Title: Lead The Way, Claudia Jean

Author: Goldfish Girl

Email: strangetopiary@hotmail.com

Category: Drama, Episode Related, CJC

Summary: Post –"Two Cathedrals" A boy. A girl. An unoffending marble column. Nothing deep is answered , but Sam gets to vent a little.

Spoilers: Most of Season 2 , especially the last 4 eps.

Rating: PG-13, possibly R for language ( I'm not sure how many curses count as an R.)

Disclaimer :Characters aren't mine. God , I wish they were , but they're not.

Warnings: Uh , if you're of the faint of heart when it comes to swearing , there's several uses of curses, just to well , warn you.

Lead The Way, Claudia Jean

A lone bespectacled man stood at the famed entrance of the West Wing. He knew that at least the outside of the West Wing was usually without light by 11 PM but tonight it seemed especially, well…. dark.

I write for a living, and that's the best I can come up with? Geez.

Another thing his mind suddenly registered: it was windy, and he was getting very wet.

Fortunately, before he spent too much time pondering the relevance of this fact, a gentle hand nudged him under the overhang, where he was no longer getting drenched. This hand was apparently attached to a body, to which was also attached a head, which carried upon it a familiar, friendly face capped by a beautifully defiant mass of strawberry blond hair.

Neither spoke for a while- but it was a calm tired while, as opposed to the short tense whiles the pair had been enduring for the past few days. Finally, the bespectacled one spoke.

"So it was answer A after all."

"Yeah."

"Ok."

Silence again.

"CJ, about this afternoon…"

"Sam, don't…"

"No, I didn't need to be that snippy and petulant….. you were just doing your job."

"Actually, Sam, I think you needed to be exactly that snippy."

Sam's beleaguered mind could come up with no more then a confused, "Huh?"

"Yes, I admit, you pissed me off, and you were being as stubborn as Josh and Toby on a bad day combined, but….."

"But?"

"I can remember being exactly that snippy with Oliver Babish, and as much as it pains me to admit it , he was just doing his job too."

"Uh, CJ, not to devolve into the depths of snippiness again, but is there…"

CJ sighed.

"My point is, Samuel, that we were both angry, both incredibly frustrated, and we found easy targets for it. Now those outlets may have been less then optimal, but then again, the whole situation was like that."

Sam contemplated this statement.

" Yeah."

Minutes crept by, until Sam spoke again. His voice did not carry with it the quiet exhaustion of before, but instead a volatile mix of the anger and frustration that had bubbled up in Toby's office only hours before.

"Dammit, CJ….why us?"

"Why us…what?"

"There've been 40-odd presidents, and however many Senior Staffs, why the hell is all this shit happening to us?!"

He barreled on, not concentrating as much on the words as on the emotional release behind them.

" I mean, what, there was Rosslyn, then Christmas, the leadership breakfast, the GDC thing, the State of the Union and Columbia, the pardons…"

His voice trailed off briefly, unconsciously signifying the pain that subject still brought him. But he went on.

"And now all this, and in the middle of it…. Goddamnit!"

Sam had worked up to a frenzied crescendo on this last sentence, and punctuated it by angrily slamming his fist into one of the marble columns. CJ was momentarily shocked by the intensely physical outburst; it was unlike him Sam knew this as well, and was regretting it.

"Ouch…..man, that really hurt, CJ."

"Marble will usually do that to you." CJ opined as she went over to take a look at it.

"Does it feel broken?"

"No, I can move it, it just hurts like a..

"Do you want me to get some ice?"

"No, I'll be fine."

"Suit yourself, you masochist."

"That was uncalled for."

"It's true."

Both smiled, but silence again blanketed the space between them.

"Because it's what we signed up for."

"What?"

"It's what we signed up for."

Sam thought on this.

"Yeah, I guess I knew that, on some level. Only…….. damnit, why didn't he tell us?"

"I really don't have a clue, Sam."

"I mean, what was he- I mean, what did he think we'd do?"

"Maybe he was worried we'd quit."

"Why would he think that?"

"Can you honestly say- back during the campaign, you can honestly say you'dve stuck by him?"

"Can you?"

"I don't know."

"Neither do I."

"Sam, maybe we're forgetting an important fact in all of this."

"What's that?"

"That most of the time he's Mr. Cool, Ultra Rational Being……he's Jed Bartlet. He's human, and that means making mistakes. This one just happened to blow up in his face rather more then the rest of them."

"Yeah."

Silence fell again- it seemed to do that a lot.

Sam spoke, but this time, with the quiet tiredness of earlier.

"You know they told me the day after they told you."

"Yes, the day I spent with our delightfully charming White House counsel."

"He's …something, alright."

"Did Toby…"

"Tell me, 'I'll be in my office when you're done.' ?"

"Yeah."

"Yes he did….. you know what was the crappy thing about that night was?'

" Besides the obvious?"

"I was having a pretty good day."

"Except for the offending the progressive caucus thing?"

"How'd you hear about that?"

"I have ears everywhere."

"I'm sure."

"Were you mocking me just then?"
"No, no, I believe you."

"Good."

Somewhere, off in other places, people led relatively normal lives. These places, if they existed, were very far away from CJ and Sam.

"CJ?"

"Yeah?"

"What have we gotten ourselves into?"

"I don't know, but there's no turning back now, is there?"

"Nope."

"You sure you're up for it, Samuel?"

"Lead the way, Claudia Jean."

FIN