TITLE: One More Night
Toby sighed. He was bored. The party was loud. People were laughing, conversing with each other, pretending that they actually care about anything more than an agreeable vote when Congress went into session the following Tuesday. The Industry bill 217 was being voted on. The President had already released his vote earlier this week. But now, here, on a Friday night, Toby Ziegler was stuck at a political schmoozing party, surrounded by advisors and senators and a whole lot of other people he really didn't like.
Toby sighed again and sipped the glass of Merlot. Tasted like an 86 Jordan, maybe an 84. Not too bad, but he'd had better. He glanced around the room, and saw Irwin Jacobs moving towards him with a big cheesy grin and a hand stretched out before him. Toby suppressed a groan and smiled, shaking the hand of one of the house advisors.
"Toby, so nice to see you here. I know you don't like these sorts of things. Too social, I suppose." Irwin joked in the annoyingly nasal tone that he got when he had had one too many glasses of wine. When the man wasn't drunk, he could be surprisingly intelligent, but Toby could tell this was not going to be one of those times.
"Oh, well. I'll just have to return to my dungeon a little later than usual." He retorted with a fake smile. He never knew it, but he had a nice smile. People saw it so rarely that it filled them with joy every time they saw it that one special time. So naturally, Irwin was overjoyed he'd gotten a joke back from the usually gruff White House communications director.
"Well, I imagine there are some plusses to a dwelling like that. Perhaps some slave girls who submit to your every whim?" He joked, poking an elbow into Toby's ribs. Toby just glared at the advisor with an eyebrow raised, a glare typical of him enough to freeze Irwin mid-chuckle. Instead, the man's smile just faded, he cleared his throat and took another sip of his chardonnay.
"Having a good time, I can see, Irwin." Toby exclaimed softly. Irwin glanced at the wine glass and then put it down and shrugged.
"Well, you know, um, just a good night. Nice company." He replied, suppressing a burp. Toby refrained from rolling his eyes and merely took another sip of the merlot, glancing around the room. There was Senator Mathis's right hand man, hitting on a waitress. There was the NSA director arguing with the head of the EPA, again. There was KD Brody talking to the hostess, looking happier. There was... KD Brody?????
Toby took a double take and looked again. There she was. God, it had been nearly a month, and she was already back? She laughed, revealing the same straight, white teeth that he'd noticed the last time she was in town. Her soft brown hair was a little longer, resting on her shoulders and flowing down her back. Not much longer, but noticeably so. She was wearing a blue dress that sparkled in the light, as did her eyes. Toby found himself staring at her with a very soft expression when Irwin nudged him.
"Would that be one of the slave girls, Ziegler?" He joked with a grin, having taken up the wine glass again. Toby turned and flashed him another annoyed look.
"Not quite. More like a pain in the ass." He retorted and put his half-full wine glass on the tray of a passing waiter. "And on that note, I will retreat back to that dungeon of mine. Farewell, Mr. Jacobs." He added and moved away before Irwin could reply. Toby nodded farewell to a host, one who was not conversing with KD, and then ducked into the crowd of conversers. As he stopped by the coat room to get his jacket, he peered back over his shoulder to see KD again. She hadn't seen him. As the young man at the door handed over the thick black jacket, Toby found himself staring at her again. He shook his head, blamed the alcohol and walked out of the room, pulling the jacket on over his arms. He stepped into the golden elevator and rode it down to the street, not looking back, and grabbed a cab.
Abbey Bartlet shook one more hand and then bit her lip to keep from screaming. She was tired, and it still only ten thirty in the morning. She sometimes wondered if being the president's wife was worth all the fake smiles and the moments of wanting to rip certain people's heads off and eating their tongues. It was disturbing to feel that way, almost like a Hannibal Lecter wannabe, but she was growing tired of the way politicians lied and snaked their way in and out of favor across the country.
Abbey brushed her dark hair out of her eyes and smiled again. She walked down the stairs, happy to be away from the cameras and the various speakers that she'd had to deal with that morning. As she walked along the empty parkway, three secret service agents giving her a wide berth of four feet, she noticed a young woman walking across the street towards their side. The woman seemed very familiar, and although she wasn't walking directly towards them, she was in their general direction. Abbey squinted, trying to remember the woman was before she got out of sight. She had shoulder length brown hair, a gentle face, thin sunglasses hiding her eyes. She wore dark, dark blue denim jeans and a black leather jacket over a brilliant blue t-shirt. The woman seemed like a teenager in a thirty-year-old's body. Suddenly it dawned on Abbey, and she grinned, signaling to the secret service men that she needed to talk to this woman.
"KD! Don't you walk away from me now!" Abbey called, changing her pathway to intersect with the younger woman's. KD stopped and saw Abbey, a little shocked grin tugging at the corners of her mouth while at the same time a feeling of nervousness overtook her. She knew the risk if she came to DC, but she figured it was a big city and the Bartlets were busy people. She thought the chances were slimmer to none that she'd be spotted, but it seemed that the fates had something else in mind.
"Wouldn't dare!" She called back uncertainly as she moved to meet the first lady halfway. The secret service agents stood by, alert as always, while the two women hugged each other.
"Twice in as many months! Where did you go, kiddo? Where ya headed? Need a ride or anything?" Abbey said as she brushed KD's hair out of her eyes the way a mother would. KD smiled and glanced at her feet before looking up at Abbey again.
"I'm sure that would be a sight to see. KD Brody arriving at a lunch date with an armed escort and the first lady at her side." She retorted with a grin. They both laughed.
"Lunch date, huh? Anybody I know?" Abbey asked playfully. KD shook her head.
"Not that kind of date. John Matthews was up on the hill and wanted me to visit with him while I happened to be in town. I had to talk to him about a recommendation for my resume for when I go back to Toronto day after tomorrow." KD explained. Abbey frowned.
"Toronto? Why Toronto?" She asked. KD sighed and looked elsewhere, squinting against the sunlight.
"Just a random place. I've been there several times in my life, and figured I had to make a start somewhere." She replied softly. Abbey sighed, getting a slight hint. KD wanted to hide away.
"Kid, last time I checked, you and John Matthews parted on bad terms." Abbey exclaimed after a short pause. KD nodded and looked Abbey in the eye once more.
"Yeah, I'm not exactly looking forward to seeing him again. But beggars can't be choosers." KD replied with a weak grin.
"You're not a beggar. Cancel your lunch date with the sold-out ex-senator and come have lunch with me. It's just going to be me and a few party speakers who would love to hear your sarcastic input." Abbey said, hugging KD to her with an arm around her shoulder. KD chuckled and glanced nervously at the shuttle stop that would have taken her to the restaurant she was suppose to go to. She hated Matthews, and she liked Abbey, but could she risk running into the people she'd disappointed?
"You got a phone in that big car of yours?" She asked with a sly grin. Abbey smiled and nodded.
"Just waiting for you. Come on." She replied and led the way back to the limo, giving the secret service agents a chance to breathe again with her out of the open.
"Leo, you can't just walk out of a security meeting." Sam exclaimed as he hurried to keep up with the ticked chief of staff.
"I can do whatever the hell I want. They don't know jack shit. They just wanted to sit around and argue about who did what wrong. I don't want to know who did what wrong; I want to know what they're going to do to fix it. Since they won't tell me that, I'll move on." Leo retorted as they moved through the busy hallways of the White House. As much as Sam agreed, he couldn't find a way to do this right.
"Sir, maybe we should go back and you can order them to tell you what you want to know." He suggested.
"Tell them to put it in a memo. I want to go to lunch." Leo replied as he turned a corner towards Margaret's office. Sam sighed and turned back, jogging towards the meeting room that they'd just left behind. Last thing he wanted to do was face down a few military giants again, but that's the task that Leo had just given him. Leo meanwhile moved into Margaret's office and straight into his own, giving her only a grunt in greeting.
He plopped down in the comfy chair that rested behind his desk and sighed. Childish as it was, he spun around in a little, trying to organize all the thoughts that ran through his head. He stopped the chair as the window moved directly into his gaze. He stared out at the gentle spring weather. A bird flew by the window and landed gently on a thin branch of the tree that was right outside Leo's window. He smiled weakly and stood up, walking to the window for a better view of the elegant nature that sat outside his office. It seemed amazing to him that such a peaceful scene could play out right on the opposite walls of a building where no one seemed to know the meaning of the word 'peace'. They were always moving so fast, trying to get their work done, and no one ever seemed to stop to smell the roses, as it were.
Leo's eyes crossed over the scene until they stopped on a sight that provided him more joy than the bird could. He saw Abbey Bartlet in the yard, talking to KD Brody. Ever since KD had disappeared a little over a month ago, Leo had been worried about her. From what he could understand, she hadn't exactly left in one of the best states of mind possible. But now, he could see her standing there, the green lawn behind her accentuating her colorful features. It was as if he were seeing his own daughter standing there, the light reflecting off her white teeth and creating a gentle sparkle in her eyes.
He stepped away from the window and out of his office again just as Margaret was going to step in and make sure he was okay. He zipped past her so fast that she figured something was either really wrong, or something was really right. Either way, there was nothing she could do. She returned to her desk and started to sort through the work she had left for the rest of the day.
"You sure you don't want to come in? I know you're nervous but you'll have to see them again eventually." Abbey exclaimed as she and KD strolled along a hidden part of the pathway.
"You're good. You're really good." KD exclaimed, referring to Abbey's ability to sense everything KD was feeling, most importantly her nervousness and hesitation about seeing the others again.
"Well, I'm a mother. These types of things are built in." Abbey replied with a warm smile. KD nodded and looked away to the blue sky, avoiding eye contact.
"I wouldn't really know about mothers, or fathers even. You, Joss, Leo and Jenny were my good friends, but in the long run, I grew up without parents. Without sane ones, anyway." She said softly. Abbey nodded, a little hurt at the thought that KD might be rejecting her, but she pushed those thoughts away and continued to walk by KD's side.
"I'm sorry you had to go through the things you did. I know we're not your real parents, but we can't help but feel like we are your parents in some sense. We went through so much with you." Abbey asserted, and then paused. "You know, Jed only meant the best." KD smiled again and nodded.
"I know he did. I know that I still have to grow up a little. He was right about a lot of the things he said, but that doesn't mean it was okay for him to say them. It was not his place, nor is it anyone else's." KD replied softly. "But I'm not angry. I'm just so afraid... Afraid that they'll hate me, or that I've disappointed them. If I don't have to see them, I won't force myself to. I don't know them very well anyway." She added.
"They were upset when you left, especially because they never got a chance to thank you for everything you did. I remember CJ telling me that in that letter you wrote, you said she was the sister you never had, and that Josh was the brother you never had. Maybe you were trying to say that you'd found the family that God deprived you of." Abbey suggested after thinking about it for a minute. KD looked at Abbey with her eyes sparkling.
"Perhaps. But you know that experience can be the one thing that turns the tide. Seeing as how I've had nothing but bad experiences, I'm too afraid of being hurt to even try." KD retorted. "If we're going to get all psycho-analytical about it." She added. Abbey chuckled. To the side, her assistant made a little signal by tapping her watch urgently.
"I have to go to a meeting. The EPA wants the First Lady's opinion on how to save the flea or some other issue like that." Abbey said regretfully, turning to KD "Are you sure you won't change your mind?"
"Good God, woman, I already canceled my lunch for you." KD exclaimed playfully. "Next thing you'll be asking for adoption plans." She added, clearly joking around. Abbey smiled and nodded.
"Absolutely. Seriously though, are you going to be okay?" The First lady asked. KD nodded.
"Yeah, I'll be fine. I've been going strong for damn near thirty five years, and I think I may be able to squeeze another thirty five in." She assured her. Abbey smiled, kissed KD on the cheek and then walked away. KD smiled weakly as she watched her friend walk away. She sighed weakly and turned around, walking towards the exit.
"No kiss for me?" Leo asked as he stepped on to the path behind her. KD bit her lip and sighed again.
"How long have you been standing there?" She asked weakly.
"I arrived around the time you mentioned adoption plans. I didn't want interrupt." Leo replied, his face hardening.
"Well, heh, you've always been the one to be rude by being polite." She replied, her voice cracking a little as she turned around and faced him. He stepped forward and hugged her. She hugged him back.
"You don't look exactly happy to see me." He said with a soft smile as he noticed her eyes were watering.
"More the opposite. I wasn't sure if I'd get out of here without stopping by your office. But I didn't want to bother you, and I admit, I was afraid of facing you guys again." She replied, wiping her eyes.
"You never have to be afraid to come see me, and I'd make the time for you. You said that I was like a father to you. You are like another daughter to me. I saw you out the window, and my heart just lit up." Leo confessed, squeezing her arm gently. "And no matter what, I know Jed and the others would be glad to see you." He added.
"I don't know why. I barely know them. I just had barely a day of fun with them, talking and working. I know for a fact that Mr. Ziegler hates me." She added with a wry smile. Leo shook his head.
"I'll bet he doesn't. No one could hate you, KD." He said truthfully. She smiled. "And on that note, I'm not letting you get away so easy. Come on." He added and started to lead her back inside. She laughed and debated resisting. She wanted to see the others again, but she wasn't sure they'd want to see her. She was convinced, in fact, that they wouldn't.
"I'm not so sure, Leo." She started.
"Too bad. It's an executive order. I had the secret service get you a code name after you left last time, cause I knew I was going to see you again." Leo exclaimed happily as they stepped into a room.
"Oh, really? What name would that be?" She asked, a curious grin on her face. He shrugged, happy willingly walking with him.
"We've got it boiled down to either "troublemaker" or "prodigy". What do you think?" He replied as he led her into the hallway. She laughed and gave him a playful shove. As they walked down the hallway, people immediately began to recognize her and say hi. She grinned and said hi back, knowing each of them by name, a feat Leo himself had not yet completely conquered.
"At last, a moment of peace." Jed declared as he sank into one of the couches in the oval office and allowed his muscles to relax. He closed his eyes and tried to go to sleep, tossing a little into the stiff cushions.
"You wish." A familiar voice exclaimed. He opened his eyes to see the upside down visage of one KD Brody. He grinned and sat up upright, seeing her standing there, and to his delight she was grinning from ear to ear. He stood up and stepped forward to take her into a giant bear hug.
"Whoa, there, big guy." She exclaimed as he lifted her off of the floor. It made her feel very small when he did that, but it was fun anyway. Off in the doorframe, Leo laughed and clapped playfully as Jed planted KD back on to the floor. Jed looked at him and then back to KD in what could only be categorized as disbelief.
"Leo, what is with you and bringing me this same present over and over again? Can't you think of anything new?" He asked as he hugged KD one more time. She hugged him back, which warmed his heart. He had believed that she was still angry with him after their last conversation.
"Actually, Abbey wrapped this one. We ran into each other downtown and had lunch. She brought me back here where Leo managed to hook me and reel me in." KD corrected him as she stood back from him a moment.
"Remind me to thank Abbey later." Jed retorted with a grin. KD nodded and glanced back at Leo.