by heyjupiter/Renata of Doom (renata ) 1/5/04
Summary: The first part of a West Wing/X-Men movieverse crossover. Senior staff talks strategy following a mutant attack on the President.
TWW Season 3 & X2 spoilers
Notes: I've had this idea bouncing around forever, so I'm finally giving it a try. Much more of a TWW story than an X-Men story, so if you're a TWW fan with no X-Men knowledge, you should be fine.
(This story is written in shifting 2nd-person. That means that each chapter has a different narrator.) CJ's POV.
"Do we really want to announce this publicly?" Toby was asking.
"Oh, yeah, sure, let's keep it a secret, that's worked real well for us in the past," Leo replied, annoyance and sarcasm clear in his tone.
You were trying to stay calm, but that never was your strong suit. "I think there's a difference between lying about MS and not revealing an attack of this nature. Especially if we don't know for sure-"
"I saw him, CJ, he was a mutant. He vanished into thin air!"
"Well, that may be, Leo, but my point here is that public outcry about something like this could do real damage to the mutant rights movement. It's fragile as it is, and if anti-mutant zealots have something like this to talk up... there could be riots, there could be lynchings..."
"This really couldn't have come at a worse time," Toby chimed in. "An attack of this nature could make the President appear weak, and it forces his hand on the mutant issue."
"The mutant issue?" Sam, ever idealistic, sounded incredulous. "I don't understand how this even is an issue! The same Constitution, the same Bill of Rights that protects you and I, it protects mutants too."
"You know that and I know that, Sam, but there are a lot of people out there who haven't been to law school and are a little scared of people who can, can, I don't know, shoot lasers out of their fingers or whatever. And they're a little concerned."
"Well, there's no way the President can support the Registration Act," you said.
Toby sighed. "I know. But politically speaking, right now it would be really great if we didn't believe everyone was entitled to the same civil liberties."
Josh, never one to admit defeat, was fidgeting. "There's got to be some way... some way we can play this right. I mean, if people see that the President was attacked by a mutant, and he's still unconcerned..."
"'Unconcerned' is a bad word," said Toby. "It implies... carelessness. We don't want that. His 'Strong leader' numbers have never been that great."
"But right now his trustworthiness ratings are way, way down. An attack like this... how many Secret Service agents were involved? Not to mention those people on the tour? We can't hide this, word's gonna get out. And it needs to come from us first, people need to know the truth."
"Besides, if we're the last ones out on this one, I'm going to have a lot of fires to put out," you added. Not like you didn't have enough problems, with a MS scandal that was barely a news cycle old paired with a rocky re-election campaign. "Sam's right, we need to be the ones to announce this. It's just a matter of how."
"I say, you just go out, give a briefing."
"Sure it should be CJ, and not someone from the Pentagon, Josh? It is a matter of national security," Sam asked. Was he trying to protect you, you wondered.
"No, that would make it seem too out of the ordinary. I mean, yes, it is out of the ordinary," he added, sensing the argument that everyone had been on the verge of making, "but we don't want it to seem excessively so. We don't want this blown out of proportion. We say that as far as we know, the assailant was working alone."
"And I make sure to emphasize that this doesn't change the President's stance on mutant rights."
"That's all great, guys, but you're forgetting the big one." Leo sounded exasperated.
"The President has never clearly defined his stance on mutant rights, has he?" you said.
Toby and Sam looked a bit sheepish. "We were always waiting for a good time to bring that one out. Problem is, the time never came," Sam replied.
"And this definitely is not the time," Toby followed.
"Looks like it has to be," said Leo. "I wish we had time for Joey to get us some numbers on this..."
"We don't need Joey to tell us that mutants are an unpopular group right now, and this is not going to help them out." You wished you didn't have to put it so bluntly.
Josh looked amused. "It's kind of ironic, you know... most of the most staunch anti-mutant activists are Republican... so maybe the attack on the President will actually serve to improve their public opinion where they need it most."
"I don't think it works like that. Unfortunately," lamented Toby.
Leo looked at his watch. "Look... CJ, you'll give a briefing in 20 minutes. Sam and Toby, you polish up whatever you've got on the mutant thing and get it to her in 15." You smiled at this, knowing that Sam probably has a perfect speech saved on his computer, but it'll kill him to have such a scant final editing time. "CJ, I'll get you a Secret Service brief as soon as possible. Josh, you have a meeting with Bruno in... now. Any questions?"
You realized, then, that you have all forgotten the most obvious one, swept up in the shock. "How is the President?"
Leo appeared surprised. "He's fine. The guy missed. Nobody's hurt. Except him."
You smiled. "Well, some good news to report, right?" It was a small consolation.