Two characters are ours, the rest belong to Aaron Sorkin, John Wells Productions, Warner Bros., & NBC. Standard disclaimers apply. Please send feedback. Erzulie Violet & Cinnamon
"Sex is love. Period. This I believe."
Zoey Bartlet stared at her father across the breakfast table. "Dad, I'm twenty years old."
Jed nodded sagely. "And I know that's a very vulnerable age for a girl, and that's why I'm trying to tell you--"
"You know, Lizzie was already married when she was my age," Zoey teased.
"Times have changed."
"They sure have."
He looked at her over the top of his glasses. "Are you--"
"Whatever you're going to ask me, I'm pretty sure you'd really rather not."
"Yeah. You used to listen to me, you know."
"I still do, most of the time." She walked around the table cheerfully and kissed him on the cheek. "Happy Valentine's Day."
"You were this tiny little girl," he said glumly.
"Aren't you supposed to be in the office by now?" Zoey called as she left the room.
* * *
"Please?" Josh asked.
C.J. walked faster. "No."
He made a feint toward the bag of candy in her hand; she jerked it out of his reach. "It's not for you."
"Why'd you bring candy for the press corps and not for us?" he demanded, as they rounded the corner and crossed the bullpen.
"Lots of reasons. You don't bring me flowers, you don't sing me love songs...."
"Neither does the press corps."
"Is that chocolate?" Sam asked, as he fell into step with them. He reached for the bag.
C.J. slapped his hand away. "Yes, it is, and no, you can't have any."
"You know, you can be so cruel."
"That's right. I'm a mean old lady."
"I've been saying that for years," Toby remarked, emerging from his office.
She shot a sidelong glance in his direction. "Get off my lawn before I call the cops."
They filed into Leo's office. "Good morning," he said, in a tone that suggested it was anything but.
"Good morning, Leo." C.J. approached his desk. "Would you like a Hershey Kiss?"
He looked up, surprised. "Thank you."
"So he gets one and we don't," Josh said, frowning.
She rolled her eyes. "Have you ever heard the expression 'sweets to the sweet'?"
"Are you saying you want me to suck up to you for a couple of cheap pieces of candy?"
"It couldn't hurt."
"Could we get on task, please?" Leo interrupted, sternly.
"How was Florida?" Toby asked.
"Florida was fine. The meetings were fine, the money's fine. The flight was the flight from hell. Listen, Lou Woliver's coming in today."
Toby grimaced. "Hide the knives."
Leo gave Toby a lightly reproachful look. "The President likes him for the EPA."
"So do I," Sam added.
"Great, because you two are going to spend the day vetting him. If we're going to ask him, we'd better be sure he'll say yes. C.J.--"
"Nothing to the press," she said automatically. "It was a routine meeting; no decision has been made about the EPA appointment."
"Good. Josh, see what you can find out about the Airline Passenger Rights bill that died in the House a while back."
"Didn't we kill that one?" Josh wondered.
"We let it go. Look into it for me." Leo leaned back in his chair. "I think that's the new business, so far. Make it a good day, guys."
As they started to leave, Toby turned back. "You know, Louis Woliver is certifiably--"
"If I can live with Marbury," Leo said. Toby nodded and walked out. Leo watched them go and picked up the piece of chocolate C.J. had left on his desk. He unwrapped the foil and popped it into his mouth, and a smile crossed his face before he reached for the phone.
* * *
Sam walked quickly through the halls, maneuvering easily as he skimmed a file on global warming and reviewed his notes. He turned the corner towards his office and greeted his assistant.
"Good morning." She didn't look up from her computer screen. "Your eight-thirty is here."
Sam paused next to her desk, but continued reading. "What eight-thirty?"
"Your eight-thirty appointment. She's here."
"I don't have an eight-thirty appointment."
"Yes, you do. I left you a memo about it on Friday."
"No, you didn't."
"Yes, I did."
Sam closed the folder. "What did it say?"
"That you have an eight-thirty appointment today."
"I didn't get a memo."
"Well, I left you a memo."
He glanced at his watch. "Is it a huge thing?"
Cathy shrugged. "It didn't sound like it. Lisa Jiang wanted to see you to discuss your stock portfolio."
"What? I don't have -- oh." His shoulders slumped.
"Do you want me to tell her you can't do it today?" Cathy looked at him.
He removed his glasses slowly and shook his head. "No, I can -- no." He took a moment to steel his nerves, then inhaled deeply and opened the door to his office.
"Nice digs," she said, running her hand across his desk.
"I don't have a stock portfolio."
"Your secretary doesn't know that."
"She's my assistant," he said coldly.
"Whatever." Lisa crossed her arms and smiled. "Hi."
Sam's voice was quiet. "What do you want?"
"I was in the neighborhood."
"You look good." She smiled again. "I like your tie."
He stepped around her and sat at his desk. "I'm busy."
"You don't look busy."
"I work in the White House, Lisa. I'm always busy." He opened his folder and began writing random words on a piece of paper, hoping she would think he was taking notes.
"I have reservations at Barolo this afternoon. Meet me there at one." She headed for the door, then stopped. "See you, Seaborn."
Sam watched her leave, then placed his pen on his desk with a shaky hand.
"Hey." C.J. knocked and entered the office. "I wanted to ask you about--"
"Sam!" Josh ran into the room.
C.J. looked at him, then at Sam. "Anyway, I wanted to--"
Josh interrupted again. "Was that...?" Sam nodded miserably.
"Who?" C.J. asked.
"What was she--"
"I don't know." Sam stood.
"Who?" C.J. asked again.
Josh shook his head. "I can't believe--"
"Hello!" They looked at C.J. "Who?"
Josh cleared his throat. "That woman who just left? That was Lisa Jiang."
"And that name is supposed to mean what to me?"
"She's my fiancee," Sam spoke up.
C.J. furrowed her brow. "Your fiancee?"
"Well, she was my fiancee."
"So she's your ex-fiancee."
"She's a force of evil," Josh said helpfully.
Sam rolled his eyes. "She is not."
Josh raised his eyebrows and looked at C.J. "Evil," he mouthed.
* * *
She leaned into Leo's office. "Yes?"
"Get American Airlines on the phone for me. I'm going to register a complaint."
"They have a customer comments hotline," Margaret pointed out.
"I don't want to talk to some random flunky, I want to talk to someone important." Leo picked up some memos and read it while he spoke. "They put us in the shuttle, they drove us away from the gate, and we circled around the tarmac for two and a half hours."
"I was once stuck in Newark Airport for four," she said.
"What were you doing in Newark?"
"I was waiting for a flight. I was going to visit--"
"What does this note mean?"
"SFTM. SFTM. What is that? Secretary for...?"
"Send flowers to Mallory," Margaret explained.
"For what?" He frowned, trying to remember. "It's not her birthday. Is it?"
"It's Valentine's Day."
"Oh. So that's why the Hershey Kisses."
"What Hershey Kisses?"
"Never mind. Get me the Secretary of Transportation, set up a meeting for later. And call American Airlines, would you?"
Margaret sighed. "Is this going to be like when you call up the New York Times to correct their spelling?"
He looked up at her severely. "The Airline Passenger Bill of Rights would prevent airlines from giving false information to passengers. It would guarantee timely compensation to the hundreds of Americans who deal with flight delays and cancellations, and it would put penalties in place for underselling flights and losing baggage. This is a real thing. Don't make light of it."
"Okay." She backed towards the door.
"And the New York Times shouldn't need me to correct their spelling!" He yelled after her.
* * *
Toby flipped dourly through a file as Sam came into his office. "I've got about a hundred pages Woliver wrote about the glory of the Mississippi River. I could just be reading Mark Twain right now."
"Yeah." Sam said distractedly. "Listen. I've got this lunch thing."
"Yeah. I'm going to have to duck out of the Woliver meeting a little early."
"No way," Toby replied. "I'm not flying solo on this one. You're the tree hugger here."
"Tree hugger?" Sam repeated with disapproval. "When did you turn into a Republican? Was I absent that day?"
"Don't make jokes about this. This is incredibly important."
Toby nodded. "You need to stay in the meeting, Sam."
Sam sighed and dropped onto Toby's couch. "I know. But I have to -- I wouldn't ask if it wasn't--"
"Incredibly important?" he quipped. "Fine. Do your lunch thing. I can deal with Colonel Sanders for an hour if I have to."
"I thought Colonel Sanders was from Kentucky."
"He's a cartoon."
Sam rested his head on the back of the couch, closing his eyes. "Louis Woliver's a good man, Toby."
"He's also the poster child for--"
A large shadow fell across the open door. "Ladies!" a jovial voice thundered. Ginger and Bonnie could be heard giggling.
Toby pushed his chair back from his desk and stood. "Here we go."
Louis Woliver strode into Toby's office with a loud guffaw. "Mr. Seaborn. Mr. Ziegler."
Sam stood and shook his hand. "Congressman Woliver. Thanks for coming down."
He waved Sam away. "I can spare a little time away from representing the people. What can I do for you?"
"Well, we're interested in discussing your stance on several issues of environmental policy," Sam said.
"You're interested or the President's interested?" Woliver asked.
Toby spoke carefully. "The President will be interested in what we say to him about this meeting."
"I see." Woliver glanced back and forth between Toby and Sam. "You know, if I meet with the President, you won't be able to talk him out of hiring me."
Toby tilted his head back and looked at Woliver with distaste. "You'll find that this administration is considerably more resistant to your charms than you seem to think."
"I'm not charming," Woliver said gleefully. "I'm obnoxious and disliked. I'm also exactly what Josiah Bartlet wants for the EPA, and all three of us know that." He settled his bulk on Toby's couch and folded his hands. "So, gentlemen. Small talk's out of the way. Let's talk about the future of the planet."
* * *
"What are you doing?"
Josh entered his office and found Donna sitting at his desk, work spread around her.
"I'm hiding from that scary man."
Josh's eyes twinkled. "You're hiding from Toby?"
"I'm hiding from that scary man from the Bayou."
"Donna, you're talking about a United States Congressman."
"Yeah, a big, sweaty, scary Congressman." She looked at him. "Now stop bothering me. I have work to do."
"Get out of my office!"
She made a face. "Josh, if I go back out there, he's going to tell me about how his grandpappy used to skin alligators or something."
"Did you just say 'grandpappy'?" he chuckled. "Seriously, Donna, buck up. It's not Louis Woliver's fault that you come from the frozen tundra of the Midwest."
Donna glared at him and began gathering her things. "You know, with that attitude, it's no wonder you don't have a Valentine."
"Hi, Donna." Charlie stuck his head into the office. "Hey, Josh."
"Watch out for him," she warned as she swept out. "He's a small, little man today."
"Small and little, both?" Josh shouted after her. He turned to Charlie. "How's the President this morning?"
"He keeps looking at me like he thinks I'm going to steal George Washington's ceremonial silver."
"Is there actually any--"
"I don't know. Could I ask you something?"
"Sure." Josh sat down behind his desk, folding his arms behind his head.
"I don't know if you're the right guy to ask this, but the alternative was to ask Sam, and Sam definitely isn't the right guy to ask about women."
"Oh, it's about women!" Josh grinned. "Believe it or not, Charlie, I'm not as inept with the opposite sex as I look."
"Yeah, well. Either way." Charlie shuffled his feet. "I need to think of something to do for Zoey. A gift or something."
Josh took this in, then laughed softly. "That's sweet."
"No, really. You could give her a card you made yourself."
"If you're just going to make fun of me, I'll go."
"With little stickers. Roses are red--" As Charlie started to leave, Josh took a breath. "Hang on. I'm sorry."
He came back in. "So what should I do?"
"The big thing is, you have to make her feel needed. Women like to know that they're important. You have to show her that she's valuable, that she's not just wasting her time--" Through the window beyond Charlie, Josh caught sight of Donna, reorganizing the items on her desk. He stopped short.
Charlie waited for him to go on. "So I should get Zoey... what?"
"God," Josh said in an undertone. "I am as inept as I look." He covered his face with his hands.
"Yeah." Charlie looked at him oddly. "Okay. I'm gonna go back to the real world now."
Josh spoke dismally through his fingers. "Okay."
* * *
"...And, as you know, a series of budget meetings are scheduled for the weeks ahead. I'm sure you're all looking forward to that as much as we are."
"I thought we were done, Katie."
Danny spoke up. "Yes, we are."
"No, we're not."
C.J. chuckled. "Looks like someone is undermining your authority here, Danny."
"What is the White House's official position on the Family Values March?" Katie asked.
"There isn't one." C.J. rifled through her folder. "To be honest with you, I don't know that the President is even aware that's going on."
"Well, does the White House support the cause of family unity?"
C.J. looked steadily at the reporter. "You know, I'll have to check on that." To a general chorus of laughter, she added, "Thanks."
As the press dispersed, Danny followed C.J. out of the room. "Hey, thanks for the candy."
"Can I have a kiss?"
"I mean another Hershey Kiss."
"The answer's still no. One to a customer."
He went after her. "So what's Woliver doing here?"
C.J. wasn't fazed. "It's not unusual for members of Congress to meet with the White House staff on a variety of issues."
"Sure, but Lou Woliver's an unusual member of Congress."
"All right, you caught me." She perched on the edge of her desk. "I invited him down here to put a hex on you."
"Can he really do that?"
"Wouldn't put it past him." C.J. picked up a few pieces of candy from her desk, idly rotating them in her hand. Danny reached out swiftly and tried to grab one. She yanked them away. "Danny. No means no."
"I suppose." He turned diffidently for the door. "If I burst spontaneously into flames, I'm blaming you."
She smiled. "Credit where it's due."
* * *
"Don't screw with me, Seaborn."
"Global warming--" Sam tried again.
Woliver glowered at him. "Global warming is a serious public concern. The most recent studies suggest that the temperature may rise ten degrees in the next hundred years, there's little doubt that it's attributable to human activity, and I live in the world, Seaborn, so why are you telling me this like I don't know?"
Toby rubbed his forehead. "It needs to be a priority for the EPA."
"Really? You know, we were just going to sit around and play poker." He leaned back on the couch, tapping his fingers on his knee. "Of course global warming needs to be a priority. I'd love to have all the time in the world to devote to solving that one. But you know what? More than fifty cities get their drinking water from the Mississippi River."
"Thank you, Huckleberry Finn," Toby muttered.
"We're talking about millions of people. We're talking about power plant discharges, agricultural and urban runoff -- we're talking industrial and human waste in your drinking water. If we don't fix that, there won't be many people here to enjoy the warm winter weather a century from now."
Sam paced around the office thoughtfully. "What's your opinion of this administration's track record on environmental issues?"
Woliver considered this. "You've made some efforts, mostly cosmetic ones, at enforcing existing laws and corporate responsibility. You've taken a few half-assed stabs at fighting pollution, but you're scared to do anything that might bother the oil industry. All in all, you're marginally better than your predecessors."
"I'm not an environmentalist," Toby said. Sam coughed. A warning look from Toby silenced him. "I'm not an environmentalist. While there are American children suffering for lack of food, education, and medical care, I think it's inappropriate to pour large amounts of federal money into the pockets of special interests and fringe groups."
"And I am an environmentalist," Woliver countered. "I'm also not dumb enough to think you can feed starving children and poison their air and expect it'll all work out in the end."
"Toby's not saying--" Sam began.
"I know what he's saying." He grinned toothily. "I'm going to get into it during budget negotiations. I'm going to draw fire by being an outspoken advocate of my pet causes. I'm more trouble than I'm worth. Ziegler?"
"Yeah, that's pretty much what I'm saying, Sam."
"If you want to be here," Woliver continued, "if you want Democrats to vote for you twenty-one months from now, you're going to have to cut the crap. Don't try to screw me, Seaborn. I'll be more than happy to bend you over this desk and ride you all the way back up to the Hill."
Bemused, Sam and Toby stared at the large, smiling man. The silence was broken by a shrill beep. Sam jumped and realized it was the alarm on his watch. He looked at Toby. "I have--"
"The lunch thing." Toby nodded wearily. "Go."
Woliver offered Sam his hand. "Pleasure talking with you."
Sam shook it awkwardly, shot Toby a bewildered look, and bolted from the room.
Toby rested his chin in his hand and regarded Woliver grimly for a long moment. "Okay. Let's talk about petroleum storage."
* * *
Sam looked at the maitre d'. "Lisa Jiang?"
She briefly consulted the reservations book, then pointed to where Lisa was sitting.
"Thank you." Sam made his way through the restaurant and found Lisa at the best table.
She grinned as he approached. "Hi."
"I can't stay long," he said, pulling out his chair.
Lisa sipped her wine and nodded.
"Angel hair with shrimp and lemon?"
Sam looked up and saw Lisa motioning the waiter to place the dish in front of him.
"I ordered for you," she explained.
"And lobster ravioli for the lady." The waiter smiled at them, then left the table.
"You shouldn't have done this."
She looked at him. "You know, if you keep this up, I'm going to start thinking you're not happy to see me."
"I'm supposed to be happy to see you?"
"You could pretend."
"A note," he repeated, softly. "Five years, and I came home to a note."
"You came home from being on the road for three weeks," she reminded him.
"I was working!"
"You were playing cowboy with Josh. That's what you were doing."
"I told you--"
"Yeah, you did."
Sam blinked. "You said it was okay."
"Lisa...." he sighed.
"It wouldn't have made a difference."
Sam was silent for a moment. "What are you doing in Washington?"
"Sullivan Boscorelli and I are down for the week, consulting at Edelman." She pushed the ravioli around on her plate. "I thought I'd look in on you."
"You'd look in on me." Sam smiled to himself and shook his head. "I asked you to marry me, and you said yes, and then you didn't. So you know what? The next time you feel like looking in on me, why don't you send me a note?" Standing, he opened his wallet and tossed a generous amount of money on the table, then walked away.
* * *
Josh came out of his office and hovered behind Donna. "Hey."
"Do you know where my folder on the air travel thing went?"
"No." She kept typing.
"Are you sure?"
Donna spun her chair around and faced him. "Maybe if I think really hard...." She scrunched up her features and meditated for a minute, then opened her eyes wide. "No."
Josh frowned suspiciously at her as C.J. approached. "Can I borrow him for a minute?"
"Please do," Donna replied.
"Hang on!" Josh stepped in front of Donna's desk. "Why did you ask her? I'm standing right here."
"She knows your schedule," C.J. explained.
"I know my schedule."
Donna stifled a yawn. "Josh, who are you meeting with at two-thirty?"
He thought about it. "Kyle Clark?"
"It's somebody with a name like Kyle Clark."
"It's Peter Mariowski, Josh." Donna looked at C.J. "Take him if you want him."
C.J. took Josh's arm and they walked down the hall. "What's the deal with Sam and this woman?"
Josh was puzzled. "Why, did a reporter ask about it?"
"No." C.J. paused. "Is this something reporters are going to ask about?"
"Why would anyone ask about this?"
"I don't know, Josh!" She stopped walking, frustrated. "I have no idea what's going on here."
"You and me both." He leaned against the wall next to her. "I'm not even sure who Peter Mariowski is."
"Deputy Secretary of Transportation, and I'm talking about Sam."
"Okay, listen." Josh glanced around them and spoke conspiratorially. "Lisa Jiang is the original dragon lady."
"You know what that was there?" C.J. said. "That was racist and sexist in one big package of stereotypes."
He ducked his head apologetically. "But you don't know Lisa."
"So tell me."
"I met her a bunch of times when they lived together in New York. She works on Wall Street. She..." He stared down at the floor. "She hates my guts."
"Hates your guts?" C.J. repeated, amused.
"I'm serious. She used to shoot me dirty looks behind Sam's back, and make little comments. Sam was crazy about her, couldn't think for himself around her." Josh sighed. "She left him when he came to work with us."
C.J. winced. "That's...."
"I gather you hate her guts too."
He rapped his hand aimlessly against the wall. "She burned Sam, and Sam's my friend."
"Over there." C.J. spotted him across the bullpen. "He's back early."
Josh checked his watch. "It couldn't have gone too well."
"We shouldn't bother him."
"We really shouldn't."
"He probably needs to be alone right now."
They looked on as Sam gloomily disappeared into his office. "We're going over there, huh?" C.J. said.
"Oh, yeah." C.J. and Josh quickly walked to Sam's office. "Well?"
"Did you know there's a drink called Bea Arthur's Underpants?"
Josh raised his eyebrows. "Seriously?"
"Bea Arthur's Underpants?"
"Vodka, beer, Mountain Dew, and honey." Sam took in their disgusted expressions. "I just drank one."
Josh grimaced. "Lunch was that bad?"
"She's a viper." Sam slumped into his chair. "She's the original dragon lady."
C.J. glanced at Josh, and he nodded knowingly.
"What did she want?" C.J. asked.
"Hell if I know." He looked at them. "What's going on with Woliver?"
"He and Toby are still going at it," Josh said. "I expect one of them will emerge soon, bloody but victorious." He glanced at his watch. "I have to go see Leo."
"Are you sure you're not going to see Betty White?" C.J. teased.
Josh scoffed and ignored her. "Are you going to be okay?"
Sam shrugged and put on his glasses. "If Bea Arthur's Underpants didn't cure me, nothing will."
Josh turned to leave, and C.J. started after him, then changed her mind.
"Okay, Sam, here's what's going to happen." She leaned against the door. "You're going to come to my office with me and I'm going to give you a Hershey Kiss because you look sad, and then I'm taking you out to lunch because I'm almost certain you didn't eat before."
"Really?" He smiled.
"But you have to stop saying Bea Arthur's Underpants."
He nodded and stood. "I can do that."
* * *
While signing a stack of memos, Leo gripped the phone between his ear and his shoulder. "I know that. I'm not saying that. I'm saying I was sitting in a mini-bus for two and a half hours! There should be some kind of... no. No, I'll get back to you later." He hung up the phone and looked at it as if it had personally offended him.
Margaret stepped in. "Josh is here."
"Send him in."
She lingered. "Do you prefer orchids or chrysanthemums?"
"For Mallory. You're sending her flowers because it's Valentine's Day."
"I didn't forget," he said irritably.
"All right." Margaret rolled her eyes. "So which ones?"
"How should I know?" He took off his glasses. "Is Josh here?"
"I just told you he was here."
"Yes, but then you started babbling about...."
"Orchids and chrysanthemums. They're very different flowers, Leo. They have entirely different--"
"Margaret!" Leo set his pen down, exasperated. "Send Josh in. Pick out some flowers. Stop driving me to an early grave."
Obediently, she went back to the outer office. Josh strolled in. "What's going on?"
"Margaret's become the Secretary of Agriculture," Leo said. "I just got off the phone with Kendall. Before that, I talked to Roanoke, Ford, and... I don't know, someone else in Congress."
"Well, that narrows it down," Josh murmured.
Leo glared at him briefly and went on. "Everyone agrees with me that the state of air travel in this country is despicable. Unfortunately, everyone's also in agreement that we're not going to get anything done about it right now."
Josh rested a hand on the back of a chair. "We picked it up and we're dropping it again?"
"For a while." Leo pushed his own chair back a little. "We'll take another look twenty months from now."
"Okay," Josh said soberly. Something occurred to him. "Now I have nothing to talk about in my two-thirty meeting with what's-his-name."
Leo stared at him. "Josh, you're not about to complain to your boss that you don't have any work to do, are you?"
"Of course not!" Josh stood straighter. "I have a lot of work to do."
"Get to it, then."
"Yeah." Josh hesitated. "You know, we should be nicer to our assistants."
Leo was already working on something else. "Hmm?"
"We should be nicer to them. We should be nice to everyone who works here."
"I'd hope so."
"I mean, they're our support staff. They -- you know, they support us."
"Sure you have enough work to do?" Leo asked.
"I'm gone," Josh said, and went.
* * *
"And that, my dear boy, is the Louisiana state song." Woliver grinned broadly and clasped his fingers behind his head.
Toby closed his eyes. "Yeah, well, the French really screwed us on that deal."
"Are you maligning my beloved home state?"
Woliver chuckled. "Come on, Ziegler, sing with me this time. Give me Louisiana, the state where--"
"You know, you're a real stick in the mud." Woliver suddenly leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees. "When do I get to talk to the big man?"
Toby blinked. "I assume you're talking about the President."
"You know what they say about the word 'assume', Ziegler: it makes an ass out of you and me."
"That's a new one."
Toby looked at his watch and sighed. "The sooner, the better."
* * *
"Excuse me, sir?" Mrs. Landingham stepped into the Oval Office.
"What can I do for you?"
"It's Valentine's Day," she began.
Jed smiled. "I already bought something for the First Lady, Mrs. Landingham, but thank you for your timely reminder."
"Actually, sir, I wanted to give you something." From behind her back, she produced a large, heart-shaped box, wrapped in red plastic.
"Why, Mrs. Landingham!" Jed happily took the box and began removing the wrapping.
"I don't want you to think I condone your poor eating habits, sir, but it is Valentine's Day and I didn't want you to feel left out."
"I'm shocked!" He narrowed his eyes. "Do you mean I'm actually allowed to have chocolate?"
"Don't get used to it, sir."
"Mrs. Landingham!" Toby's voice bellowed from the hallway.
"Come on in, Toby." Jed placed the chocolates on his desk.
"Sir, you remember Louis Woliver."
"Of course. Congressman, good to see you!" Jed extended his hand to Woliver.
"Can I get you anything?" Mrs. Landingham asked.
Toby leaned slightly towards her. "Save yourself."
* * *
"So when you danced with her, who would lead?"
Sam plopped down comfortably on C.J.'s couch. "I'm not sure. I've never been able to figure that stuff out."
C.J. sat in her chair. "You're hopeless."
"Hey." Toby came in from the bullpen. "Sam, if you're done playing hooky--"
"I'm being enlightened," Sam explained. "C.J.'s telling me why women are cruel."
"Apparently we drive them to it."
"He's catching on," C.J. said approvingly.
"Woliver's in with the President," Toby told them.
Sam brightened. "Now that's a meeting of the minds."
"He wants you in there."
Sam got up and crossed to the door. "Are you coming with me?"
"Hell, no," Toby said. "I've had enough of Congressman Big Easy for one day."
"He's the right guy," Sam called over his shoulder as he exited.
"He's a dangerous madman." Toby took Sam's seat. "He spent the better part of an hour telling me about his great-grandfather's sexual exploits in the French Quarter. In lurid detail."
"Really?" C.J. shook her head. "My God."
"He sees him sometimes," Toby added.
"His God." Toby waved a hand in bafflement. "He's somewhere between a lapsed Catholic and a black magician. Also, I think he sweats bourbon."
"I met him at a Christmas party once, and I'd have to agree with you. Is Sam right?"
"Is Sam ever right?"
"Is Woliver the right guy for the EPA?"
"I suppose." He slouched a little. "He made me listen to him sing."
She laughed. "The horror, the horror. Do you want the last Hershey Kiss?"
C.J. held the candy out. Toby stood up and took it from her, then lifted his hand and placed it back in her palm.
"You have it," he said.
"Thanks." She unwrapped the foil cheerfully.
As he left her office, he hid a smile.
* * *
"It's fiction!" Louis Woliver boomed. "The dolls, the pins, that's a Hollywood fiction."
Bartlet nodded. "It has nothing to do with the religion."
"Nothing," Woliver agreed. "Vodon, in fact, runs parallel to Roman Catholicism."
"I'd read that," Jed said, vastly enjoying himself. He looked up as Sam quietly entered the room. "Sam, did you know that the spirits of Vodon can be linked to Christian Saints?"
Sam sat down. "I did not."
"I'm particularly fond of Agwe and Yemanja," Woliver declared.
"Agwe and Yemanja?" Jed repeated.
"Water spirits. And, of course, I have a special feeling for Erzulie. She's the Virgin figure." He winked at Sam, whose face flushed. "She's also the goddess of love and sexual energy."
"Everybody needs one of those," the President said. "Sir, we've talked about greenhouse emissions, we've talked about clean water, we've talked about pesticides and risk management. Let me ask you one more question. Last year, a group in Colorado burned down a ski resort in order to protect the habitat of the lynx." Sam's mouth tightened as Bartlet continued. "What would you say about that?"
"I'd say that destructive behavior is a stupid way to make a conservationist point." Woliver pursed his lips thoughtfully. "I'd also want to take a look at that resort, if it was endangering wildlife for the sake of a film festival and some bored yuppies."
Jed looked at Sam questioningly. Sam paused, then nodded. The President turned back to Woliver. "Congressman, how would you like to come and head up the Environmental Protection Agency?"
Woliver beamed. "I'm proud to accept."
Jed stood up, and the other two men followed suit. "You're going to do good things in this office."
"Thank you, sir." Woliver shook the President's hand. "And I have no doubt that some of those things will actually be allowed to make an impact."
Jed smiled as Sam guided the Congressman out of the Oval Office, and Leo came in. "Lou Woliver's a lot of fun."
"Yes, sir," Leo said.
"You know, if I wasn't the leader of the free world, I might find him a little intimidating."
"If only because of the bright pink shirt. A man who's not afraid to wear something that color...." Jed circled the floor and stood near the window.
"You have a security briefing," Leo reminded him.
"Yeah." He glanced around the room. "Where's Charlie?"
"He's on a break."
"Because I told him he could take a break."
Jed shot a wary look at Leo. "Is something going on here that I wouldn't approve of?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about."
"All right." The President turned and walked toward the door. "I could still build a dungeon."
"Aren't you running late already?"
"I could put you in it, for a start."
"Yeah." As the President strolled out, Leo returned to his own office. "Margaret!"
"Get me whatever you can find on the Antianita thing."
He sat down, reached for the phone, and then stopped. "Margaret!"
She suppressed a sigh. "Something else?"
"Cancel my six o'clock with Mulligan. And Happy Valentine's Day."
She gaped at him. "What?"
"Not gonna say it again, Margaret." He picked up the phone and started to dial a number. It took his assistant a few moments to tear her eyes away from him and leave the room.
* * *
Zoey stood outside the Mural Room and nervously fingered the doorknob. "Relax," she ordered herself. Throwing the door open, she began to speak. "Hey, Dad -- hey, you."
Instead of her father, Zoey saw Charlie standing in the center of the room.
"I thought you were working," she said, closing the door behind her and walking to him.
Charlie placed his arm around her. "I'm on a break."
"Nice flowers," she said, nodding her head in the direction of the table. Following her gaze, Charlie walked to the roses and gently lifted one from the vase. Carefully, he handed it to Zoey. "I'm glad you like them."
"You know," she said, wrapping her arms around his neck. "Leo said my dad wanted to see me in here."
Charlie grinned at her. "I don't know how to tell you this, but Leo lied to you."
She shook her head. "I guess I'll have to have a talk with him." Her fingers tenderly caressed the hollow at the base of Charlie's neck, and she pressed her lips to his.
* * *
"Few things are more beautiful than skunk cabbage," Woliver proclaimed as he charged down the hall. "The poets sing of its beauty. There's real magic in those wetlands, Seaborn. You ever do it in a swamp?"
Sam's eyes widened, and he stammered. "I don't--"
"Ziegler!" Woliver hailed him merrily. "Looks like I'm coming to work for your boss."
"Thank you! Although I'm sure you'll be taking it back a few weeks from now."
"I'm sure I'll be taking it back a few minutes from now." Toby inclined his head. "The state of Louisiana's not going to miss you?"
"I'm going to miss the state, the great state, of Louisiana. I just think you guys need me more than they do." Woliver took a few backward steps down the hall. "I can do more good by fixing your wussy-ass environmental policy. See you soon."
"He's the right guy for the job," Sam murmured aside to Toby.
"Yeah," Toby admitted grudgingly. "But first we have to get him confirmed."
Sam couldn't hold back a smirk. "The Senate's going to love him."
"Almost as much as I do."
* * *
She poked her head around the doorway. "No."
"Donna!" Josh drew her name out. "Please?"
Reluctantly, she stepped into his office. "What?"
"Open this," he said, gesturing to a folder on his desk.
"Just open it."
She eyed him warily. "If I open it, those big worm things aren't going to fly out, are they?"
"Donna, it's not a can of peanut brittle." He picked it up and held it out to her.
"Is it that air travel thing?" Accepting the folder, she opened it and smiled. "Josh!"
"Happy Valentine's Day." He grinned broadly and walked around the desk to stand next to her. "It's a card."
"I made it myself." He pointed to several places on the valentine. "See, I just cut a few hearts out of a piece of paper and colored them with a red marker. It wasn't hard."
"It's a cherub."
"Is that--" Donna furrowed her brow.
Josh nodded. "Two paper clips and a rubber band, yeah."
She smiled again. "Well, I love it. Thank you."
"You're welcome." Josh sat in his chair again, grinning proudly as Donna started back out to her desk.
Josh looked up at the sound of Sam's voice. "Hey."
"Woliver accepted the position."
Josh smiled. "That has to annoy the hell out of Toby. Listen, what are you doing now?"
Sam looked serious. "I thought I'd go home and soak in a nice, hot bath, then watch 'The Way We Were' and have a good cry." He stared at Josh for a moment, then chucked. "I don't know, Josh."
"You want to go out?"
Sam shrugged. "Maybe."
"Are you up for Bea Arthur's Underpants?" Josh wrinkled his forehead.
"Ten bucks says you pass out halfway through your first glass."
Josh hopped up and threw on his jacket. "You're on."
They walked quickly from the office and past Donna's desk.
"Where are you going?"
"We're off to find Bea Arthur's Underpants!" Josh called over his shoulder.
"Good luck!" Rummaging through a stack of papers on her desk, Donna found several pages of notes, and soon, her fingers were flying over the keyboard as she transcribed the notes into a memo. She finished and pulled out the makeshift Valentine again. She ran a finger across it, a glowing expression on her face. It faded when she looked up again.
"Bonjour, mademoiselle," said Congressman Woliver, bowing with an extended flourish.
She swallowed hard. "Can I help you, sir?"
"No, no. I can see myself out." He bent close to her, speaking as if he was going to confide a secret. "You know, miss, even a blind hog gets himself an acorn sometimes."
She tried not to look terrified. Woliver drew back, executed another dramatic bow, and marched away.
Donna whimpered softly and buried her face in her hands. After a few seconds, she peeked through her fingers. When she was sure the visitor was gone, she took a deep breath and began working again.