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Story [The West Wing] Look at the Whole Board

Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by Yodaminch, Jul 4, 2020.

  1. Yodaminch

    Yodaminch Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Mar 6, 2002
    Title: Look at the Whole Board
    Fandom: The West Wing
    Genre: Drama
    Characters: Sam Seaborn, Josh Lyman, Donna Moss, Charlie Young and more
    Summary: Sam Seaborn has been Speaker of the House for roughly 4 years. Josh Lyman has been out of Washington for nearly a decade and now hosts an MSNBC style opinion program, while others from the Bartlet administration never left. Sam has struggled in his time as Speaker against a Republican controlled Senate and an tough but fair Republican president. A recent scandal has resulted in the resignation of the Vice President, causing chaos within Washington. Sam struggles to hold his party together while honoring the oath he swore to his country. Tragedy places the ultimate burden on Sam as he must step up and be the leader Jed Barlet always knew he could be.



    “In five, four, three”

    Donnatella Moss Lyman watched as the cameraman fell silent, holding up two fingers, and then one. From her chair, she watched as the cameras moved in on the two figures sitting at the desk in the center of the room. Her husband, Joshua Lyman, finished ruffling through some papers and stroked his snow white beard. His equally white cotton hair was, as usual, sticking up in all the wrong places. Josh had long ago accepted that he wasn’t really made for tv, often recalling the disastrous time he ‘joked’ that President Josiah Bartlet had a secret plan to fight inflation.

    He had always been more of a behind the scenes person. First serving as Deputy Chief of Staff under Bartlet and then as Chief of Staff under Matthew Santos. After many years of marriage, Josh had fallen out of politics and the spotlight, which is the way Donna had liked it.

    It was therefore an ironic twist of fate for all who knew Josh that he would end up the host of a news opinion channel on a major network. This was a man who, after all, was almost fired for insulting Mary Marsh on a talk show nearly two decades earlier.

    The intro music faded and the camera focused in on her husband.

    “Welcome to Lyman Live” her husband said. “I’m Josh Lyman and today my guest is the esteemed Junior Senator from California, Senator Claudia Jean Concannon”

    The older woman seated opposite her husband had barely changed in all the time Donna had known her. True, her hair was trimmed a little shorter and her temples had hints of grey. The wrinkles and dark circles well earned from an adult life in politics seemed to get just a bit deeper every time Donna saw her. But Donna also saw the earned laugh lines that came from C.J.’s marriage to her husband Danny and from the joys of raising her daughter. A daughter who was now nearly in high school. Time had indeed flown since they had all worked together in the West Wing.

    Only those who really knew Josh, like Donna, could tell that Josh was nervous. C.J. had been a guest on the program several times now. And every time she seemed to dominate the direction the conversation would go. Perhaps it was her skill as the former press secretary. Perhaps it was her experience as Chief of Staff. Perhaps, it was that even seated, she still towered over Josh. But Donna knew the truth: It was that Josh actually feared C.J.

    This wasn't necessarily a bad thing. A little fear was healthy. And C.J. would never hurt Josh seriously. Donna smiled as she recalled the time that C.J., then outranked by Josh, had threatened to “shove a motherboard so far up his ass”, proclaiming it for nearly everyone who worked in the West Wing to hear. Donna was sure that Leo McGarry had almost certainly heard it from his office. Or at least Margaret had. Donna smiled at the memory and returned her attention to the monitor as C.J. started to speak.

    “Pleasure to be here again Josh.” C.J. said. She flashed the tv host a smile, reminding Josh and Donna of when she would do “the Jackal”. It was an opening shot. C.J. had signaled that she was ready to eat Josh’s lunch today and she wanted him to bring his A game.

    “Let’s dive right in. Senator, what the heck is the Senate doing?”

    “Excuse me?” CJ asked, pretending to be taken aback by the question. In truth, she knew Josh would go on the attack. He always did.

    “It’s been nearly one year since the Senate has passed a single bill sent by the House of Representatives.”

    CJ flashed another predatory grin. “Well Joshua. As you may recall from your civics lessons, Congress is what’s called a bi-cameral legislature. And each chamber has a majority control. As you know, my party, the Democratic party, controls the House. However the Senate is controlled by the Republican party.” C.J. relished taking Josh to school. And making him look dumb was just a bonus. Josh of course knew how the government worked. He’d served in it for long enough to know how a bill became law- hell he helped pass dozens. That however was not his goal with this conversation. Donna bit her lip, wondering again if her husband’s plan of attack was the best one.

    “Yes, but by a one vote margin!” Josh exclaimed. “Senator, are you really telling me that you and other Democrats can’t get one lousy vote to pass the House’s education reform bill?”

    C.J. paused for a moment, giving Josh an “Are you seriously wasting my time with this?” look before diving back in.

    “Perhaps we could if the majority leader would bring the bill up for a vote. However, there is another pressing matter that the Senate has to attend to as you well know.” C.J. replied. And Donna found herself biting on the end of her pen. Josh was about to make his move.

    “You’re referring to the confirmation hearings for the Vice President.” Josh stated, knowing that his audience understood as well. “But, last I checked, the President had not even sent over a nominee. Why can’t the Senate spend the time until he’s ready by passing, say, the education bill?”

    “That would be a great question for the Majority leader wouldn’t it?” C.J. said, her voice sounding just a bit less patient with these questions.

    “Senator, Americans support the House’s measure by nearly 90%. 90%! When do Americans ever agree that much?”

    “Yeah Josh, it’s popular” CJ said, her veneer dropped as she rolled her eyes, “But the president will never sign it.”

    “Last I checked, the Senate had its own ability to write a bill and propose changes.” Josh countered.

    “Oh thank you Joshua. I had forgotten that, because I’m a complete idiot” C.J. replied sarcastically. “Give me a break! We both know Sam Seaborn’s bill is dead on arrival in this Senate” C.J. sighed, realizing that Josh had gotten what he wanted.

    For weeks, the Senate Majority Leader had dragged Sam’s name through the mud. He and the other Senators had claimed it was the House holding things up. Of course, Josh knew that was bunk. Which is why he was so surprised that no Democrats had chosen to back Sam up. He assumed it was because Sam didn’t want them to. But C.J, was a friend and a respected member of the Senate. Though technically the junior senator from California, she carried far more weight in the chamber then her senior counterpart did these days. Josh had therefore been angling to get a clip of her saying exactly what she had just said: that no one in the Senate was taking Sam’s plan seriously. That the Senate was just stringing Sam and the party along to get what they wanted. And for some reason Josh could not understand, Sam was letting it happen.

    With a smile, Josh turned to the camera and said “We have to take a break. But when we return, more with Senator Claudia Jean Concannon”

    ****

    “Ginger! Turn that trash off!” Toby Ziegler bellowed as he brushed past the television showing Lyman Live. The gruff older man was barreling through the office and headed toward the exit and out toward the bustling capital hill lobby.

    Toby was a man on a mission. Dressed in a suit that was, as usual, disheveled and with a jacket unbuttoned and fluttering in his wake like an brown ominous cape, he was carrying a handful of folders and trailed by several very timid young aides. His once jet black hair was now completely grey, and he wore a pair of glasses that were always in danger of flying off as he pushed through the halls of the House of Representatives at top speed. Toby may have gotten old, but his fire had certainly not gone out.

    “Toby! Wait up!” Charlie Young called. In contrast to Toby, the younger man was impeccably dressed in a neat navy suit, white shirt, and blue tie. His goatee was neatly trimmed and his hair was kept short. Aside from the goatee, Toby would swear that Charlie had barely aged from when they had first met.

    Toby slowed his walk as Charlie effortlessly caught up, ignoring the aides that trailed in the older man’s wake.

    “Talk fast Charlie. I am on a mission” Toby declared. He was strutting toward the exit like a prized fighter ready to enter the ring and knock out his opponent.

    “I know. Sam told me to tell you that the mission is aborted” Charlie said, waiting for the other man to stop.

    Toby did, abruptly, nearly causing a young male aide to collide into Charlie. He managed to effortlessly side step the collision while grabbing hold of the aide’s arm to steady him.

    “Sorry sir” the young man replied.

    “Give us a minute.” Charlie said, flashing the aide a smile.

    The aide nodded and turned to rejoin his fellow terrified colleagues. They scattered back towards the relative safety of Ginger and Bonnie’s desk area. No one wanted to be near Toby when he received bad news.

    Toby turned to face Charlie, a look of amusement on his face. “And why has Sam cancelled my mission Charlie?”

    Charlie winced as he knew how the older man would react. “Will” he said.


    “Bonnie! Call Congressman Bailey’s office and inform them that I will be over to kill him momentarily!”


    Bonnie, having spent over a decade of working with Toby, knew better than to make that exact call. Still, she picked up the receiver and said “I’ll let the Congressman’s office know to expect you.”


    “Toby-” Charlie started to say.


    “I am going to kill Will today. It’s that simple. He has crossed me so he must die. Any objections?”


    “Several” Charlie answered, motioning with his hand to stop Toby from going any further. “We need him.”


    Do we?” Toby asked, his voice raised slightly as he began pacing like a caged animal around the seating area at the front of the room. “There’s what? 239 other Democrats. Do we really need to cater to the wishes of one insistent pain in the ass?”


    In answer, a voice behind Toby said “Yes. We do”

    Toby spun around to face the Speaker. Sam Seaborn stood in the entryway to his office ignoring the hustle and bustle of the aides and congressmen in the hallway. Younger than Toby, but older than Charlie, Sam was dressed in a sharp navy blue suit, crisp white shirt, and bright red tie. His short black hair was starting to lose its sheen and grey dotted his temples. The Speaker of the House cut an imposing figure to most people. But not to Toby. Especially since Toby was only in this position as a favor to Sam.

    When Sam had finished his time in the Santos administration, he again pursued a run for Congress and had asked Toby to run his campaign. Still a pariah for his actions during the end of the Bartlet administration, Toby had tried to convince Sam to get someone else to run it. But Sam had been insistent. Figuring that Sam would probably lose again and that it would be a fun hobby to undertake before returning fully to the joy of retirement, Toby had eventually agreed.

    And then Sam had to go and ruin it by winning. And then he won again. And somehow, Toby had ended up being the Chief of Staff to Sam Seaborn for the past four years. He regretted every day of it. Or so he claimed. His wife, Senator Andrea Wyatt knew that he loved every moment. He wasn’t made to stay at home she had told him repeatedly. And now, with their children away at college and Andrea busy in the Senate, Toby needed to keep busy. Or in her view, keep out of trouble.


    Toby turned to face the man responsible for the misery he pretended to feel. “And why exactly is that Mr. Speaker?” he asked, shrugging his shoulders.


    Sam smiled and chose his words carefully. “Toby, Will has been a great friend and ally to us. So if he wants us to look at the bill one more time-”


    “-The bill has been looked at over a dozen times.” Toby said, emphasizing this by waving his arms, which still contained folders, up and down several times. Papers flew about the seating area as Toby continued “We have personally written and rewritten it over ten more times. In one of those ten times, perhaps that Congressman could have deigned to share his request then?”


    “Will needs this Toby.” Sam said, making it clear that there would be no room for negotiation.


    The Chief of Staff scoffed. “I wasn’t aware that the world revolved around the great Will Bailey! Shall I go ask him for permission to take my break? Perhaps Charlie should send his vacation requests to him?”

    Sam rolled his eyes. He was used to Toby’s rants of course. And he knew why Toby was choosing to take his anger out on Will. Aside from still being angry at Will’s “no” vote the year prior on HR-6941, Toby was also angry with the recent bait and switch by the White House.

    Toby and Charlie had spent weeks going back and forth to the White House to hammer out an education bill that everyone would agree on. Expanded funding for the arts and after school programs seemed like a no brainer. Which is why Toby nearly hit the roof when the President indicated in a news conference that he had intended to veto it, sending the whole thing back to the drawing board. But as mad as Toby was about that, he was more furious at Sam for letting his office be the one to bear the brunt of the backlash in the news. Democrats had wanted to use this moment to go against the president. But Sam had to work with the man. And he was firm in his position that the best path forward was a carrot and not the stick. Toby preferred stick and a Louisville slugger.

    Sam understood the frustration and in truth, he shared it. When he had accepted the position of Speaker of the House for the first time four years earlier, he had hoped to effect real change, the kind he had dreamed of working for the Bartlet administration and that he had come so close to achieving working for the Santos administration. That was why he had agreed to run when the party turned to him. In truth, they had few choices and with losses in the Senate and the White House in republican hands, they had promised Sam whatever he wanted to get him to say yes- even though he had barely finished his first term before assuming the role. But politics was a fickle mistress and Sam found himself spending more time currying favor than actually passing bills.

    And the bills that he did manage to pass seemed to end up languishing in the Senate Majority Leader’s office or ended up with a veto courtesy of a president whose political whims seemed to change depending on the day at times. The President wasn’t a bad man in Sam’s view. But he also was no Arnold Vinick. And despite appeals from the former Secretary of State himself, Sam had still failed to engender an agreement from the White House on the education reform bill.

    But Sam refused to give up the good fight. He owed it to the many men and women who had elected him. And he owed it to his mentors who had supported him. And, of course, he owed it to his team and people like Toby and Charlie for all the work they did.

    “We’re pulling the bill. That’s my decision.” Sam stated. “The vote is cancelled.”

    “As you wish” Toby said, giving a slight bow to signify how he really felt about the decision. He spun on his heel and moved towards his office, causing several of the interns to scurry out of his way or risk being run down. Sam winced. He really hated how Toby terrified the kids.

    As if to emphasize that, Toby slammed the door shut behind him, causing several aides to drop the papers they were holding.


    Charlie simply rolled his eyes and looked over at Sam. “That went well.”


    “He took it better than I expected.” Sam admitted. And he meant it. He looked over to see his personal assistant walking over at a brisk pace, pausing only to step around the aides trying to pick up the papers that had been strewn about the office as a result of Toby’s latest tirade.

    “Mr. Speaker, we need to discuss your schedule for the rest of the day” Cathy said, hurrying over.

    Cathy, like Bonnie and Ginger, had worked for years with Sam. When he had joined the Santos administration, they had stayed on through the transition, initially only planning to stay for a time. Instead, they had stayed through the entire first term. And when Sam won his seat for Congress, they had joined him. While the office of the Speaker of the House was not exactly glamorous when compared to the trappings of the West Wing, they never once complained.


    Cathy continued. “You are scheduled for lunch with Congressman Daniels today and you have a 2pm photo op with the local 4th grade class.


    Sam grimaced. He remembered the first time he had spoken to a fourth grade class. His now wife Mallory would never let him live that embarrassment down. He nodded to acknowledge that he had heard Cathy and she continued.

    “And you are scheduled for a phone call at 4pm with the President to discuss the nomination process.”


    Sam resisted the urge to sigh. While he respected the president, he often found it difficult to speak to the other man. A man pushing seventy, the president had just secured his re-election bid only to have his Vice President embroiled in a scandal that would make John Hoynes blanch. Needless to say the Vice President was quickly shown the door. Sam respected the president for making that decision and doing so without hesitation. But that had been nearly four months ago. And yet, the President still had not put forth a true nominee. At times, Sam felt he was getting more information from the press than the president.

    He hoped today would finally be the day when this mess would be cleared up once and for all.

    Cathy continued to rattle off the list when Sam heard a commotion brewing as several of the aides cried out. Before Sam and Charlie could see what had caused the disturbance, the door to Toby’s office flew open and he bounded out at a quick run.

    Sam felt himself go cold. It was never good when Toby ran like that.

    “Turn it up!” Toby demanded. Sam could see that the older man’s face was drawn and the color he had moments early seemed to have completely drained from his face.

    Sam’s head whipped around to the television and he saw his friend Josh Lyman speaking. Beside him, C.J. had a hand over her mouth and her eyes cast downward.

    The news chyron came scrolling over the television as Josh spoke.

    “-has suffered what appears to be a massive heart attack. The President was pronounced dead on route to the hospital. Again, to repeat. The President has suffered what appears to be a massive heart attack-”

    Sam felt all the air leave his body at once. He sensed it as all eyes slowly turned from the television to him.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2020
    Briannakin likes this.
  2. Briannakin

    Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic & Costuming/Props Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Feb 25, 2010
    Oh my goodness! I'm a fairly big fan of TWW and have read my fair share of Fanfics but this set up and chain of events is so unique! I am enthralled! Josh having his own news show just makes me so happy and I would have never have thought of it and SAM! I love Sam as president fics but seeing him (I assume) become president from Speaker via an absent VP just has me wanting to see where this story goes!
     
  3. Yodaminch

    Yodaminch Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Mar 6, 2002
    @Briannakin : Thank you! I cannot take full credit for the idea of making Sam Speaker of the House. That goes to this thread where I really liked the idea of Sam as Minority Leader but then thought it would be even more challenging if he were an embattled Speaker (I like to think of him as a Democratic Paul Ryan in this scenario. Facing challenges from all sides). And funny enough, I actually missed the idea for Josh to be on TV that was suggested in the thread. That one just felt natural to me because of the Lemon-Lyman episode. Especially too when you consider his frankly terrible performances when being interviewed in the past, there is just so much irony there. Plus it felt like a natural way to put Donna in as she makes a lot of sense as a producer. And it gave C.J. a natural entrance as a guest. The hardest one to figure out was Toby but I like where I landed with him. And yes, you are correct about where Sam is going. If I were a more patient author or this were a real mini series, I would have ended the season with where this first chapter ended and instead dragged out Sam's Speaker role because there is a lot that can be done there for Sam, Josh, Charlie and Toby, but I just wanted to get to the good stuff. :p So instead, think of this as an hour or 2 hour pilot of a reboot.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________



    The room immediately erupted into a mix of crying and chatter as everyone began to process the news all at once. The phones in the office added to the cacophony as Washington began to process what had just happened.

    Sam remained rooted in place, staring at the television in disbelief as Josh continued to speak. There were now images of an ambulance racing out of the White House and statements from the paramedics who had worked on the president. The noise in the office continued to grow as everyone continued to look at Sam. Beside him, Charlie was equally silent, his eyes darting around the room but always back to Sam, silently waiting for instruction.

    “Quiet!” Toby barked.

    The room fell silent. No one moved as Toby made his way to Sam and Charlie.

    “Mr. Speaker, let’s go to your office.”

    Sam couldn’t speak. He simply nodded and felt his body falling into lockstep behind Charlie and Toby as they entered his office. Aides continued to stare at him as he walked past but one look at Toby's face and no one one dared to utter a word. Phones in the office continued to ring but no one made a move to answer them.

    As soon as he was behind his desk, Sam collapsed into his chair. Toby finished giving instructions to Cathy.
    “Tell the Secret Service we’ll need two minutes but he’ll be right out.” He closed the door and turned to Sam. Charlie stood in front of Sam’s desk, rubbing his jaw, unsure of what to do next. Toby had his head down and started to pace slowly in front of the door. He needed pie.

    Sam finally spoke. He sat up slightly in his chair and faced the other men. “A heart attack? Didn’t he just have a physical?”

    “The man was nearly 70 Sam! He was almost 220 pounds and he loved fast food. You do the math!” Toby snapped, aware of course that he was no spring chicken either. He made a mental note to finally get on that diet Andrea had been nagging him to try. He sighed. There would be no pie.

    “We uh… We need to put out a statement” Sam said, trying to ignore the elephant in the room.

    “What kind of statement sir?” Charlie asked, clearly trying to feel his boss out.

    “Condolences of course” Sam said, trying to sidestep the issue just a bit longer. He rested his elbows on his desk and interlocked his fingers in a silent prayer for the president and his family.

    “And?” Charlie prodded, interrupting his thoughts.

    “And we need to reassure the American people that Sam is reluctantly ready to take on this burden and will lead this country which he has proudly served for nearly two decades” Toby finished.

    “Toby-” Sam said, not a fan of the wording. The man wasn’t even cold yet. The last thing Sam wanted to do was make this into a political issue. A president had died and the nation needed to mourn. Sam was still processing his own grief.

    “We’ll workshop it” Toby said, waiving it away. He continued to pace and Sam wondered if he didn’t make a decision soon, how long it would take Toby to wear a hole in the carpet.

    “I-” Sam started to say and then closed his mouth. “I need to call Mallory” His thoughts drifted to his wife immediately. A heart attack. Just like her father. Yet again, his wife’s life was about to be altered by a heart attack. Sam sighed.

    “You’ll have to wait until you’re at the White House. My guess is she’s already on her way there anyway.” Toby said, walking closer to the desk, his hands fidgeting with a stress ball that he kept in his pocket. It wasn’t quite the rubber ball that he used to bounce against Sam’s wall when they had worked together, but it was keeping the man sane. However, Sam couldn’t help but notice that the ball was ready to split in half by the amount of wear and tear it had endured under Toby’s care.

    Charlie looked towards the front windows of Sam’s office which were currently obscured by the drawn curtains.
    “Are they here?” he asked. He walked toward the front of the office and peered through the curtains. He could see a flurry of people but couldn’t make out much more than that.


    “Agent Casper just walked in flanked by a half dozen agents.” Toby answered, looking up from his cell phone. His eyes flashed and he said in a sarcastic tone “Yeah. I’d say they’re here.”


    Sam stood up, adjusted his tie and grabbed his overcoat from the coat rack in the corner.


    “The two of you are coming with me.” Sam ordered.


    “Sam-” Toby started to say.


    “I need you with me” Sam replied. It was a firm order, but Toby also realized from Sam’s tone that it was a plea. Sam’s whole world had just changed and he needed someone to keep him grounded. He needed a friend.


    Toby nodded. Charlie turned to look at Sam and asked “Are you ready?”


    Sam sighed. “No. But we’re out of time.” He carried his overcoat in one hand and made sure that he wasn’t missing anything he would need- he doubted he would be back in this office again any time soon. Then he gave Toby a stiff nod.


    Toby opened the door and immediately Agent Casper walked in.


    Mike Casper had served during Jed Bartlet’s term. Originally a special agent of the FBI, he had been appointed to the head of the president’s secret service by President Santos after Ron Butterfield had retired. The man barely seemed to age. Aside from a few wrinkles around his eyes and a little less hair on top, the man looked exactly as Sam had remembered all those years earlier.


    “Mr. Speaker” Casper said, his voice warm but firm. “I need you to come with me to the White House. The Chief Justice is on her way.”


    Sam nodded. “Toby and Charlie are coming with me.”


    “Understood sir.” Mike said. He spoke into his wrist. “We have Princeton. Three traveling. Moving out.”


    Sam winced. He hadn’t realized they still used that code name. He proceeded to follow the agent out the door. As soon as Casper began walking, agents began flanking Sam from all sides, surrounding him in a sea of black. Toby and Charlie hurried behind but Sam quickly lost them in the chaos.


    As they exited his office and entered the main entryway of the House, Sam could hear reporters shouting and see flashes going off. The moving wall of agents however prevented him from hearing the substance of the questions or who was asking.


    “The Speaker will make a statement shortly” Charlie shouted as he hurried to keep pace with the agents.


    Before Sam knew it, he felt himself being whisked away in a dark car. Somehow, Charlie and Toby had managed to join him along with Casper.


    Sitting up in the car, Sam looked back at the Capital building and could see a flurry of activity from the media. He saw several members of Congress standing on the capital steps. He turned back to face the agent.


    “Mike” Sam asked, “What happened?”


    “The President was on a secure phone call with the President of Turkey when his left side went numb. Medics were called into the situation room immediately but the president suffered a massive heart attack right there. Life saving measures were immediately applied but he was already dead by the time they reached the hospital.”


    “I’m so sorry.” Sam found himself saying. “Where is the First Lady?”


    “I believe she is still in the residence making phone calls.” Mike answered.


    “And the Chief Justice is already en route?” Charlie asked.


    Mike nodded stiffly. “Yes sir. Agents picked her up less than five minutes ago from the courthouse and they are on their way to the White House as we speak.”


    “Mike, do I have any time before this happens?” Sam asked. He knew that these ceremonies tended to be swift. And with no Vice President, the situation was more urgent. But he needed time. He needed to talk to Mallory. He needed to process what was about to happen to him.


    “Of course sir. You are now the President-elect. We go around your time table.”


    Sam’s eyes went wide. That was the first time anyone had acknowledged it. He was now the most powerful person in the country. And voters had not even chosen him. This was all happening too fast. He needed to speak to someone. He need to discuss this with his wife. He needed to let the nation mourn. He needed more time.

    ***

    “And we’re out!” the announcer shouted.


    Josh collapsed back in his chair. Next to him, C.J. was doing her best to stop herself from trembling. Her eyes were glassy but she had managed to refrain from crying on air.


    “I-I need to get back to the Senate” she was saying. Josh looked at her. She was white as a ghost and fixed to her chair.


    Donna rushed over and Josh felt himself stand up as she crashed into him, wrapping her arms around him in a tight embrace.


    “Donna-” Josh started to say.


    “I know.” Donna said, her eyes streaming with tears. She gave Josh a kiss on the cheek and then released him where he promptly collapsed back into his chair, overwhelmed by what had just occurred.


    C.J. had managed to stand up long enough to also receive a hug from Donna.


    “It’s so awful” Donna was saying.


    “Yes. I- I need to go” C.J. was saying. She was standing now but Donna could tell the woman was still in shock.


    Beside her, C.J.’s team was standing ready to go.


    “Senator” her assistant Carol said, “We need to go quickly. The press is outside”


    C.J. nodded, holding her hand out to Carol as the younger woman half dragged her towards the waiting car.


    Josh waved a silent goodbye, unsure of what to say. Beside him, Donna had taken C.J.’s seat and looked on with concern at the state of shock her husband was also still in.


    “I just became Walter Cronkite” Josh muttered.


    “I know. You were brilliant Josh.” Donna said, patting him on the knee.


    “Donna, the President of the United States is dead.” Josh said, the realness of those words finally setting in.


    “I know Josh. And without a Vice President-”


    “Sam is about to become the President of the United States” Josh finished.


    Donna nodded silently.


    “I need to call him.” Josh said, standing up quickly.


    Donna looked up from her seat. “Josh, he might be a bit preoccupied.” she warned.

    But Josh had ignored her. He spotted one of the young pages approaching the stage to clean up.

    “Hey! Bring me my phone!” Josh yelled.

    The page nodded and quickly took off at a fast run toward Josh's dressing room.

    “Josh!” Donna said, rising out of her seat in indignation.

    “Donna, I gotta call Sam!” Josh said, his voice rising with excitement. Donna knew that tone. Years of working as his secretary meant that Donna knew Josh wasn't going to let this go. She tried again, knowing it wouldn't matter.

    “Sam’s a bit busy getting sworn in Josh!” Donna protested.

    But Josh was already moving toward his dressing room, almost breaking into a run as he moved. Donna hurried after him, ready to tackle her husband to the ground and pry the phone out of his hands if necessary.

    Joshua!” she yelled down the hallway as Josh burst through to his dressing room and seized his cell phone out of the startled young page’s hand.


    “Thanks” he managed to mutter before the shocked page quickly hurried away from him.


    “Josh, think about this.” Donna warned. “Sam just found out he is the President of the United States. He is on his way to the White House right now” Donna motioned to the TV in the dressing room above her head. Josh looked over to see footage of the secret service hurrying Sam through the halls of Congress and into a waiting car.


    Donna pointed to the car as it moved through the streets of DC. “I think he might have to call you back.”


    Josh sighed and placed his phone in his pocket.


    “You’re right. You’re right!” He said, walking over to his wife and pulling her into a hug.


    “I’m always right.” Donna teased.


    “Yes you are.” Josh said, kissing her quickly on the lips before she could say anything else.


    “I’ll call Sam later.” Josh offered.


    “Maybe give him a few days?” Donna suggested.


    “We’ll see.”

    Donna made a mental note to hide Josh's phone for the next few days.
    *****

    After a total of nearly 8 years of working in the White House, Sam was sure he would be used to the splendor of the building by now. And yet, he continued to be in awe every time he entered. While he had entered the building in many different roles, this time was far different.

    As he exited the car, he saw a row of people standing at the entrance. The First Lady stood in the center, her eyes still red with tears. An older woman with curly snow white hair in her late sixties, she was shorter than everyone else assembled. Sam wasted no time walking over to her.

    “Sarah, I am so very sorry” He said, grasping her hand and pulling her in for a hug.


    “Thank you Sam. I know you two didn’t always see eye to eye, but he really respected you.”


    Sam smiled sadly and said “And I respected him. The nation mourns his loss. As do Mallory, myself and our family. Please, if there is anything we can do-”


    “Mr. Speaker” a crisp voice cut through and Sam knew the pleasantries were over.


    Sam spun to his left to face the person who had spoken and avoided the urge to sigh. That didn’t stop Toby from letting out a rather large one on his behalf.


    Mandy Hampton shot Toby an annoyed look but returned her gaze to Sam quickly.


    “Hi Mandy. I'm so sorry.” Sam said, facing the younger woman. A petite woman close to Sam’s age, Mandy was dressed in a black business suit and was clutching a handful of papers. Beside her, Sam could sense the nervous energy of the aides that flanked her. Much like Toby, Mandy seemed to rule through fear. The difference of course was that Toby’s bark was far worse than his bite. With Mandy, her bite was just as bad, if not worse, than her bark.


    Mandy’s steely gaze unnerved many politicians. Sam was not one of those. Well, not any longer. Years ago maybe. But he had grown used to dealing with the president’s Chief of Staff and knew how to handle her. Or so he told himself.


    “Do you have a moment to talk in private sir?” she asked, ignoring any attempt at small talk.


    Sam finished giving his condolences to the first lady and then toward back to Mandy. He gestured for Mandy to lead the way. Toby and Charlie started to follow but Mandy turned and said “I need to speak with the Speaker alone”


    Toby opened his mouth, ready to offer a witty and no doubt insulting retort, but Sam cut him off “It’s okay.”


    Toby shot him a glare saying very clearly that it was NOT okay, but he wasn’t about to protest in front of a grieving widow- especially when cameras were likely nearby- and Sam knew it. He nodded and remained with Charlie, Mike, and the others.

    Sam followed Mandy through the entry way and into a nearby conference room. Secret Service agents lined the hallway, showing a more overt presence then normal- likely under Casper’s orders. As she opened the door, Mandy barked at the interns inside to leave and proceeded to close the door as they scurried past Sam, averting his gaze as they fled.


    Mandy walked around the length of the table and set her stack of papers down. She placed both hands on the table to support herself and then looked up at Sam.


    “Sam, you need to pass on this.” Mandy said without any sort of preamble.


    Sam blinked in surprise and placed his right hand on a the chair at the opposite end of the table to steady himself. “Would you mind telling me why?”


    “Because you are not the elected president.” Mandy answered with a shrug. “The people didn’t choose you.”


    “I am acutely aware of that Mandy. However, as you might recall, your boss fired his successor.”


    “Technically he resigned.” Mandy pointed out.


    Sam ignored that and continued. “And per the order of succession, the Speaker of the House is the next in line to assume the presidency in the event of death or incapacitation of the president.”


    “Yeah Sam. I know” Mandy sighed. “We don’t want you.”


    “I wasn’t aware you had a choice in the matter.” Sam replied curtly. “The constitution lays the order of succession out clearly. It says nothing about getting to choose who you want. The Republican party does not get a say in this.”


    “The American people do.”


    “Not for almost another four years.” Sam pointed out, straightening up further. He sighed and asked “What do you expect to do until then?”


    “We want Davis.” Mandy said flatly.


    “Mandy, the man is older than your boss was and he’s had three heart attacks!”


    “And he’s the Republican President Pro Tempore. The next in line if you pass.” Mandy said.


    “Let me get this straight. You want me to pass so that a man who is less fit for office than the previous occupant can warm a seat for four years?” Sam asked in disbelief.


    “Yes please.” Mandy said.


    Sam let out an exasperated sigh. This was an insane request and she had to know it. “You know I can’t do that. Davis is barely fit to sit in the Senate. Without a Vice President, we could be back here again within a month.”


    “The party is willing to take that chance.” Mandy said, making it clear that she was in fact serious and she had clearly talked with other senior members of the party.


    "Look at the whole board." Jed Bartlet’s voice rang out in his head.


    A light bulb went off in Sam’s head.

    “So who is it?” Sam asked.

    “Pardon?”

    “Don’t treat me like an idiot Mandy. I know you too well. Who is the Vice President that would become President in this scenario?”

    That was it. The party didn’t really want Davis. They wanted whoever his Vice President would be. That was how they would get a choice.

    “Governor Reese” Mandy replied after a moment, not wasting time trying to protest. Clearly, she thought she had the upper hand.

    Sam snorted. “Jack Reese has barely been in office a year and you want to make him the leader of the free world?”

    “He’s a military vet, served under your predecessor and he’s able to work with both sides of the aisle as he’s shown as governor”

    “Which, again, has been barely a year.”

    “I seem to remember you getting your position fairly early in your career Mr. Speaker” Mandy countered. “The party is comfortable with President Davis until we have the governor sworn in.”

    “I’m not.” Sam said, rising to his full height. “Look, I didn’t ask for this either. But the country needs stability right now. The last thing it needs is more uncertainty. And you want to talk about choice? You are literally talking about installing a president via an act of Congress, completely bypassing any choice of the people.”

    “I’m sorry you feel that way Sam” Mandy said. She reached down and retrieved an envelope. She walked over and handed it to him. “That’s my letter of resignation. You’ll have the rest of the West Wing’s senior staff by the time you’ve finished taking the oath of office.” she promised.

    Sam looked down at the letter in disbelief. “You are all planning to quit? Because I won’t support your attempted coup?”

    “We’ll give you two weeks and will help train our replacements, but yeah. We didn’t sign up to work for this White House.” Mandy walked back to her pile of papers and picked them up again. She started walking back to the door. “And Sam”, she warned, “Don’t expect much help from the party when it comes to getting your Vice President through Congress.” She yanked open the door and held it open, waiting for him to go first.

    Sam stared at her in disbelief. His shoulders slumped as he tucked the letter inside his jacket pocket. He stood up, holding his head high and turned to leave the room. As he did so, he realized he was leaving his back vulnerable for Mandy to try and stab it again. Some days he really hated politics.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2020
  4. Briannakin

    Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic & Costuming/Props Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Feb 25, 2010
    Another thrilling chapter! This is really playing out like a TV pilot!

    Loved the inclusion of Agent Casper! Such an underrated, underused character.

    I love Josh just being Josh here - single minded, but of course he has Donna to talk sense into him.

    Oh Mandy, as if I didn't like her character already. But something tells me he won't have difficulty finding much better replacements.
     
  5. Yodaminch

    Yodaminch Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Mar 6, 2002
    Thank you! I too loved Mike Casper. Granted, he almost works as a proto-Phil Coulson the way Clark Gregg played him, but I figured he'd be a fun character to add in given Sam's past interactions with him.

    And yes, Josh is absolutely being Josh. Poor Donna continues to have to manage him after all these years.

    I'd like to take a moment to apologize to all the fans of Mandy...

    Having said that, I needed a villain to give Sam that ultimatum and when I looked back at past characters that could really get under Sam's skin, Mandy seemed like the perfect foil. Also, I thought it would be nice to see what she's been up to. As far as replacements go, well it's been some time since Sam worked in a White House and a lot of people are now retired or deceased so it may not be quite as easy as Sam might hope to replace a West Wing in a matter of weeks.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________


    Wearing a sharp black suit and a white blouse, Mallory Seaborn quickly followed the agents into the meeting room. She had already given her condolences to the president’s widow and was now following quickly as Mike Casper's agents took her to see her husband. Mallory’s head was spinning, so she could only imagine how Sam was feeling.

    As the aide let her into the Roosevelt Room, Mallory could hear a flurry of conversation as Toby and Charlie were deep in discussion with her husband.


    “Good riddance” Toby was saying.


    “Uh Toby, you realize that if they follow through with this, they will have effectively shut down the West Wing?” Charlie asked.


    “Better to get rid of any traitors now.” Toby replied in his usual gruff manner.


    “Okay, well how about from a public relations perspective? A mass exodus doesn’t look great for us” Charlie countered.


    “Neither does passing on the most powerful office in the country and enabling the other party to install their own president without an election!” Toby retorted.


    “Which, until now, Sam didn’t even want.” Charlie pointed out.

    Sam put his hand up, ending the discussion.

    “Enough. I know Mandy. She’s bluffing.” Sam said, trying to convince himself that he was right.


    “I don’t know Sam.” Charlie warned.


    “She’s not bluffing. And if she is, we’ll call her on it.” Toby replied.


    “Hi honey. How was your day” Mallory interjected, bringing the conversation to an abrupt halt. Mallory dropped her purse on the table with a loud thud. All eyes turned to her.


    Toby and Charlie fell silent and acknowledged Mallory’s presence with a nod before moving swiftly towards the exit to resume their bickering.


    “I am so glad you are here.” Sam said, as his wife wrapped her arms around his neck and drew him in for a kiss.


    “Well, I did have plans to go shopping with my mom later, but I thought this might be more important.” Mallory deadpanned.


    Sam smiled and let out a long sigh.


    Mallory could feel how tense her husband was and began to massage his shoulders from the front while looking into his eyes with deep concern.


    “What’s wrong?” She winced. “Well, besides the obvious.”


    “Mandy delivered an ultimatum on behalf of the Republican party. They want me to pass it over to Davis until they can get Jack Reese in as VP.”


    Mallory blinked. “Davis? The man can’t even string a sentence together. Isn’t he pushing eighty? And Reese? They think they can just steal an election now?”


    Sam nodded. “I told her I couldn’t do that. So she handed me her two week notice and told me to expect the rest of the staff to follow.”


    Bitch. I never liked her” Mallory said. She blushed. Years of being an elementary teacher automatically made her realize she had said a bad word.


    Sam snorted. “Well, regardless, I don’t know how I’m going to do this without her and her team.” He straightened up and began to pace slowly around the large conference table at the center of the room. “Even if I take everyone from my office, that wouldn’t cover a quarter of the staff needed for the West Wing to function.”


    Mallory sighed. “Screw her Sam! You really don’t think we can’t replace these people? This is the White House!”


    “And I am not the president the people elected Mallory.” Sam said softly. “Their choice just died.”


    “And that means this is your White House now.” Mallory replied.


    “Without a mandate to lead” Sam pointed out. “I would essentially be usurping the presidency in the eyes of the public.”


    “And they wouldn’t be? Remind me again which party is trying to install their own personal choice.” She shook her head. “No. Your role is outlined in the Constitution. You are following your oath of office” Mallory offered. “You need to get out there and tell your story. The american people are smart. If you are honest with them, they’ll come around”


    Sam looked at her and sighed again. She was getting real sick of that. “It’s not that simple.”


    “Nothing ever is. But Sam, you took an oath as Congressman. And then again as Speaker. And in a few minutes, you are going out that door and will take an oath as President of the United States to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. You can’t let Mandy and the Republican party stand in the way of that.”


    Sam smiled. His wife always knew how to fire him up.


    “Okay...” he said in a far more chipper tone than he actually felt, “Let’s do this.”

    ****

    The ceremony in the Oval Office was small. Only the official White House photographer was let in the room to memorialize the event. Otherwise, it was just Sam, Mallory, the Chief Justice, Toby, Charlie, Mandy and a few other aides. The now former First Lady had chosen not to attend. She still had other family to contact.


    On the desk was Sam’s resignation letter, confirming that he had resigned from his position as Speaker of the House.


    Directly opposite from him and standing in front of the desk, Evelyn Baker Lang, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court looked at Sam as Mallory held a bible in between the two of them.


    “Mr. Speaker, please place your left hand on the bible, raise your right hand and repeat after me” the Chief Justice said. “I Samuel Norman Seaborn”


    “I Samuel Norman Seaborn.”


    “Do solemnly swear.”


    “Do solemnly swear.” Sam repeated.


    “That I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States.” the Chief Justice said slowly.


    “That I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States.”


    “And will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”


    “And will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Sam declared, adding “so help me God”


    Evelyn smiled softly at him and extended her right hand. “Congratulations Mr. President.”


    Sam took her hand and shook it firmly. “Thank you Madam Chief Justice.”


    The Chief Justice smiled again and then proceeded to retreat as the photographer finished taking photographs. Mallory handed the bible to an aide and then kissed her husband as the photographer snapped a photo. Neither of them were smiling. They were all too aware of the gravity of the situation and how this moment had occurred.


    Mandy and Toby quickly cleared the room while Sam quietly walked towards the Resolute Desk and gingerly took a seat as everyone else except Mallory and Charlie left the room.


    “Well Sam-” Mandy started to say.


    Mr. President.” Mallory corrected, her tone as cold as ice.


    “My apologies.” Mandy said, turning to face Sam “Mr. President. I will work on getting you a list of names to replace me.”


    Sam looked across the desk at Mandy, his gaze as hard as steel. “No need. I already have my choice. Thank you for your service Mandy. You can go ahead and clean out your office now.”


    Mandy blinked, clearly taken aback. “I’m sorry?”


    “You heard me. Please clean out your office by the end of today and turn in your security pass to the guard before you leave.” Sam replied. He proceeded to look over a stack of papers that the former president's advisers had put on his desk to catch him up.


    “Mr. President-”

    Without looking up, Sam replied. “I accepted your resignation Mandy. And I will of course accept the resignations of anyone else who doesn’t feel comfortable continuing to serve in this White House.” He rose from his chair, his voice calm and his tone firm. "Now, please pack up your office."


    Charlie walked over to Mandy “C’mon. I’ll help you pack.” he said, letting a little edge creep into his voice to make sure she knew he was serious.


    “You’re making a mistake sir. A lot of staff will resign over this.”


    Sam resumed his seat and looked over at her. “And if that is what they choose to do, I will respect their wishes. But I will not let anyone bully me. I am the President of the United States and my staff will respect my office.”


    Toby smiled. Sam had channeled his inner Jed Bartlet.


    “You heard the President” Toby piped up, perhaps a little too cheery. “Pack your things and get out.”


    Mandy stood in the room for a few more moments in shock.


    “Go!” Toby barked.


    Mandy nodded.

    “Thank you Mr. President” she said.


    She spun on her heel and headed back to her office. Charlie was right behind her.


    When they closed the door, Mallory let out a little cheer. “That was brilliant!”


    “Well done Sam.” Toby agreed.


    “Thanks.” Sam said, settling back into the chair with a relieved sigh. “Now I just need a Chief of Staff” He glanced over at Toby.


    “Absolutely not. You don’t need that kind of press.” Toby said. It was one thing to work as Chief of Staff to the Speaker of the House. It was quite another to work as Chief of Staff to the President of the United States. Memories of Leo McGary being torn apart in Congress came flooding back. He wouldn’t do that to Sam. This was going to be hard enough without a scandal embarrassing him.

    “I will still need you Toby” Sam said.

    “I’ll be happy to work in Communications with Charlie until you find someone more permanent. In the meantime, I’ll start getting a list together of possible replacements” Toby offered and Sam, too tired by the day's events, just nodded absentmindedly.


    He put his head in his hands and sighed. It was going to be a long four years.
     
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