Wednesday...

"Did he know?" John Hoynes asked bluntly. Leo slowly nodded.

"Last Friday," Leo confirmed. "We had to tell him. He figured out what you were doing."

"I know. I intended him to," Hoynes replied. "How's the President taking it?"

"He's blaming himself." Leo sighed. "You might get your wish, John."

"Not like this, Leo. Not like this." Hoynes shook his head. "Do me a favour."

"What?"

"Tell Jed Bartlet to get his head out of his ass," Hoynes said sharply. "Toby Ziegler didn't do this because of what he was told on Friday night. I didn't know him all that well, but I know that. You should, too."

"Yeah." Leo was unconvinced.

"Look at what you do know about Ziegler. The answer's there if you look hard enough."

"What are you getting at, John?" Leo nailed him with a glare.

"Toby Ziegler figured out your secrets in six days. How long will it take you to figure out his?"

-------------------

The press briefing was hell. CJ tried to keep her voice steady as she confirmed Toby's death last night. She succeeded until Katie tried to ask a question.

"CJ? Could you clarify...?" That was as far as Katie got before CJ snapped.

"He's dead. What more clarification do you need?" She shouted. "He's dead with a bullet hole through his head." Her voice broke at the last few words and she looked down, trying to hide the tears.

The press room was eerily and uncharacteristically silent. When CJ steeled herself to look up, she saw that everyone was looking at her with sympathy, respectful of her grief.

"CJ, when is the funeral?" Danny asked quietly.

"On Thursday afternoon. The President will attend, as will the First Lady. It will be a private ceremony, so I can't give any details as to where it will be held." CJ had some of her composure back. "That's all. The Washington Police will issue a report to you by ten this morning."

-------------------

The west wing was as quiet as a tomb. The usual frantic pace was slowed, although everyone was working hard. The business of government could not stop for the death of one man. Sam tried to concentrate on the report on his desk, but it wasn't easy. Toby had been working on it yesterday, and his neat annotations were a constant reminder of the fact that he wasn't around anymore.

Sam was not ashamed to admit he had cried most of the night. When he first met Toby, he had been bewildered. He wasn't sure what to make of him. Hard drinking, cynical and abrupt, Toby had not impressed him much, not until the evening they worked on an important speech. Toby seemed to know every fact off the top of his head, referring to his notes only to make a quote.

And the speech itself was pure genius. Sam had to fix it; it was not phrased the way Bartlet would speak, but it was brilliant. That speech set the tone for the rest of their working relationship. Toby would write the first draft, Sam would rework it for Bartlet, then Toby and Sam would go over the final draft together. Sam often wondered when Toby would write the definitive work on American politics. Well, he wasn't going to write it now and the world was poorer for it.

He got up and looked out his office door for a moment. The bullpen was quiet and he noticed that everyone avoided the office next to his. Toby's office door was open, but empty, untouched.

Ginger's desk was empty, too. She had taken the day off. Sam wished he could have taken the day off, too, but he had work to do. He went back to his desk, but didn't go back to the report. Instead, he wrote what he was aching to write - what he needed to write. He would write Toby's obituary, utilizing every bit of skill that Toby had tried to teach him in the last three years.

------------------

Ginger put the phone down and sighed, crossing the item off her long list.

"That's the papers cancelled," she said to Andrea, who was leaning against the kitchen counter, drinking coffee.

"Ugh," Andrea said, dumping the coffee out in the sink. "That has to be the worst coffee I've had in a while."

"Toby hated coffee," Ginger said wryly. "I think that coffee is about a year old."

"He used to keep some fresh coffee on hand for guests." Andrea shook her head. "I guess he hasn't had time for guests since getting to the White House. What's next?"

"His will." Ginger looked at her list. "And if there are any insurance policies and the like around, we need to find them."

"That would be in the safety deposit box," Andrea replied. "You got his keys there?"

"Yeah." Ginger picked them up. "There isn't a safety deposit box key here."

"Oh, great." Andrea rolled her eyes. "Okay, Ziegler, where did you put the key?"

"I'll take the dining room if you take the living room," Ginger offered.

The two women looked, to no avail. Ginger had offered to help Andrea with closing up Toby's house and finding all the papers. Toby's sisters had offered to come up, but Andrea refused. The funeral was going to be held in Brooklyn tomorrow and they had enough to do in making those arrangements.

Andrea looked at all the logical places where Toby might have kept the key. She paused at the fireplace, remembering the times they would sit together in front of the fire and talk. Her eyes drifted to the mantlepiece and she took down the only photograph on it.

It was their wedding day photo. They both looked so happy, so young. Toby was slimmer then, but other than that, he hadn't changed that much from their wedding day.

"Andrea?" Ginger said softly, coming up behind her.

"We were so happy then," Andrea said softly. "Of course, ten minutes after the picture was taken, we were arguing about something. His sisters were mortified, but I didn't mind. I loved arguing with him."

Ginger said nothing, just put her arm around the older woman.

"Thanks for helping me with this, Ginger," Andrea said, carefully putting photograph back, her fingers lingering on the image of the happy couple.

"No problem. I wanted to help," Ginger said softly. "I used to come here and get clothes and stuff for formal events, so I know pretty much where everything is. It always used to surprise me at how neat it is."

"Toby was pretty good about housework. Which is a good thing, since I always hated it. It helped him to do the cleaning."

"Yeah. His office is like that, too," Ginger said, with a slight smile. "Everybody thinks I was the one who kept it so clean, but he didn't like me touching his stuff."

"Ginger, you knew, didn't you?" Andrea asked suddenly. "He told you?"

"Not in so many words, no. But I knew," Ginger replied softly. "I helped him as much as I could. I wish I could have done more..."

"You and me both." Andrea sighed. "I did love him, you know."

"I know. I did, too."

----------------------

"Mr. President? Sir?" Charlie tried to get Bartlet's attention. "Are you all right?"

"Yeah, Charlie..." Bartlet pulled himself out of his abstraction and tried to smile. "No, Charlie, I'm not."

"Is there anything I can do?" Charlie was sympathetic.

"No." Bartlet sighed heavily. "I need to find a new Communications Director and all I want is to have the old one back. It's funny, Charlie. I didn't want Toby in the first place, but now that he's gone, I can't imagine anyone else in the post."

"But I thought that Sam...?" Charlie frowned in confusion.

"Sam turned it down," Bartlet said tiredly. "I don't know. Maybe I asked too soon. I need somebody now. Especially now. Toby's death... We have to handle it better."

"Yes, sir," Charlie agreed.

"The timing's bad, Charlie. Real bad," Bartlet continued. "If he reacted like this..."

"Sir, if you're talking about what I think you're talking about, I think you're wrong."

"Am I?"

"Yes, sir. It wasn't your fault. Whatever was going on in Toby's head, it wasn't that."

"How can you be so sure?"

"He waited four days. Now, I read up on suicide and it usually doesn't take that long for a person to react to something," Charlie said earnestly. "Yeah, suicides plan how they're going to do it. But Toby was a real smart man. His plan would not have taken four days to work out. No, sir. It was something else that caused this."

"I'd like to think that, Charlie."

"I don't know why he did this, sir, but he would not have come into work yesterday if he had been that upset about what you told him."

-----------------------

"I found it," Ginger said, holding up the key. They were in Toby's bedroom, with Andrea looking through the closet while Ginger looked through the drawers.

"Good. Let's hope the bank will let me access it." Andrea blew a strand of hair out of her eyes.

"They will. I talked to the manager this morning," Ginger told her. "He has to be there when you open it, but he said it was okay for you to take the papers as long as you sign for them."

"Thank you," Andrea said gratefully, sitting down on the edge of the immaculately made bed. She absently smoothed her hand across the dark blue comforter. Ginger tucked the key into her pocket and sat down next to her.

"This must be so hard for you," Ginger said slowly. "I mean, you're divorced. You shouldn't have to do this."

"I miss Toby," Andrea said slowly. "I really do. I let him down in a lot of ways. This is the least I can do for him. Besides, the house is mine anyway."

"It is?"

"Un-hunh. Toby and I bought it when we moved to Washington. When I left, he took over the mortgage payment, but the house is in my name." Andrea made idle circles with her forefinger on the bed. "May I ask you something?"

"Sure."

"You didn't have to come help me with this. Why did you?" Andrea asked slowly. "Did Toby ever get, well, personal with you?"

"Me? No." Ginger gave a little laugh. "Although there was one time...."

"Yes?"

"We had a tight deadline and Toby suggested that we work here instead of at the office. I wasn't really sure about it, but I agreed," Ginger said slowly. "We worked on the report and finished it, then ordered in some food. I was starving and so was he. We decided to watch a movie while we ate and ended up cuddling on the couch."

"Toby's nice to cuddle with," Andrea observed, with a smile. "What happened?"

"He kissed me. Or maybe I kissed him, I don't remember. We looked at each other for a minute, wondering if we really wanted to do this."

"And?"

"And we both shook our heads at the same time," Ginger finished. "We watched the rest of the movie, cleaned up the kitchen and I went home. And that was the only time we ever considered being anything more than friends."

Part 4

 

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