Author: Anne Marsh Title: Josh 1/2 Rating: PG-13 Pre-slash Pairing: S/J Disclaimers: Not only do I not own the West Wing (sigh), I don't own 'Ranma 1/2', the property on which this fic is based. Summary: On a trip abroad, a cursed spring complicates Josh's life. Notes: Hope you all enjoy. It's not necessary to be a fan of Rumiko Takahashi's work to get this fic, since it's just the premise I borrow, and not the characters. Also, it's in a script format. Feedback: Please. Archive: Yes.

Josh 1/2 by Anne Marsh

Act I- Origin

SCENE I- PRESIDENT BARTLET's trip to China-- the president is lecturing his staff about the cursed springs they are visiting.

BARTLET:... is the lush history behind the springs, and it's just a pity we have nothing like this back home, isn't it? If we did, it would be a National Park, let me tell you... Not only for the rich story behind the springs, not only for their natural beauty, but... (continues droning on)

JOSH: (under breath) Hey, Sam... you think we can duck out of here?

SAM: (reading brochure, fascinated) Hey, Josh, look at this-- legend says that anyone who falls into one of the cursed springs is doomed to... well, here the translation gets fuzzy-- my Mandarin is-- okay, non-existant, I don't speak Mandarin, but the translator who wrote the English guide says... (continues droning on)

JOSH: (sighs) Sorry I asked...

LEO: I hope you're paying attention, Joshua. You know he'll only repeat the entire thing if you aren't.

JOSH: I am paying the utmost attention, Sir.

SAM: (excited) Hey, look at this!

~Sam tries to gain Josh's attention, pointing out a line in his brochure. Instead, he knocks Josh into one of the springs.

SAM: (cont'd) OH! Are you okay?

JOSH: (splutters a bit) Yeah, yeah, I'm fine...

SAM: Here, let me help you! (in his attempt to reach Josh, Sam knocks Leo into a different spring.)

JOSH: No... no, I think you should probably not with the helping.

~Sam hangs his head. Josh and Leo climb out of their respective springs unaided.

SAM: I'm sorry...

JOSH: Hey... it's okay. I mean, the water was pretty warm, ya know?

BARTLET: (joking) Well, I hope you were paying attention to the old legend, Josh...

JOSH: Yeah. Yeah, of course I was paying attention.

SCENE II- The White House, the next day. The president is back from his trip, as is the rest of the staff. It's mid-morning, and it's been a long one-- Josh has ducked into the men's room to splash some cold water on his face.

~Unbeknownst to him, this triggers an interesting transformation-- Josh has turned into (dun-dun-*dun*!) a woman.

~The hallway is empty as he exits the restroom, but on the walk back to his office, he finds himself the recipient of many a stare-- many a *male* stare, in a frankly appraising fashion.

JOSH: (mostly to himself, quiet and annoyed) What? What? (he looks down, then swallows hard, turning pale) Oh.

MALE STAFFER: (sidles up to Josh) Hi.

JOSH: Uh, hi.

MALE STAFFER: I don't think we've met...

JOSH: No, I'm-- (looks down again, then back up) new. I'm new.

MALE STAFFER: Mike.

JOSH: J-- oanie. Joanie... Norman. Joanie Norman. Nice to, uh, make your accquaintance.

MALE STAFFER: Pleasure's all mine.

JOSH: Right...

MALE STAFFER: So... you doing anything tonight?

JOSH: (supremely unsettled) Yes. I'm-- doing things. Tonight. Far away from here. Sorry. (runs off)

~Josh makes it to the main bullpen, and is nearly to Donna's desk, when he runs into Ed and Larry.

ED: Hi, can I help you?

LARRY: I don't think I've seen you around before.

JOSH: Yeah, I'm new, I'm-- I'm on Josh Lyman's staff. I'm his new... um, intern. I'm an intern. Assisting Josh Lyman. This is where his office is, so I'll go there now, thanks.

ED: I'm Ed.

LARRY: I'm Larry.

JOSH: (to self) Really? (looks between them, mildly surprised)

ED and LARRY: It's nice to meet you.

JOSH: Right, yes. (makes a break for his office)

ED and LARRY: (waving) See you later!

~Josh closes his office door behind himself, leaning against it, relieved. Then he realized that the day isn't over yet, and sees the stack of files on his desk.

JOSH: Aw, man... This had to happen to me today? (he scoops up the folders and heads back out)

~Josh weaves through corridors, dodging flirtatious males, makes it through the minefield of the communications bullpen, ducking down behind a desk to avoid being seen by Danny and Toby, and makes it to Sam's office.

SAM: (looking up, taking off his glasses) Oh... do I know you?

JOSH: Of course you-- don't, because, I'm new. Joanie-- (moment of consternation, as Josh has forgotten his fake last name)-- Joanie.

>From Josh Lyman's office.

SAM: (brow furrows) I didn't know Josh had a new woman working on his staff... well, welcome aboard, Joanie Joanie.

JOSH: (epiphany hits) Norman! Joanie Norman. Um, sorry. That was awkward. But Josh had to run off and-- deal with something important that came up, which requires expertise that really, only he possesses. So he sent me to brief you on a couple things you needed from him.

SAM: Oh. (troubled by something he can't put his finger on. Finally, to make conversation) THat's a pretty masculine suit.

JOSH: Oh, uh...

SAM: (desperately trying to save the meeting) It looks good on you, though!

JOSH: Yeah, thanks.

~silent montage, as Josh and Sam go over the files. Finally, everything seems to be well in hand.

SAM: Well, thanks. I think that's everything.

JOSH: Uh... aren't you going to say something else?

SAM: (confused) No, I think that's everything...

JOSH: You're sure there's not something else you want to say to me?

SAM: Pretty sure. Why, is there a problem?

JOSH: No, just... everyone else said... something else. Sorry, it's nothing. I'll go.

SAM: Okay.

~Josh storms back to his own office in a snit, talking to himself.

JOSH: What, so all of a sudden am I not pretty enough? All the other guys seemed to think I was a pretty hot tamale. Why shouldn't I fit the Sam Seaborn standards? Just because all the other girls he dates are stuck up socialites, or Leo's daughter, or-- or *hookers*--

~And having thoroughly upset himself, he slams the door and sits down behind his desk, in a full huff. There is a knock on one of the doors.

JOSH: Go away!

~The door between Josh and Leo's offices swings open, to reveal a panda. Yes, a panda. The panda holds up a sign.

SIGN: Josh, it's me, Leo. I washed my hands and it turned me into a giant panda.

JOSH: Oh... You should talk to Mandy. She's been looking for a giant panda.

~Leo grabs a pen fro mJosh's desk, and writes on a pad of paper. It's sloppy, but legible-- luckily, pandas have thumbs. He will continue to write new signs to communicate whilst a panda.

SIGN: Very funny. I assume that's you under those breasts.

JOSH: Yeah. Yeah, it is. This is kind of weird.

SIGN: Sam's fault.

JOSH: How is this Sam's fault? I mean, sure, he was the only guy whose eyes didn't drop out of his skull when I walked by, but that's hardly conclusive evidence against him.

SIGN: I didn't need to know all that. The cursed springs.

JOSH: What?

~Leo points to 'the cursed springs' again.

JOSH: You think... falling into the springs-- did this?

SIGN: I knew you weren't listening.

JOSH: Well... I guess there's no point in denying it. How do we-- stop it?

~Leo shrugs and lumbers back through the door to his own office. Josh sighs and flops back into his chair.

JOSH: Leo's a giant panda, I'm a chick... and why is Sam the only guy who doesn't think I'm hot? Is it because he's the one who knocked me in, or what? Man, this blows.

~There is another knock.

JOSH: GO AWAY!

~Donna bursts in.

DONNA: (openly hostile) Who are you?

JOSH: I'm-- Joanie. Norman. Joanie Norman. I'm an intern, I'm new, I work for Josh Lyman.

DONNA: Well, are you supposed to be sitting in his chair?

JOSH: Uh... yeah.

DONNA: Well, where is he?

JOSH: He got called away. It was some kind of emergency, they said only Josh would be able to fix it.

DONNA: Yeah, well... Why didn't he call and tell me? I'm his assistant, he's supposed to tell me these things, not you.

JOSH: Ahkay...

DONNA: (eyes narrowed) I'm sure you have work somewhere else you can do.

JOSH: Sure.

SCENE III- Josh's apartment, after the long, weird day.

JOSH: All right... maybe it's not really happening and this is all a very strange dream... I'm just gonna take a shower, go to bed, and hope for the best in the morning.

~He starts stripping, pausing when he's in boxers and an undershirt.

JOSH: Okay... just starting to realize how weird this really is... Oh, come on, they're *my* breasts, it's not like they're-- someone else's. Besides, how stupid would it be to shower with my underwear on just because I'm a chick today? It's not even like I've never seen a naked woman before, right? Of course right. (nods, turns on shower)

~Shot of shorts and t-shirt flying out of steam cloud. Random establishing shots native to anime, of apartment things and feet in a shower, etc., until the water turns off and Josh emergec and wraps his back-to-male self in a towel. He spots himself in the mirror, does a double take, and wipes a spot free of condensation.

JOSH: See, back to normal. It was all just a weird... I don't know, maybe working too hard made me hallucinate or something. No, no, I don't like that-- that means I should stop working. Maybe I ate something weird in China. Maybe when Sam knocked me into that spring, it really-- No. No, that can't be true.

~Josh steps into pajamas and climbs into bed. Time lapse of the night turning into early dawn, and Josh gets up, gets ready, and heads off to work.

SCENE IV- Josh's office. Sam knocks on the slightly-ajar door and steps in. Josh looks up, guardedly happy to see his best friend.

JOSH: Hey.

SAM: Hey. So... you have a new girl working here?

JOSH: Oh, yeah, Joanie. I asked her to cover for me yesterday. She's just part-time though, she's an intern. It's some kind of... college thing?

SAM: I thought she was more... our age.

JOSH: Yeah, she's going back to school for an advanced degree in political science. She's already, you know, fairly accomplished and stuff. Brilliant, I might even say.

SAM: Oh.

JOSH: What did you think of her?

SAM: Um... she was... nice, I guess.

JOSH: Nice? You guess? You don't think she's, you know, unusually attractive?

SAM: Well... if you like that sort of thing?

JOSH: (weirdly offended that any man should find his female half less-than-desirable) Everyone seemed to like that sort of thing! Her hair, her eyes, her smile, her fabulous body!

SAM: I didn't look at her body. And really, you shouldn't be looking at her body...

JOSH: I didn't! I overheard some guys talking.

~Flashback-- Josh is on his way home, but before leaving the West Wing, he passes by the bullpen one last time, and is stopped.

STAFFER: Hey, there, gorgeous. If you're not in a hurry--

~Josh rounds on him and is about to haul off and hit him when he looks down, spots the boobs, and blushes, contrite.

JOSH: Sorry... I've been taking Tae Bo, I'm a little defensive. No, I'm-- very in a hurry, thanks. Sorry. Bye. (rushes off)

~End flashback.

JOSH: (cont'd) I mean, everyone seems to think she's hot. Don't you?

SAM: Well... I mean, I wasn't really paying attention.

JOSH: Oh.

SAM: Is it really that big a deal?

JOSH: Of course not.

SAM: I mean, you're not-- you're not *interested* in this woman, right?

JOSH: Me? No, *I'm* not, I just wanted to know what you thought. She seemed like... nevermind. Look, I-- I've gotta run this across the street to Hoynes' people...

SAM: Sure. See you later?

JOSH: Sure. We doin' something?

SAM: Yeah, well, CJ and Toby suggested maybe we get together tonight, even if it's just the four of us, but Charlie might be there. Anyway, I was thinking, if you were in...

JOSH: Sure, I'm totally in. See you later-- check with you before we go? We'll share a cab, it's cheaper.

SAM: Sure, I'd like that. (Sam exits, not before nodding and flashing a Very Bishie Smile)

~Josh shoves some papers in his backpack, slings it over one shoulder, and jogs off to the OEOB to hand the papers over to the VP's staff.

~As Josh is crossing the street, there is an ominous rumble... he barely has enough time to duck out of sight before the skies open up in torrents of rain, and Josh is again transformed into a woman.

JOSH: Aw, man...

~Josh, now sans-tie, is still able to use his pass to get into the building with the papers, explaining that he was sent from Josh Lyman's office to hand some things over for the Vice President. Meanwhile, Hoynes enters, surrounded by members of his staff, secret service, etc.

~Closeup on Josh's backside, as a hand swings in for a grope. Three different angles, in rapid succession, of Josh preparing to take a swing at someone. Upon seeing the very shocked group of guys in stodgy suits-- Hoynes among them-- he stops. Which is for the best, really, as he's not sure which one felt him up.

JOSH: These papers are from Josh Lyman's office.

HOYNES: Thank you. Are you new?

JOSH: Yes.

HOYNES: I should drop by the West Wing more often...

JOSH: That really isn't necessary, Mr. Vice President.

HOYNES: (sidles up) Oh, but it is...

JOSH: No, it's-- it's really not, Sir-- excuse me...

HOYNES: Call me John.

JOSH: That's okay, I--

HOYNES: Can I see you sometime? Without the papers?

JOSH: You mean-- with different papers.

HOYNES: I mean with no papers.

JOSH: Mr. Vice President, you--

HOYNES: John.

JOSH: (fed up, realizing he can't be punished for 'Joanie''s actions) Shove it, John. And the horse you rode in on, you Texas hick.

~Hoynes gapes like a fish, Josh makes a quick exit, dashing through the rain and winding up in the White House, where he uses his newly- accquired feminine wiles to finish getting through security. He's riding on a high from having told Hoynes to shove it, but is brought crashing back to reality when a Secret Service agent whistles at him.

JOSH: Has that *ever* worked for you? Just curious.

~He runs into Charlie, who is, for a moment, taken aback by the sight of 'her'.

CHARLIE: Excuse me, Ma'am.

JOSH: Yeah. (to self) That could've been worse.

CHARLIE: Is that Josh's bag?

JOSH: Yeah. I-- I'm the new intern working under him.

CHARLIE: I didn't know he had one.

JOSH: Yeah. He does. Joanie.

CHARLIE: Well, you have a good day, Ma'am.

JOSH: You too, Charlie.

CHARLIE: You know my name?

JOSH: Yeah, I have flashcards.

CHARLIE: ... Okay.

~They part ways, and Josh once more heads back to his office. When he gets there, he realizes that he's now stuck as 'Joanie' and can't explain to Sam. He bangs his head against the desk.

CUT TO- hours later, same place. Sam is heading towards Josh's office-- parts of him visible through slightly-ajar door as he starts talking.

SAM: Hey, Josh, I figured you were busy, so I thought I'd swing by to say-- Oh. Joanie. Hi. Is Josh here?

JOSH: He... (this pains him) He got called away. He said to apologize that he couldn't make it.

SAM: Oh. Okay. I-- understand. (face falls)

~We follow Sam as he exits.

DONNA: 'Night, Sam.

SAM: (doesn't hear her, talks to himself quietly) He could've just called... I mean, how long would that have taken? Got called away? I mean, I understand if it's an *emergency*, he *is* a really important guy, but he could have called! It's just-- that's the considerate thing to do! (he nearly walks right into CJ)

CJ: Hey there, Spanky. What's up?

SAM: Josh can't make it. I think I'll just--

CJ: Okay, well, ride with Toby and me.

SAM: That's okay, I--

CJ: Come on, Sam, you're not flaking out on us, too? If you do, I'll be stuck listening to Toby rant on about polls all night. We're supposed to be having fun!

SAM: Okay. (sighs)

---/-/---

Act II- The Plot Thickens

SCENE I- Josh's apartment. Josh throws himself onto bed, sobs girlishly. Time lapse on clock shows about half an hour passing. Josh gets up, goes to fridge, and grabs a beer. He then spends about an hour drinking beer and watching a sports show, expression apathetic.

JOSH: (to self, during commercial break) I feel so *stupid*... I mean, it's not like I have a reason to *cry*. Nobody died or anything, it's just-- *man*, am I such a-- well, I guess I *am* a woman... But I'm such a sissy woman, crying over nothing? Just 'cause I miss a night out with the guys? Hey, I should be thrilled! I spent entire *years* of my youth wishing I had boobs! Now I don't need women at all! I can entertain myself for *hours*!

He takes another drink, watches TV apathetically for a moment.

JOSH: (cont'd) I *could*, if I really *wanted* to. I *don't* need anybody. I mean, I just wish I was out with the guys is all. Toby's probably having a fit over the latest polls, and CJ's pretty funny after a couple of drinks... and maybe Charlie's there, and *Sam*... Sam needs to get away from the office more. We all do, but... Well, I *like* seeing Sam loosen up and relax. It makes *me* relax. Oh, this is so stupid...

Josh heads back to the kitchen, then sees the sink full of the past week's dishes.

JOSH: (sighs) Oh, might as well.

Doing dishes, of course, changes Josh back into a man. He rushes back to his bedroom, hands still dripping with soapy water, and changes into fresh, casual clothes, heads off to the bar where the others were going to be. When he arrives, Toby is complaining to CJ about polling data, and CJ is trying to make Toby laugh with cocktail napkin origami. She sees him first.

CJ: Josh! Over here! Josh, tell Toby no one cares.

TOBY: Everyone cares. Josh, tell her everyone cares.

JOSH: Where's Sam?

CJ: Sam?

TOBY: Sam left.

CJ: He wasn't feeling well.

JOSH: Sam left?

TOBY: Yeah. What are you, deaf? Hey... are you okay?

JOSH: Yeah... Yeah, I'm just gonna go-- I'm just gonna go. Sorry.

CJ: Josh--

TOBY: Josh?

Josh walks out, despondant. He stands by the curbside, ready to hail another cab. A car roars by, through a puddle from the day's rain, soaking him.

JOSH: Right. Because my night was in danger of being too good.

He starts walking home.

SCENE II- Josh arrives at work to see Donna fuming in his office.

DONNA: So. Who knows?

JOSH: About what?

DONNA: That woman who was at your apartment last night. Was she the same woman who works here? That new girl, Joanie?

JOSH: What? Donna, I swear, I was alone last night. And-- how would you even know if--?

DONNA: You left your stuff in the office. I was going to take it over to you, because it looked important, but surprise, surprise, I see *her* going into your apartment.

JOSH: Into my building, maybe. You didn't see her going into my apartment, Donna, and I swear I was alone last night!

DONNA: Be that as it may, Joshua, I have my suspicions. Is anything untoward happening between you two?

JOSH: Donna, I barely see her. And when I do, it's not even like I enjoy it all that much! It's just-- something that has to happen, because of-- work-related issues.

DONNA: I overheard you talking to Sam about her being hot.

JOSH: I said *other* *people* thought she was hot! I hadn't noticed, I was asking if *Sam* had! And-- have you seen Sam today? I want to talk to him.

DONNA: Well, it'll have to wait. I'm not done with you.

JOSH: No, you really are, because I need to do work, and I have to talk to Sam, so if you could please-- no, you know what, I'll do it myself. I'll call Sam. (he turns to go into his office, but it is not to be)

MANDY: (enters) Josh. Where's the hussy?

JOSH: Olivia?

MANDY: Joanie. Olivia?

JOSH: Yeah, Olivia Hussey, it's a... joke... okay, nevermind, what?

MANDY: Yeah, I heard about her, new girl. You told Sam she was a hottie?

JOSH: Okay, first, that's not true, and second, how did you hear that?

MANDY: I hear everything, Josh, it's my job.

JOSH: I'm pretty sure it's not, but all that aside, can I go to work? I have a very important phone call to make.

MANDY: You interested in her?

JOSH: Didn't you dump me?

MANDY: A girl can be curious..

JOSH: (sighs in a put-upon nature) Screw the cat, I hope it kills you.

MANDY: Josh--

JOSH: Olivia Hussey, she's an actress! Romeo and Juliet? Death on the Nile? It?! Ah, forget it!

MANDY: Josh--

JOSH: I'm busy! (slams office door, grabs phone) Hey, Sam? Oh, hi, Cathy. Is Sam there? Well, can you-- just tell him I called... Yeah, thanks. (hanging up the phone, he rests his head on the desk)

Leo enters, not a panda.

LEO: Josh? Are you okay?

JOSH: No, I'm not okay. She's ruining my life! She's making women hate me-- or hate her-- or whatever, and practically every guy who sees her-- For crying out loud, Leo, the *Vice* *President* practically invited me to some anonymous hotel room the other day for a little horizontal boogie! Do you know how disturbing that is?

LEO: Thankfully not from personal experience.

JOSH: (continuing to rant) She kept me from hanging out with my friends, and--

LEO: Okay. So, no, then.

JOSH: I mean, I think I know how it works now, but... it's just *hard*!

LEO: Yeah. I figured out the panda thing, too. Which didn't help me last night... I was having dinner with the first family. Abby knocked the water pitcher into my lap because of some *supposed* misdeed, and because she didn't know it would turn me into a giant panda...

JOSH: THe *First* *Lady* knocked a pitcher of water onto your lap *on* *purpose*? That's hilarious!

LEO: Yeah, Josh, real hilarious. It was hilarious when I had to eat the President's decorational bamboo plant instead of a really good steak because his wife's mad at me over a little political difference and she turns me into a panda.

JOSH: Okay, well-- it was funny except for the panda part.

LEO: I'm gonna laugh when it happens to you.

JOSH: No, it wasn't funny at all, Sir. She was-- totally out of line.

LEO: Yeah. Look, just- be ready for staff in fifteen.

JOSH: I'll be ready.

SCENE III- Senior Staff. Toby is grumpy, as per usual, CJ looks mildly fatigued, Sam looks somewhat pale and tired, and Josh looks like death warmed over.

LEO: Geez, you guys... is there some kind of killer flu going around that I don't know about?

CJ: I had a late night, and--

TOBY: --if you'd just *look* at the data, you'd see--

SAM: --it's just a twenty-four hour thing, but I--

JOSH: --*hope* it's not contagious!

LEO: Right. Look, that's all for now. Get out of here, will ya? And-- don't do anything stupid today.

ALL: Yessir.

Everyone pours out, heading their seperate directions-- Toby has a meeting with the speechwriting staff in the OEOB, CJ has a press briefing, Sam has work to do in his office, and Josh quickly veers from the short walk to his own to follow Sam.

JOSH: Sam, about last night--

SAM: I got the message from your friend.

JOSH: Intern, I barely ever see her, and--

SAM: It's cool, Josh. You don't have to explain your comings and goings to me or anything.

JOSH: Look, I got to the bar after all, but Toby said you'd gone home by then, and...

SAM: You really don't-- You made it over?

JOSH: Yeah. I was really-- I felt bad about-- I got there, and then CJ said you were kinda sick. You sure you should be in?

SAM: It's important. I'm feeling better, though, it's okay.

JOSH: Well, okay. You're not-- I mean, of course you're not mad, it's dumb, but-- you're not, right?

SAM: Of course not.

JOSH: Hope you feel better.

SAM: Yeah, I do. Thanks.

JOSH: Look-- you want lunch? I mean, when it's lunchtime. I mean-- you're spending all day with that address, right? I'll bring something by, okay?

SAM: You don't have to--

JOSH: No, it's totally cool. Come on, we've both been working way too hard. We can catch up, talk about guy stuff, or whatever it was we used to do, when we had time to just hang out.

SAM: Yeah. I'd like that.

JOSH: Great. See you later.

SAM: Yeah. Later.

Josh bounds down the hallway, whistling. On the clock in his office, time flies by...

---/-/---

Act III- Sam's First Call

Scene I- Josh heading down corridor, whistling. He swings by the mess to pick up sandwiches to take to Sam's office. En route, whilst heading through an empty hallway, he trips over a janitor's bucket- on-wheels thingy, utterly soaking himself, and ruining lunch, too.

JOSH: (gasps) Oh, no! Oy gevalt... No, no, it's okay, I can fix this...

He stands, shakes off, splashes himself with water again. It does nothing, except make him wetter. A passing guy stares at his wet, clingy shirt, and he pulls his blazer tighter around himself, glaring.

JOSH: Hey, hey! Try and be a little more PC, guy! You work in the White House!

GUY: (in odd accent) No, I don't! I am visiting, and having the diplomatic immunity!

JOSH: Oh, perfect...

His plans for lunch-- and his plans to change back-- foiled, Josh makes a mad dash for his own office. He grabs his backpack, pulls out jeans, a t-shirt, and a more casual buttoned shirt, and quickly changes in the closet, fashioning a makeshift brassiere out of the old t-shirt.

JOSH: Wow... this is *way* more comfortable. Okay, gotta go-- fix things with Sam. Somehow.

Scene II- 'Joanie' knocks on Sam's door.

SAM: Come in... Oh! I was-- expecting someone else.

JOSH: Yeah... Hey, come to lunch with me.

SAM: I can't. I've got plans. (goes back to re-reading copy of speech)

JOSH: Well... I'm sure you could change them.

SAM: Well, it's been a while since Josh and I have been able to hang out without, you know, having to run the country, so I was kind of looking forward to it. And besides, I don't want to cancel on him. It wouldn't be very nice.

JOSH: Well, I'm sure he'd understand.

SAM: I'm sure there are plenty of people who would be happy to take you to lunch. (Sam is not unkind during this conversation, just preoccupied, and uninterested. He isn't trying to be impolite, but his people skills are a little hazy at times)

JOSH: Yeah, but... (struck by some divine inspiration, Josh leans forward over Sam's desk and unbuttons two shirt buttons. He finishes the line in a slightly deeper, more flirtatiously sultry tone) none of them are *you*.

SAM: I'm sorry, but I ha--

JOSH: Look, I know he'd understand! I mean-- he is pretty busy, and-- he... (thinks wildly-- he wants Sam to feel as though he can cancel, but he *doesn't* want Sam to think that he doesn't want to go to lunch with him) He gave me his blessing.

SAM: What?

JOSH: Yeah. I-- I said I was interested in maybe getting to know you better, because I thought you were the kind of guy who would give me some advice, meaningful advice, and he said-- he said 'Well, Joanie, Sam's a great guy. Look, I was going to take lunch over to him, but if you like him, I guess I shouldn't get in your way or anything', and I thought, well, if he thinks it's a good idea, Sam does seem like the guy to get to know. After all, you're such a brilliant writer, and you already know everybody!

SAM: Thanks. But Josh knows more than I do. More people, I mean. More, you know, probably about the White House, but--

JOSH: But he doesn't have time to talk to *me*. I'm-- only working there because they don't have enough time. And he said he'd give up your lunch so *I* could go out with you, but I'm sure he'd *never* blow you off to show *me* around.

SAM: (still hasn't noticed 'Joanie''s breasts, which are currently being very prominently displayed for him)Well... I mean, if he's okay with it, and if you-- if you really want me to go with you.

JOSH: Why wouldn't I?

SAM: I don't know. You seem to know your way around.

JOSH: Yeah, around the building. But-- I mean... Look, we'll go someplace, and you can tell me about how things have been going. I mean, about how things go around here.

SAM: I guess, I mean, if Josh has been too busy, but-- I really don't know all that much about the building. I could-- try to tell you about what it's like working here, but... I don't know, it seems like he'd be a lot more familiar with your job than I am.

JOSH: (on impulse) Yeah, but you're cuter.

SAM: Uh...

JOSH: C'mon, I'm buying.

Josh and his breasts lead Sam down the hallway and towards the mess. Sam is the only man who doesn't ogle them. They reach their destination, pick up sandwiches, and find a small table in the corner. Focus moves to Donna and CJ, who are having coffee a few feet away.

CJ: Hey... what's the new girl doing with Sam? Wasn't she-- you know, didn't she have a thing going for Josh? That's what you were saying.

DONNA: The hussy!

CJ: Sounds like she just better watch her step... You're not planning on killing her, are you?

DONNA: Please, CJ, no! I mean, only if I have to. But I mean absolutely have to. If it's avoidable, I-- This is ridiculous!

CJ: You're the one sending hate-beams at her.

DONNA: Yeah, well... We must pry her away from our men. She's a home- wrecker, and--

CJ: To be fair, you've never even so much as gone on a date with either of the respective gentlemen. ANd hey, she's not getting anywhere near any man *I'd* lay claim to.

DONNA: An office-wrecker, then. She's totally taking over my position as assistant! And now she's-- (Donna gasps) The hussy! She must be stopped. (dramatic fist-into-hand gesture)

CJ: (sweat drop) Um... yeah.

And we cut back to Sam and Josh, laughing. Josh leans over the table, gratuitously baring cleavage which Sam fails to glance at. Instead, he starts talking about senatorial procedure.

SAM:... of course, I don't know as much about that as Josh does. He worked in the Senate, as deputy to the Minority Whip. I just-- listen to people talk about it.

JOSH: Well, you got it all right. I mean, as far as I know. (runs finger over clavicle, attempting once more to draw attention to the region of his-- her-- chest)

SAM: Thanks for lunch. Sorry it had to be so short-- I really have to get back to revising the big speech.

JOSH: That's okay. Maybe next time we could actually leave the building. I know this great place... they make a killer reuben sandwich.

SAM: I bet I know it-- Josh likes the reuben sanwiches at this one place.

JOSH: Oh. I-- um, I didn't know that.

SAM: Okay, well... uh, I gotta run, but-- I'm sure I'll see you around. (makes a gracious-but-hasty exit)

DONNA: (approaching table) Hi, Joanie.

JOSH: Hi, Donna. CJ.

DONNA: So... are you and Sam a-- thing, now?

JOSH: (completely surprised) What? Oh, no! I mean, he was just giving me some, you know, advice, for getting around the business.

CJ: (eyebrows arched) Josh couldn't do that?

JOSH: Well, he's usually busy. He doesn't talk to me unless there's something I have to do.

Donna looks smugly superior.

CJ: Look, the one thing you should know, if you're interested in Sam... He's got this weird thing with dental hygeine.

JOSH: Well... dental hygeine is important.

DONNA: (in desperation to burst 'Joanie''s bubble) He slept with a hooker! (clears throat) I mean, I heard.

JOSH: (coldly) Listen, are you saying these things to me because you have a problem with Sam, or are you saying them because you have a problem with me?

CJ: I'm just saying. (hands in air, backing off a step) I mean, many of his quirks are endearing, I'm just giving you the heads up, 'cause-- it's a bit much. He's got floss in his desk-drawer.

JOSH: (to self) And mouthwash... (to Donna) Well. Is there anything else? Maybe I should just get back to the office.

DONNA: Actually... I should warn you, about Josh-- I mean, he's a good boss and all, but you really shouldn't, you know, set your eye on him. As a boyfriend, I mean. He's totally incapable of having a real relationship.

JOSH: Hey, I-- I'm sure that's not true.

CJ: Well... actually, it kind of seems to be. Great guy, though. (exits)

DONNA: Just-- you and Josh, it would be a bad thing. So don't even try it.

JOSH: I wasn't going to! I'm not interested in him. I mean, I think he's a model guy, he's both brilliant and attractive, but *I* don't want to date him! (pettily, pride bruised-- blithely unaware of Donna's crush on him) Besides, it'd be just as much trouble if you tried it!

Donna bites her lip and leaves.

Scene III- CJ's office. Sam is sitting on her couch, going over his draft of the speech.

CJ: (looking up) Why aren't you doing this in your own office?

SAM: Toby's totally on the warpath. I figured, if he came in here, you could protect me from him. He tends to listen to you.

CJ: Sam, Toby doesn't listen to anyone. He just knows I'm stronger than he is.

Sam chuckles silently, slightly forced, then goes back to his work. Some time passes, then CJ sets down her briefing folder and looks at him again.

CJ: So, Sam... is there anything to this-- is there anything between you and this Joanie girl?

SAM: What? Oh, no, Ceej, nothing like that! I mean, she's nice and all... she's funny, she seems pretty smart, and-- well, okay, her eyes *are* pretty, but-- I mean, I guess I'd like her, except-- You see--

CJ: I might, if you were, you know, speaking English. C'mon, Spanky, spit it out.

SAM: You know how I'm supposed to tell you anything, about me, that might cause, um, a scandal? How I should go to you first?

CJ: Oh, this is gonna be good... (groans, hand smacking forehead)

SAM: Anyway, Joanie's nice. I-- I might even be attracted to her myself, if, you know, she was-- someone different. Something different. Not-- what she is.

CJ: Josh's assistant?

SAM: A woman.

CJ executes a perfect take on this, dropping the papers she'd been idly holding and staring slack-jawed at Sam. Sweat drop.

CJ: Excuse me?

SAM: I'm not-- into women. I'm... kinda gay.

CJ: Hoo boy, I wish this wasn't happening. Actually, you know what, I take that back. I wish this had happened before that hooker thing.

SAM: You won't tell anybody, will you?

CJ: Trust me, Sam. I'm the last person who would want you out of the closet. When did you-- find out about this?

SAM: Um... when I was nineteen.

~The scene goes hazy, we move into a flashback. Washington, DC, somewhere over a decade ago. Sam, a fresh-faced college student, is wandering around gawking at everything.

SAM: (voice-over) It was spring break... all the other guys went to Florida, I went to DC. Even then, I knew what I wanted to do with my life. Anyway, I was looking at touristy stuff, educational stuff, and then...

Soft bubble background, soft focus on a young man in jeans and a sweater, holding a stack of pamphlets and generally looking bish.

SAM: (voice-over) He was standing a few yards from the Lincoln Monument, handing out pamphlets and proclaiming the injustices of the politcal system, and the damages being done worldwide by our republican government. And he was beautiful...

CJ: (voice-over) Oh, brother...

SAM: (voice-over) THen, he looked at me... He handed me a pamphlet, said something about making a difference. I said 'Hey, pal, you're preaching to the choir',

YOUNG MAN: Here, read this. It'll change the way you look at the fascist regime you're living under.

YOUNG SAM: Uh, thanks. That's-- all, you know, right. And stuff.

SAM: (voice-over) He asked me if I was interested in really making a change in the world,

YOUNG MAN: So you're gonna vote, then, right?

YOUNG SAM: Yeah. Democrat. Registered last year.

SAM: (voice-over) We talked...

YOUNG MAN: Cool.

SAM: (voice-over) You know, about schools. Debated their relative merits.

YOUNG MAN: Hey, you in college?

YOUNG SAM: Y--yeah.

YOUNG MAN: Where do you go?

YOUNG SAM: Princeton.

YOUNG MAN: Oh. Too bad.

SAM: (voice-over) He was... so wonderful. (big sigh)

YOUNG SAM: Hey, it's a good school!

YOUNG MAN: Sure, if you can't get into Harvard.

YOUNG SAM: My father went to Princeton!

SAM: (voice-over, as image fades) Then, he disappeared... and I figured I'd never see him again, so... (fade back in on Sam and CJ, present) I didn't think about it much. I mean, when it happened, I didn't think of it as a sexual thing. I didn't know at the time, that I was, you know, *attracted* to him. It was just later, looking back on it. In retrospect, I had a pretty obvious thing for him back there.

CJ: (misty in spite of herself) Aww... your first love, huh?

SAM: (nods) Well, he was just a crush, I only talked to him for a minute, but...

CJ: So *did* you ever see him again?

SAM: It's hard to say...

---/-/---

ACT IV: The Past and the Present

SCENE I- Flashback to eleven years ago, DC. Sam, a little older, but still a fresh-faced idealist, is seen in a montage, going to monuments and museums, and finally, a bar. As he exits, he is swarmed by about four guys, but is saved pretty darn soon when the mob is chased off by a young man a couple years older than Sam. He looks a little like the boy Sam met before, and a little like Josh-- in fact, he *is* Josh. Whether or not he is also the boy from a few years ago, Sam will never know.

YOUNG JOSH: Hey... are you okay?

YOUNG SAM: Y--yeah... Yeah. Thanks.

YOUNG JOSH: Sure. Look, this can be a rough part of town, 'kay?

YOUNG SAM: I-- I don't live here. It's-- summer break. I came here once a few years ago.

YOUNG JOSH: Oh. Sure. Well then I guess I know it better than you. My father's a legislator, he knows the secretary of-- look, nevermind, you don't care. Did those guys hurt you?

YOUNG SAM: I-- I don't think so. I guess-- they wanted my wallet?

YOUNG JOSH: Yeah... probably.

YOUNG SAM: I didn't know this was a rough neighbourhood.

YOUNG JOSH: Only at night, when the bars have been open a while. During the day, people are more, you know, sober, they don't cause so much trouble. Come on, let me give you a ride. Don't worry, I was supposed to be tonight's designated driver, it's okay. My... 'friends' must've left without me, though, so... you sure you're okay?

YOUNG SAM: Yeah. (sakura shot) I'm Sam.

YOUNG JOSH: Josh.

Josh helps Sam into a car and gives him a lift to the hotel. He walks Sam to his door.

YOUNG JOSH: Hey... look, I'm in 42C tonight, so... maybe I'll run into you tomorrow and just, you know, ask if you're okay.

YOUNG SAM: I'm okay. But thanks.

YOUNG JOSH: Sure, I just-- well, I wasn't gonna stand there, you know? You, uh, go to school around here? No, of course not, you-- you're just on vacation... um...

YOUNG SAM: Well, I'll be starting at Duke Law pretty soon... I mean, not next semester, but-- pretty soon. I'm also very interested in politics-- that's why I spent my vacation here and all.

YOUNG JOSH: Neat. I'll be at Yale next year-- the law school, but I'm *definitely* going into politics. I was interning up on the hill this year-- I just moved out of my apartment, but my plane doesn't leave until tomorrow, so I'm at the hotel just for tonight.

YOUNG SAM: Well... maybe our paths will cross again, then.

YOUNG JOSH: Bet on it. (standard anime pose for this type of determination/confidence in own ability to influence fate)

Josh leaves to go to his own room, and Sam closes his door, then leans against it (on the inside now) and sighs deeply.

CJ: (voice over) What do you mean it's hard to say? Did you see him again or didn't you?

Scene snaps back to present.

SAM: Oh, don't pay any attention to me, CJ... it's nothing. (blush and sweat drop)

CJ: Well, you're not seeing anyone right now, are you?

SAM: (sigh) No.

CJ: Just give me the heads up if you do... I need to know what kind of statement I might need to give. And-- for the love of all that is good and holy, don't date a politician.

SAM: (turns to stone and shatters, then rises back into frame and onto couch) Yeah... well, he wouldn't be interested, anyway...

CJ: *What*?

SAM: Nothing! I mean-- Just, I don't know any politicians who'd be-- interested in me.

CJ: That just better be the truth, Samuel Norman Seaborn. If I find out it's not--

SAM: CJ, I know. I know, okay? You'll kill me in some suitably hideous fashion. I'm not stupid, I-- I won't do anything dumb.

CJ: I beg to differ, but I'll give you the chance.

Sam sighs and leaves CJ's office. The minute CJ has gotten back to work, Josh-- as Joanie-- enters furtively.

CJ: Who's there?

JOSH: Me. Joanie. Uh... can I ask you a favour?

CJ: Sure, but I make no promises.

JOSH: If I was going to-- to go out... I don't have any dresses, I mean, *at* *all*, and-- Where would I go about finding-- you know--

CJ: You look about my height... hang on. (she gets a box out of the corner) Here, look through this stuff-- I've been planning on running it over to goodwill for a couple of years now, but I never have the time. If you find anything... (shrugs) Be my guest. Just get rid of the rest of it for me. That it?

JOSH: Sure.

CJ: Who's the lucky guy?

JOSH: Well, I was-- I was thinking about inviting Sam out...

CJ: Oh...

JOSH: What 'oh'? Is this because of the dental hygeine thing? Because I think that's kind of cute. It's a good habit.

CJ: It's definitely a better habit than high-priced hookers.

JOSH: No, just-- not like a *date* date, just as a thank-you, because he's been, uh, you know, nice to me. Helpful.

CJ: Well, sure, but... don't expect-- you know, too much from him.

JOSH: No, I don't. I really-- I don't. I just-- he's a nice guy, that's all. I-- like spending time with him.

CJ: That's always how it starts...

Toby sticks his head in, looking-- well, for Toby, normal. For anyone else, in a most serious snit.

TOBY: Is Sam in here?

CJ: Just missed him.

TOBY: Well if he comes back--

CJ: I'll tell him. Hey, Toby, there's a pretty interesting movie playing this weekend. Watch it with me.

TOBY: ... Why?

CJ: I don't have a hidden agenda, Tobus, I just asked you to watch a movie. I'm not going alone. Desperate, lonely women go to movies alone!

TOBY: You're not a desperate, lonely woman?

CJ: Ah, you know I'm never lonely when you're around. Just annoyed.

TOBY: Well... I'll see.

CJ: Sure.

TOBY: Any idea where Sam was hea--

CJ: Toby, he left. I didn't ask any questions. Go, shoo.

TOBY: (noticing Josh for the first time) Who are you?

JOSH: Joanie Norman. I'm Josh Lyman's new assistant.

TOBY: What happened to Donna?

JOSH: Nothing happened to Donna. I'm not his assistant-assistant, I'm just on his staff, assisting.

TOBY: Oh. Okay. Should you... be there, then?

JOSH: I'm headed there, now.

Josh exits, and we follow him to his office. Once there, he sighs and leans against the doorframe.

JOSH: Well, at least Toby doesn't have the hots for me.

Leo enters, not a panda.

LEO: Josh, I need you to-- Oh, for crying out loud. I thought you knew how to fix this?

JOSH: So did I, but I was wrong, because it didn't work.

LEO: (grumbles... pete's sakes, Josh...

He goes back into his office, then returns with a coffee cup, which he uses to douse Josh.

JOSH: OW! That was HOT! Oh... hey, I'm--

LEO: It's about temperature, Josh. Cold water turns you into a woman- - and me into a bear-- and hot water changes you back. The trick in my case is figuring out how to get the hot water once I'm a panda... I mean, I can hardly go off in search of a restroom when I look like a giant wild animal. And I can't ask Margaret to bring me some-- who knows what she'd do if she found out...

JOSH: I guess you could ask me to do it.

LEO: You know, I will.

JOSH: Darn it, I didn't mean that...

LEO: Too bad, Joshua. Is that a *dress*?

JOSH: CJ was cleaning out her closet for goodwill. I'm about her height, so they might fit me, just in case I ever need to-- look, forget about it, I'm sure I won't need 'em now. Except...

LEO: Except? Except what, Joshua?

JOSH: Well... I think-- I might be taking Sam out...

LEO: As in a mob hit, or...? (pseudo-threatening) Joshua...

JOSH: Not like a *date*, Leo, just... I don't know... I don't know what I'm doing.

LEO: Why couldn't you just say 'no' like you do with the other guys? You have been turning them all down, haven't you?

JOSH: Leo, of course I have been! No, it's just... Sam is-- he's Sam. He's different.

LEO: He's your friend, Josh.

JOSH: Yeah. He's my best friend.

LEO: And as his friend--

JOSH: Best friend. I'm his *best* friend.

LEO: You just have to be the best everything, don't you? As his-- *best* friend, you have to be honest with him. If he's got a thing for this girl you turn into, you can't string him along, you've got to tell him the truth.

JOSH: Well, it's not like he wants to sleep with her! Yet.

LEO: What?

JOSH: He doesn't have a-- a *thing* for me, Leo. It's just-- socializing. Besides, I didn't say I was gonna, I said I was maybe gonna. That's, like, a whole world of difference!

LEO: Yeah, you say. Look, I have work to do. And, so do you?

JOSH: (cowed) Oh, um, yeah...

Leo leaves, Josh holds dress up skeptically.

SCENE II- Josh runs home with CJ's old stuff, douses himself with cold water, and changes into a cute little black number, then runs back to the West Wing, where he manages to 'accidentally' bump into Sam.

JOSH: Oh, hi!

SAM: Hey. Hey, did you se--

JOSH: You know what, it's funny-- you were just the guy I was looking for.

SAM: I-- I was?

JOSH: Yes.

SAM: Oh. Um, why?

JOSH: Well, I was thinking maybe tonight, we could actually leave the building?

SAM: I leave the building every night. Oh-- you mean, together?

JOSH: Yeah. If-- if that's okay with you.

SAM: Well... I mean--

JOSH: I understand if you're busy.

SAM: I-- I guess I'm not busy, but-- not a *date* date, right?

JOSH: Just a friendly co-worker thing. You know, getting to know the new guy? Girl.

SAM: I-- I guess that would be okay.

JOSH: Great. I'll meet up with you before I leave.

SAM: Sure.

Josh flits off happily. Sam looks utterly dazed by the entire experience. He starts walking back to the office, and runs into Leo.

LEO: Oh, hey, Sam.

SAM: Hi, Leo.

LEO: Have you seen Josh?

SAM: No. I was gonna go-- ask him about something, but... I don't, uh, know where he is. Joanie might.

LEO: (warring between being glad to have found Josh, and being exasperated with Josh's inability to stay a man for one workday) Excellent! And where is she?

SAM: She-- just went off that way.

LEO: You all right?

SAM: Huh? Oh, yeah, yeah, I'm fine.

LEO: What's going on?

SAM: Nothing. I mean, she asked me out on a not-a-date, and-- you know, it's nothing.

LEO: (eyes narrow) Right... Well, I'm sure she can tell me where I can find Josh. Thanks, Sam, you've been a big help.

SAM: Sure, anytime.

SCENE III- Josh's office, where he's practicing walking in heels. Leo barges in with a coffee carafe, looking none-too-pleased.

LEO: Joshua...

JOSH: What? Hey, do you think I look okay?

LEO: You're wearing *that*?

JOSH: (crushed) Does that mean 'no'?

LEO: That means-- do you *want* Sam to ha-- you know what, don't answer that question. I'm not even going to finish *asking* that question. What's with the revealing little black dress?

JOSH: Uh... nothing.

LEO: Don't nothing me, young-- young-- young whatever-you-are, I know you asked Sam out! What in the world is wrong with you? Do you *want* to cause the decline of Western civilization?

JOSH: One dinner with Sam is hardly going to--

LEO: Does he know it's you?

JOSH: Of course not! Leo--

LEO: What's wrong with you, Joshua?

JOSH: Nothing! Geez... Look, I haven't been able to spend any time with my best friend, and this way, I can. Okay? What would *you* do?

LEO: I don't know, find a sporting event or something. Something normal.

JOSH: It's not abnormal!

LEO: Josh, you turned into a woman and asked him out on a date. That's abnormal. I'm not making a value judgement, I'm just saying-- it's the opposite of normal.

JOSH: Well-- Hey, you're not going to scald me again, are you?

LEO: I'd do it, for your own good more than anything, but... I really don't want to see the regular you in that dress. Josh, you can't court Sam as a woman.

JOSH: I'm not courting him!

LEO: Well, I-- I forbid you from seeing him! I mean, I don't forbid you from *seeing* him, just from-- dating him.

JOSH: We're not dating! And-- and you can't tell me what to do! (storms out in a huff)

---/-/---

ACT V- Love Bites, Love Bleeds

SCENE I- Josh, as Joanie, wearing the slinky little black dress, is sitting across the table from Sam, in a nice, if not overtly- romantic restaurant.

SAM: You know, it's weird seeing you in a dress. I mean, I'm so used to seeing you dressed like a man.

JOSH: Yeah, well... I thought it might be nice. It's really the only chance I have to wear it.

SAM: And high heels-- man, I don't get how you women walk in those things!

JOSH: Neither do I. I mean, neither *did* I. Until I got the hang of it.

SAM: Yeah, when?

JOSH: Five minutes ago. I mean, in high school. It took five minutes.

SAM: Oh. Well... where did you go to high school?

JOSH: Uh, I went to-- a good high school... in... Conneticut.

SAM: You mean you're also from Conneticut?

JOSH: (sweat drop) Also?

SAM: Sure. I mean, that's where Josh is from. I figured, you working under him, you'd...

JOSH: Well, I don't really talk to him much, you know... (internal monologue) Man, I gotta get better at making stuff up...

SAM: Oh.

JOSH: Yeah, I-- need to get better at... networking. Getting to know, you know, other... people. From... work.

SAM: Ah. So that's why you wanted to have dinner with me. (nods brightly, happy with and confident in his assessment of the situation)

JOSH: Well, our lunch did get cut short...

SAM: Um... Yeah. Sorry about that.

JOSH: It's okay. So... how about that local sports team?

SAM: (blinks) Which one?

JOSH: No idea. Did you watch the hockey game last night?

SAM: Yeah. You into hockey?

JOSH: Sure. Not as much as I am into movies *about* hockey, but yeah.

SAM: (laughs) Really?

JOSH: Yeah.

SAM: Like... What, the Mighty Ducks movies?

JOSH: Heavens no. There's this one... I don't remember the title, but it's the best movie ever about hockey. Or maybe it was the worst movie ever about hockey... I'm not sure. Anyway, you know the one I'm talking about? It has that one actor, what's-his-name, Rob Lowe?

SAM: Oh. Yeah, I never really thought he was that attractive...

JOSH: (beat) Well, I didn't really expect you to.

SAM: Right. (sweat drop)

JOSH: Anyway... You like hockey?

SAM: I'm ambivalent. On the one hand, it could be good, entertainment-wise, just-- I don't really understand a lot of sports. I mean, I don't understand any activity that involves a lot of physical agony inflicted upon you by other people, who are very large and missing their front teeth. I pulled crew.

JOSH: Wow, that's nice.

SAM: Sure. I mean, the football team always made fun of us, but we were really good at crewing! And, they weren't really good at football, so... I was never entirely clear on why they were the ones making fun of us.

JOSH: They were just jealous.

SAM: Sure, yeah, right.

JOSH: Absolutely. Of your mad skills, your medals, your well-defined shoulders and regimented discipline. The fact that you guys got boats.

SAM: What about you? What sports or activities were you involved in?

JOSH: I ran track. And in high school, I played some-- ladies' softball. (internal monologue) Nice save, Lyman!

SAM: Great.

JOSH: Yeah. So... (his phone rings) Darn it! Sorry, I-- I should take this... it's, you know, work-related.

SAM: Sure, go ahead.

JOSH: (into phone) Hello? Hello? Is this call coming out of Leo's office? Hello?

CUT TO- Leo, as panda, hiding in his closet with the phone, realizing he can't speak. Outside the closet is Mandy, brandishing a net.

MANDY: Here, panda panda panda... come out, come out, wherever you are...

CUT back to Sam and Josh.

JOSH: Huh. Guess someone hit the wrong button. There's no one there. Well, how was yours?

SAM: Hm?

JOSH: Dinner. How was yours?

SAM: Good, it was good. Can I, um-- should I give you a lift?

JOSH: No, I-- I'll get a cab.

SAM: It's no trouble, I mean, if you need--

JOSH: No, really, it's fine. I'm-- out of the way. You know, Maryland.

SAM: Oh. Okay.

Josh pays the check and they exit, Sam getting their coats (Josh is using one from CJ's box)

JOSH: (as Sam helps him into coat) Thanks,

SAM: Sure. I guess I'll see you around the office...

JOSH: Yeah. Well... goodnight. (impulsively leans over and kisses Sam's cheek, then rushes off)

SAM: (stunned, quite possibly scared) ... good night...

SCENE II- Josh's office, next day. He's working, but keeps getting distracted, as shall soon be shown. First, Mandy bursts in.

MANDY: Where is it?

JOSH: (jumps three feet in the air) Where is what? Jeez, give a guy a heart attack!

MANDY: The panda bear, Josh! I swear I saw it last night.

JOSH: W--what?

MANDY: Remember how I was trying to get a panda, for the zoo?

JOSH:... Yes.

MANDY: I saw one-- and I know this sounds crazy-- in the West Wing. I went to get a net, but when I came back through the bullpen, he was gone. I lost him near Leo's office.

JOSH: Oh, no... Mandy, go away, right now.

MANDY: But I--

JOSH: I'll go ask Leo if he's seen it, okay, but you-- you have to leave!

Josh shoves Mandy out the door, slams it, and fetches a cup of hot water. He goes into Leo's office, sees the phone cord going into the closet, and finds Leo, curled up asleep under his coat. He hits him with the hot water.

LEO: What in the name of-- Oh, Josh... I tried calling you last night, but... I couldn't talk.

JOSH: Because Mandy was right outside lookin' for ya, right?

LEO: Yeah, and because I was a panda.

JOSH: Right. Hey, Leo... nothing. Just-- forget about it. I've got-- work to do. (goes back to his own office)

Josh has just sat down and gotten back to work when Donna comes in.

JOSH: Whatever it is, can we not do it now?

DONNA: You should fire her.

JOSH: Who, Mandy? Believe me, I'd love to.

DONNA: No, Joanie.

JOSH: Huh?

DONNA: She's a shameless hussy, Josh. And I really think she's not what this office needs.

JOSH: A-- what?

DONNA: CJ and I saw her with Sam the other day. She was practically throwing herself at him. And none of the guys can concentrate with her around, either!

JOSH: Okay, that's hardly her fault, and-- Throwing herself at him? That's-- that can't be true, Donna. It-- it probably just looked like that, but I'm sure-- (he pushes her out the door as he's talking. This time he locks it, then slumps against it) It can't be true... can it? Throwing myself at him? That's not right. I wouldn't throw myself at Sam. I'm-- I'm a guy. And Sam's a guy. And he's my best friend, and-- Why would I? It just looked like that to Donna because she's crazy. But then... why did I kiss him last night? Oh, that didn't even count! It was just on the cheek, and-- well, so what? Nothing's going on between me or-- or 'Joanie', and Sam.

Josh nods decisively and returns to his desk. The door handle rattles, then there's a knock.

JOSH: Go away, Mandy, there's no bears in Leo's office!

SAM: A panda is not a bear! It's a relative of the raccoon!

JOSH: Oh! Sam! (he gets up and rushes to unlock the door, practically tripping over himself in a Sam-fueled haste. Once the door is open, Josh becomes forcedly casual) Hey. C'mon in.

SAM: Hey, Josh. So... has the pressure finally cracked her?

JOSH: I don't know and I don't care. You want something?

SAM: Well, I just dropped by to have a quick word with you about-- something... (he makes sure the door is closed and locked behind him before nervously settling into one of Josh's chairs)

JOSH: Sure, sure. (at mini-fridge) Can I get you anything? I got water, Dr. Pepper, orange juice...

SAM: No, no, I-- I won't take long. Thanks.

JOSH: (coming back over and sitting by Sam, concerned) Okay. Hey, you okay there, buddy?

SAM: Yeah, I'm fine, really, it's just-- You know Joanie?

JOSH: Kinda, yeah. (grins) This about her?

SAM: Could you just-- if you see her, tell her... I mean, and be nice about it! Tell her-- I mean, the other night, I got the feeling she might have been-- *interested* in me, and-- Well...

JOSH: Yes...?

SAM: Just, if you could find a nice way of telling her it would be better for her to-- to find someone else to be interested in...

JOSH: Someone... else... What's the matter, don't you like her?

SAM: No, I do! I do, but-- not in that way. Because of-- *you* know...

JOSH: I don't know.

SAM: I can't date Joanie because of-- you *know*.

JOSH: No, I don't know.

SAM: I-- She's a perfectly nice girl, just-- I mean, Josh, you know I'm-- You really don't know?

JOSH: You're-- not available?

SAM: (lets out a sigh) In a way, I guess... If you could just tell her something like that. Only Josh, be nice about it, okay? Not like- - not like you.

JOSH: What, I'm not nice?

SAM: You're-- You're sweet, Josh, but you're not tactful.

JOSH: (smiling) I'm sweet?

SAM: (blushes) Well-- somewhere on the inside. Very, very deep on the inside, where, um, no one ever notices it.

JOSH: I have no idea whether I should be flattered or offended.

SAM: Not too much of either would be good. Anyway, I should go now. Um, thanks.

JOSH: No problem. My, um, pleasure. Hey, I'll see you later?

SAM: (bish smile) Sure.

JOSH: Great. (Sam exits, Josh slumps back into chair) Great...

Beat. Josh starts rhythmically pounding his head against his desk. Leo enters.

LEO: What's that racke-- Josh? Josh, what are you doing?

JOSH: I'm beating my brains out for being so STUPID. STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!

LEO: Josh, stop it! STOP IT!

JOSH: STUPID, STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!

LEO: JOSH!

JOSH: (stops hitting himself, looks up teary-eyed) There's someone else, Leo.

---/-/---

Act VI- Tangled Web

SCENE I- Josh's office-- he's just dropped a bomb on Leo.

LEO: Someone else feeling you up in the OEOB? Is it the Vice President, because I'll go down there and give him a piece of my m--

JOSH: He doesn't love me, and he never will.

LEO: Hoynes?

JOSH: She should be so lucky. It's--

LEO: Oh, no... Josh, no.

JOSH: (over) Sam, he-- he doesn't want me-- her, he--

LEO: Josh, I told you not to-- Wait, why do you-- Why would you even care?

JOSH: I-- I don't know, but I do!

LEO: Are you...?

JOSH: What? Leo, no! I'm totally not gay. I mean, I never was, I don't thi-- But I'm also not a lesbian, so... she, I guess-- I don't know, it's just all so confusing!

LEO: No kidding. At least I've never been attracted to a panda...

JOSH: And you know what the most confusing part is?

LEO: I hope not.

JOSH: How could he not want her? Me. I HAVE A GREAT RACK!

Outside the office, everything stops. Back in the office, Josh has a giant sweat drop. He opens the door and sticks his head out.

JOSH: Hey, get back to work! What? You never heard a couple of guys discuss woodworking projects before? What would *you* do if you had more spices than you knew what to do with, Larry? Yeah, I thought so!

He slams the door, then fumes all the way back over to his desk chair.

LEO: You've gotta get this under control, Josh.

JOSH: I know, I know.

LEO: If you need to-- (this pains him) talk, or something... I mean, just, sometimes my door is open, and-- if you ever had to, you know, without *ever* giving me any details I don't need...

JOSH: Yeah. Thanks, Leo.

LEO: Anytime. (exits w/ haste)

Josh sighs and attempts to get back to work.

SCENE II- CJ's office. Sam slips in, nervous.

CJ: Why if it isn't my good friend Sam, Sam, the accordian man!

SAM: (minor sweat drop) Um... Hi to you, too, CJ...

CJ: What can I do ya for?

SAM: Can-- can I talk to you? About... stuff?

CJ: This wouldn't happen to be love life problems, would it?

SAM: It might be.

CJ: Shoot.

SAM: Well, last night Joanie took me out to dinner-- it was just a get-accquainted thing, and because I was helping her out, because she was new, but-- I kind of get the feeling she maybe had a thing for me?

CJ: What tipped you off? The gratuitous cleavage displays she's been shooting your way since lunch the other day?

SAM: The what?

CJ: Okay, so not that.

SAM: Well, after dinner, she kind of... kissed me.

CJ: Ooh, Sam, you dog, you.

SAM: (blushing) You know it wasn't anything like that, Ceej. No, it was just on the cheek, but... Anyway, I asked Josh to let her know I- - wasn't interested.

CJ: In women.

SAM: No, just-- not interested. I-- I kind of figured Josh already knew, though, just 'cause-- I mean, I never told anyone, but... well, we've known each other for about eleven years now, I just kind of thought he'd know somehow. Anyway, he didn't, and-- I didn't want to *lie* to him, CJ, but he asked if it was because I was already spoken for, and it just sounded so good I kind of-- let him think that.

CJ: That's okay, Sam.

SAM: But it's not! I'm not-- spoken for, and I don't want Josh to think that! I mean, I don't want him to think anything about me that isn't true, just because I couldn't be a man and be honest with him, but it isn't easy, because when I thought he knew, it was-- well, I figured that meant he was cool with it, but now I don't know how he'll react, and he already thinks--

CJ: Sam, you wanna bring that sentence down below the speed limit, there?

SAM: Sorry. So what should I do?

CJ: What makes you think I know? I don't have a relationship-- I don't even have a cat.

SAM: I don't like lying. I mean, I know I can't just go around telling the whole truth, and there are some sacrifices I have to make, to be a politician right now, but I shouldn't-- I shouldn't lie to my best friend. Trust and stuff is really important to Josh, he'll-- he'll be upset if he thinks I didn't trust him.

CJ: Do you?

SAM: I trust Josh with a lot of things...

CJ: Do you trust him with this?

SAM: Well I want to! It's scary, you know? I trust him to keep it a secret, it's just... the other part I'm afraid of. What if-- what if he doesn't want-- what if he's not comfortable with me anymore?

CJ: So what do you want to do?

SAM: I don't know... that's why I came to you!

CJ: It's really not my business-- Well, I guess it would be if anyone else found out, but it's not my business if it's just a question of Josh.

SAM: CJ...?

CJ: Yeah, Sammy?

SAM: There's one other thing.

CJ: Please tell me no one else knows.

SAM: No one else knows. But, um... you know how you said it better be the truth, about me not, you know, going after anyone in politics?

CJ: (threateningly) Sam...

SAM: I'm not! And I won't! Because-- because I know he's not-- but... well, I-- Look, I couldn't help it! How was I supposed to resist his... dubious charms?

CJ: Dubious charms? Oh no, Sam...

SAM: Seeing him every day, not being able to do anything about the way I feel...

CJ: Sam, tell me you don't mean--

SAM: Knowing that under that tactless and steely facade beat the wounded heart of a poet...

CJ: Because Sam, I swear, I will kill you if I have to...

SAM: With those fathomless coffee-brown eyes...

CJ: I can get someone from the CIA--

SAM: The rare kind of nerve that can get in the ring with the President of the United States and not back down when he knows he's right... even if he's, you know, not, entirely, but...

CJ: -- and order a secret murder. You think there aren't secret murders?

SAM: How his voice gets quiet sometimes, when he's not so sure, and when he's not so worried about looking like he has all the answers... when he really trusts you to understand that no one person *can*, and he's able to admit he doesn't, it just...

CJ: There are always secret murders! And Sam, if you're saying what I think--

SAM: I mean, it's such a burden for him. And some people think he's a jerk, but with all the pressure from his job, and everything he's been through in his personal life, and, I mean, the position he holds! Well, no wonder he feels like he has to be right all the time! I mean, he is under constant scrutiny from some very powerful people!

CJ: -- Then I will not hesitate to have you buried in a ditch in Omaha, because-- because--

SAM: And when we were getting everything ready last year to move into the White House, he worked through Christmas, even though he could've had it off, and he said it didn't make any difference to him, because, you know, it's not like he celebrated, but really, the guy who would've been doing that job had a family and he knew it, so he--

CJ: YOU CAN'T HAVE HIM!

SAM: I know, okay? I know. And-- I'm totally crazy to even think about it, but... it's just, I've known Josh for so long, and...

CJ:... Josh?

SAM: Yeah. Josh. Who else could I have been talking about?

CJ: (clears throat) Um, no one. I didn't think-- I just, I didn't have any idea, I wasn't-- nevermind. Of course Josh.

SAM: CJ, I can't help that I have feelings for him, okay? You don't think it would be a lot easier for me if I didn't? I mean, jeez... falling in love with your best friend? That's a veritable emotional minefield. Even in movies, you don't always get a happy ending that happens! I mean, I will *never* forgive John Hughes for Pretty in Pink...

CJ: You... watch John Hughes movies?

SAM: Well not anymore, I'll tell you that! I just-- I'm sorry. And don't worry, I'll never tell him. I wouldn't do that, it-- it'd only screw things up.

CJ: Sorry. I-- I understand, you know.

SAM: No, you don't.

CJ: I kinda do!

SAM: I'm fairly certain you don't, CJ.

CJ: Well, not the gay thing, but I know what it's like to not have a friend feel the same way about you as you do about them!

SAM: ... Yeah?

CJ: Yeah.

SAM: What was he like?

CJ: He was a jerk.

SAM: He must've done something right if you had feelings for him.

CJ: He was a skilled and accomplished jerk.

SAM: Like what, a concert pianist? A brain surgeon? A brain surgeon who moonlighted as a concert pi--

CJ: No, I mean he was skilled and accomplished at being a jerk.

SAM: Then why did you fall for him?

CJ: Because I'm a madwoman, Sammy.

The door swings open.

TOBY: (sticking his head in) CJ, have you see-- Oh. Sam. I needed the address five minutes ago. Where were you?

SAM: It's on my desk, I'll go get it. Thanks, CJ! (dashes out)

TOBY: He's been distracted the past couple of days...

CJ: I don't blame him.

TOBY: Wait-- you know why?

CJ: It's kind of confidential. Sorry, Tobus.

TOBY: (grumbles incoherently)

CJ: Hey, now that he's vented, I'm sure he'll have a much easier time focusing.

TOBY: He'd better.

CJ: He was just having some trouble with the new girl.

TOBY: Yeah? She's not really attractive, is she? I mean, for some reason, every man in the building has his eyes shoot out of their sockets when she goes by, but-- Don't you think she looks kind of like a man? I mean, a man with giant breasts?

CJ: What, just because a girl is tall, she has to--

TOBY: I didn't say that and you know it.

CJ: 'Cause I'm tall.

TOBY: You're very tall. But you also don't look-- well, kind of like...

CJ: She does have a slightly masculine nose. And dress sense. And-- You know, she does resemble Josh, feature-wise. Like, if he was a woman, that's how he'd look. Other than that, I'm sure she's a very pretty girl. She does have a huge rack.

TOBY: I think she's even taller than you are.

CJ: She's not.

TOBY: I think she was.

CJ: She can't be.

TOBY: Yeah, you were in heels. So, by an inch, maybe, I think she's taller.

CJ: She can't be and still be a woman!

TOBY: She's a very mannish woman. Maybe no one told her tall girls were allowed to be feminine.

CJ: Don't expect me to. I spit and swear and-- watch football.

TOBY: But you don't understand it.

CJ: No, but I watch it. For the tight pants. And if it's the Super Bowl, for the commercials. For the disaster that is the halftime show. Britney Spears and Aerosmith do not on the same stage belong.

TOBY: Right, well.

CJ: Anyway, she's got a thing for Sam.

TOBY: Britney Spears?

CJ: No, though I'd love to see how he'd deal with that...

TOBY: Because bagging one hooker wasn't enough?

CJ: No, Joanie. The new girl. Haven't you seen her flirt with him?

TOBY: No... She's flirting with my deputy? And it's keeping him from working?

CJ: Well, I don't think it's *that*, exactly...

TOBY: I should-- talk to someone about that.

CJ: Actually, TOby, you--

TOBY:... But I'm not going to. Nope, can't bring myself to care enough.

CJ: See, that's what I love about you.

TOBY: That?

CJ: Yeah. Why?

TOBY: Nothin'. I just kinda-- just once, I'd like it to be for my looks.

CJ: (laughs)

TOBY: (vein on forehead, broods)

CJ: (still laughing, but now falling out of her chair)

---/-/---

To be continued...

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