”


“Talk to her. If you don’t want to, I will. She doesn’t decide on the deals being made around here. And take that deal off the table. If he doesn’t want it for the education bill, we’re holding onto it for a while.”

“I don’t think he turned down the deal for the education bill.”

Josh shot him a look. “What?”

“I don’t think she offered him the deal for the education bill,” Sam said slowly.

“Yes she did,” Josh said nodding. “He turned it down.” She’d told him so a week earlier.

“Josh, think about what 722 is and who made the deal.”

Josh stared at him for several seconds while sorting things out in his mind. He wasn’t having the great day he’d anticipated, but not this. Amy wouldn’t…

Of course she did. “That’s the only deal she offered him,” he sighed in a resigned voice. Amy was nothing if not dedicated to her cause.

“That’s my guess.”

Josh stood up and took a deep breath before looking up at Sam. “He’s in the Roosevelt Room?” he asked in a steely tone.

Sam nodded and Josh walked around his desk and threw the door open before walking out into the hallway.



Josh looked into the Roosevelt Room through the glass, taking a deep breath and reminding himself to stay calm. Congressman Richards sat inside at the long table, alone in the room, drinking from a glass of water. Josh pushed the door open and walked inside with Sam right behind him.

The congressman looked over and smiled uneasily, standing up and shaking Josh’s hand. “Josh, it’s good to see you,” he said not quite convincingly.

“You too, Congressman.”

“We miss you on the Hill.”

Josh allowed a small smirk to grace his mouth. “I’m sure you do,” he said sarcastically.

The congressman chuckled, a bit more at ease, and the three of them sat down.

“Congressman,” Josh said, sitting forward in the chair and resting his elbows on the table. “It’s seems there’s been some miscommunication. The deal for the road repairs bill you’d like is in exchange for the votes you carry on the education bill, not for welfare and formula.”

The smile, as fake as it might have been, left the congressman’s face. “Amy and I never discussed that deal.”

Josh closed his eyes briefly, the congressman’s words shredding any last bit of hope he had that this had all been a mistake. He opened them again and looked at the congressman. “That’s the deal, Congressman.”

The congressman’s face turned to anger. “The deal’s been made.”

“It’s off the table,” Josh said without backing down. “You can either take it for the education bill, or not take it at all. It’s up to you.”

The congressman looked down at his lap for several seconds before looking up at Josh with raised eyebrows. “You want 722 on the house floor, Josh? How’s that going to make the administration look?”

“722 is never getting to the floor,” Sam said, speaking for the first time since walking back into the room. “You know that, we know that.”

The congressman half-shrugged. “I’ve got three of the seven members of the subcommittee in my pocket. I only need one more to get it to committee.”

Josh shook his head. Of course the congressman would rather kill a bill that never stood a chance than vote in favor of a bill he didn’t support. His reaction wasn’t a surprise. “Hamilton, Clark and Larimer aren’t going to push a bill through sub-committee that’s going to make them look like they’re against poor working mothers. They’d never make it through their next primary if they did.”

Congressman Richards stared at him, and Josh wondered if he was trying to look intimidating and if so, if he really thought it was going to work. It never had before. Almost a minute passed before the congressman reluctantly nodded. “I’ll discuss it with my guys, but I think we can make it work.”

“You vote plus the other six,” Sam reminded him. “Otherwise, there’s no deal.”

“I understand,” the congressman replied.

“I’ll expect to hear from you tomorrow, Congressman.”

Josh stood up and Sam and the congressman followed. “It was nice to see you again,” he said, reaching his hand out.

The congressman looked at Josh’s hand for a second, then shook it while nodding and smiling slightly. “We don’t really miss you on the Hill, Josh.”

Josh smirked; he’d missed this. “I know.”

The congressman chuckled again and looked at Sam. “I’ll speak with you tomorrow, Sam.”

He turned and started walking towards the door. “Congressman,” Josh said, as the man pulled on the door knob.

He looked back at Josh. “Yes?”

“Amy Gardner never offered you this deal?”

“No,” the congressman replied, shaking his head. “In fact, I offered it to her. She turned me down.”


Josh nodded and watched as the congressman left the room, then looked down at the floor.

“I feel like I should be surprised,” Sam said quietly. “But I’m not.”

“Surprised?” Josh asked incredulously, looking up at him. “We should’ve been expecting it.”

“What are we going to do?”

Josh stared at him for a second before turning sharply and walking to the door. “She’s gone,” he said, pushing it open and walking out into the hallway.



President Santos stared in disbelief at Sam and Josh. “You’re sure?”

“Positive sir,” Sam said.

“And it’s not the first time,” Josh added. “She was fired from being Mrs. Bartlet’s chief of staff for the same reason; choosing her agenda over President Bartlet’s.”

The president took a deep breath. Josh had warned him against hiring Amy, but when he’d been in Hawaii, the president had taken matters into his own hand and officially offered her the position. “What do you think we should do?” he asked Josh.

“I see only one option, Mr. President. I hate to say this, but part of what makes Amy so good at what she does is her devotion to her cause. She’ll choose the same path every time.”

There was a tap on the door and Ronna poked her head inside. “Mike Casper’s here.” She grinned a little and then added, “From the FBI.”

The president nodded slightly. “Send him in.” He turned back to Josh. “You’re going to take care of it?”

Sam took a slight step forward. “I’ll do it sir. I gave her the lead on this bill and I’m her direct superior.”

“And given my previous relationship with her, we don’t want to give her anything to argue,” Josh added.

Mike Casper walked inside and the president looked at Josh and Sam for a second before standing and shaking Mike’s hand. “How’s it going over there?”

Mike smiled. “The lockdown’s over, sir. We found two Glock 21’s in a sanitary receptacle in a ladies room on the second floor of the Cannon Building; and we’ve taken two suspects into custody.”

“Do you suspect any sort of conspiracy?”

“There were no other weapons inside any of the buildings; but we’re not ruling out the possibility of involvement from the outside. We’ll know more when the suspects are questioned.”

“And still no casualties?” the president asked as Josh’s phone rang. Josh stepped to the other side of the room as Mike answered the president.

“No sir, none.”

“Good. You guys did good over there today, Mike,” the president said with a smile.

“That’s what we do, Mr. President. I’ll keep you advised of the situation, sir, and I’ll get the names of the suspects to Lester once we’ve released them.”

The president thanked him and he left as Josh walked back to the president’s desk. “That was Lou. She and Amy are fine.”

“Are they coming in?” Sam asked.

Josh shook his head. “I told them to go home and eat something. I thought it’d be better to take care of this in the morning before the majority of the staff arrives.”

Sam nodded. “That’s wise.”

Josh turned to the president. “We’re all in agreement?”

The president looked at Josh and nodded. “You’re in charge of the staff and they need to listen to you. If Amy can’t do that, then she can’t be a part of the staff.”




Donna looked up from her desk when she heard a knock on her door. “Got a second?” Ainsley asked.

“Sure,” Donna said with a smile, leaning back in her chair. “I could use the break.”

Annabeth walked inside and sat in one of the visitors’ chairs in front of Donna’s desk. “How are the proposals coming?”

Donna held up a packet of information. “The one going to computer manufacturers is done. I sent a copy to language for mark-ups. How did your meeting with Lester go?”

“Well,” Annabeth said, adjusting in her seat and crossing her legs. “They don’t want us to announce until the bill is signed. We can use that as our jumping off point.”

“Good,” Donna said with a sigh as she stretched. “Mrs. Santos is adamant that we stick with the west wing on this and I agree. They’re the elected ones; it’s not our place to overshadow them.”

“We’ll come off better to the public that way too,” Annabeth said.

“Lou told me the same thing.”

“She’s right,” Annabeth said. “Mrs. Santos… was it me or did she seem reluctant to get involved with this?”

“She’s just nervous,” Donna said confidently. “Both the HPV vaccine and the American Red Cross help consisted of little more than a public appearance and a few statements from her. We took care of everything else. This is going to require involvement on a real level and she’s used to standing on the sidelines.”

Annabeth nodded. “We can ease her into it.”

“I set up a meeting between her and Congresswoman Payne. The congresswoman’s very enthusiastic about this; I think that’ll wear off on Mrs. Santos.”

“Good,” Annabeth said, standing up. She turned to leave and then turned back to Donna. “I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” she said quietly.

“Good,” Donna said with a soft smile. “It means a lot to Josh to do this for Leo. He really misses him.”

Annabeth nodded slowly. “So do I.”




He walked into his office and over to the bookshelf lining the walls, putting his hands on a shelf leaning into it. His fingers gripped the shelf and he shook his head. Amy played him for a fool. And he was so… disoriented in this job that he’d let her without even putting up a fight. It was the president’s most important piece of legislation, the one that would put him on the map, and he’d let Amy take the lead on it when he should’ve been there every step of the way.

He stood upright and walked to his desk, sitting down and moving the uneaten salad Ainsley had left him to the corner of the desk. He had to thank Amy really; she’d given him the wake-up call he needed. He was no longer a junior partner at the law firm and he was no longer the speech writer answering to Toby. He was Josh’s right hand man, and so far, he’d been lacking. They’d been in danger of losing the education bill because Sam had left it to Amy. And in the end, it was Josh who saved it. That should’ve been Sam, and he’d been tempted to tell Josh that before he’d stormed into the Roosevelt Room. But he hadn’t, because how was Josh supposed to trust that Sam could get it done when he’d already failed at it once?

But all that was ending. His staff would be run by him, they wouldn’t run him. And he would have his pulse on every bit of legislation that went through the west wing. That was his job. The Hill was his domain; Josh had ambassadors, foreign dignitaries, wars and peace keeping missions, not to mention a president to deal with.

He heard a sound and looked up at Ainsley eating popcorn out of a microwave bag. In spite of himself, in spite of his mood or what he was going to do in the morning, he felt the corners of his mouth move into a small smile.

“You didn’t eat your salad,” Ainsley said, walking inside.

He looked over at it and then back at Ainsley. “I just got back here, believe it or not.”

“It’s probably bad by now,” she said, holding out the popcorn bag for him to take some. He pulled a handful out and she sat down across from him. “I rescheduled the meeting with Gary McKenzie for next Tuesday.”

He looked up at her. “I don’t know if I can go to Washington next week. It depends on the education bill.” The lawsuit was going to have to come second; he was only there for political issues anyway.

“I thought Amy was heading that up.”

“She was. I’m firing her tomorrow.”

Ainsley’s eyes registered shock. “You are?”

He nodded. “It shouldn’t be a thing, but she and Josh dated years ago. It might come up.”

“You have reason to terminate?”


“Does the president know?”


“Ok,” she said nodding. “Josh should not be there when you fire her. If he even smiled…”

“He won’t be.”

“I’ll call Gary McKenzie and tell him we need to meet here about the lawsuit. It might delay it another week.”

“That’s fine. Thanks.”

She nodded and held the popcorn bag out for him again. He looked at the bag and then at her, not saying anything.


He leaned his head back and closed his eyes. “Lauren wants to set a date for the wedding,” he said quietly.

“Oh, I…” She took a deep breath. “When did you decide?”

“We haven’t…”

“Oh.” The room went silent before Ainsley spoke again. “Why did you tell me that?”

He lifted his head, looking at the popcorn bag and then at her, staring at her for several seconds before speaking quietly. “Because you and I shouldn’t be sharing popcorn.”




She watched the city pass by out the window of the car as they silently drove through town towards Georgetown. He wasn’t saying anything, and she could tell by the arms wrapped around her that he hadn’t moved an inch since they’d gotten in the car and he’d pulled her against his chest without a word.

She shifted and his arms tightened, not uncomfortably so, but not light and playful like he’d been that morning. This was a completely different Josh. “Everything alright?” she asked quietly, her back to him.

He didn’t answer right away and she thought maybe he hadn’t heard her, he was so far away. But then he turned his head slightly, his cheek against her hair, and she thought again how different he was from that morning. “We got the votes for the education bill,” he mumbled.

She smiled; that was good news. And it meant she needed to get moving on support for the computers in inner city classrooms project if they were going to announce it when the president signed the bill. “That’s good, right?”

“Yeah,” he whispered in a way that didn’t make it sound good at all.

His hands rested on her stomach and she put hers on top of them. “That was the president’s number one campaign promise. And passing it four months in? That’s great.”

He nodded, although she barely felt it, and she knew there was something that had dampened this great day he’d been determined to have.

“Sam’s firing Amy tomorrow,” he said out of nowhere, his voice sounding miles away.

Her eyes widened and she turned her head the slightest bit to look at him. He was staring blindly out the window, and silence filled the car again as she searched for something to say. “Are you ok with that?” she finally asked him.

He nodded again, not saying anything and not turning from the window.

She stroked the hand under hers slowly, and leaned back into him even more, tilting her head to see him a bit better. “It’s ok to be upset, you know,” she nearly whispered. “The two of you have a history. It’s…”

“I’m not upset,” he said slightly louder before looking at her. “I’m pissed off. She almost cost us the education bill.”


He turned his head slightly and kissed her temple. “I’m not upset about Amy,” he said in the soft voice again.

She turned her head back to the front. “You’re upset about something.”

He shook his head and buried his nose in her neck, taking deep breaths and laying the occasional light kiss on her shoulder. She closed her eyes and let his breath on her neck relax her as the car drove through Georgetown; he’d discuss whatever it was when he was ready. A few minutes of silence passed before she felt his body becoming less tense and his breathing evening out, and she smiled slightly, linking their fingers together.

“I was worried about you this morning,” came out as nothing more than a breath.

Her eyes opened; of course that was it. She should’ve known. “I know,” she whispered.

His hold on her tightened. “I was so worried.”


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