See part 1 for disclaimers.

The darkness of her office was most welcome when she stepped back into it. In some small corner of her mind she believed that if she didn't turn the lights on, she wouldn't have to face what was happening half a world away. She laid her head against her hands. She was fighting against the tears that threatened to fall. She really didn't want to cry. Not at work at least. There were too many people who could see her. She needed to hang onto her composure, it was the only way she could get through this.

"CJ." Josh said.

"I didn't hear you come in." She said without looking up at him.

"Yeah, I noticed. I talked with the President while you were doing the briefing."

"And?"

"He's fine. They're all a little shaken of course, but fine. Sam's staying for awhile."

"What...does he know about...Toby?" CJ said shakily.

"He's in surgery. It's going to be a long one from what Sam said."

"How bad is it?"

"It's very serious. " Josh said quietly. He watched her closely, except for just a second her expression did not change at all.

"Okay."

"They've contacted his family."

"There's just his brother, David. His parents are dead."

"Yeah, you may receive a call from him. They said he was wondering how to handle the press."

"Okay."

"I'll probably have more information for you in a couple of hours."

"Yeah, you okay?"

"I feel like I should be asking you that. But I already know the answer."

"Josh."

"I would tell you that he'll be okay, but I don't think you want to hear any false assurances right now." Josh said gently.

"No, I don't."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
CJ was still sitting in the dark when the phone rang. She looked at her watch, and for just a moment she thought it was Toby calling. Then she remembered everything that had happened in the last three hours.

"Hello."

"CJ Cregg?"

"Yes." She almost recognized the voice, but she couldn't place where she recognized it from.

"This is David Ziegler."

"They told me you would probably call."

"Yeah, look I don't need any help with the press."

"I didn't think so."

"I'll keep in touch with you so you'll know what is going on."

"I'll know just as much as you do."

"Yeah but whomever tells you is not going to know how much you and Toby mean to each other."

"He told you?"

"Yeah, I asked him if he was seeing anyone. When I talked about fixing him up with someone one too many times he admitted he was seeing you."

"I didn't know that."

"Yeah it was a few weeks ago."

"Okay."

"You want me to tell him anything?"

"Yeah." CJ said softly.

"What?"

"I think you probably know what it is."

"Yeah, that you love him?"

"Yeah."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A few hours later, Josh walked back into CJ's office. He stood looking at her for a moment. He knew she was exhausted and there was only one way this day could get any worse for her. He just hoped that would not happen, and if it did he would not have to be the one to break it to her.

"CJ." Josh gently shook her shoulder to wake her.

"Yeah." She said sleepily. She sat up almost immediately.

"The President will be back in the White House in about an hour."

"Okay."

"You'll need to brief the press before then."

"Yeah. Is there anymore news about Toby?"

"I spoke with Sam about an hour ago. He had just gotten out of surgery then." Josh paused for a moment, wondering how much he should tell her. As the Press Secretary she needed to know everything, but for other reasons he wished he didn't have to tell her any of this. "They almost lost him twice."

"What happened?"

"He flat lined twice." Josh watched her as he said this. Except for when she clinched her fists there was no change in her expression.

"Okay." She whispered.

Josh placed a hand on her shoulder for a moment. CJ reached up and laid her hand on top of his. He squeezed her shoulder, kissed the top of her head, and then left.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was seldom that Jed Bartlet ventured to the offices of his staff. He usually had them come to him. At this moment that did not seem right, at least not under these circumstances.

"Claudia Jean." He said softly.

"Sir." CJ said starting to get up.

"Don't get up on my account." He sat down in the chair in front of her desk.

"Okay."

"How are you?"

"I've had better days."

"We all have."

"Yeah." CJ didn't look up.

"He was conscious for a few minutes. At least that's what Sam told me when I called from the plane."

"Sir?"

"Toby asked for you." He said simply.

CJ could feel the tears start to sting her eyes, but she was not going to cry while she was at work.

"You really should just let it out."

"The tears?"

"Yeah."

"Sir, if I start I'm afraid I won't stop."

"He'll be okay."

"Due respect, Mr. President, but you really can't promise *that*."

"You don't know how much I wish I could."

"So do I."

"I guess I'm just saying that he has a reason to fight."

CJ didn't look up again.

"Go home. CJ."

"Sir?"

"Go home for a few hours. Get some sleep, cry, and then come back."

"Sir..."

"We'll survive a few hours without you. Your deputy can do the briefings."

"Sir..."

"Do I have to order you?"

"Since you put it that way."

"I thought so."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The silence in CJ's apartment was deafening. It was funny that there were so many memories hitting her at that moment. If she closed her eyes she could almost believe that Toby was there. She remembered how good it had felt to be in his arms. She remembered how they had kissed in the living room on the night they had first made love. She could feel the tears starting to come again. She wasn't ready to cry yet. She was so certain that if she started she would not stop. She was certain from the way everyone was treating her that they knew about her relationship with Toby. She wondered how they had figured it out, but at that moment it was the least of her concerns. As she was standing in the shower, letting the water run over her, the tears came again. This time she didn't fight it. She let the tears overpower her, she had been fighting it for too long. She was scared of losing him, and that dependence frightened her on some levels. She had not known how much he meant to her, until she had almost lost him. More than anything she wanted to believe the President when he told her Toby would be all right. She didn't want to think about what her life would be like without Toby in it. She didn't know when or even how she had fallen this hard for him, she just knew she had. She was still crying when she got out of the shower. She stared the shirt laying on her bed. It was one of Toby's, which he had left at her apartment. She slipped it on, and then pulled the covers tightly around her. She couldn't seem to stop crying. She buried her head in her pillow and cried herself to sleep.


Appearances Can be Deceiving - 3

 

 

 

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