RATING: PG-13
DISCLAIMER: I don't own "The West Wing" or related characters. They belong to
Aaron Sorkin and whoever pays him for his genius. "Miracle" is a song of
Vertical Horizon is not mine.
NOTES: Another Alternate Universe story exploring the What ifs. This one
jumps ahead in time every once in a while.
SUMMARY: What if Toby wasn't sure he could move on?

Toby sighed and looked at the clock. It had been a long day already, but
he was getting used to long days. They tried his patience sometimes, almost
as much as the people around him, but they were normal anyway. They were
consistent. He could always depend on long days. He watched the clock move
from 6:59 to 7:00 on the dot, and then he exhaled slowly, not realizing he'd
been holding his breath. Yes, it was a long day.
A knock at the door drew his attention away from his computer. He stared
at the closed door for a moment, pondering who it was and whether or not he'd
want to see them. A lot of things had happened today, and he wasn't sure if
he wanted to face them. If the person on the other side of that door was
Josh, or CJ, or... If it were KD, he didn't want to see them. If it were
anybody else... He didn't want to see them either, he realized.
"Go away." He said finally and looked back at the computer screen. The
door opened and Sam stepped inside. Toby breathed a silent sigh of relief
that it wasn't one of the three, and then he got angry. "Didn't I say go
away?" He snapped. Sam shrugged and sat down on the couch.
"Whatcha doing? I mean, shouldn't you have gone home by now?" He asked
causually.
"Sam, not only do I not intend to answer your question, I also do not
intend to entertain your existence. Get out." Toby muttered as he typed a few
keys on the computer.
"Josh told me what happened." Sam said with a wry grin. Toby glared at
him.
"You really need to get a life, Sam." He retorted and leaned back in his
chair.
"Now that wouldn't be very fun, would it?" Sam asked playfully.
"I wouldn't know." Toby replied tiredly. Sam sensed the impatience in his
boss's voice and decided not to face it.
"Good night." He said as he got up and left the room. Toby sighed and
closed his eyes. He didn't realize it, but his hands were fidgeting. His
right fingers danced with his wedding band, tugging at it and playing with
it. But he didn't notice. He was thinking about the events of the day.
How could he have kissed her? He was acting on some strange impulse,
something that he himself didn't understand. He hadn't kissed a woman in four
years. Not like that. How could he do that? How could he do that to her, to
himself, when he didn't know if he was ready?

It's taken much too long
To get it right
Would it be so wrong
To maybe find someone
A miracle

Thoughts like this plagued Toby throughout the week. He deliberately
avoided the woman who had affected him so greatly, and he tried to find other
things to focus on. It was hard. Every time he saw KD, he felt the need to
hide. And he would. He would duck into his office, or he'd turn the other
way. Sometimes, when running wasn't possible, he'd merely hide by staring at
his feet.
Toby felt bad about it though. He'd kissed her, not the other way around.
He was probably confusing the heck out of her, even though he *knew* he was
confusing the heck out of himself. How could he explain to her that he
couldn't do it? He couldn't move on. He'd been trying for four years to find
a way to move on, and he couldn't do it. The ring on his left hand
represented seven years of his life, seven years of his heart and soul, and
he just couldn't take it off.
It was a part of him.

And all you really need
Is everything you could never be
And so you'd give it all
For a miracle

Then it happened. He couldn't hide anymore. The President had called for
one of the senior staff poker games, and no one ever said no to the poker
games unless they had a really good excuse. Toby had tried to get out of it,
but his lies didn't get very far with the President, so he had to come.
Now sitting around the table with his coworkers, he could feel KD's eyes
on him. It was her first game as a staff member, and she was cleaning up, but
she really didn't seem to care. What could he say to her? What kind of
explanation could he give that said, I'm not ready? I can't do this.
Why couldn't he? Andy had moved on. It had been four years. He'd been
single for four years, and he couldn't let the world know it. Every once in a
while, he glanced at KD and thought about how good it felt to hold her in his
arms, how warm and wonderful it felt to kiss her and feel her flesh. Could
that be anything? Could it ever be anything more than lust?
With a sigh, Toby excused himself and left the room. He couldn't do it.
He couldn't sit in the same room with this woman and not feel overly
conflicted by every thought that ran through his head. What could he do? What
choice could he make? He didn't know which choice would make him happy. As he
stood in the dark room, staring at the rain, he heard the door open, and in
the glass, he saw the reflection of her face.

Is there a trace
Inside her face
Of a lonely miracle
And so you wait
And lie awake
For a lonely miracle

How beautiful she is. How eager to be with him. How nervous to speak to
him. Could he do it? Could he sacrifice the happiness he'd lost so many years
ago in exchange for a new one? Why now, of all times? Why hadn't this
happened years before? Why couldn't he have been conflicted like this before,
so that he wouldn't have to deal with it now? Love came so rarely, and he
wasn't sure if it was staring at him now. What could he say to it if it was?
She speaks softly, hesitantly. He pretends not to listen, not letting her
see him react. Was this really the best thing he could do? Toby tried to
stare at the rain, tried to forget what he was seeing. On his left hand, he
could feel the ring start to itch, an aching reminder of those seven years
that he spent in marital bliss. He'd made a mistake then. What was to stop
him from making a mistake now and hurting this woman who watched him so
carefully?
Toby looked at her and saw a future, but he couldn't see what was in it.
As he moved across the room to take her in his arms and kiss her again, he
tried desperately not to think of his conflict. How many decisions could he
make that would be right or wrong? What the hell was he doing with his life
anyway? Toby led KD to the couch and pressed her down against it, feeling her
flesh with his hands and tongue. And she reciprocated.
What did that mean?

You never really know
What it is
Not until it goes
And if it comes again
It's a miracle

Toby sighed and looked at the clock. He had to get up now. He had to go
to work. He had to face another day of decisions. He had to face his
coworkers again and he had to face KD. He sat up in the bed and looked
around. The morning light snaked it again, as it so often did, and reflected
off of the ring on his left hand. Toby began to wonder why the sun liked to
do that to him, as if giving him some not-so-gentle reminder of all the
things that he was facing. He instinctively began to fidget with the ring
again as he got out of bed and headed for the shower.
When Toby finally got out of the house, he didn't feel any sense of
direction. He walked slowly, not exactly used to walking at all. He walked
for quite a bit before stopping in front of an apartment building across the
street from Franklin park. He stared up at the building, knowing exactly who
lived there. Toby looked about and then at his hands again.

But what you miss is love
In everything below and up above
And could she bring it all
A miracle

Suddenly, there she was. She was wearing shorts and a nice,
figure-fitting tank top. Toby watched her silently, admiring her form as she
skated towards him. What was there to be between them? Could he really just
forget the whole thing, forget about seven years of his life, for this woman?
That was what she needed. She needed a man who wasn't stuck in the past.
"Hello. Fancy meeting you here." She said softly as she skated to a halt
in front of him. He smiled weakly and nodded, looking at his feet. His hands
were playing with each other again, the ring being moved and tugged at. What
was he going to say to her now? The right thing.
"I was in the neighborhood on my way to the office. I wanted to stop by
and ask you something." He said, not sure of what it was he wanted, but it
was the best thing he could think of to say. She stood before him, trying to
balance on her blades, waiting for him to say what it was he came for. He had
taken so many steps in this beginning of a relationship; could it be she
didn't know how uneasy he really was? What was it he was looking for?
"What'd you want to ask?" She inquired playfully, finally taking the
first step and being the one who broke the silence. She smiled at him, the
morning sunlight highlighting her features and reminding him just how messed
up he really was. He smiled hesitantly.
"Do you, maybe, want to go, well, heh, out to dinner? Tonight? Um, with
me?" He stumbled out. Had he really managed to get out those words? He felt
like an idiot all of a sudden. She smiled a little wider and skated closer.
He watched her body sway with the movement.
"Are you asking me out on a date, Mr. Ziegler?" She whispered. He smiled
and nodded, feeling like a little boy again. So many things in his life were
being to whirl away, the only thing left still standing was this moment with
her. Then he felt her lips against his, only briefly. He felt her nose gently
brush against his ear. "Sounds good to me." She added softly before moving
away from him up the the stairs to her complex. Toby felt his face had turned
a dark shade of red, and tried desperately to keep the goofy grin off of his
face.
"So I'll pick you up here at seven?" He called. She turned and looked at
him. Her eyes gazed at him while she responded, but his ears had tuned out
the rest of the world. The only thing he was aware of was her face, staring
at him for a few brief seconds before she turned away again and disappeared
inside. Toby turned, found a cab and went to work, the image of her face
imprinted on his mind.
Perhaps love stood a chance after all.

Is there a trace
Inside her face
Of a lonely miracle
And so you wait
And lie awake
For a lonely miracle

Toby stared at the window above his head. The light was turned on,
signifying that she'd gotten home all right. He'd seen her up to her
apartment and kissed her goodbye, several times in fact, but he still felt
better now staring at the light than he did before. There was something about
the light, something about its consistency, that calmed him.
Finally, he turned and walked away, climbing into the taxi once again and
taking it home. As he stared out the window of the taxi, his fingers danced
their same old routine. It was then that he finally noticed it. He stared at
his hands as they tugged each other, watched them as they tugged and twirled.
What was the symbolism of this ring? What did it mean to him anymore?
Toby moved into his own apartment and threw his jacket across the chair.
He moved into the kitchen and rummaged around his refridgerator for something
decent to drink. As he moved out into the hallway again, he caught his
reflection in the small mirror there. He saw lines on his face that weren't
there thirty years ago. He saw the ages bearing down on him and he began to
wonder. "What am I doing?" He whispered to himself. He looked down at the
ring and then held up his hand to the hallway light. The ring didn't seem to
glisten as much anymore.
Toby took it off.

All you wanted was a (miracle)
All you needed was a miracle
A miracle
And all you wanted was a (miracle)
All you needed was a miracle
A miracle

Years go by, things stay the same or they don't. Toby stood on the porch
and thought about all the years gone by. So many things change, and yet so
many things stay the same. When he divorced, he thought that was it. He would
never be married, never be a father, never be anything but alone. He didn't
think that anymore, because he knew it wasn't true. He wasn't alone. He was
married. He was a father. He was getting old, but he was still happy where he
was.
"Toby, what are you doing?" KD called as she moved to the doorway. Toby
turned and looked at his wife, a smile spreading across his face.
"I'm thinking." He replied casually. She chuckled and moved out to join
him. He slipped his arm around her waist and held her close to his body.
"What about?" She asked softly as she nuzzled his neck. He leaned his
head against hers.
"Just how lucky I am." He whispered before kissing her gently.
"You and me both." She whispered back. "Come on inside. It's cold out
here."
"I like it out here." He replied. "Besides, you can keep me warm." He
whispered. She smiled and hugged him tightly.
"Glad to do it." She whispered. He hugged her back, his eyes closed
tightly as he thought of all the decisions he'd made and all the ones that he
could have made and didn't. And he was happy.

It's taken so long to get it right
Could it be so wrong
To maybe find someone
A miracle

Toby opened his eyes and looked around the bedroom before looking at KD's
sleeping form. She murmured softly in her sleep and snuggled against his
chest. He smiled and nestled into the bed, holding her tightly. She smiled in
her sleep and just relaxed in his grasp. He ran his fingers across the border
of her body and then kissed her forehead very gently. As he watched her
sleep, he studied the lines of her face. There were more lines there than
when he had met her, but he really didn't care. She was beautiful, and she
always would be.
KD's eyes opened and looked at him. He smiled and kissed her gently. They
talked softly through the morning hours, sometimes about nothing, sometimes
about anything at all. In the long run, it was just enough to talk to each
other. It was just enough to be with each other.

Is there a trace
Inside her face
Of a lonely miracle
And so you wait
And lie awake
For a lonely miracle

 

~D.C.
Batman

 

 

 

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