Stone By Stone - Chp 14 - Earth & Sky
Charlie decides that it's time he got a new apartment. The staff take a trip to New Mexico.
Spoilers/Episode: Set in an a/u that leaves cannon after season 5, Memorial Day. This chapter takes place a week after chapter 13.
Characters: Ensemble
Rating: PG

Part III

Sunday Morning, Sam's Apartment

"First floor apartments are cheaper," CJ told Charlie.

"Because they're more noisy and less secure," Toby added.

"I've never had any trouble," Josh told them.

"How much do you pay?" Charlie asked Josh. When Josh told him, Charlie nodded, "I could afford that. Couldn't afford electricity, but you have to make sacrifices," he smiled. "What about you?" he asked Sam.

"If you lived where Sam lives you couldn't afford food never mind electricity," Donna told him. "My neighborhood's much cheaper and, regardless of what Josh says, it's fairly safe."

Josh walked into the hall and returned with a newspaper. "There you go, they'll be property to let in there."

Toby went to get more beer out of Sam's fridge, while the Charlie, Sam and CJ looked through the property section of the newspaper and Josh and Donna argued about what to put on the TV.

"Here's one," Sam said, "Two bedroomed south facing apartment. Living/dining room, kitchen, easy to maintain, convenient for local amenities."

Josh grinned. "Which translates as, 'Small, on a busy road, above a 24 hour convenience store. Being south facing, it would get the sun all day, if it wasn't for the neighboring building that almost touches it'."

"Okay, how about this," CJ tried. "'Delightful apartment, would suit professional person. Two bedrooms, bath, kitchen/dinner, living room, fully furnished with many original features'?"

Toby smiled, "Would suit professional person who works long hours, because you won't want to spend time here."

"Fully furnished with many original features. That would be the original couch, bed, kitchen, carpet and damp," Josh added.

"You two are complete cynics, you know that?" CJ told them.

"What, you've only just noticed?" Sam asked, as Toby scowled and Josh grinned.

"What do you actually want in an apartment?" Donna asked Charlie.

"A reasonably safe neighborhood, someplace Zoey might be allowed to visit," he smiled. "I'll need two bedrooms, one for Deanna when she's home. Besides that, I'm not bothered."

"Have you told Deanna?" Josh asked, remembering his feelings when his mother told him she was selling their family home.

"She's thinks it great idea. She's no intention of moving back to live with me once she finishes college anyway."

"What about Zoey?"

"She agrees with Deanna," Charlie said.

"She has no intention of living with you?" Josh asked.

"She thinks it's a great idea," Charlie told him.

"Ahh," Josh smiled.

Sam handed Charlie a piece of paper, "That's about how much you could afford."

"So I should forget these then," he crossed through the first two columns of lets. "What about this one?" he asked.

"That's the street behind mine," Donna told him.

"With the bars?" Josh asked.

"No, other side. It's quiet down there. We should go and look at some."

"I need to get the details of three or four and then show them to Harry Schofield."

"The head of Zoey's detail?"

"Yeah. Well there's no point in getting a new place and then finding she can't go there either."


White House

When Leo entered the outer office that afternoon he was surprised to find Debbie at her desk. "Thought you had plans today?" he asked.

"Yes, this," she replied, indicating the work in front of her. "He's in the Residence if you need him."

"Okay." Leo made no attempt to leave though and Debbie watched him questioningly. "I have to tell him about Josh and Donna," he told her.

"Do you think we should tell some people about us?"

"Mallory knows," Leo replied. "And the president."

"What about the others?"

"Are people are getting suspicious?" Leo asked.

"They've been quizzing me for months about who I'm dating," Debbie smiled. "I very much doubt they suspect it's you."

Leo tried to look hurt, but ended up grinning.

Debbie looked suddenly serious. "Do you think it'd be too much of a problem?"

"I don't think it'll be a problem at all," Leo replied. "I just thought you were enjoying having a secret romance."

"That is fun. I've been able to invent a whole identity for you."

"I'm not sure I want to know."


Jed handed Leo a mineral water and sat down across from him. "You've got that look."

"I don't have a look," Leo objected.

"It's the look you get when you're thinking of whether you should tell me something."

Leo took at drink and marveled again at how anyone could get away with actually selling something that had even less taste than tap water.

"Is it work or personal?" Jed asked. "Must be personal or you'd look more serious. Is it Debbie? She did come in to work today."

"No it's not Debbie." Leo studied Jed, he was obviously in a good mood, so this was probably as good a time as any. "It's Josh."

"Oh hell, what's he done?" Jed sighed.

"He's dating Donna."

"Yeah? So you were right last month then." Jed smiled, "Was he scared when he told you?"

"Almost trembling," Leo laughed. "You okay with this then?"

"Staffing's your problem," Jed shrugged. "Does CJ know?"

Leo nodded. "She doesn't think it'll be an issue. Still she says she can spin it if she needs to."

"You think there could be questions about him being her boss?"

"Yeah. I don't envisage anything that's going to affect the administration, but there's going to be gossip and some of it isn't going to be pleasant, especially for Donna."

"Yeah," Jed sighed. "Though Josh will probably get some pleasure from slapping down anyone who has anything to say."


Chapter 15 will be here soon...