DISCLAIMER: I Do not own any of these characters or *anything* related to the
West wing... I think. Maybe I should call my grandfather and ask if he has
any relatives named Sorkin. "Time Of Your Life (Good Riddance)" is a song of
Green Day and is not mine. Same goes for "Give You Back" by Vertical Horizon.
NOTES: This is kind of along the lines of "Why Can't We" and "Ours Is Not The
Reason Why" with the same ideas going on. Warning: this is CJ/Danny. Nothing
else. Heh. Well, actually, Toby gets to have a little fun in this one too.
Okay, I'm saying too much. Read.
SUMMARY: The musical culture carries messages for its listeners, especially
those in the West Wing.

DATE: December 12th, 2000
TIME: 7:31 pm
LOCATION: Ziegler Residence, Washington, D.C.

Toby Ziegler moved through the door of his condominium and looked at the
clock. He'd not only left the office before 8pm, but he'd gotten home before
that time as well. It was a miracle. He tossed his briefcase against the
armchair in his living room and slipped off his coat. After tossing the coat
on to his couch, he moved to the kitchen, stopping only to press the flashing
light button on his answering machine.
"You have six messages." The machine announced.
"Aren't I popular?" Toby muttered sardonically as he grabbed a beer from
the fridge. The machine beeped in response.
"Toby, it's me, Josh. Senator Tillinghouse canceled on our meeting
tomorrow. We managed to reschedule but I'm not extremely assured by his
actions. Call me. We need to strategize." Beep.
"Toby, it's me again. Tillinghouse called me and said that the reason he
canceled is because he's tired of listening to us "blowhards". Can you
imagine the nerve of that guy? Well, before you get a call from Leo, just be
prepared to talk to Tillinghouse, because I sure ain't gonna." Beep.
"It's me, Leo. Call me. Josh made an idiot of himself again. Senator
Tillinghouse just called me saying something about being gravely insulted and
asked for Josh's head on a platter. We need to talk to that damn kid. Anyway.
We need to rethink this stuff with Tillinghouse." Beep.
"Toby, listen, I wanted to talk to you about, and it's me, Sam, anyway,
um, I wanted to talk to you about the address to the Forbes administration.
They want us to come again, and they called me because they found you weren't
in your office. I guess we made an impression on them. Anyway. Call me. We
need to talk. We never talk anymore, Toby. Least now I know you're listening.
Okay. Call me. Sam. Call Sam. Bye." Beep.
"Mr. Ziegler, this is Michael with Dodge repair auto shop. Your Dart is
ready. We had to change the oil, fix the carburetor and a few other things,
so the bill might be a little more than we originally estimated. We thought
your car was in much better condition then we eventually discovered. Anyway.
Come pick it up any time." Beep.
"Toby. Uh. Geeze, Toby, I expected you to be home. I mean you didn't pick
up at your office." A female voice rang through his machine, earning Toby's
view to fly upon it. Andy. "I really need to talk to you. I mean, we need to
talk. I don't know . .. I don't know what's going on with all this, and I
just need someone to talk to. Please, Toby. Just call me... or something.
I don't know. Please. I just... Just call me." Andy's voice said before
the machine clicked again.
"End of messages." The machine said in a robotic voice. Toby barely
noticed. She'd called him, and he couldn't for the life of himself think of
why. He stumbled forward and grabbed the phone, dialing the number that he
knew better than he would ever admit.
"Hello?" Her familiar voice exclaimed weakly.
"Andy, it's me. I just got home. What's wrong?" He asked softly.
"Toby. Thank God... I..." Her voice trailed off for a second. "Toby,
I'm sorry I bothered you. I just... I don't know who else I can talk to."
"It's okay. Slow down. What happened?" He asked soothingly, becoming
increasingly confused by the moment.
"Saul . .. he um, he crashed his bike." Andy said randomly. "Toby, he
didn't make it. I don't know what to do... I need to... I don't want to
be alone. I don't..." She mumbled.
"It's okay. Do you want me to come over?" Toby asked softly, knowing how
much Andy's brother had meant to her. The news was a bit shocking, but not
entirely a surprise. Saul had always been something of a risk taker, even to
the point of serious injury, and still he'd never learned.
"Yes... Please, yes." Andy said softly. "I don't want to be alone." She
whispered. Toby wanted to ask her where the Oriole was, but he didn't.
"Okay. I'll be there in about five minutes, okay?" He assured her. A few
seconds later, he hung up the phone, grabbed his jacket and headed for the
door. As he started the rental car and started out of his garage, as if on
cue, the radio began to play a vaguely familiar song.

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test and don't ask why
It's not a question but a lesson learned in time
It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right
I hope you had the time of your life

Toby stared ahead, focusing on the road and the world around him, the
whole while the words of the song sinking into his brain. So many things had
happened so many years ago, and here he was, racing back towards the past.
That was what he was doing, wasn't it? Why did Andy call him and not the
Oriole? When Toby had said good-bye so many years ago, he knew that he still
loved her and that she still loved him, but they couldn't live with each
other any more. That was the only stake that was being driven between them.
What now?

So take the photographs and still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf of good health and good time
Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial
For what it's worth, it was worth all the while
It's something unpredictable but in the end it's right
I hope you had the time of your life

The light turned red ahead of him and the rental Dodge slowed to a stop.
Toby leaned his elbow against the window and glanced out to his left. Waiting
at the crosswalk was a couple, a tall brunette man with an even taller,
slender blonde woman. The two were laughing, clearly enjoying themselves.
Most noticeable though was the fact that they were holding hands. Toby
blinked and looked back at the light in time to see it turn green. He pressed
his foot to the gas and roared off.
What was the point of saying good-bye if you were always going to say
hello again? What did he want? What did she want? Was he reading so much more
into this than he needed to? Was he just overreacting? Was his heart beating
unbearably fast? Toby could feel a bit of sweat forming in the palms of his
hands and chose to wipe it off on his pants. He was reading too much into the
whole thing. She said she didn't want to be alone. That didn't mean she
wanted him back. It meant she needed a friend. And that's what he was.

It's something unpredictable but in the end it's right
I hope you had the time of your life
I hope you had the time of your life
I hope you had the time of your life

Toby climbed the stairs to the apartment and then knocked hesitantly on
the door. The door opened to reveal the tearstained face of the woman he
loved so much, with so much of himself. He stepped in and hugged her without
a word. She hugged him back, crying into his shoulder and closing the door.
He rested his chin on her head as she buried her face into his shoulder.
"Ssh, it's okay." He whispered, rocking her gently. "I'm here. It's gonna
be okay." He said softly. She nodded, her face rubbing against his chest as
she held him closer, needing to feel his presence and needing to know that he
was real. He just held her as she needed to be held and waited for her
ability to speak to return. She led him to the couch and they sat down
together, still in each other's arms. Moments later, she was able to talk and
they did.
They talked for several hours, Andy nestled into Toby's chest, clinging
to him as if for dear life. They talked about work, politics, life, baseball
and her brother. They didn't talk of the past and the way things had ended.
They didn't talk of their apparent friendship, or what would become of it.
They didn't talk of the four years they spent barely speaking to each other.
And when they'd talked their throats sore, Toby got up and turned on the
radio. He pulled Andy into his arms and closed his eyes. She held him close,
her eyes also closed, as they just felt each other's presence. Toby didn't
know what was happening to his brain or to his heart, but he was happy
dancing with her to the slow music. Then it became clear what the words were
Perhaps it wasn't clear enough.

I need to know if you were real
Cause I've been known to get it wrong
When the memory comes
I'll say I'm always in the dark
You got me now

What was real about the past? What wasn't? Toby looked at Andy and found
her eyes staring into his. He smiled at her weakly and squeezed the hand of
hers that he held gently in his own. She smiled back, but neither of them
looked away. There was something about the moment that neither of them wanted
to lose. Suddenly, Toby found himself kissing her gently, his eyes closed as
he felt her arms slip around his neck.
What was happening? Was this what he'd been waiting for four years? He
didn't know. He stopped caring as she pushed his jacket off to the floor.

I want to give you back
I want to give you back
Somewhere out of here
I want to give you
I want to give you
I want to give you back

Could it be that he had taken advantage of her? Toby opened his eyes and
looked around the room before looking down at the sleeping form that was
nestled into his bare side. His hand absentmindedly ruffled her hair as his
eyes drifted over her form. What were they going to say to each other now?
When she woke up, he'd have to deal with her rejection again. He knew it.
He'd have to hear her say that it was a mistake.
But was it really a mistake? Did he regret it? He didn't. He loved her.
He glanced at his left hand and saw the ring still there. He was still
married to her in his mind, and what did that do to her? It was selfish,
angry... What had he done? All this time, by keeping the ring on and not
letting go, he'd prevented her from moving on completely. And now this.

I can't remember how it went
You looked like everything I wanted
And as you came along
Slowly, everything began to change
I got you now

She woke up. She looked at him and smiled very, very weakly. He smiled
back, trying not to communicate how much he loved waking up to her again. She
said a few soft words and then slipped out of the bed. He watched her
disappear in the bathroom and then looked around the room. She was the woman
he loved. That had never changed.
She was everything he wanted. Smart, funny, caring, beautiful... And
she'd broken his heart. How could he forget that? She was going to do it
again, he knew it. He'd asked for it. He deserved it. He'd taken advantage of
her, of her pain and of her loneliness. He was an asshole.

I want to give you back
I want to give you back
Somewhere out of here
I want to give you
I want to give you
I want to give you back

He left. He left as soon as they'd eaten breakfast. Neither one said a
word about what they'd done. It was as if they were still married. Wake up
together, eat breakfast together, go your separate ways. Toby didn't want to
leave. He wanted to stay with her, in the apartment, locked away from the
So he did. The moment after he left, he came back. She stared at him a
moment and then pulled him back into the apartment. They both called in sick,
for she needed a day to mourn and he needed a day to be with her. They sat on
the couch, and they talked some more.
This time they talked about something they needed to talk about.

That's enough
Just talking about it
I don't mind
I don't mind, no, I
Laugh enough
Just dreaming about it

Toby stared at the wall of his apartment, trying not to let the tears
burn his eyes. It was over again. It was his mistake. He shouldn't have
thought with anything other than his head. Despite what he was telling
himself, despite what his head said he really was thinking with, Toby felt
deep inside that he was thinking with his heart and not any other piece of
his anatomy.

I need to know if you were real
I'd hate to think that I'd been fooled again
And as the vision fades
I'll say I was blinded by your eyes
I felt them burn

"It was a mistake, but maybe it was one that we both needed." She had
said. Something they had both needed. But that mistake couldn't not replace
the past. He had been fooled again. She had too. The tears burned as they
waited in his eyes, but he was too proud to let them escape as he sank
against the wall of his apartment. How could he be so stupid? How could he
cut his own heart out and say 'here, break it again', knowing full well the
whole time that that was exactly what he was doing?

I want to give you back
I want to give you back
Somewhere out of here
I want to give you
I want to give you
I want to give you back

No. That was over. It was. It was a mistake, even if it was a pleasurable
one. And he would be able to look her in the eye one day and not want to be
the one she needed. He looked at his left hand and then ripped the ring off,
throwing it hard against the wall. One mistake was enough. He'd made two. He
wasn't going to make a third, and he knew this to be true as he heard the
gold clatter against the ground, somewhere millions of miles away.

It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right
I hope you had the time of your life...

TBC... .


My Message To You - 2



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