Babies (Part 1)
Spoilers: Debate Prep
Disclaimer: Believe it or not, they aren't mine.
Summary: CJ and Toby deal with Andi's pregnancy- together.
Author's Note: This is what happens when one is- not bored, let's just say easily distracted from one's studies. J Hopefully Mr. Mendel (Father Mendel? He was a monk...) will forgive me. Also, I just wrote this Saturday, so it hasn't been beta-ed. Spell check is my friend, though.
He found her out on one of the terraces, staring into the dark woods. She recognized his footsteps as he moved to join her, and spoke without turning.
"I didn't really believe you were getting involved with her again. But it makes sense now."
"Yeah." There was nothing else Toby could say.
"And we were so close."
"Yeah. Congratulations, though. You wanted this." CJ couldn't quite make herself sound happy. She turned to look at him and he saw in her eyes that she had had the same hopes as he for when the administration ended, in four months or four years. Her face grew pained, and he reached out to comfort her.
"Hey, we'll still be friends."
"That's the thing, though, Toby, and you know it. We won't be."
"It's different this time CJ! She knows that nothing will happen. Even if she didn't know it before, Andi knows both of us. And our scruples."
"I don't want to be the other woman, Toby." Her eyes were sad.
"You never were," he reminded her firmly.
"I don't want to want to be," she whispered. Their gaze caught and Toby was stunned by how terribly he wanted to hold her when she looked at him like this.
"What do you want?" he asked softly, as romantic as he got.
She looked away. "I want what I can't have." She sensed him moving closer, and looked up as he leaned toward her. She tilted her mouth toward his in the instant before her brain could take over, and their lips met. Heat flooded her, dizzyingly. Their arms wound around one another instinctively, and their tongues dueled in a kiss that consummated so many years of longing.
"Jed," Abbey whispered with an embarrassed grin, glimpsing a couple embracing on the terrace as she and her husband returned from their stroll in the moonlight.
"Get a room!" he called, to embarrass her further. Abbey smacked him on the arm and then stopped walking in shock as two faces turned toward them, the faces of two people anguished both at their parting and at their embrace being discovered by the one man they both respected most in the world.
"Oh, Jed," Abbey whispered again. She could sense the change in him beside her, his sorrow at his teasing.
"I'll take him, you take CJ," he muttered, and she bridled at his busybody-ing, although she couldn't fault it.
"Toby!" he called, raising his eyebrows in a clear expression of summoning. Toby looked into CJ's eyes, their sorrow mirrored in the starlight, and turned to walk toward the president. Abbey joined CJ on the terrace.
The president led Toby toward the top of the path he had come from, and stopped him just beyond sight and sound of the women.
"What are you doing with my daughter, Toby?" he asked, a threat implicit in his voice. Toby met his eyes. Jed suddenly regretted his tone, realizing the sadness in Toby's eyes and all that it implied. He'd also never had much success in 'disciplining' Toby.
"With all due respect, sir..." Toby trailed off. There was no way out.
The president suddenly remembered the news he'd been discussing with Abbey minutes before, and anger flashed through him.
"Your wife is pregnant, Toby, what did you think you were doing with CJ!?"
"Sir...Andi is not my wife, nor would I want her to be except that we're having children together. And as to me and CJ, well, that's your fault."
"Oh, Claudia Jean." Abbey offered, reaching out to stroke CJ's hair where they'd sat down on the terrace bench. The younger woman looked on the verge of tears. "I'm sorry we...interrupted you."
"No, we shouldn't have..." The words tore themselves from CJ's throat. She wanted so badly for them not to be true.
"You know Andi's pregnant, then?"
"We waited so long Abbey. We were so close..."
"What do you mean?" the first lady asked, confused. She'd never suspected CJ and Toby had expressed any of their feelings to each other until tonight.
"We met about ten years ago," CJ shook her head, smiling at the memory. "We were working on a bad campaign together, I don't even remember for whom, and we were so...equal. Not in thought, but in ability to think, and I was so drawn to him. We- kissed several times, and it was incredible. But then, we stopped. It was hard, but we knew we couldn't work together and be a couple..."
"But, sir, she ended up on the opposite coast from me when we lost, though still my best friend. And then Andi came into my life. And she was-," Toby froze at what he had nearly said, yet recognized its truth even though he had never before articulated it to himself, even in thought. Rather than lie to the man before him, he said the words out loud. "She was a good replacement."
"God, Toby," Jed said, disgustedly.
"I did love her. And then CJ came back. It was still there, but we pointedly ignored it. Andi didn't see that; she saw what we couldn't repress, the littlest things, and made too much of them. We were already having infertility problems, and Andi was stressed, and she demanded I choose. We were married. I chose her, and CJ left my life again."
"I still don't emotionally understand why he chose her over me. It's irrational but I don't. And then he invited me back again- for the campaign. It's been between us these last four years, there are moments when I see it in his eyes, and I know he can see it in mine. I mean, we fight and we debate and we rarely agree, but we fit. I don't- I can't describe it."
"I know what you mean," Abbey said simply, glancing toward where Jed and Toby had gone. CJ nodded.
"Anyway, neither of us has made any true efforts at a serious relationship with anyone else." CJ stopped her story.
"And now he has to be with Andi again?" the first lady asked gently.
"Yes. He's a gentleman when he wants to be, god knows."
"So you know, Toby, I still don't get how it's 'all my fault'," the president said, trying to lighten the mood.
"It is, sir. Because if either of us had loved working in your house any less, enough less to sacrifice a moment of our time there, we would have been together years ago, and this thing with Andi would be too late. God! Even if she'd waited six months and we'd lost..."
"You do want to win though, right?" Bartlet asked. He'd meant it sarcastically, but Toby's sadness was making him wonder suddenly.
"Sir, I assumed that once we stepped down, I'd have CJ forever, so it was alright to wait. But I'll admit that there was an impatient part of me that wouldn't have minded if she and I could have celebrated our freedom in four months. Four years would have been alright too, though. Now..."
"Yeah. Although the way I see it, I brought you two together."
"Ok, sir," Toby nodded, composed enough again to roll his eyes rather than point out the flaws in his boss's logic.
"No joke, though. Now you're going to marry Andi?"
"Or leave my children without a father? Yes, sir. Kissing CJ was just...the beginning of our goodbye." At the sight of Toby closer to tears than the president had ever seen him, Bartlet looked away and nodded sadly.
"Alright, then. I'm going in."
"I'll be here," Toby murmured and turned his gaze to the dark wood while the president left him to his thoughts.
"So now what?"
"I honestly don't know, ma'am. I've been alone for so long, except for flirtations. Not that I could have dated anyone and do what I've done. But I always assumed that we'd leave office and Toby and I would..."
"Be together?" Abbey offered.
"Yes, ma'am." A tear slid down her cheek. Another followed. CJ brushed them away impatiently, and rose. "If you'll excuse me, Abbey, I'm going back to my cabin."
The first lady nodded and watched CJ's back sadly as the other woman moved down the path.
She needed to kiss him again, to hold him again, however briefly, to see if what they were losing was truly so incredible. After so long as friends and colleagues and opponents she'd wondered at times if it would still be there, if they were holding out for nothing. But it was.
There was a knock at the door. She opened it without pause, and there he stood. CJ stepped back and he followed, closed the door, and they were in each other's arms again. Their passion had only been intensified by the brief reminder of their imminent parting, and their arms clung the tighter for it.
Forgetting Andi for the briefest of moments, CJ and Toby made love as they had longed to do for so many years. The contact was all the more necessary because each knew they would soon be separate, and might never make love to someone they loved so truly again.
In the early hours of the morning, Toby cradled CJ against his chest as they drifted in and out of sleep. Despite all the work that lay ahead of them that day, they had not wasted a moment of their few precious hours together. He released her gently and went quietly into the bathroom, showered. CJ watched through slitted eyes as he went through all the daily ministrations she had never witnessed and would never witness again. She rose from their bed as he dressed to go. At the door, he stopped and turned to her.
They had discussed the situation the night before, and both knew the path that lay before them was the one that also lay behind.
"I'm so sorry." Toby whispered to her, his hand on the doorknob.
"I know." CJ couldn't find anything else to say. 'I love you' were the ones she wanted most to say, to scream, to wail. The few words they had never exchanged, but it would have hurt too much even to whisper them. "Goodbye," she managed.
"And we thought it was hard to stop kissing..." Toby murmured, spewing words to keep the moment from ending. CJ only nodded lest her tears flow.
Toby's lips pressed toward hers, and she met them in a kiss that held as much potential as any they had shared, yet that potential was dead. It had to be.
"Goodbye," he whispered back, meeting her eyes, screaming silently his pain, and left.
2 Months Later
She'd been feeling ill since the wedding. It had been a simple service; the couple was not ready for a religious argument like they had had over their first wedding. There would be time enough for that when the twins were old enough for Sunday school.
He had asked hesitantly if she wanted to come and she nearly said no, but CJ had wanted to show Andi that she felt nothing about their wedding. She hadn't. Her heart had ached and her eyes had burned so badly as she watched Toby slide the ring onto his wife's finger, watched him gaze into Andi's eyes and kiss her gently. But CJ's were not the sort of tears one could cry at weddings.
Suddenly, she'd felt nauseous as well, and she left as soon as the service ended. Still ill, CJ had made only a token appearance at the reception, congratulating Andi and pleading the flu to the pregnant woman. She couldn't have faced Toby then, and didn't meet the gaze she could feel on her as she left.
She'd attributed the sickness to emotional upheaval, but when it didn't subside after four days, CJ began to have a sinking feeling she didn't have the flu. And last night, she'd taken the test. Knowing was worse.
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