Spoilers: Sports Night, entire series; West Wing, seasons one through three.|
Disclaimer: The Sork owns all the characters mentioned herein. Dammit.
Summary: Character neuroses explode when two worlds collide; hijinks ensue. This takes place after Bartlet accepts the Congressional censure, and during the re-election campaign.
Ryo says: Big ups to Sary, who rocks beyond all measure of ... uh, rockage? :) Also many, many thanks to Jo, Morgan, Philateley and Meg, all of whom read and commented on this over the years. (Sadly, that's not an exaggeration; it really has been years. ::g::)
Sary adds: And thanks to Ryo for not scratching out her eyes (or mine) during the months this thing was finished but for the "quick once-over" I wanted to give it!
What Kind of Crossover Has It Been?
"Dana, we need helium balloons," Natalie argued, scampering down the hallway behind Dana.
"It's his 65th birthday, Dana. The man deserves helium."
"I'm not comfortable with helium," Dana admitted as they reached her office.
"You're not comfortable with helium?"
"Have you had a traumatic experience involving helium?" Natalie pressed, her expression wavering between amusement and skepticism.
"I don't like the way it makes people sound."
Casey popped his head in the door. "Hey."
Dana waved him in. "Back me up about the helium balloons, Casey."
"Sure," he nodded. "We should definitely have helium balloons."
"Thank you." Natalie grinned
Dana glared. "Wrong side."
"Sorry," Casey shrugged, looking anything but sorry.
"Did you need something, Casey?"
"Is the President coming to Isaac's party?"
Dana stared at Casey for a long moment, and then started laughing. "Excuse me?"
"Is the President --?"
"I heard you the first time," she interrupted, still snickering. "It's not possible you're referring to the President of CSC?"
"So you're talking about the actual President?" Dana asked.
"Yes, Dana. You know, with the flags and the secret service agents and everything."
"No, Casey, the President is not coming to the party. What gave you such a bone-headed idea, anyway?"
Casey shrugged. "I've been hearing some things."
"About the President coming to Isaac's party?"
Natalie lifted one hand. "I've heard it, too."
"The President is not coming to Isaac's party," Dana stated unequivocally, reaching over to answer her ringing phone. "Hello?"
Casey turned to Natalie. "You heard it too?"
"Yup," she nodded. "Kim said someone from Anthony's called to confirm the exact times. Something about a security check."
Neither Casey nor Natalie noticed Dana as she sank onto the edge of her desk. "Of course I know who you are."
Casey's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Danny heard something from one of his friends at the DNC."
Behind him, Dana nodded slowly. "I look forward to it, Ms. Cregg. Thank you." She dropped the phone into its cradle and turned her unfocused gaze in the general direction of Casey and Natalie. "Hey, guys?"
"Yeah," they said, glancing over at her.
"I was absolutely right earlier when I said the President won't be attending Isaac's party, except that the President will be attending Isaac's party."
CJ Cregg dropped the phone back into its cradle, unsure whether to be excited or annoyed about the approaching New York trip.
"It's a long way," she told Carol.
"To New York?"
"It's a long way to New York."
Carol shrugged. "Not too long."
"It's longer than my trip home."
Carol laughed, and CJ left her behind as she headed for Toby's office. She found him staring in disbelief at a familiar pink piece of memo paper.
"Did I wake up in an alternate universe?" Toby demanded.
"Did I wake up only to find that I've slipped through a crack into another dimension?"
"It's not that bizarre."
"We've been given an executive order to attend a birthday party."
"For someone of whom we have never heard."
"A birthday party, CJ."
"The man is an old friend of Leo's and the President's."
CJ waved a hand. "The one with the birthday."
"What's his name?"
"How old is he?"
"He'll be 65 on Tuesday."
"And he's having a party."
"And the President is going."
"And we fit into the picture ... how exactly?"
CJ shrugged again. "Well." She cleared her throat. "We're being punished."
"For forgetting a date."
CJ cleared her throat again and ran a hand through her hair. "Do you know what we missed?"
"The boat to France?"
Toby's eyes widened, and he groaned. "We missed his birthday?"
CJ nodded. "We forgot our President's birthday."
Toby sighed deeply.
"Our plane leaves at six on Friday," CJ added after a minute, and she left his office.
"Why is your mouth hanging open?" Jeremy asked, entering the control room.
Natalie ignored him, still staring at Dana. "Thirteen people?"
"Yes," Dana nodded. "Show me forty-seven."
"Forty-seven," Will echoed, flashing the requested graphic onto the monitor.
Jeremy raised an eyebrow. "We've established that thirteen people are involved, now if we could just explain what they are involved in, I'd be less likely to draw possibly erroneous conclusions from the number thirteen, which historically --"
Natalie ignored him. "There are thirteen people coming?"
Exasperated, Dana turned to Natalie. "Actually, there are about seventy-five people coming, Natalie. There are thirteen people coming from the White House."
Jeremy shifted his attention to Dana. "The rumor's true?"
Her mouth tightened. "Yes."
"The President's coming to Isaac's party?"
"Yes. Along with twelve other people, which, of course, adds up to --"
"Thirteen people," Jeremy finished. "There are thirteen people coming from the White House?"
Dana dropped her head into her hands. "Would it be possible not to talk in circles? I'm trying to run my show."
Jeremy stared into the middle distance. "Are the other twelve secret service agents? That doesn't seem like enough for an event of this size --"
Dana silenced him with a glare. "There are thirteen people attending the party from the White House: the President, the First Lady, the First Daughter and her boyfriend, the Chief of Staff, the Deputy Chief of Staff, the Press Secretary, the Communications Director --" Dana stopped and quickly added up the people she'd listed. Then she shrugged. "And some others. These are the people who are attending the party. The secret service agents are not included in the tally because they won't be, you know, drinking and eating and merry-making. They'll be ... doing whatever it is that secret service agents do."
Natalie looked at her for a long moment, then smirked. "Merry-making?"
Dana cast a desperate glance to her right. "Kim?"
"Sixty seconds live," Kim answered, smiling.
"Thank you." Dana leaned into the microphone. "Guys, you're all set?"
On the monitor, Casey grinned and nodded. "No problem. Hey, what's this about thirteen people?"
"Thirteen people," Josh growled.
"Get over it," Donna said.
"Thirteen people are being forced to attend this -- this thing tomorrow."
"Get over it," she repeated.
"I will not get over it! Thirteen people."
Donna at last looked up from the book she was reading. "What is it that you find unfathomable about the number 13?"
"It's a birthday party, Donna! It's a 65th birthday celebration for a guy we've never heard of, who can offer us no political weight, no significant upside, no, you know --"
"-- favorable angle to convince me it's a good idea that we all attend his party."
"Maybe next year you should circle the President's birthday on your little calendar."
"Isn't that your job?"
"Isn't my job to circle the President's birthday on your --?"
"To remind me of important dates? You're my assistant, aren't you?"
"But in this case?"
"I decided it was your responsibility."
Donna put down her book completely. "It's New York, Josh. It's the weekend. It's a party with the Sports Night guys. What's the problem?"
"It's, you know ... it's my weekend."
Donna walked a couple of steps from the sofa and sat down opposite Josh's desk. "What did you have planned?"
"Nothing. I had nothing planned. That was the beauty of it!"
"And instead of doing nothing, you're being forced to wine and dine with an interesting and eloquent assembly of people in what is quite possibly the most beautiful city in the world."
Josh blinked. "Whoa, that sounds way better when you say it."
Donna nodded and turned away. "And you're taking me with you."
"Bet your ass. If I have to go, you have to go."
"What a bummer." Donna was grinning.
"Leave now," Josh added. "Pack or something."
"My stuff or yours?" Donna asked sarcastically as she disappeared from sight.
"Still, thirteen people!" he shouted after her.
"Get over it!" she shouted back.
"Did you get a cake?"
Natalie looked up from her clipboard. "Excuse me?"
"A cake," Danny repeated. "For the thing."
Natalie gave him a strange look. "You're referring to Isaac's 65th birthday party which is being attended by the President of the United States as 'the thing?'"
"I'm merely making sure someone remembered to pick up a cake for tomorrow," Dan shrugged.
"Danny, there are 75 people attending this party," Natalie said, crossing her arms over her clipboard.
"Including the President."
"So I've been told."
"You really think we're going to pick up a sheet cake at the grocery store?"
Danny stared at her for a moment. "Fair point. Is this thing catered?"
Natalie shook her head, grinning. "I can't understand why Dana turned down your offer to help to plan this party, Danny."
"I can plan a party," Danny answered defensively. "In fact, I can throw one hell of a shindig. Remember Halloween?"
"Honestly? Me, neither," Danny grinned. "Great party."
"Because you don't remember it?"
"Okay, but you understand that tomorrow isn't that kind of party, right?"
"You're not going to ask the bartender to make you some collegiate jock drink?"
"I'm just saying, the First Lady's going to be there."
Danny's eyes narrowed. "Your point?"
Natalie shrugged. "You have a thing for political women."
Danny's jaw dropped. "I do not!"
"You really do," Natalie said, catching Eliot's eye. "Hey, Eliot -- do you have the tape on the Bruins?"
"Got it," Eliot nodded.
"Wait a second," Danny grabbed Natalie's arm as she started off towards the edit bay. "I do not have a thing for political women."
"Which is why you always refer to the First Lady as 'the lovely and talented Dr. Abigail Bartlet.'"
"Well," Danny shrugged, "the woman is undeniably both."
Natalie nodded and headed for Eliot. "As long as you don't get all liquored up at the party and decide to tell her so," she tossed over her shoulder.
"Don't you think this a little excessive?" Leo stood squarely in the center of the seal in the carpet and argued with the President.
"No," Bartlet answered with a small grin.
"Thirteen people --"
"Are going to attend a party, Leo. What's the problem?"
Leo rolled his eyes. "Well, Mr. President, aside from the fact that you, me, and Abbey are the only people who even know Isaac and the thing we're crashing is his 65th birthday celebration, taking all these people to New York for a party is --"
"Oh, come on, Leo. We're going to New York for the economic summit, plus about a dozen other things."
Leo gave his old friend a piercing look. "And the fact that this party was the same weekend as the summit had nothing to do with your sudden decision to attend, I'm sure."
"They're going to discuss Keynes in minute detail, Leo," the President smiled, his eyes sparkling with excitement. "A whole bunch of Keynesian economics professors in a room, discussing the implications of --"
"Oh, for the love of God," Leo interrupted. "Do we have to bring the assistants?"
"Because I said so."
"Because they forgot your birthday too?"
"Do I need to point out that I remembered your birthday, and yet you're still making me attend?"
Bartlet snorted. "Making you attend? Leo, you like Isaac Jaffee."
"Still. Because they forgot your birthday?"
"It's not like there weren't notices in every major paper, Leo. Plus a whole hour-long retrospective on CNN. Did you realize that my childhood in New Hampshire was sheltered and idyllic?"
"Who runs things around here?" Bartlet asked.
Leo raised an eyebrow. "Considering where we're standing right now, I'm guessing 'me' isn't the correct answer."
"The assistants run things?" Leo repeated doubtfully.
"No, they don't."
"What would you do without Margaret?"
"Poorly," Bartlet grinned.
Leo glowered back. "Sir --"
"Think about it: Josh without Donna? Toby without Ginger and Bonnie?"
Leo stared at the President for a long moment before giving a grudging nod. "Kathy runs Sam's office."
"Exactly. So if the Senior Staff managed to completely miss my birthday --"
"You're saying the Junior Staff should have reminded them, and so now they're roped into the party too," Leo said.
Bartlet gave him a big grin. "Precisely."
"This doesn't strike you at all as Machiavellian?"
"I'm whimsical," the President countered.
Leo headed for his office, muttering, "That's one word for it."
"I heard that!"
"Agh!" Dana shrieked and jumped a mile. Casey studied her from the doorway.
"'Kay," he said.
"Hey," Casey repeated, suppressing a grin.
"What do you need?" Dana demanded.
"Why would you suspect something was up?"
"Dana, I said your name and you all but put a hole in the ceiling."
Dana blew a lock of hair out of her face and surveyed Casey. "So?"
Casey raised his hands. "Dana."
"I know," she groaned, sinking deeper into her desk chair. Casey crossed the threshold and perched on the edge of the sofa.
"What's up?" he repeated.
"I'm a little bit nervous."
"About the President?"
"And his people, yeah."
Casey grinned. "His people?"
Dana waved a hand carelessly. "His 12, whatever, staff members. I'm a little bit nervous."
"Don't be," Casey suggested.
"What are you afraid of?"
"No, seriously, Dana, what are you afraid of? Do you think you're going to embarrass yourself in front of the President?"
"And his people."
"I might trip," Dana said.
"You won't trip."
"I might. Also, there's no telling what might happen if I have a couple of drinks."
"I'll be too nervous if I don't."
Casey laughed aloud this time. "Dana."
"And Dan," Dana rambled on, oblivious to Casey's amusement. "Dan and Abbey Bartlet in the same room --"
"Natalie's got Dan covered," Casey said.
"She's going to set him up with someone on the White House staff."
"Oh, God," Dana said in terror.
"Hey, if it keeps the First Lady from harm, Dana --"
"Doesn't she have the Secret Service for that?"
"Then what are you afraid of?" Casey challenged.
"I might spill something on myself," Dana said. "I might spill something on somebody else. You might spill something on me! You might spill something on somebody else! Or on yourself!"
"I won't spill anything on anyone. You won't spill anything on anyone."
"You don't know, Casey! Those things just happen!"
"And surely the President knows that."
"Maybe we should cancel this."
Casey laughed. "Dana."
"Seriously. Maybe we should cancel the party."
"Absolutely," Casey said. "Because what we want to do is call the President of the United States and tell him the party's off because one of the producers of Isaac's show can't handle -- or, apparently, balance -- her liquor."
Dana groaned. "It's six," she said.
"They're getting on the plane right now."
"When will they be here?"
"They're going to check into their hotel, and they've got some ... political, I don't know, thing to attend to ..."
"Did they give you a time?"
"They didn't give me anything, Casey. I haven't spoken with these people. I don't know them. I'm not chummy with the President's, you know, people ..."
"Isaac says they'll get here when they get here and I should stop worrying about it."
Casey nodded. "That's what you should do."
Dana nodded. "That is absolutely what I should do."
"I should sit back."
"Do the show."
"Except, no." Dana dropped her head onto her arms.
Sam glared hatefully at the pages in front of him, wallowing in his sudden and stunning inability to write.
"Nothing?" Toby demanded, dropping into the plush seat beside Sam.
"Nothing," Sam confirmed.
"You realize the speech is in exactly seventeen hours, correct?"
Sam turned his glare towards his boss. "You know what really helps writer's block, Toby? Additional pressure." He purposefully trained his gaze out the small round window.
"You're not going to have time later tonight is all I'm saying."
"I'm aware of that," Sam muttered.
"And since this flight is a solid hour of writing time --"
"I'm aware of that, too."
"Did Kathy get you the figures?"
Toby glanced around, belatedly noticing the absence of the female staffers. "And then she grabbed her parachute and headed for Delaware?"
Sam snorted. "She and the other Angels are currently discussing who's cooler: Dan or Casey."
Toby rolled his eyes. "And the consensus so far?"
"Who cares?" Sam grumbled. "I can't write."
"Yes, you can."
Sam glanced at Toby, surprised. "Excuse me?"
"You can write," Toby repeated. "No one said you could write well."
"Thanks for the pep talk, Toby."
Toby stood, prepared to seek out less grumpy coworkers.
"Yes?" Toby asked.
"What if I do something stupid tonight?"
"You do something stupid virtually every night, Sam, why would tonight be any different?"
Sam shook his head. "Why am I even asking Toby this?"
"Are you addressing your imaginary friend?" Toby asked. "Because that would definitely be something stupid you could do tonight."
"I was addressing myself."
"Sam, what is your problem? It's a birthday party."
"It starts at midnight, Toby. What kind of a birthday party starts at midnight?"
"This kind, apparently," Toby replied with a careless shrug. "They've got the show from eleven to midnight."
"They're TV people, Toby."
"TV people," Sam repeated.
"You said that."
Sam glanced away from Toby's impatient gaze and mumbled. "TV people make me nervous."
"I said, TV --"
"I heard you."
"So why did you --?"
"Sam, you're on TV twice a week; TV people make you nervous?"
"That's not real TV."
"Larry King would be surprised to hear that."
"I'm saying, that's political TV. It's a bunch of talking heads and policy wonks discussing the minutiae of the latest bills on Capitol Hill." Sam shrugged helplessly. "This is sports."
Toby stared at him for a moment. "Please tell me you don't have some sort of adolescent hero worship thing --"
"Casey McCall interviewed Shaquille O'Neal!"
"Shaquille O'Neal, Toby!"
"And you speak to heads of state daily and influence policy decisions made by the leader of the free world. You're going to be intimidated by sportscasters?"
"I'm just saying, Toby, I don't want to get all flustered and mess up Pedro Martinez's ERA while in the company of Casey McCall and Dan Rydell."
Toby sighed, hands on his hips. "Look, Sam, if you get, you know, flustered talking about sports, just change the subject to politics. Start in on hate crimes or the equal rights amendment; I'm sure that'll intimidate the hell out of them."
Sam looked up at his boss, his familiar grin appearing. "That's a good idea!"
"I've been known to have one or two."
"I mean, that's a really good idea!"
"I'm feeling much less anxious."
"Could you possibly then write the damn speech?" Toby demanded.
Sam grinned at him beatifically. "I think I can."
"I can't tell you how much I dislike these little talks we have, Sam."
"Me, too, Toby." Sam answered absently, turning his attention to the speech.
"They can't," Dana insisted.
"They really can."
Dan, Will, Kim, and Dave slumped into their seats, anticipating a long run-down meeting.
"Dana," Casey interjected. "Can we --?"
"No, Casey, we can't because they can't," Dana declared.
Jeremy held up a hand. "Guys?"
Dana shifted her attention to Jeremy. "They can't."
"Dana, you understand this is the President you're talking about, right?"
"Okay," Dan said, "someone within reach please smack Dana and see if we can get her needle out of that groove."
"Danny, there is no way on God's green earth we can do the show with the President watching from the control room."
"And his people," Natalie added. "Also, I didn't get the impression it was a request for permission to watch the show."
Dana turned to Natalie. "Then what was it?"
"He's the President, Dana. I don't think people usually tell him no."
"Maybe they should. Maybe someone needs to stand up to the President and say, hey, you're not the most important person in the world, so maybe you should ask permission to watch my show which, by the way, you will not be granted."
"Actually," Jeremy noted, "he is the most important person in the world."
"Traitor," Dana growled. "And have you seen the control room?"
"Does it look like a place that we should receive the President in?"
"In which we should --"
"There's no way that thirteen extra people can fit in the control room," Dana said with a decisive shake of her head. "They can't."
"You're right," Jeremy said while Natalie made a sharp gesture to the rest of the staff.
Dana turned to Natalie. "Really?"
"Sure," Natalie grinned. "Is that it?"
Dana stared at her clipboard for a moment. "I want to go over the forty block, but let's take five."
"Great," Natalie said.
Flustered, Dana rose and exited the room. The rest of the staff turned interested looks towards Natalie.
Natalie nodded. "The President and his people are going to watch the show from the control room."
"Uh-uh. Definitely Casey."
CJ, Margaret, Donna, Carol, Bonnie, Ginger, Kathy, and Zoey surveyed one another skeptically.
"Dan is definitely cooler," Donna said, glancing occasionally at the notes she was making for Josh about the event this evening.
"Casey," CJ said. "It's got to be Casey."
"Just out of curiosity, are any of you actually supposed to be doing things right now?" Zoey asked them.
"We're on a plane," CJ said.
"So I think the pilot pretty much has it under control." The others laughed a little.
"You don't have to keep the press in line?"
CJ finished a drink of water and grinned devilishly. "No press," she said.
"Not on this flight. Of course there'll be coverage of the event, but it's a local event and doesn't warrant the kind of full-force media madhouse that would have been thrown into action regarding the birthday party if my pressroom weren't afraid of me."
"You threatened the press?" Margaret asked.
"If they want us, they've got to catch us," CJ grinned as her cell phone rang. She stepped away from the group to answer it.
"What about the rest of you?" Zoey asked.
"Do we have work to do?"
"Who do you think is cooler?"
"Dan. What's your vote?"
"Casey," Zoey said, and grinned as Charlie rolled his eyes in passing and continued on his way.
"You know what this means," Carol said after a moment.
"What what means?"
"Our votes mean absolutely nothing," Bonnie explained.
"No," Carol said. "They mean we're tied."
"On who's cooler. We're tied."
"Well, that's certainly a threat to national security," Donna said absently.
"We're not technically finished voting yet," Zoey said.
"What do you mean?"
"There's somebody we haven't asked yet," Zoey said.
"Who'd we miss?"
"We haven't asked mom yet." Zoey grinned. She was about to say more when CJ stepped back into the room.
"What is it?" Carol asked.
"They, uh --" CJ cleared her throat. "They caught us."
"And with one graceful swing, Jeannie Warden and the Fort Worth Wranglers brought the Ruidoso Rattlers to their... well, to whatever the amphibian equivalent of knees would be. You're watching Sports Night on CSC, so stick around."
"Sixty seconds back," Kim noted.
Dana leaned into the microphone. "The amphibian equivalent of knees?"
Dan gave a careless shrug. "I'm not up on my zoology."
Casey grinned at his partner. "Zoology?"
"The study of animals."
In the control room, Dana rolled her eyes. "You guys are okay filling with women's softball?"
Beside her, Natalie glanced back at the window, paled, and said, "Dana."
"Guys?" Dana persisted. "I need to know if you can stretch sixty seconds. We're short."
"I think we can handle it," Casey answered.
Natalie yanked on Dana's arm. "Dana!"
"One second," Dana muttered, her attention still on Casey. "'Cause last time --"
"Dana, we're fine," Dan insisted.
"I'm just saying, a forty second digression into the etymology of the word 'run?'"
"Hey," Casey argued, "that was an interesting fill, Dana. Just because --"
"Dana!" Natalie pointed futilely at the plate glass window just behind Dana. The rest of the staff glanced back and froze in varying positions of muted horror.
Kim sounded a little rattled when she said, "Fifteen seconds back."
Oblivious, Dana goaded Casey. "It was a terrible fill, Casey. You put the audience to sleep. Or maybe," she added gleefully, "they ran away from their TVs. Get it? They ran away?"
Natalie slammed her hand down over the microphone. "Dana!"
"Hey, I thought that was kind of funny," Dana protested.
Natalie tilted her head towards the hallway. "Dana --"
"Natalie," Dana interrupted with an incredulous look, "really, maybe you should take a walk or something."
"Well, I don't think the secret service agents would want me that close to the President."
Dana froze, wide-eyed. "The President?" she whispered.
"Five seconds," Kim warned.
Natalie held Dana's gaze and nodded. "He's in the hallway."
Slowly, Dana swiveled in her chair.
Out in the hallway, President Bartlet gave her a cheerful wave as, on the monitor, Dan said, "Welcome back. Speaking of women's softball, Casey, why exactly do we call it softball, anyway?"
"See, the thing to do would be to run."
Casey rolled his eyes and considered tuning Dan out entirely.
"As soon as the show comes down. What do you say? We haul ass back to our office and pretend we didn't see them."
"Pretend we didn't see them."
"Pretend we didn't see the fifteen White House staffers and their swarm of armed security who are wandering around the building."
Dan's gaze was resolute. "Right."
"We ignore them."
"Danny, one of them is standing right beside you."
Dan looked to his right, where a secret service agent gazed dispassionately at him. He turned back to face an amused Casey.
"We walk, then."
"Nonchalant. We're cool. We're smooth."
Casey raised his hands. "Why are we trying to escape Isaac's guests?"
"Because one of Isaac's guests is Toby Ziegler."
"So I have to avoid Toby Ziegler."
"Do you know Toby Ziegler?"
Dan shook his head frantically. "No, and I never shall."
"I'm serious, Casey. He's from another world."
"What are you talking about?"
"He is a writer from beyond this galaxy, Case."
"Danny, you've turned a corner."
"Haven't you ever heard the President deliver a speech?"
Casey shrugged. "I'm sure I have."
Dan nodded. "And didn't you, at that point, consider the people who wrote that speech?"
"It wasn't the first thing that sprung to my mind."
Dan sighed in exasperation. "How can you be a writer and not think about these things?"
"What's got you so freaked out about Toby Ziegler?"
"He writes the President's speeches!"
"And they're good!"
Casey laughed. "You're a very good writer, Danny."
"I write sports, Casey!"
"Yeah, and Ziegler writes politics. What's the problem?"
"The problem is ... he writes the President's speeches!"
"In three ... two ..."
Casey spoke into the camera. "We'll have more for you in the coming weeks on Dollar Bill and the road to Kentucky. Dan?"
"We're going to take a breather, but don't go far, because the minute we get back, we're gonna take you ice fishing with the staggering athletes of Nebraska. You're watching Sports Night on CSC, so stick around."
"Two minutes back."
"You could write the President's speeches if you had to," Casey said.
"You think so?"
Dan sighed, long and deep, and continued to glance furtively at the secret service agent to his right.
"Look at all this space," Bonnie said.
Ginger nodded, glancing around the Sports Night offices. "I bet they don't crash into each other in the hallways."
Donna joined the discussion. "Well, to be fair, they're probably not running around with quite the same urgency. It's a sports show."
"Shush!" Carol shushed her. "What if someone hears you?"
Donna indicated the empty newsroom with a sweeping gesture. "They're all doing, you know, TV things right now."
"I wonder which office is Casey's," Carol said.
"Look," Ginger grinned, pointing out a 'Bartlet for America' sticker on someone's computer monitor. The women shared amused looks.
A secret service agent by the window watched them with an utter lack of curiosity.
"We really shouldn't snoop," Bonnie commented, as she took a couple steps further into the room. "This frosted glass is just fabulous."
"Yes," Ginger agreed, quickly joining her to peer into the dimly lit office. "Is that Rocky?"
"That gigantic poster straight ahead," Ginger said. "That's Rocky, right?"
"Like, the movie?" Donna asked, wandering towards the desks grouped together in fours. "See, this is a much more efficient use of space."
"Did you think I wouldn't recognize a gigantic cartoon squirrel?" Ginger asked.
Donna glanced up, startled. "What?"
"Rocky," Ginger explained with a wave of her hand. "I meant the movie."
"That's De Niro in Raging Bull." Carol walked around to the opposite side of the desks and met Donna's gaze. "We'd be, you know, in each other's faces all day. I like our bullpens."
"Easy for you to say," Donna noted, "you don't work in our bullpens."
Carol grinned. "Still."
"Our bullpens are too dark," Ginger opined from her spot by Dan and Casey's office. "Look at that skyline!"
"It's gorgeous," Donna nodded.
"We have the Monuments," Bonnie argued, crossing to look out over the city. "Our view is much prettier."
"I wonder if they have a T-3," Carol mumbled. "I bet they have an amazing network."
"We don't have a view," Donna pointed out. "We have to go into our bosses' offices to see anything."
"You know how much faster our research could go if we had a decent network?" Carol continued, oblivious. "You'd think the White House would have a decent intranet, but you'd be wrong."
Kathy grinned and approached a desk. "Look! A magic eight ball!"
"Mr. President," Isaac greeted as he rounded the corner. He glanced briefly at the secret service agents. "I didn't think you'd be here."
Jed Bartlet put on his best offended face. "You thought I'd skip your 65th birthday party, Isaac?"
"No, I just didn't think Dana would actually call you."
Bartlet frowned. "You didn't think maybe I would have pressing matters to attend to?"
"Nah, not really." Isaac watched, amused, as Bartlet worked himself into a little tizzy.
"I have a conference this weekend, Isaac. Keynesian Economics! Do you understand the futures market as it relates to --?"
Isaac rolled his eyes. "You are such a blowhard, Jed." He stopped himself, his smile fading. "I apologize, sir."
Bartlet gave an exasperated sigh. "For using my name, Isaac? Too few people dare, these days. I'm almost startled to hear it."
"What about Abbey?"
"Well, she prefers terms of endearment."
Isaac looked skeptical. "Since when?"
"Perhaps 'nicknames' would be more accurate," Bartlet said, grinning a little.
"Ah," Isaac nodded sagely. "She's still fond of 'jackass?'"
"Frequency of use would suggest."
Isaac glanced around, finding Abbey deep in conversation with Dave and Natalie. "She's a smart cookie, that one."
"Hey," Bartlet protested. "Think about who you're insulting."
Isaac made a dismissive gesture. "Please. I fished your soggy ass out of Lake Winnepesaukee."
"I was swimming," Bartlet protested.
"You were drowning."
"Your arms were flailing around, you were sinking, and your little floatie things --"
"It was a life jacket."
"Sure it was, sir."
"I was fourteen years old. I was not wearing 'little floatie things.'"
Isaac shrugged. "Okay, sir. But you realize that I have photographic evidence at my disposal, right?"
Bartlet grinned. "Sports Night. The National Enquirer. Who can tell these days?"
The corner of Isaac's lips twitched in amusement, even as he attempted to glare at his old friend. "Bartlet. Reagan. Who can --?"
Bartlet gasped. "You wouldn't dare!"
"Your social policies sometimes border on --"
"I'm battling an opposition Congress! And furthermore --"
"Please," Isaac scoffed. "So was Kennedy."
"Boys," Abbey interrupting, suddenly beside them. "What are you arguing about?"
They began talking at the same time, pointing at each other for emphasis.
Abbey just rolled her eyes. "No political discussions. This is a birthday party."
Bartlet grinned. "Well, technically, this is a hallway."
"Jackass," Abbey muttered, one eyebrow lifted.
"See what I mean?" Bartlet asked Isaac.
"Isaac," Abbey said, holding out her hand. "Shall we get this party started?"
"Absolutely," Isaac answered.
Abbey favored him with a smile. Then she glanced over at her husband and suddenly she was smirking. "Why don't you round up the staff, Jed. Isaac and I are going to go dance."
Isaac laughed and followed Abbey towards the elevators.
Dana stood, impatiently tapping her fingers on the bar. Jack blithely ignored her until she grabbed a lemon wedge and tossed it at his head. "Dana," he warned.
"Hit me again," she said, giving him her best harmless smile.
"I need another one!" she insisted.
He leaned towards her and lowered his voice, "The President is in my bar, and I do not need you to end up dancing on the tables."
"Still with the dancing?"
"That was one time, Jack!" she protested.
"Jack, he brought fifteen people!" she said, her voice tinged with disbelief.
"Yeah?" Jack shrugged, working on a whiskey sour for some blonde woman Dana didn't recognize.
"The President brought fifteen people, after he expressly said he would bring thirteen," she explained.
"You talked to the President?" Jack asked, impressed.
"You said the President expressly said --"
Dana waved her hand around dismissively. "One of his people expressly said --"
"Oh. That's much less interesting," Jack noted.
"You're missing the point," Dana said.
"Okay." He went back to mixing the drink.
"You're missing the point, Jack."
Jack sighed. "Fine, Dana. What was your point?"
"What am I supposed to do with fifteen people?"
Jack gave her a strange look. "Dana, there are, like, 100 people here."
"There are seventy-eight people here, fifteen of whom are from the White House, Jack!"
"I don't understand the problem."
"The problem is, I was okay with thirteen. Seemed excessive, but manageable. Then, to show up with fifteen people?"
Jack served the whiskey sour, and then turned his full attention to Dana. "You're upset because two White House staffers crashed this party at the behest of the President of the United States?"
She stared at him. "Well, when you put it like that --"
"Go mingle or something."
"Jack, I need another one."
"What if I promise not to dance?"
"So what do you do all day?" Dan asked.
Jed Bartlet's eyebrows rose. "What do I do?"
"Yeah. What are your duties?"
"I'm the President of the United States, Dan."
"Yes," Dan nodded.
"My actions have the potential to alter the course of history."
"Right, but what do you do?"
Bartlet shrugged. "I do whatever Leo tells me to do."
"Leo McGarry?" Dan asked, his eyes lighting up. "Is he here tonight?"
"Yes," Bartlet nodded, glancing around. "I believe he's -- Oh, he's over there with my wife."
Dan followed the President's gaze and froze. "Your wife," he repeated in a strange, hushed tone.
Bartlet gave Dan an appraising look. "Yes."
Dan took a fortifying sip of his beer, squared his shoulders, and turned back to the President. "Could you introduce me?"
Bartlet stared. "To my wife?"
"You want me to introduce you to my wife?" he repeated.
"Yes." Dan smiled. "I just think she's so amazing."
After a moment, Bartlet shrugged. "That's one word for it. Abigail!"
Abbey looked over, smiled, and excused herself from a small group of White House staffers. She reached her husband, gave his hand a quick squeeze, and then turned to Dan. "Dan Rydell, right? I'm Abbey Bartlet. I love your show."
Dan grinned at her, mesmerized. "I love --"
"Dan!" Natalie yelled, swooping into the group. "Kim's looking for you." She turned to the President and First Lady. "Hi, I'm Natalie Hurley."
"Hello, Natalie," Bartlet said amiably. "Dan was just about to tell us what, exactly, he loves about my wife."
Abbey gave her husband a curious look, Dan blushed, and Natalie paled.
"Her degrees," Natalie blurted. "He's envious of post-graduate degrees."
Dan blinked. "I am not."
The President grinned. "I have a couple post-graduate degrees myself. In fact --"
"Pumpkin," Abbey interrupted with a pointed look. "I think Josh is trying to get your attention."
"Thank God," Natalie muttered.
Dan, grinning at Abbey, nodded in agreement.
Bartlet took one look at Dan, looped his arm through Abbey's, and headed off with his laughing wife in tow. "Nice to meet you both."
"Damn," Dan muttered. "She is so hot."
"It's almost freakish."
Donna nodded sagely at the woman whose name she thought was Kim. Possibly Kelly. Definitely something with a 'K.' "It is," Donna said. "Positively freakish."
"Seriously," Kim said. "He's just..."
"Not right?" Donna suggested, taking another sip of her whiskey sour. She glanced at the object of Kim's gaze. "I've always said Sam was pretty."
Kim nodded. "Exactly. That's exactly it. He's pretty." She stared some more. "I can't date someone who's prettier than me."
"Josh," Donna declared, "has charm. Sam's just pretty."
Kim glanced over at Donna. "Which one's Josh?"
"Josh Lyman," Donna explained, pointing out her boss, who was already showing signs of inebriation. "The one who's leaning on CJ Cregg."
"Ah," Kim said. She cocked her head to the side a bit and studied Josh. "Yeah, I can see it. He's got..."
"Charisma," offered another voice.
Donna glanced to her left to find a petite blonde woman smiling at her.
"Hi, I'm Dana Whitaker."
"Donna Moss," Donna said. "And this is --"
"Kim," Dana grinned. "We work together. So we're discussing the menfolk of the White House?"
"Yes," Kim smirked. "Sam Seaborn is too pretty. Josh -- what was it?"
"Lyman," Donna supplied. "He has charisma. Also charm. And an incredibly large ego."
"Sounds like Danny," Dana commented.
Kim nodded. "True. But Dan can work the ego."
"Josh can work it," Donna said, her tone bordering on defensive even though she wasn't exactly clear on how one 'worked' one's ego.
"I'm sure he can," Dana said. "What about that guy over there?"
Donna followed Dana's gaze. "Toby Ziegler?" she asked, slightly incredulous.
"Oh," Kim said sagely, glancing reflexively at Danny. "The writer."
Donna looked perplexed. "What?"
"Nothing," Dana said. "He seems kind of..."
"Bald?" Kim suggested.
"No," Dana laughed. "I was going to say passionate."
Donna gave Dana a horrified look. "Passionate?"
Dana shrugged. "He's over there arguing with Eliot and Dave over the New York Mets, and he's all, you know --" She made a strange gesture with her free hand. "-- fiery."
Donna quickly gulped down the rest of her drink, while Kim reconsidered her opinion of Toby.
"I wonder," Kim started, "how good --"
"I beg you not to finish that thought," Donna interrupted. "I have to work with these guys."
Dana took a sip of her martini. "Fair enough."
"So," Donna began casually, "what about Casey?"
"So." Casey had sidled up to Toby and was now blinking unnervingly at him.
"Yes?" Toby said.
"Do you guys pull any weight with the FBI?"
Toby stared levelly at him. "Yes."
"'Cause I've got a case for them."
"Oh?" Toby asked without changing his tone.
"Denny Denton did a sketch where Jesus was gay, and somebody tried to blow up the building."
Now Toby's tone changed just a little, from detached and superior to somewhere in the neighborhood of bewildered. "Okay."
"And then religious leaders didn't step forward."
"No, I wouldn't think they would."
"I meant to denounce the guy."
Casey looked confused. "No, the other guy."
"I thought the guy was Denny Denton."
"Be with me," Casey pleaded. "The guy. The bomber. Er, well -- the threatener. He threatened to blow up a building because he didn't like Denny Denton's radio show."
"Denny Denton has a radio show?"
"Yeah, that's where -- Yes. Denny Denton has a radio show. Did you think he was just -- doing the sketch out in the hall?"
"No accounting for how people spend their spare time."
"A radio sketch about gay Jesus, just, in the hallway, for fun?"
Toby didn't blink. "CJ does the Jackal."
Casey shook his head, obviously approaching bewilderment himself. "Okay."
"And so Denny Denton, on his radio show, did a sketch where Jesus was gay, and then another guy," Toby clarified,"-- the threatener -- threatened to blow up the building --"
"And had us all out on the street for more than an hour. We had 15 minutes to fix the show when we got the all-clear."
"Did you make it?"
"Of course we made it," Casey said in a superior tone of voice. "We're professionals. We stayed cool. We kept our heads."
"You cried like a child?"
"Did you know they use dogs?"
"What? No, the people who look for bombs."
"They smell them."
"I'm not sure I buy it."
"And then?" Toby asked warily.
"And then what?"
"And then what -- happened after your bomb scare?"
"And then nothing. And then no one stepped forward -- not a single religious leader stepped forward to condemn the guy. The threatener."
"Well," Toby began, and was silent until Casey started to fidget. At last he said, "I'll get the FBI right on that."
"Okay," Casey said dismissively, and threaded through the crowd to get another beer.
"So," Dan began casually, "who's that?"
Josh blinked a couple of times and tried to figure out who, exactly, Dan was talking about. "Donna?"
Dan grinned. "I'm not sure. The blonde standing over there with Kim and Dana?"
"Who are Kim and Dana?"
"The Asian woman and the tiny blonde standing next to Donna?" Danny guessed.
"Ah," Josh nodded. "That's my assistant."
Dan grinned. "Her name is Donnatella?"
"Like the Teenage Mutant Ninja --"
"No," Josh interrupted, eyes wide. "Don't say that near her. She'll kick my ass."
Dan looked confused. "Wouldn't she kick my ass if I was the one who said it?"
"Donna's mind works in mysterious ways," Josh answered ruefully. "She thinks I'm the only one who told people about the Ninja Turtles thing, but Sam did it too. He's the one who rented the damn movie."
Dan nodded slowly. "Okay. Hey, what's the First Lady like?"
Josh polished off the last of his second beer. "Besides, that was Donnatello, not Donnatella. Huge difference."
"Josh," Sam said as he walked up to the two men, "I thought we were never to speak of the Ninja Turtles again?"
"I didn't say it!" Josh protested, pointing at Dan. "He did."
Sam introduced himself nervously. "Your show is great."
Josh gave his friend an odd look. "Great?"
"Thanks," Dan grinned.
"I like all the, you know..." Sam shrugged helplessly. "The little jokes and things."
Josh stared at Sam. "What the hell's wrong with you?"
"Nothing," Sam whispered fiercely. He turned back to Dan. "So, um, how about those Yankees?"
"Yeah, they're doing all right," Dan nodded, clearly amused. "Hey, I've been wanting to ask you -- did you work with Toby Ziegler on the State of the Union speech?"
Brow furrowed, Sam said, "Yes. Why?"
Dan brightened considerably. "Can I ask you a couple of questions about school prayer?"
Sam shot Josh a panicked look. "Sure.
"I went to this fundraiser --"
"I'm going over there," Josh said, and headed for Donna, Dana, and Kim.
"Grasshopper," CJ requested, just as a petite blonde woman beside her said, "Martini."
The bartender gave the blonde a skeptical look, then grinned at CJ and nodded. "Grasshopper."
"You," the blonde called after him, "are evil."
"No, just cautious," he tossed back.
CJ grinned at the exchange, but attempted to hide her amusement when the blonde turned to her.
"You're CJ Cregg. We spoke on the phone. I'm Dana Whittaker." Dana offered her hand.
"Yes," CJ answered, smiling again. "Hello."
Dana tilted her head towards Jack. "He withholds liquor."
CJ nodded soberly. "Any particular reason?"
"He thinks," Dana said, lowering her voice conspiratorially, "that I'm going to get drunk and dance on a table."
CJ's eyebrows rose. "Have you done that before?" she asked, wondering how much Dana'd had already, considering she was confessing When I Get Drunk stories to a virtual stranger.
Dana waved a hand dismissively. "Once or twice."
"At last count," offered a male voice, "I believe it was more like seven or eight times."
CJ turned to see a tall, handsome, and very familiar man grinning at her. "You're Casey McCall," she said, then cursed herself for sounding like fawning idiot.
"Yes." His smile widened, and CJ had to lean against the bar for support. He held out his hand. "And you're CJ Cregg. Nice to meet you."
"Grasshopper," interjected the bartender, sliding a glass of green liquor towards CJ.
"Casey," Dana pouted. "Jack won't make me a martini."
Casey looked over her head at the bartender. "Good man."
Jack rolled his eyes, popped the top off a Sam Adams, and handed it to Casey.
"Brilliant man," Casey amended. He took a swig.
"Casey, I have an idea."
Casey gave CJ and apologetic grin and turned to Dana. "I'm not ordering a martini for you."
Dana pouted. "Why not?"
"Because, I don't drink martinis. I drink beer. Men drink beer. You don't think Jack would be suspicious if, two minutes after he handed me a very manly beer, I ordered a girlie little martini?"
Dana considered that for a moment. "Okay, but I could still drink your ass under a table, Mr. Two Beers and I'm Hammered."
"Yes," Casey admitted.
"Just so that's clear," Dana said. She turned to CJ. "He's a lightweight," she whispered, indicating Casey with a tilt of her head.
"Ah," CJ nodded sagely. Then she reflexively glanced around in search of Josh, who was, she noted with amusement, trying to convince Donna to hand over a beer.
"I," Dana announced, "am going to go find Danny. He'll get me a drink."
CJ watched Dana walk away, slightly unsteady, and turned a speculative gaze to Casey. "This Danny --"
"Dan Rydell," Casey supplied.
CJ grinned in recognition. "Right. So, Dan Rydell isn't actually going to get her a drink, right?"
"No," Casey answered.
CJ nodded. "But if she does happen to get another martini --"
"Will she actually dance on a table?" Casey finished for her.
Casey nodded. "Yes."
"She'll dance? Like, actually on a table?"
"While attending a party with the President of the United States?"
Casey grinned. "Well, see, she was nervous about the President and, you know, the rest of you being here, so --"
"She started drinking to calm her nerves?" CJ guessed.
Casey nodded. "Forgetting, of course, that when she has too much --"
"She dances on tables." CJ glanced around the room. "Thank God there's no press here."
Ginger smiled at Danny from behind her glass, Bonnie raised an eyebrow, and Carol leaned a little closer to ask, "But you write your own scripts, right?"
Dan shrugged. "Casey and I do a little writing, yeah."
"Do you do your own research?" Ginger asked.
"Sure," Danny answered.
Carol frowned. "Do you have a T-3?"
"A T-3 connection. For the internet?"
Still lost, Dan grinned somewhat uncertainly. "I... uh..." He reached out and snagged Eliot's arm. "Eliot! My man."
Eliot gave Danny a strange look. "Hello."
"Eliot." Dan draped one arm over his shoulder. "I would like you to meet Carol, Bonnie, and Ginger. They work at the White House."
"Hi," Eliot said.
"Nice to meet you," Bonnie answered, shaking his hand. "Do you work at Sports Night?"
"Yeah," Eliot nodded. "I'm a studio technician."
"Okay." Bonnie said. "I work for Toby Ziegler in the Communications Office."
Dan's eyes got very, very wide. "You work for Toby Ziegler?"
Bonnie gave him an amused look. "Yes. You've heard of Toby?"
"Heard of him," Dan echoed incredulously. "Of course. His work on the speech to the United Nations --"
"Oh, right," Ginger interrupted, laughing. "'Responsibility to our global neighbors in this new, globally interdependent age?'"
"Toby and Sam fought over that line for, like, a week," Ginger explained.
Nodding, Bonnie added, "Toby said it was repetitious, the global/globally thing, and Sam maintained that it was reinforcement of the theme."
"Wait," Dan backed up a little, pulling Eliot with him. "You both work for Toby Ziegler?"
"Toby Ziegler has two assistants?"
Eliot held his empty glass aloft. "I'm gonna go for a refill." Ignoring Dan's mildly terrified look, Eliot wandered off in the direction of the bar.
Amused, Carol noted, "Toby's the Communications Director; he's got about twenty assistants. Bonnie and Ginger are the senior assistants."
"I don't even have one." Dan stopped and took a fortifying swig of beer. "Do you actually... write with Toby Ziegler?"
Ginger laughed outright, while Bonnie rolled her eyes and said, "Nobody writes with Toby, not even Sam. We do the majority of the research, and we write some of the lesser speeches."
"Five minutes in front of the Peterborough, New Hampshire chapter of the Rotary Club," Ginger supplied.
"Yeah," Bonnie nodded. "Or sometimes the radio address."
"Wow," Dan said. "That's... " He shrugged.
"Bonnie," said a brusque voice from behind Dan. "Sam needs to double-check the CBO specs for the comments tomorrow."
"It's after one o'clock in the morning," Bonnie argued.
"Toby, this is a party." She held up her martini glass. "Drinks, loud music, people not working -- any of this ringing a bell?"
Dan turned slowly to face the glowering speechwriter. "I don't care," Toby answered flatly. "There is alcohol here. Sam and alcohol and speechwriting do not --" Belatedly noticing Dan's stare, Toby stopped talking and gave him an inquisitive look. "Hello."
"Hello," Dan managed.
"Toby Ziegler." Toby offered his hand.
"This is Dan Rydell," Ginger said, patting Dan's shoulder like she would a small, scared child. "He's a big fan, and he especially enjoyed the President's Globalism speech at the U.N. last --"
"Repetitious," Toby grimaced.
Dan nodded quickly. "Well, I wouldn't have used the adjectival and adverb form of 'global' in the same sentence myself, but --"
"I was overruled," Toby grumbled.
Dan cocked his head to one side. "I thought you were the Director of Communications."
"I am," Toby answered with a pointed look in the direction of the President. "But there are still a couple people who are allowed -- over my strong objections, I should add -- to edit my work."
"Ah," Dan said.
"President Bartlet --"
"Got a little extemporaneous, yes." Toby took a swig of his Scotch. "He has a very annoying habit of doing so."
Dan shrugged, "Well, I really liked the stanza that talked about the world of one hundred people."
Toby brightened as much as he ever does. "The statistical breakdown of the world's population," he prompted, nodding. "Very telling numbers."
Dan nodded some more, growing a little more confident. "I know you had to pick and choose which statistics to use, but could I ask about your source material?"
Toby glanced over at Bonnie. "Sam needs the CBO --"
"Fine," Bonnie sighed. She turned to Ginger and Carol. "You should feel free to stay here and talk about the telling numbers --"
"We're going with you," Carol answered vehemently. The three women swept off, leaving Dan with Toby Ziegler.
Toby leveled his gaze on Dan. "So you write your own scripts?"
"No," Casey shook his head. "That doesn't invalidate --"
"Actually, it does," CJ interrupted, smiling.
"But I won," he protested.
"Which time? The one with the obviously fraudulent --"
"I won that time too," Casey insisted.
"Because you cheated."
"I did not cheat!"
"More people voted for you than watch the show," CJ pointed out dryly.
"So the percentage of your show's audience that care enough to look up the website, never mind vote for --"
"I'm cooler," Casey insisted. "Really. We had a, you know, a rematch."
CJ tried to hide her amusement. "You had a rematch?"
"Of an internet poll on who's cooler, you or Dan?"
"Okay," CJ grinned, content to let it drop.
Casey watched her in silence for a moment. Then he held up his hands dismissively. "I'm just saying, I won."
CJ took a sip of her drink. "You do understand statistics and polling, right?"
"Isn't it pretty much, you ask some people a question, then add up the responses?" He leaned casually against the bar, enjoying talking to someone his own height for a change.
"That," CJ stated, "is an incredibly simplistic way of looking at polling."
Toby appeared at her shoulder, handing her another drink. "Vodka Collins."
"Toby," CJ protested, "I asked for a Grasshopper."
"I'm not ordering a Grasshopper, CJ. Drink the damn drink."
Casey pushed away from the bar and held out his hand, "Hi, I'm Casey McCall."
"Toby Ziegler," Toby nodded. "Good show."
"Thanks," Casey grinned. "I hear you're a writer."
CJ downed the last of her first drink and placed it on the bar. "Toby's the Communications Director."
"Ah," Casey said.
"Yes," Toby answered, glancing around in search of Josh.
"So will you explain to your colleague, here, that an internet poll is a perfectly valid way of measuring who's cooler?"
"You're discussing polling models?"
CJ brightened. "Well, no, actually. We were discussing statistical sampling. Or, rather, I was just about to explain to Casey here why an internet poll is not statistically significant."
The two men exchanged a look, then Toby handed Casey his Jack Daniels. "Hold this for one second, please."
Casey nodded and watched, amused, as Toby started digging through his pockets.
"First of all," CJ continued, "the very fact that the sample is limited to internet users dooms the validity of the data from the start. Second, the respondents are self-selected; they decided to do the poll. Which skews your data to those people who are not only internet-users, but who are inclined to foist their opinions on others by voting in internet polls."
Toby pulled out a folded piece of paper, gave Casey a small, knowing grin, and set about unfolding a map of the world.
"The only actual way to determine which of you," CJ poked Casey to regain his attention, "is cooler would be to conduct a poll on a randomly selected sample. Probably a phone poll utilizing a random number generator."
Casey nodded and glanced at Toby, who triumphantly brandished the map -- which he was holding upside down -- in CJ's direction.
CJ's attention caught on the inverted continents. "No," she told Toby. "We're not doing this again."
"CJ," Toby said, his tone pleasant. "Where's Luxembourg?"
CJ resolutely turned her gaze from the map and fixed on Casey again. "The problem with a random phone poll would be the low probability of polling enough people who actually watch -- Oh, give me that," she said, grabbing the map from Toby and shaking the wrinkles out. "You're an evil man, Toby."
Impressed, Casey handed Toby his drink, and the two men wandered away, leaving CJ to fret over the map.
"You're holding that upside-down."
CJ looked up slowly from the paper in her hands. And then looked down, as the man who had spoken was significantly shorter than she.
"Thank you," she said, and went back to studying the map.
"I'm just saying," he amended, peering up at her.
"I'm trying to get used to it," she said.
He shrugged, and offered her his hand. "Jeremy Goodwin."
"CJ Cregg." She smiled politely and looked back at the map. "When it's like this, I can't find Switzerland."
"What are you doing?"
"They want to change the map."
"Who wants to change the map?"
"The ... cartographers for ... something. They want to flip the world over and bend it all out of shape."
Jeremy walked around to CJ's side so he could peer at the upside-down map of the world. "To the Peters Projection system?"
CJ looked at him critically. "Don't tell me you condone this insanity."
"It's more accurate."
"I don't care."
"Also, it does away with the current top-bottom attitudes."
"So I've heard."
"But you don't care."
"I really don't."
"Okay." Jeremy stood there for a minute more and then reached for the map and turned it sideways. "How's that?"
CJ's eyes widened. "That's horrible!"
"That's -- we'll fall."
"Off the Earth?"
"We'll fall right off the Earth!"
"I'll bet we won't."
"Is that your boss?"
Jeremy blinked, then figured out what she was talking about. Across the room Casey was pleading with Dana not to climb onto a table.
"She doesn't always think logically when intoxicated," Jeremy understated. Then, "Is that your colleague?"
CJ turned, and saw Donna trying her best to keep Josh from falling off his chair.
"He has a very delicate system," CJ explained.
Natalie skipped over to them and stopped beside Jeremy, examining CJ's map. "What's happening here?" she asked.
"Mr. Goodwin is trying to sabotage my relatively feeble grasp of the world," CJ said.
"He does that, don't you, sweetie? Come dance with me," she commanded of Jeremy.
"Because the President of the United States is in the room."
"I assure you he won't mind," CJ said absently, still searching, perplexed, for missing continents.
"In fact, he won't notice," Natalie added. "You know why?"
"Because Dana's going to be dancing on a table?"
"That's right." Natalie nodded and tugged at Jeremy's hand again.
"Dance with me."
"All right," Jeremy said, and then, as he followed her away, "The Peters Projection map is accurate."
"Shut up," CJ calmly replied.
"Dance with me."
Charlie grinned down at Zoey. "Yes, no."
She laughed. "Okay, you realize that made no sense, right?"
"I don't want to dance."
Zoey crossed her arms and stared out at the seven people who were bopping around the tiny dance floor. "I want to."
"Okay," Charlie answered, his attention catching on a petite brunette who was shimmying happily in circles around a man who looked like he'd be much happier in a cubicle somewhere working on a computer.
Zoey grabbed Charlie's hand. "Let's go."
"Whoa -- I didn't say I was going to dance with you."
"Charlie," Zoey admonished. "You've been hanging around my dad too long."
"Which is actually my job," he pointed out.
Zoey rolled her eyes. "I'm going to find someone who'll dance with me," she threatened, grinning saucily at him.
Charlie glanced around at the crowed and shrugged. "Go for it."
With narrowed eyes, Zoey stared at him, studying his face. "Fine," she sniffed. "Josh will dance with me."
Charlie wasn't that concerned, considering that Josh was slumped in a chair next to an unfamiliar blonde and they both seemed to be inebriated. "You may have to hold him upright," Charlie observed.
Zoey sighed. "He is such a yutz. Maybe Sam will dance with me."
Sam was in the corner, hunched over a legal pad. Charlie said, "He looks a little busy."
"This is just typical," Zoey decided, pushing away from the bar.
Charlie followed her. "What is?"
"This." Zoey gestured around as she moved past CJ, who was examining a map for reasons known only to her. "The entire administration is filled with spoilsports."
"Hey," CJ protested.
"Not you," Zoey tossed over her shoulder as she marched on by.
"Thank you," CJ answered.
Charlie rolled his eyes. "Let me guess, it's the men --"
"It is the men," Zoey answered. "CJ's fun, and so is Donna. Margaret can play a game of Scrabble like nobody's business. Ginger, Bonnie, Kathy -- they're all fun. It's the men of the Bartlet administration that are the problem. And so," she concluded, reaching the cluster of women around Dan, "I will go elsewhere."
"You'll go elsewhere?" Charlie repeated, amused.
Zoey glanced over her shoulder. "Yes." Then she greeted Bonnie, Ginger, Carol, Donna, and Margaret. "Hi," she said to Dan Rydell. "I'm Zoey Bartlet. Would you care to dance?"
Dan's eyes got very, very wide as he glanced from Zoey to Charlie to the President, watching from across the room with a slight glower. "Um..."
"Oh, come on," Zoey insisted, reaching for his hand. "It's not going to kill you."
"Okay," Dan answered, allowing himself to be pulled towards the dance floor.
"The dance might not kill you," Charlie grinned as Dan passed him, "but the president might."
Leo watched, amused, as the petite blonde clambered onto a table, her shoes abandoned near her empty glass, both of which rested on the floor.
"Do you believe this?"
Beside him, Bartlet shook his head. "I really don't."
On the other side of Leo stood Isaac Jaffee, watching with one hand pressed to his cheek. "She really is a great producer," he sighed.
Bartlet frowned. "What the hell are you talking about?"
Leo grinned as he caught sight of a very scared Dan Rydell dancing awkwardly next to Zoey. "Ah."
Bartlet turned on him. "And just what is that 'Ah' for, Leo?"
"I see why you're distracted." Leo shrugged.
Isaac leaned closer and asked quietly, "Why is he distracted?"
"I am not distracted," Bartlet protested.
"Right." Leo nodded, a slight smirk still on his face.
"I'm not," Bartlet insisted.
"Sure, because that's such a common sight, it's no wonder you didn't notice."
"What the hell are you talking about, Leo?"
Isaac hooked a thumb in the direction of Dana's tabletop swaying. "He's talking about my producer, who is doing a drunken jig on top of that table."
Bartlet frowned. "Oh."
"Why was he distracted?" Isaac asked Leo.
"Because his daughter is dancing with Dan Rydell," Leo answered.
"I am not distracted," Bartlet repeated testily.
"Sir, you didn't notice the very attractive blonde dancing on a table," Leo pointed out.
"My wife is in the room," Bartlet answered acerbically. "I make it a point not to notice very attractive blondes no matter what they're doing."
"Fair point," Isaac acknowledged. "Still -- Isn't Zoey in college?"
Bartlet turned his glare on his old friend. "She's twenty years old."
"So surely a dance with a nice --"
"Older --" Bartlet interjected.
"-- man won't kill her."
"It might kill Dan," Leo mumbled.
"I heard that."
"Sorry, sir," Leo answered, sounding not the slightest bit apologetic.
"No, Casey!" Dana shouted, catching the attention of all three men. She was still atop the table, but she'd stopped dancing. Instead, she was standing, hands on her hips, and glaring down at Casey. "I don't want to get down."
"Please, Dana?" Casey asked, beckoning with both hands. "I'll dance with you, just not up there."
Deflated, she stepped to the edge of the table, allowing Casey to help her down. Then she shrugged out of his grip and stumbled away. Casey watched her go, then sighed, heading for the bar.
Isaac shook his head. "I apologize, sir."
"No need," Bartlet answered, his gaze sliding back to the dance floor. He watched as Dan escorted Zoey back over to Charlie, then joined Casey at the bar. "You should buy CJ Cregg a drink, though, Isaac."
Bartlet grinned a little as he toasted CJ from across the room. "She's the reason your producer's little tabletop tango isn't going to be in the New York Times tomorrow morning."
"I'm telling you, it's purple."
"It is blue."
Dana stared drunkenly at ... what was his name again? She knew she knew it. It had been in the news often enough, but at the moment it escaped her. "It's purple," she insisted.
"If you say so." His speech was slurring a little.
"You're drunk," she accused.
"It would not surprise me," answered the man whose name she couldn't remember.
"Josh," said a horrified voice from behind them. "She's right."
"H'lo, Donna." Josh -- Lyman! Of course! -- waved confusedly at the blond-haired woman who had joined them.
"How many did he have?" Donna asked Dana.
"I ... can't really count ... very well ... anymore," Dana slurred, and Donna groaned. It was all very well for CJ to be off dancing, but Donna was stuck babysitting the alcoholics.
"So," Donna said resignedly, sitting down, and it did not escape Dana's attention that Donna went out of her way to sit between she and Josh. "How's it going?"
"Is this purple or blue?" Josh asked, holding up a tall margarita and sloshing it all over his assistant.
"It's ... kind of green, I think," Donna said, mopping the drink off her jacket without comment. Dana squinted at her, and then at the drink, in dismay.
"She's right," Dana sighed. "It is kind of green." She looked as though this new development troubled her deeply.
"Don't worry about it," Donna said, looking from her boss to the drunken stranger and back again. "It'll be gone soon." Because she figured it was too late to beat them; she might as well join them.
"Hmm?" Sam barely looked up from his legal pad, which was damp in spots from the drink Dana had spilled.
"What are you writing?" Toby tried to read over Sam's shoulder, but Sam hunched protectively over the paper.
Toby paused a beat. "For?"
Sam looked up. "Well, the press is outside, and it's only a matter of time until they get in. And if they don't -- well, eventually we're going to have to leave. And I'm saying, the President's in a particularly ... what's the word?"
Toby looked across the room to where the President was lecturing a captive sound editor on the noble history of the microphone, and supplied, "Irritating?"
"The President is in a -- a vocal mood tonight. And I don't want the press to get him started, so --"
"Okay. But -- what -- do you think they'll be asking him?"
"I think they'll be asking him --" But Sam stopped speaking as he looked slowly to his right, where Dan and Casey had been inching closer and were now practically right on top of him. "Hello."
Dan gave a little wave. "Howdy."
"Are you -- cold?"
Casey rolled his eyes a little, mostly at Dan, and said, "Excuse us; we couldn't help overhearing."
"It hadn't really occurred to us just how much of what the President says was -- prewritten," Dan said.
"In bars," Casey added.
"Not too much of it is written in bars," Toby promised.
"Although a lot of it does get written at this time of night," Sam conceded.
Dan tried to read over Sam's shoulder, but Sam leaned even further over the legal pad, and Dan sat back.
"You know, we write," he said, somewhat defensively and not just a little drunkenly.
"Yeah, I sort of figured that," Sam said.
"Well, I'm saying -- If you need help with that --"
Toby laughed, but Sam looked as though he were sizing Dan up. Then he said, "You want to help me write the President some comments?"
"Sam --" Toby started, but Dan interrupted.
"I think we'd be good at it, wouldn't we, Case?"
Casey was laughing and looked pretty certain Dan was past his limit on alcohol, but he gave a quick nod just the same. "We'd be great."
"Better than great. We could win you re-election, if you want."
"By all means." Sam tore off the page he'd been working on and passed Dan his legal pad.
"Sam, what are you --"
"Just one catch," Sam said to Dan and Casey.
"You have to let me and Toby write you a paragraph on basketball."
Casey and Dan looked at each other, looked at the legal pad, looked back up at Toby and Sam.
"Deal," they announced.
Frowning, Donna turned from her inebriated charges to find a petite brunette approaching at warp speed. Judging from the glare directed at the drunken blonde beside her, Donna figured she was safe. Dana, on the other hand, looked to be in a spot of trouble.
"Natalie!" Dana blinked a few times. "Hi!"
She poked Josh, who yelped and jerked back to semi-awareness with a pithy "Huh?"
"Josh," Dana slurred. "This is Natalie."
"Hi," Josh greeted, his eyelids already drooping back to half-mast.
Laughing, Donna offered her hand to the new arrival. "Hi, Natalie; I'm Donna. I work for Josh."
Natalie gave her a sympathetic look. "I work for Dana, but I don't like to tell people that when she's like this."
"Good policy," Donna decided. "Let me rephrase -- I work for the president."
Natalie grinned. "I work at Sports Night."
Donna leaned in a little. "Can I ask --?"
"Yes," Natalie answered, amused. "They're both incredibly nice. And single."
"Danny," Dana interjected, leaning so far towards Donna that she nearly landed in the other woman's lap. "Danny is sweet. And single. And sweet."
Donna nodded a bit uncertainly.
"Dana's secretly in love with Casey," Natalie explained.
"I am not," Dana protested.
Natalie looked unconvinced. "Then why are you trying to push Donna towards Danny?"
Josh attempted to sit up straight. "Wait." He blinked at Natalie. "What?"
Dana ignored him. "I'm simply saying that Danny is very sweet. Because Danny is, after all..." She frowned. "What was I saying?"
"Who's Danny?" Josh asked.
Natalie rolled her eyes. "You're telling us what a great catch Danny is so Donna will go after him instead of Casey."
Josh frowned. "Who's Casey?"
"Casey." Dana grinned a bit. "Casey is really quite sweet."
"Casey," Natalie explained to a drunken Josh as Donna looked on, snickering, "is the man that Dana is secretly in love with --"
"Donna's not secretly in love with Casey," Josh interrupted, his voice rising. "Donna's --"
"Josh!" Donna poked his arm. "She's talking about Dana."
"Yes," Donna nodded, pointing at the drunken, daydreaming woman to her left. "Dana."
"Oh," Josh said. "Okay then."
Natalie lowered her voice and said to Donna, "I'm sorry. I didn't realize you two were --"
"We're not." Donna shook her head vehemently. "Josh just thinks that working in the White House should require a vow of celibacy."
Dana slammed her hand on the table. "And I am not secretly in love with Casey."
"You're right," Natalie nodded.
"You're not secretly in love with Casey anymore."
"You're just in love with Casey."
"Exactly -- Wait." Dana frowned.
Donna asked, "Is Casey secretly in love with Dana?"
"Yes," Natalie answered, a half-second before Dana denied it. "Only the whole thing's pretty much the opposite of a secret at this point."
"The opposite of a secret?" Dana repeated, slurring her sibilants.
"You really think there are people in the New York area who don't know?" Natalie asked.
Casey stared down at Sam's notepad, a skeptical look on his face. "This is a good start."
"Sure," Dan answered.
Casey frowned. "I mean, this is really good."
Dan grabbed the notepad away from Casey. "It blows, doesn't it?"
"Okay, so this section here on arms deals with foreign powers," Dan said, frowning down at his notepad. "That could maybe use some work."
"Ya think?" Casey asked sarcastically.
"Yeah." Nodding, Dan reread what he'd written. "Okay. I see the problem."
"We don't know anything about arms deals with foreign powers and so maybe we shouldn't be writing comments about that subject for the President of the United States?" Casey guessed.
Dan blinked. "Okay, two problems."
"There's another problem," Casey surmised.
"And you know what it is."
"Can I take a stab at it?"
Dan shrugged magnanimously. "Sure."
"Maybe the problem is that we're not speechwriters," Casey suggested, taking a swig of beer.
"No," Dan answered. "No, that is not at all the problem."
Casey rolled his eyes. "Then what is the problem?"
"The problem," Dan announced, "is that the President can't really throw to someone else."
Grinning, Casey nodded. "Yeah, he can't catch either. Or ride a bike."
Dan glared. "That's not what I meant."
Casey didn't seem too concerned. "Yeah, I figured."
"The President doesn't really have a partner," Dan mused, scratching out an anecdote about cross-country skiing. "He can't throw to someone else."
"He could throw to CJ," Casey pointed out, turning his attention to a spare drink napkin, upon which he drew little cartoon figures.
Dan brightened. "He could!"
"He could throw to CJ!"
"That was actually a joke," Casey protested.
"We could write a little wrap up for the President, and then he could throw to CJ!" Danny scribbled out what he'd written so far and started over, tapping the pen impatiently against the table when he got stuck after two words.
"Danny, do you think maybe we should admit defeat --"
"No, my friend," Dan interrupted, "for we are writers. Surely we can write a two minute speech for the President!"
Casey stared at him. "You say that like it's an easy thing."
Dan shrugged. "It could be."
"What about your hero-worship of Toby Ziegler?"
"I do not have a hero-worship --"
"Danny, you wanted to skip the party so you wouldn't run into him," Casey argued, still amused.
"That was... before."
"Ah," Casey answered.
"Before you decided that writing a speech for the President is easy."
"Exactly," Danny nodded, paying more attention to his writing than Casey's sarcastic remarks. "How's this, 'Good evening, ladies and gentlemen?'"
Casey fought to keep a straight face. "Is the President performing a lounge act?"
Danny frowned at him. "You, my friend, are not helping."
"You know why?"
"Because I am obviously the superior writer?" Danny guessed.
Casey snorted. "Yeah, that's it."
"It's okay," Dan said, patting Casey's knee. "It's good that you can acknowledge your weaknesses, Case."
"Weaknesses?" Casey spluttered, slamming down his beer. "I do not have --"
"You don't understand politics," Dan said, his tone purposefully casual. "You do not have my understanding of politics, and that's okay."
"Oh, I understand politics," Casey argued, leaning forward, his elbows landing on his knees. "Let me see that."
"Uh-uh," Dan grinned, holding the notepad to his chest. "What's the magic word?"
"I'll kick your ass if you don't give me that notepad."
"Toby, come on."
"Sam, I'm not helping. This is ridiculous." Toby tapped his fingers impatiently on the table. "I gave you a pen and that is more than enough help."
Sam looked perplexed. "You don't want to write about basketball?"
"Not particularly, no."
"Well... why not?"
Toby rolled his eyes. "Because basketball is something that you have on in the background when you're doing important things . Like writing comments for the President," Toby added with a significant glance over at Dan and Casey, who were still huddled around Sam's legal pad.
"Haven't you ever watched the show? They're good writers," Sam shrugged.
Toby made a strangled noise. "Yes. They are, if you want the President telling bobsled jokes!"
Sam frowned. "You don't think they'd write a bobsled joke, do you?"
"I can't wait to find out," Toby muttered, looking around for CJ. She was talking to someone whom Toby thought may have been a producer on the show. Or possibly a graphics editor. He wasn't really sure. And he didn't really care, except that she wasn't paying any attention to his little "come here" gestures.
"So you're really not going to help me write about basketball?" Sam asked, sounding crestfallen.
"No," Toby answered. "I'm going to go give CJ a heads up, so she isn't caught unaware when the President starts waxing philosophical about some track star from the former Yugoslavia!"
Sam blinked. "How is that any different from a normal day with the President?"
Toby glowered. "Just write your damn basketball fantasy."
"Okay," Sam agreed, turning his attention back to the small notepad. "'Even Michael Jordan's spell-binding play late in the fourth wasn't enough to save the Wizards from the dazzling Utah Jazz --'"
"Oh, God," Toby groaned, swiveling around to face Sam.
"'Perhaps,'" Sam continued, "'only the original wizard, Magic Johnson, would have --'"
"Give me that," Toby ordered, stalking towards his deputy.
Grinning, Sam held the notepad to his chest. " I thought you didn't want to help."
"That's before I realized you were slaughtering the English language."
"I am not!"
"'The dazzling Utah Jazz?'" Toby repeated, his mouth twisted in distaste.
"That's parallelism," Sam argued.
Toby waved Sam's explanation aside. "Magic Johnson never played for the Wizards."
Toby rubbed one hand along the side of his face. "You called him the original wizard!"
"It was metaphorical," Sam shrugged.
"It was bad writing," Toby argued.
"Oh, like you could do better," Sam challenged.
Toby held out one hand and said, very quietly, "Give me the notepad."
Dana stopped in her tracks -- and swayed drunkenly and very nearly fell off her shoe -- caught her balance and stared at Casey as though he had done something outrageous, like announce he was quitting, or propose. "Really?" she said, blinking in confusion.
"Really what?" Casey asked, not quite looking at her.
"Your answer is really 'because?'"
"I don't know why," Casey said. "I just -- wait -- now I don't know what the question was."
"Dana, we've been up all night. The bar, and quite possibly the country, are in ruins. What do you want from me?"
"The question was, why did you come out here, and why didn't you put your shoes on first?"
Casey looked down at his stockinged feet. "There was a bug," he said. "I, uh -- killed it."
"With your shoe."
"And the shoe was destroyed in this dangerous --"
Casey shrugged. "I was in a hurry."
"But not such a hurry that you couldn't stop to take off the other shoe."
"I was unbalanced."
"Why did you come out here?"
Dana turned to face him head-on, and Casey tried not to blink. "I saw you through the window," he said, "dancing out here on the sidewalk, and I thought, well ..."
She narrowed her eyes. "What?"
Casey seemed to be torn between wanting to say something and the fear that he would be laughed at if he said it. He looked at her, then down at his socks, then back up at her quickly, his jaw set. "I was afraid if I didn't ask you to dance, somebody else would." And he glanced, so quick she almost didn't notice, toward the bar full of government men.
And Dana, of course, laughed, but it was a good laugh and Casey's jaw softened. "Okay," he said. "But you asked."
"Yeah," she admitted. "I did." She was smiling; she touched his elbow. "Let's go in and get some cake. You can put your shoes on."
"Good evening. This is Jed Bartlet --"
"Sir," Leo groaned.
"-- alongside Isaac Jaffee --"
The chorus of groans grew louder as Isaac, Toby, and CJ joined in.
"What?" Bartlet demanded.
"Well, sir, you're not a blonde, thirty-something sportscaster," CJ pointed out, "so I think you should maybe..." She trailed off as the president's glower grew ever darker.
"Toby and Sam got to write about basketball," Bartlet said, as if that justified his reworking of the signature Dan & Casey tagline.
Toby groaned. "Sir, that was part of an adolescent --"
"I'm just saying, you shouldn't get to have all the fun. I could've been a sportscaster."
"On the History Channel, maybe," Isaac muttered.
"Jed," Abbey admonished as she wandered over. "You're going to make a speech, aren't you?"
The President frowned at his wife. "Why do you always use that tone when you --"
"Because you have a tendency to go on at some length," Abbey interrupted. "And it's very late, and many of your staffers are very drunk."
Leo gestured in the direction of Josh, who was dozing slumped over a table, Donna sitting beside him with her shoeless feet up on a nearby chair. Noticing their gazes, Donna grinned and waved exuberantly.
"Ah," Bartlet said. "Still --"
"You're going to make a speech," Isaac interrupted. "Oh, good. I'll just be getting another drink."
Bartlet gave Isaac a look. Then he turned to the rest of the room, raising his arms and his voice, "Friends, may I have your attention for just one moment please?"
Out on the makeshift dance floor, Dana and Casey kept swaying to the music for several seconds after Jack turned it down, then they blinked a few times and seemed to remember the rest of the people in the room. Casey took Dana's hand and led her over to Danny.
"Sir?" Sam sidled up to the President with a sheaf of yellow papers. "Could you take a look at this?"
"What is it?"
Dan and Casey appeared at Sam's heels. "Well, uh..." Sam said. "We -- Toby, myself, Dan, and Casey -- wrote you some remarks for --"
"Dan and Casey?" Bartlet interrupted, eyebrows rising.
"Yes, sir," Casey said with a little nod.
Leo leaned closer to Abbey and muttered, "Does this mean we're going to have to hear an oral history of the Olympic Games?"
Abbey stifled her laughter, but her husband shot them a glare anyway. "I heard that." The rest of the room had quieted down -- except for Josh, who was snoring despite Donna's attempts to wake him up.
"Friends," Bartlet began, glancing at the notes Sam had handed him, "I'd like to read you something in honor of Isaac's birthday. And, no," he added with a glance in Leo's direction, "it's not in iambic pentameter."
"Damn," Dan mumbled to Casey. "We should've written in iambic pentameter."
"Right," Casey agreed. "Except for the part where we're not actually Shakespeare."
CJ hid her smile by taking a sip of her vodka Collins.
"'The world of sports may not be as important on the grand scale of things as the job I do every day,'" Jed Bartlet read with a nod in Dan and Casey's direction. "I'm not sure that's true," he added extemporaneously. "Jesse Owens at the '36 Olympics, for example, really --"
"Jed," Abbey interrupted, taking hold of his free hand. "Read the speech."
"'But within the constraints of the sports world,'" Jed continued, "'there is no one more talented, more dedicated, and more honorable than Isaac Jaffee.'"
Beside the President, Isaac looked over at his two anchors, who held his gaze.
"'This man who was educated in segregated schools and earned a full academic scholarship to Howard University, who started as a stringer and won a Pulitzer Prize, who began a well-deserved retirement and came back to head up a third-place TV show purely for the love of the game, and who suffered a stroke and worked his way back --'" Jed broke off and turned to Isaac, beckoning him forward. "This man," he told the audience, "has fought battles I never could have imagined. He's proven himself in situations I have never faced. And he's deserved every single accolade he's received, plus a good portion of the nice things that have been written about me."
Isaac chuckled as his staffers cheered and clapped.
Bartlet waited until the applause died down, then told Isaac, "If they gave Medals of Honor for personal accomplishments, you, my friend, would be first in line."
The two men hugged, while Leo and Abbey looked on proudly. Dan, Casey, Dana, Natalie, and Jeremy cheered, Donna, CJ and Sam joining in. Toby watched with an almost-smile, and Josh finally woke up.
"What happened?" Josh asked, blinking and trying to focus his bleary gaze. "What'd I miss?"
"You agreed to quit your job and sign on to Sports Night as executive producer. Dana's going to fill in for you in Washington."
"'Kay. Who's Dana?"
"Apparently, my new boss."
Josh tried again. "What'd I miss?"
"The President made a speech."
"About the history of what?"
"Nothing," Donna said defensively. Then, after a minute, "Well, Isaac. But it wasn't a boring-history speech. It was lovely."
Josh put his head down again. "Well, I'll see it later."
"Mmm hmm." Donna agreed distractedly, considering laying her head down, as well. She was halfway there when Josh's words hit her, and she sat up so suddenly she almost fell off the chair. "Huh?"
Josh, eyes closed, didn't respond, and a second later he began to snore. Donna swatted him over the head. "Josh. Why will you see the President's speech later?"
"Mmm," Josh muttered, and without opening his eyes, he waved one hand toward the reporter in the corner.