Summary: Sam and Zoey visit Washington.
Spoilers/Episode: Set in an a/u starting after season 5, Memorial Day. This chapter takes place four weeks after Chapter 3.
Characters: Ensemble, Sam and Zoey.
Disclaimer: JWP, NBC and others own these characters, I'm just borrowing them.
Thursday August 12th 2004
Josh was trying to understand a budget report, but the words were starting to mean nothing to him and the numbers were blurring into one incomprehensible jumble. He sighed, leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes for a second to try and ease his headache.
That, of course, was the moment Zoey chose to enter the office. She smiled at the site of Josh, with the top button of his shirt undone, his tie slackened, his hair looking like he'd spent most of the day running his hands through it. He looked as rumbled as ever, it was good to know some things never changed. "Busy?" she asked.
Josh opened his eyes and grinned. "Hey, when did you get here?"
"Just now," Zoey sat in the visitor's chair. "You look like crap, Josh."
"That's about how I feel," Josh agreed with a slight smile. "How long you staying?"
"'Til after the weekend. Thought I'd let Charlie take me to the movies."
Josh grinned mischievously, "Will that be like a date or as friends?"
"Friends," Zoey replied. "Maybe," she shrugged. "I don't know. It's sort of up to him. Actually I probably won't be allowed to go," she said with a frown.
Josh could see the disappointment in her eyes and, just to make her smile, he made an offer that would probably cause the president to fire him. "Sam's here this weekend, come out with us."
Zoey face lit up, "Hey that'd great," she smiled. "Where you going?"
"Dunno, drinks and a meal I guess."
"Something different to the usual then?" Zoey teased. "I'll ask my dad, which coming from any other 23 year old would sound really pathetic."
"He won't have a problem with you coming out with us," Josh said and then smiled. "It might be better if you don't mention that Sam and I are going to be there, in fact you might just want to tell him it's Donna and CJ."
"That's probably a good idea," Zoey agreed, before changing the subject to the reason she was there. "What's going on with my dad and Leo?"
"I don't know."
"Really?" Zoey gave Josh a look that reminded him of her mother. "How did it start? And don't ask 'how did what start'."
"You know, I remember when you were shy," Josh sighed. "It started after the CODEL," he lied, because, even though he suspected it went back further than that, he didn't want her to think it had anything to do with her.
"Because of the summit?"
Josh shrugged, "I think, I don't really know. Leo hasn't said anything, and your father is hardly likely to tell me."
"He told me everything was fine. I wish he'd stop trying to protect me. It's obvious something's wrong."
"I know," Josh agreed. "Things have seemed a little better the last couple of weeks, maybe it'll sort itself out."
"Was that you being optimistic?" Zoey asked.
"No, it's called clutching at straws. So you going to come tomorrow?"
Zoey waited until after dinner, before approaching her parents about the night out with the senior staff. She knew it wasn't going to be easy to convince them, so she'd found out from Donna which restaurant they were going to and then she'd spoken to the secret service. They'd agreed, so now all she had to do was convince her mother and father.
"I don't know, Zoey," Abbey told her youngest daughter.
"I'll have protection," Zoey argued. "They're only going to a restaurant."
"What do the Secret Service say?" Abbey asked.
"That it'll be fine, because I'm 23 not 7," Zoey replied a little sharply.
"That tone isn't going to help," Jed said. "Who's going?"
"Charlie, CJ, Donna, Toby, Mallory, Will, Sam and Josh."
"I remember what happened before when you went to bar with Sam and Josh," Jed sighed.
Zoey didn't have to ask what he was talking about. "That was 5 years ago and nothing happened." She watched her parents impatiently. While she understood that this was hard for them, they had to realize that she wasn't a child, she had to live her life. "I couldn't be much safer than sat in restaurant with a group of White House staffers, Mallory and Sam. They're the only ones who know I'll be there and surely you trust them. Plus, we'll have Secret Service at the next table and on all the exits."
"So you have talked to the Secret Service?" Abbey asked.
"Jed?" Abbey asked.
"I don't know," he admitted.
"Oh for God's sake," Zoey snapped. "I haven't seen Sam since he left. I haven't had a night out with my friends, or with anyone for that matter, since last year."
"We went out over Christmas," her father protested.
"Yes, and it was nice," Zoey agreed. "Don't take this the wrong way, dad, but going out with you isn't real. You travel in a full security cordon; nobody gets within a mile who hasn't been vetted for 3 months. I'm 23, I want to live as normal a life as possible. I want to go out with friends to a restaurant, that's all."
"Okay," Abbey nodded.
Jed looked at his wife and then at his daughter, who was trying very hard not to smile triumphantly. "Just to the restaurant," he reluctantly agreed.
"They might go on someplace," Zoey tried.
"They can go on to wherever they choose, you're only going to the restaurant," Jed told her.
"Okay," Zoey smiled. She kissed her parents and went to phone Charlie.
Once Zoey had left the room, Jed looked up at his wife. "Is this wise?"
"I don't know," she admitted. "What did happen when Josh and Sam took her out before?"
"It was during our first year. She went to the bar and got hassled by some students. Charlie went to help her and they started on him. Josh hit her panic button, which she'd left at the table."
Abbey smiled reassuringly at Jed. "I don't think there's any way either Charlie or Josh will let Zoey go anywhere without half a dozen agents." When Jed gave her a questioning look she added, "They both feel guilty about letting her go to meet Jean Paul at the club last year."