The Masterplan: Make Some Sense
Author's Note: This occurs in the same AU as the Jukebox Series. See the prologue for a timeline.
"C.J., we'll be late if you don't hurry up!" Sam Seaborn called to his wife.
"It's not my fault, Sam." Claudia Jean "C.J." Seaborn called back to her husband. "It's Alyssa."
Sam sighed. Their two-year old daughter was very precocious, but she was also a handful. Today she was vigorously protesting her dress that C.J. had laid out for her. Sam could hear his daughter's strident little voice from the other end of their hotel suite. "No, Mommy!"
Eventually, though, C.J.'s arguments won out. "Lissy, you want Grandma Abbey to say you look nice, don't you?"
Alyssa went quiet. "Grandma Abbey?" she asked.
Alyssa positively worshipped the former First Lady. The dress went on and C.J. picked up the little girl, ready to leave. "All set, Daddy!" she said as she saw her father.
"That's good, Lissy." Sam smiled. He said to C.J., "So who's coming today?"
"Let's see." C.J. ticked off the names on her fingers. "Josh, Donna and the kids, my mother and Leo. Maybe Toby. Maybe a few others."
"Cool." Sam hesitated, but had to broach the subject. "I wonder how Bartlet is doing."
C.J.'s face grew drawn. "Abbey says not too well," she answered quietly. "I'd prepare yourself for a shock."
"Really." Sam sighed. "I guess I had to expect it sometime."
The two were silent on the road to the Bartlets' home. Much, after all, had changed since the Bartlet administration had left office. Leo and Eleanor had married. Zoey Bartlet was now Zoey Bartlet-Young, Esq., with her own private law practice. And of course, Josh and Donna were now married, with children.
It was a daunting thought.
Alyssa, oblivious to this melancholy line of thinking, chattered happily in the back seat of their rental car. "Mommy, I see Uncle Josh and Aunt Donna today?"
"Yes, you will." C.J. disentangled herself from her mental abyss. "Uncle Josh and Aunt Donna, and Jake and Becky will be there too." The former and latter were the Lymans' one-year old twins.
"Yay!" Alyssa's moon face split into a toothy two-year old smile. "Grandma Abbey, and Aunt Donna and Uncle Josh and Aunt Mal'ry "
"Mallory!" Sam exclaimed.
"Yes, Mallory." C.J. shot him a stern glare. "First off, now she really is Alyssa's aunt since my mother married Leo. Secondly, don't interrupt. It sets a bad example. Thirdly, you haven't seen Mallory since the wedding. She's your step-sister-in-law. Be a man and deal with it."
Sam shot his wife a dirty look, but as a rule they didn't argue in front of Alyssa. Thus, he was forced to change the subject. "So, how long has it been since you heard from Toby?"
"Quite a while." C.J. bit her lip nervously. "He said Senator Delehanty's campaign was rough."
"C.J., come on. This is Toby." Sam grinned. "He could live through a Third World war, let alone a particularly mudslinging gubernatorial campaign."
"But he sounded awful on the phone, according to Abbey." C.J. sighed. "He can't even get one day off to come up here to New Hampshire with us. I guess I just worry about him."
Sam laid a hand gently on his wife's shoulder. "C.J.," he said. "It'll be fine. Toby's not stupid. He's not going to kill himself over this thing."
"I guess you're right."
Alyssa, who had fallen uncharacteristically silent since her father's interruption, piped up. "We there yet, Daddy?"
Just as Sam was about to respond he changed his tack in mid-sentence. "Yes, Lissy, actually, we're here."
C.J. parked the car in the familiar driveway behind an unfamiliar-looking car with Vermont plates. She got out, unstrapping the little girl. "Prepare yourself," she said to Sam under her breath.
"I know." Together they stepped onto the porch. Sam rang the bell of the Bartlets' farmhouse.