Title: Quote, unquote
Category: CJ/Leo, everyone else makes and appearance as well.
Archive (if applicable): The National Library http://westwingstories.com/library
Feedback: The good, the bad and the very ugly it's all appreciated.
Summary: Even when the record is "off," Leo needs to be careful about dropping good quotes.
Author's Notes: This was born from a quote by John with an English Radio DJ, you can download the RAM here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/realmedia/steve_wright/john_spencer.ram I also put the transcript in the file section of this group.
Disclaimers: Quote: "Not mine" Unquote.
The bullpens are just getting busy as Josh wanders from desk to desk collecting the latest edition of Men's health magazine, a copy of which has been placed on the desk of just about everyone who works in the building. In the top left corner a picture of Leo is featured with 'The health of the White House' written underneath.
Sam Seaborn joins Josh as walks down the corridor towards the Communications bullpen.
"Do you think she's seen it?" Sam asks with his own copy under his arm, a cup of coffee in his other hand.
"I bought every copy at the newsstands on her way to work." Josh says evenly as he grabs copies from Ginger and Bonnie's desk.
"What was he thinking?" Toby asks emerging from his office with another copy in his hand.
"Oh... if Donna were here I know what she'd say he was thinking with." Josh grumbles collecting another copy.
"You know technically he's not out of line, it is a men's health magazine and Men's health includes sex." Sam points out to them.
"When he's quoted saying 'Every man I know, including myself, would love a week with CJ in a hotel.' I think you can forget health of men and start worrying about the health of the administration." Toby says dryly.
"Not to mention how CJ's going to feel." Donna says swooping in and placing another copy on Josh's growing pile.
"And the fact Leo lives in a hotel." Toby grumbles.
"What are we going to do?" Sam asks handing his copy over to Josh as well.
"How much money have you got in your pockets?" Josh asks Toby and Sam.
"Twenty five dollars." Sam says without checking.
Toby opens his wallet to reveal eight dollars and thirty-five cents.
"Go buy every copy you can." Josh mumbles.
"It's a national magazine that's not going to help." Sam reminds him.
"How many people actually buy this magazine anyway?" Toby asks looking to the clock on the wall; CJ will be in at any moment.
"In this case, one is too many." Sam says heading to his office.
"This is going to seriously effect *my* health by the time it's over." Toby yells to Sam who's disappeared and Josh and Donna who are heading back to Josh's office.
All eyes focus on the Chief of Staff as he powers through the entrance, weaving his way through the bullpens towards his office. Everyone has enough tact not to say anything but they nonetheless turn and stare at the man who holds his own copy of Men's health magazine in his hand.
"The interview was over, the tape recorder was off." He can be heard to yell as he powers through his assistants office and slams the door to solitude behind him.
"Margaret get me..." He bellows, his flame haired assistant appearing on command.
"Never mind." He relents knowing that calling the journalist, a life long friend of his and tearing shreds off him is likely only to dig the hole deeper.
"You need anything." Margaret asks as he swings the chair round to look out the window, his elbow propped up on the armrest and his chin resting on his fist.
"No disturbances." He barks and Margaret promptly shuts the door behind her.
"Carol where's my copy of Men's health magazine?" CJ calls as she searches under the scattered paper on her desk.
"They're not in yet." She calls, with a well-rehearsed speech from Josh to back it up if necessary.
"I thought it was out today." CJ says standing in the doorway. "But when I got to the newsstand they were sold out."
Carol shrugs and apologizes, satisfied CJ returns to her office behind the closed door.
Josh pokes his head around the doorway, frantically gaining Carol's attention with his hands signals. 'Does she know?' he mouths and disappears quickly again when he gets a 'no' answer.
"She's been in for an hour." Josh says slumping into Toby's couch, he watches as the red balls bounce against the wall and Sam closes the door behind him moments later.
"There's a briefing at 9 and it's 8:45 now." Sam says sitting next to Josh.
"Who's idea was this article?" Toby grunts.
"CJ set it up." Josh answers looking into his lap.
"So do we give her heads up?" Toby asks.
"I say no." Josh says and stands to pick up Toby's phone. "And this is why." He adds as they wait for the person on the other end to answer. "It's Josh, have there been any calls...thanks."
"According to Carol, nobody has rung the office asking for a comment or quote." Josh concludes.
"Do you think it's possible this might just slide under the radar?" Sam asks.
"I'll bet there's someone in that room who went on a health kick six months ago and took out a yearly subscription, they won't read every issue but with Leo on the front that's an article they're sure to read." Josh guesses
"Are you kidding?" Toby roars. "Every women's group in the country is going to be screaming about this for the next six months...will it slip under the radar, it's only a matter of time before it lights up the front page of every paper south of Canada."
"You're going to get a call from Amy." Sam alerts Josh who curses silently under his breath.
"She goes in there none the wiser this briefing and we have two hours till the eleven thirty briefing to sort out what we're going to do about this." Toby directs and Josh and Sam get up and go back to work.
"CJ one last question." Chris calls and next to the podium Carol cringes, so far they've made it through without a hint of knowledge of the article, but now Carol fears the reporter is about to let everyone else in.
CJ nods, unaware of what is about to hit her.
"I have a copy of Men's health magazine." The craggy voiced reporter begins as Carol's heart beats in her throat.
"The newsstand was sold out this morning and there didn't seem to be any copies in the White House." CJ frowns standing side on to the podium. "I didn't realize it was such a popular magazine."
"There's a comment in here from Chief of Staff Leo McGarry, and I'm quoting now 'Every man I know, including myself, would love a week with CJ in a hotel.' do you have a comment CJ?"
Carol watches as her bosses jaw drops significantly, she stares at Chris like she has two heads and it takes another call of her name to snap her back from stunned.
"Ah like I said I haven't seen the article so I have no comment." Briskly gathering her papers CJ steps down from the podium to the calling of her name, Carol following a step behind her.
"Where are they?" She asks her assistant through clenched teeth. "There were supposed to be one hundred delivered because of Leo's interview."
"I think Josh..." Carol says hesitantly.
"Why am I not surprised?" CJ says with her anger boiling. "Come with me."
The two piles of incriminating magazines sit passively on Josh's desk, CJ picks up one and Carol follows with the other. They weave through the people in the corridors back to CJ's office where she drops them on her table.
"Give me twenty minutes." CJ requests opening the top magazine to the interview as Carol closes the door after her. CJ doesn't move until she's read the entire interview from start to finish.
"Carol." She bellows when she's put down the magazine.
Hesitantly appearing on the other side of the door, she notices CJ has calmed and has moved into concerned.
"All implications for the administration aside, what am I supposed to do with this?" She says surveying the piles.
"I'm sorry?" Carol asks like she's come in on the middle of a conversation.
"Is this a joke, is it his idea of a compliment, or is he telling me how he really feels and why do I feel like somebody has just moved the goal posts of our relationship beyond my sight?" CJ finishes sighing and removing her glasses.
"I don't know." Carol answers truthfully as CJ drops into her chair.
"Call Josh, Sam and Toby, tell them I'm coming to see them in five minutes and they'd better all be in Toby's office. There are eighty two magazines here, I want you to find the other eighteen." CJ instructs.
"It doesn't matter." Carol says softly. "The magazine is on the internet."
CJ sighs sinking back into her chair.
The slam of Toby's door makes the three other men in the room jump and look up at her.
"I swear is any of you are mentally undressing me now." CJ says forcefully, a copy of the magazine rolled into her right hand.
"CJ." Josh starts.
"You are the last person..." She growls. "You sent me in there, uninformed again." Her voice changes to angry.
"There was no time to discuss this and it's no good sending you into the press room like the way you are now." Toby roars sending CJ scuttling back into silence.
"Has anyone spoken to Leo?" Sam asks as CJ sinks into Toby's visitors chair.
"According to Margaret he asked for no interruptions over two hours ago." Josh informs them.
"She doesn't know anything?" CJ probes.
"Only that he came in yelling the interview was over and the tape recorder was off." Josh supplements.
"This is bad." Sam judges bringing a cup of coffee to his lips.
"I just hope this isn't going to be another Lillienfield thing, except this time I've got to go down to the mail room and ask the kids down there if they fantasize about CJ."
A wry grin crosses Sam's face, but CJ isn't listening.
"Are you kidding me?" Her voice rising in volume. "The quote was every man I know and myself. Have you considered the implications of this statement, the magnitude, it's every man from the President down, it's you three, it's congressmen, other major players in the party and financial contributors from across the country. Whether the boy in the mail room jerked off over a picture of me in yesterdays paper is THE LEAST of your worries, Josh."
"We need to talk with Leo." Toby says levelly once CJ has finished yelling.
"It doesn't help you go around making comments like 'I'm good in bed'." Josh comes back.
"I've just been made out to be cheap and tacky in front of a pressroom full of people and a soon most likely a nation full of readers, not to mention I'll be fielding questions about the quote for the next week or more, there'll be calls from women's groups and questions of why I don't sue for sexual harassment, there'll even be questions about aspects of my private life that I wouldn't tell the three of you let alone your average Washington Post reader, nothing I've said will EVER justify that." CJ's voice is low and cold.
"I want something before the next briefing." She snaps swinging the door open and heading back to her own office, she has no inclination to be a team player on this.
With a copy of the magazine in his hand. Toby skulks outside Margaret's office. The red head looks up and shakes her head somberly. Toby shifts from foot to foot for a moment and then heads towards the Oval.
Charlie looks up catching the somber expression and promptly informs Toby the President will be free in five minutes. Sitting in a chair close by, Toby waits to have the sort of conversation he never wants to have with the President of the United States.
The joining door between the The Oval office and the Chief of Staffs office opens enough for the President to poke his head through. He finds Leo sitting in his chair still staring out the window. The televisions around him are turned off, they don't need to be on, he knows what will fill the news cycle for the next week or more and what they're going to be saying.
"Took your time." Leo says not turning to face the President who quietly enters the room.
"It just landed on my desk." He confesses sitting on the couch. "I've gotta say this isn't the sort of thing I expect from you Leo."
"Me either Sir." Leo replies swinging the chair around.
"You want to tell me what happened?" The President offers.
"It was so stupid." Leo begins after a thoughtful pause. "He's one of my oldest friends, the interview was over, the tape recorder and note pad put away and he was bragging about his kids and I was bragging about Mallory. He asked me if I was seeing anyone after Jenny and I said no, he followed it up by saying I should ask CJ out she was an attractive woman and then it just tumbled out. It was a joke, the whole sentence was 'Every man I know, including myself, would love a week with CJ in a hotel. I'd just have too much competition and she's got too much class for that.' it was never a literal every man I know."
"Leo you have to swallow your pride or whatever and fix this, because this makes Josh and Mary Marsh look like a school yard squabble..." Leo nods his understanding to what the President is requesting.
"Resignation is not and option and you have to talk to CJ." The President adds before disappearing back to his office.
Once he's gone Leo picks up the phone and asks for her to get Toby to come to the office.
"Were you mis-quoted?" The Communications Director asks as he sits down opposite Leo.
Leo returns with a look that identifies without question that he wasn't.
"Was it off the record?" Toby continues pressing Leo.
"The tape recorder was off and the notepad was away, it was talk between friends and the whole quote was 'Every man I know, including myself, would love a week with CJ in a hotel. I'd just have too much competition and she's got too much class for that.' " Leo repeats to Toby.
"We need to come out vehemently against this guy for including this."
"No." Leo says shaking his head.
"Leo we can't just sweep this one under the rug and I'm betting the President has already told you resignation isn't an option and pretty soon people are going to start questioning your hiring practices." Toby's voice rises.
"He's an old friend Toby." Leo says refusing to budge.
"Who will have flushed your career with fifteen words if you don't come out in opposition to this. We go in there now, demand a retraction and deny you ever said this because there's no record of you ever saying it and it's your word against his. No retraction and then we sue, character deformation."
"This guy was at my wedding, a groomsman." Leo says forcefully.
"And he's just dug your grave." Toby replies levelly and Leo falls back into his chair. "We can't spin this Leo, it is bad whatever color you taint it."
"I want to hear what Josh and Sam think." Leo demands picking up his phone.
Outside Toby's office, Josh and Sam watch him talk on the phone with the journalist. Throughout the conversation he paces his office and raises his voice to the point where it reaches the busy bullpen.
With his back turned he finally puts down the phone powering out of the office.
"Let's go see her." He grumbles walking right past Josh and Sam towards CJ's office.
Toby barges past Carol, Sam with more tact asking for ten minutes without disruptions and closing the door behind them.
"What did you come up with?" CJ asks, her feet resting on the corner of her desk, a briefing book in her lap.
"There's going to be an apology and a retraction in the next issue. It's a non-issue because Leo never said it." Toby informs her.
"That's it?" CJ asks in almost disbelief.
"Make sure you mention our strong stance on sexual harassment." Josh advises.
"And the finer points of ethical journalism, of which you're sure everyone in the room lives by." Sam adds.
"So he never said what he's quoted as saying." CJ says looking around at the three faces.
"As far as this administration is concerned, no. But you'll have to ask Leo yourself if you want his answer." Toby answers and waits a beat; CJ seemingly satisfied the three men head back to other more important matters of running the country.
"A retraction and apology will be printed in the next issue..." CJ looks up over her glasses across the pressroom. "Regarding the alleged quote from Leo McGarry about myself."
"CJ, CJ, CJ." The room cries out as hands shoot up across the room.
"I'd like to remind you that this White House as ever, maintains its high standard regarding not tolerating sexual harassment in the workplace and other areas. We also continue to accept nothing less than the highest of journalistic standards...which is why you all have press passes." CJ smiles finishing with a little joke, which is heard by few in the room.
"Katie." CJ selects knowing no one will be satisfied with her simple statement.
"CJ how do you feel about all this?" The blonde reporter asks and CJ pauses for a moment to collect her thoughts. So much of her focus today has been on preventing any catastrophes for the administration she has barely stopped to consider anything of her personal nature.
"Well I guess I won't have to worry about getting a date for this years Congressional Christmas party." CJ jokes and waits as a ripple of laughter goes around the room. "It is in one aspect flattering and in another nothing short of demeaning and you certainly don't expect anything like this to come from your colleagues or anyone in the White House and this time it didn't. I'm not sure what Leo McGarry came up against in that interview which was meant to give you all an insight into his health routines, the only crime might be a journalist with an over active imagination and a bit of a crush, who thought he heard Leo McGarry say this. I am as conscious as ever of my role as the public face for this White House and the realization that this is not likely to have been the first time, nor will it be the last time that something of this nature is said about myself whether in public or private. However to let the cosmetic fights overshadow the important ones, to have your front pages filled with this story and not the latest Bill signing, is to take away from the reason that I'm here, that is to serve the people of this country."
"You shouldn't smoke." Leo's voice comes out of the darkness, his focus on the tiny ember in the end of the un-smoked cigarette.
CJ rocks her hand from side to side inspecting the cancer stick from each angle. "I bummed it from the President but I don't think I have the heart."
Instead she stubs it into the garden leaving the filtered end pointing up towards the sky.
"I guess you deserve it after today." Leo says taking a step closer, CJ is yet to turn and face him from where she stands on the portico staring over at the front gates.
"You did really well in there." Leo adds referring to her speech in the pressroom.
"Did that quote really come from your mouth?" CJ asks evenly.
"Yes, and I lost a life-long friend over it, so don't think it was without repercussions for me." Leo says his voice shaking a little.
"You made me sound cheap and slutty." For the first time CJ turns to face him and anger is etched into every pore of her skin. "In front the of press and the nation, I came to this job as no one, as Hollywood and each time I gained a foothold, each time I gained their trust, someone comes along and lops the ladder out from underneath me. But never until today has it been personal, I was sent in there uninformed to face humiliation to be broadcast across four major networks, you or anyone else didn't even have the decency to come and tell me before the article was being waved in front of my face. I'm the black kid in an all white baseball team, I'm a woman in a man's game and not for one moment do I believe you stopped to think of the repercussions for you, let alone me."
"CJ I'm very sorry, I crossed the line..." Leo apologizes.
"You're damn right Leo, you crossed the line so far back you can't even remember what it looks like let alone see it any longer." Leo can sense the anger in her voice rising as he does little to calm her.
"CJ, it was inappropriate, I apologized." Leo says trying again.
"It's like someone has picked up the goal posts of our relationship and moved them out of my sight...hell out of the stadium and I don't know how to react to you anymore and I'm starting to wonder if this has been going on behind my back before today. In fact I'm starting to question how it actually is a came to be here in the first place." With her hands flailing as she says what she's needed to say since it started this morning, Leo tunes out to what she's saying and concentrates on the way she moves.
The way her clothes fall beautifully on her figure, the gentle swish of the suit coat as her arms move, the way every inch of her is concentrating on getting through to him right now. The way she takes advantage of her height and leans in towards him allowing the slightest hint of her perfume to envelope him and lighten his head while stamping the scent in the association part of his brain with her. The stubborn refusal to back down in her voice, but most of all her grace and poise which would never allow her to sink as low as he has today.
"Sports metaphor CJ." He says, his comment earning him a stinging slap across his left cheek that he didn't see coming. As if shocked by her actions she seems to shrink back into some sort of shell, staring at the bright pink cheek that is the result of her actions.
"I deserved that." He says humbly nodding to her before heading back inside by way of the President's outer office. With one hand on the door he turns back to see her still standing in the same place, her shoulders sinking, her focus returned to the still night, her scent still lingering around him.
Never one to leave things unsaid or undone he moves silently back in front of her, waiting for her to say what she needs to again. Her voice is low and purposeful. "All issues for the administration aside, what does this mean Leo, is it a joke, is it a compliment, do you..."
She waits searching his face for an answer not wanting to fill in the blanks on the last option. He stares back at her waiting for her to say it. Instead he impulsively pulls at her jacket lapel, bringing her lips down to meet with his in a passionate kiss. Her arms push against him, struggling to get him off her as his mind tells him if she doesn't stop fighting him soon and start enjoying this it's going to cost him another slap...maybe this time a bruise.
As his tongue breaks into her mouth he feels her resistance dissolve, the arms that were pushing against him, rest gently on his own lapels as she steps closer to him, her delicate perfume surrounding him and the smooth skin of her neck underneath his finger tips. Slowly he draws his lips from hers moving his head slightly away from hers, with flushed cheeks and pink lips it's a moment before she opens her eyes to look directly at him.
"Do it again." She asks softly, backing up her request by putting barely any space between her lips and his.
"CJ." Leo says, half in protest that they shouldn't do this and partly because he loves the way her name just rolls off his tongue.
This time she takes control, her hands running across his back and up through his thinning sandy hair, gently tickling at the base of his hairline. His arms delve under her jacket exploring her sides and back above the delicate silk of her blouse, conscious of their desire to go further regardless of the fact that they're standing on the Presidents portico.
"Let's get out of here." CJ says running her hands down his arms till she reaches his pinkie finger, linking it with hers and taking a step back towards the building.
When Leo doesn't budge she spins around, the sincerity in his eyes the first thing she notices.
"This isn't what I said today, for me." Leo says softly.
"I know, I felt whatever you felt just then too."