Title: Roll With It
Summary: A trip to Australia, the budget and the midterms, all in one chapter, phew!
Spoilers/Episode: Set in an a/u that leaves the show's timeline after season 5, Memorial Day. This chapter takes place a month after chapter 6.
Disclaimer: I do realize that they're not mine, but I hope no one minds if I borrow them for a while.
Thursday October 14 2004
Donna closed the folder she was holding and glared at Josh. "Once more and you'll be wearing that coffee."
"What did I do?"
"You tell me one more time how great it's going to be in Australia and I swear....."
"I'm sorry, I'm excited, I've never been."
"Neither have I."
"I know and I'll bring you back a gift," Josh offered, "A nice one, not a freebie or something from the hotel gift shop."
"You've got senior staff."
Josh collected his folder and stood up. "I do wish you were coming with us, but you're not the only one staying behind. Margaret isn't going."
"Because Leo isn't."
"Neither's Debbie," Josh tried. "If there was a way you could come with us, but it's a long flight, the doctor's worried....."
"I know," Donna agreed. "It'd better be a good gift," she told him with a slight smile. "Go, you'll be late."
As the meeting ended, Jed stood up and walked to his desk. "You'll all be glad to hear that I've been reading up on Antipodean history and culture," he told the staff, who groaned in unison. "It's a long flight," he smiled.
"It'll be longer now," CJ complained.
"Would you like the quiz to start now?" Jed asked.
"No," Josh replied a little too quickly. "Sir, we have meetings and things."
"Ed and Larry think they've been spared, but there'll be plenty time while we're there," Jed smiled at the two Congressional Aides. "What's next?" he asked Leo.
"That's it, Mr President."
"Thank you, Mr President," the staff chorused as they stood and went to leave.
"Josh, wait in my office," Leo instructed.
Once Josh had gone next door, Jed asked, "You think he'll be upset?"
"After hearing that you've been reading up on Antipodean history?" Leo replied, "Oh, Definitely."
Jed smiled to himself as he watched Leo leave the office. He really felt things were getting back to normal between them at last.
Leo closed the door and placed his files on the desk. "What's up?" Josh asked.
"How's the negotiations going?"
"Good. There's a couple of wrinkles, but nothing major."
"So it's going to pass?"
"Because we can't afford another CR, not with the midterms."
"I know," Josh nodded, "it's covered. We've got a week yet, don't worry."
"Yeah," Leo sat down and watched Josh. "You're going to keep a close eye on everything over the next week."
"How close?" Josh asked suspiciously.
Josh frowned. "You're kidding me?"
"Fine," Josh sighed. "I didn't want to go anyway. I mean who'd want to spend five days in Australia and New Zealand, when you can be cold and wet here?"
"I'm staying as well, you're not going to get sympathy from me."
"You know Donna's going think this is hilarious."
Once Debbie had gone for lunch, Charlie picked up the receiver and dialed. "Happy birthday," he said when Zoey answered the phone.
"Thank you and thank you for the locket."
"You like it?"
"I love it. I'm wearing it now. The photographs are great."
"I wasn't sure about those, I didn't know whether to put them in or not."
"I'm glad you did. That was a really good night."
"It was," Charlie agreed. "What are you doing tonight?"
"Ellie's here, we might go into Manchester. I wish I could have come to Washington, but after last month, everyone thinks we should stay here for a while," Zoey told him.
"Yeah I know, your father told me."
"Well, you're just going to have to get the staff to find a reason for my dad to come here for a few days."
Charlie smiled, "I'll have a word to Josh." He looked up as the door to the Oval opened. "I have to go, I'll call you later."
"Speak to you soon."
Zoey hung up the phone and sat fingering the locket Charlie had given her. She smiled to herself as she looked at the photographs he'd put inside, one of her and one of him at the Millennium party. It seemed like a lifetime ago now, so much had happened to them all in the last four years. She'd made a decision though; she wasn't going to have her life ruled by what other people thought of her and she couldn't wait another two years to be with the man she loved. She fingered the picture of Charlie in his tux and closed the locket.
An hour later, Josh stalked out of his office and hovered in the bullpen. "Why hasn't O'Donnell returned my call yet?" he asked Donna.
"What am I, psychic?"
"Ring him again."
"I rang him ten minutes ago," Donna replied and Josh glared at her. "Fine," she sighed, "I'll phone him again."
"Good," Josh replied and walked back into his office.
Two minutes later Donna appeared in the doorway. "O'Donnell's in a meeting all afternoon."
"A real meeting, or one his secretary invented so he can avoid me?"
"Why would he be avoiding you?"
"Because he isn't getting back to me and I want this budget sorted," Josh shouted.
"Okay, calm down," Donna said.
"I'll be calm when he calls me back."
Donna closed the office door. "I can't take it any more. What's wrong?"
"Just tell me."
"I have to stay here, while the president, CJ, Toby, Charlie and everyone else goes on the trip."
"Are you being punished?" Donna asked with a smile. "More to the point, am I being punished?"
"That was unfair," Josh said, but gave a small smile. "I have to keep a close eye on the budget."
"Well you remember what happened last year."
"I don't care," Josh replied. "I'm essential staff, I get paid anyway."
"Not if the people in the pay office are sent home you don't."
"I still don't care," Josh said. "Stop grinning."
"Sorry, it's just, you've spent a week telling me how great it was going to be and now, I'm sorry," Donna smiled and left the office.
Sunday Air Force One
"And Josh will have the budget sorted by Wednesday?" Jed spoke into the phone.
"He's says it's in the bag," Leo replied as he routed through his desk for a file he wanted to take home.
"O'Donnell's on board?"
"And Haffley isn't going to cause any trouble this year."
"Apparently not," Leo agreed absently.
"Am I boring you?" Jed asked.
Leo found the file he wanted and put it in his briefcase. "No, Sir. But we had this discussion before you left and it's now 8.30 on a Sunday night."
"Are you saying you want to go home?"
"I wouldn't mind," Leo smiled.
"Josh isn't too upset about missing the trip?" Jed continued.
Leo sighed and sat down. "He understands he needs to be here, in case one of them changes their minds."
"The vote's at 2 on Wednesday?"
"That's 7am on Thursday in Auckland," Jed reminded Leo.
"Why would that matter to me?" Leo asked.
"I just thought you might be interested."
"Not really, no."
Jed could hear the smile in Leo's voice. "The staff should have settled in now, I think it's time I had a talk to them. I'll speak to you tomorrow."
"Good night, Mr President."
Leo hung up the phone and shook his head. It seemed that now he and Jed were talking again, Jed wanted to make up for five months of almost silence. While Leo had missed Jed's friendship and, strangely, the inane trivia, he wasn't quite ready to carry on as if the last, however long, hadn't happened, he couldn't forget quite that easily. Still, it was getting better and something good had come out of it. While Leo wasn't spending his limited amount of free time with Jed, he'd met someone. She was away tonight though, so Leo collected his briefcase and coat and headed for home.
Part 2 .............