Babies (Part 2)
Rating: PG for discussion
Spoilers: Debate Camp
Couple: CJ/Toby, Toby/Andi
Disclaimer: They're all Aaron's.
Summary: CJ deals with an unexpected pregnancy- her own.
Author's Note: Well, this won't make any sense if you haven't read part 1. Also, I planned the whole story out after Debate Camp, so everything we've learned since then about Andi's intentions and due date and about Sam leaving just have to be forgotten for a moment. If you like it, let me know. Emmalierose@hotmail.com.
"Abbey, can I come in?" Late in the evening a few days after she realized her pregnancy, CJ stuck her head in the open door to the first lady's office.
"Sure, CJ, what's up? Have they sent you to tell me what to say for them again?" FLOTUS was in high spirits.
"No ma'am." Uncertain, CJ entered and took the indicated seat before speaking again. "Abbey, I have to ask you a personal question."
"Ask away, but you know how Jed feels about that." CJ could hear the steel creeping into the first lady's voice that always appeared when she felt politics were delving too deep into her life, and CJ quickly explained herself further.
"Not about you, about me."
"Is everything alright?" Abbey's instant concern was written in her expression.
"Abbey, I- I need an abortion." Abbey froze. A blind date she might have seen CJ asking for, but this...Her mind flickered back across the months and memories clicked into place that made her gasp with worry for her friend's predicament.
"Yes, ma'am." CJ was whispering now.
"Yes ma'am." This was more forceful.
"How sure are you?"
"I took the test, I know-"
"I meant about the abortion," Abbey interrupted, looking hard at CJ, who wouldn't meet Abbey's gaze but was rather staring at her own hands twisting nervously in her lap.
"What else can I do?" She looked up, bitter, for the first time since her request. "This is a place I've worked toward all my life, and I've got nowhere to turn and no way to keep everything I've achieved and have this baby." Abbey nodded, and they sat quietly for a moment as the first lady tried to find a valid alternative to offer her friend. At last she took a deep breath and offered an admission rather than advice.
"I'll tell you something, CJ, something not even Jed knows." CJ looked startled at this, but the first lady began her story before CJ could say anything.
"I thought about having an abortion when I got pregnant with Elizabeth." As the words seemed to echo through the room Abbey reflected that they'd only just been said out loud for the first time. CJ was focusing on her very hard.
"I was in my last year of medical school, with my residency ahead of me, and Jed was being published and had little enough time for our marriage, let alone for a baby. I know it wouldn't have been Catholic," she could see as she said this that CJ flinched at the mention of the religious issue, "but Jed wouldn't have known and it would have made everything so much less complicated...And then I realized that I wanted his baby, and that this was going to be our life together, and we made it work CJ."
"Toby and I won't. He's married, and in it for keeps this time." Abbey flinched in sympathy at the pain in CJ's voice.
"That's not my whole story, though, Claudia Jean." She paused to make sure the other woman was still listening, "my girls have given me more joy than anything and everything else in my life. More than Jed, even. Joy, and laughter, and grandchildren- there's nothing like it in the world. You just have to know what you're giving up." She could see in CJ's face that she was getting her point across, though she couldn't help but wonder if it was truly the right choice for her friend. Being single, pregnant and politically prominent was never a good combination.
"Just think about it more, sweetie, and if you still want this, I'll help you set it up as best I can."
"Thanks, Abbey." CJ looked pensive but relieved. "You'll keep this to yourself, I hope?"
"Can my husband know?" Abbey asked the question simply, for she and Jed rarely hid things from each other, but the look of shame on CJ's face made her regret asking. "Don't look like that, Claudia. You and the man you love made a new life. He won't see anything wrong with that, and neither do I." It was her firm conviction more than her words that convinced CJ, although the prospect of destroying the 'new life' Abbey spoke of suddenly made CJ feel ill.
"Tell him, then," she murmured and, rising, left. As the door closed, Abbey leaned back in her chair, wondering how to ease to her husband the horrible news of how their children were breaking each other's hearts worse with every passing moment.
At a sharp knock on his door, Toby raised his head- slowly, for he'd slept poorly at the office the night before to avoid the inevitable awkwardness between himself and Andi. In his doorway stood the President's secretary.
"Debbie!" he said, surprised to see her out of the oval office.
"That's Mrs. Fiderer to you, and I'm only here because the other secretaries have all gone home by now, Charlie too, and you are apparently unable to answer a phone."
"I'm sorry...I'm out of it tonight," he muttered at her biting tone.
"Well, that comes from not sleeping at home." Toby wondered to himself where this woman got her information, but she was continuing, "but at least you're here now, the president would like to see you."
Toby stumbled into the President's private office a minute later on the heels of his imperious secretary, who then left them alone. The president was turned, staring furiously out the window.
"You wanted to see me, sir?" Jed turned to gaze at Toby as intently as he had the snow.
"There's a secret I'm sworn to keep, Toby." His eyes narrowed, and Toby wondered if he was supposed to guess the secret. "And it involves you." Toby waited for the other shoe to drop, but it didn't yet. "I can't say- anything, really, but tomorrow, you have to talk to CJ."
"About what, sir?"
"Just talk to her, Tobias. That's an order." Toby stared at the president, uncomprehending, but Jed turned back to the window, clearly dismissing his guest.
"Goodnight, sir," Toby murmured and headed home, knowing he'd need to be well rested if he was going to get a secret out of CJ.
CJ opened her door and turned to shout for Carol as she slung the bag on her shoulder into her office. She was startled to hear the couch grunt in pain as the bag fell onto it, and swung the door wide, flashing the lights on.
"Ah! CJ, bright." Toby muttered, squinting up at her.
"What are you doing in my office?" she demanded. She'd hoped to avoid him awhile longer, for he was sure to notice her emotional upheaval.
"I was told there's something important that I need to discuss with you, CJ. What is it?" Toby's voice was simmering with worry beneath its calm.
CJ hung up her coat and moved her bag to her desk as anger flashed through her at Abbey's betrayal. Then she realized what had happened. "The President told you?"
"I only told Abbey."
"But told her what?"
"I asked her to help me get an abortion." CJ watched Toby's face as he flinched from her harsh tone and then realized what she meant. She expected the shock, and the fear perhaps, that he would experience about his marriage, but she was awed at the blinding happiness that filled Toby's face as he came to understand that the woman he loved was pregnant with his child. And then the protection and hatred he felt about any threat to his baby. Watching him react, CJ thought that she should have foreseen this, that she'd seen him react this way to attacks on Andi and the twins, but she hadn't foreseen it, and therefore hadn't prepared for the longing to let him protect her that she suddenly felt.
"You can't," Toby said simply. CJ's defenses rose.
"Well, I can if I chose-"
"CJ! This is our baby. How can you-"
"But I'm not." Toby stopped at her words.
"What do you mean?"
"Abbey said something to me, and I'm not going to have the abortion."
"Thank God," Toby sighed, and she nodded. "So, what are we going to do?" CJ braced herself for harder words than she ever remembered having to say.
"We're not doing anything. I'm leaving. I'll announce that my father is ill and I have to move home to care for him, and everyone will accept it. And I can raise my child in Ohio."
"I can-" Toby started, but he couldn't.
He watched, the next afternoon, from the doorway of the briefing room as she gave her last briefing. The press expressed their sorrow at her father's condition and her departure, and she wittily assured them that she would make sure someone besides Josh would brief until her replacement could be found. Only Toby knew that CJ was giving up everything she'd ever worked for to reach for a future she could barely imagine. As she finished the day's news, Josh and Sam came running up behind Toby.
"Did you know she was going to do this?" Josh demanded.
"Yes," Toby said simply. Josh and Sam stared as his calm face.
"What don't we know?" Sam asked, as he and Josh began to breathe more normally.
"Just support her," Toby said softly, wishing he were alone and far, far away from the pain of losing CJ after all they'd been through. Josh and Sam nodded agreement to his words.
CJ had seen Josh and Sam arrive through the doorway, and she braced herself for their questions as she left the podium, walked toward them and closed the door behind herself. They didn't question her, though, they just hugged her hard and she felt for the first time that things would be all right.
A week and a half later, CJ lay in her narrow bed in the house she'd grown up in. Her father had welcomed her back without question, and though he'd been upset at her news, he'd forgotten by the time she mentioned it to him a few minutes later. She'd left amidst tearful goodbyes to Carol, Josh and Sam, had been given the President's blessing, and had managed to meet Toby's eyes before he withdrew into his office to cry alone. The press had accepted her story, Abbey had promised to send her all the girls' old baby furniture that she would need and to find her a doctor, and Leo had, without question, arranged for her to get a job at a local Emily's List after she'd had a year or so to settle in. Sliding her hand down to her still-flat belly, she whispered to her baby, Toby's baby, inside, "We're okay now. We are."
The West Wing- 6 months later
June 6, 2003
"Toby, I've got Mr. Cregg on the phone, and he sounds really upset," Ginger said, from the door of the oval office. Toby and the President instantly looked up at her in fear.
"At my desk Toby," the President said immediately. Toby picked up the phone.
"Sir? Sir, calm down. Is CJ okay?" Toby paused for a long time. Josh and Sam glanced at each other worriedly at Toby's question, then at the President, who shook his head at them.
"Oh God...Do you know- I'm sorry sir, do you know what hospital?...Alright, I'll be on the next flight, and I'll call you as often as I can." Toby turned to the President to demand time off but the other man spoke first.
"Go take care of her, Toby. That's an order."
"What wrong with CJ?" Josh interrupted Toby's thanks. Toby and the President looked at each other, then at him.
"She's having a baby," Toby said matter-of-factly, "Thank you, sir." He left hurriedly, Josh and Sam staring at his back, each other, and then the President.
"Their business only," the President ordered them, and then they understood.
It's too early, it's too early...Toby repeated over and over to himself as the plane carried him not fast enough over the landscape. He was ashamed to realize that he didn't know CJ's due date, but it was about three weeks after Andi's and she still had two weeks to go. Andi. That was a sobering thought. He'd called her from the airport as his flight was called to tell her that he had to address an emergency for the president and wouldn't be home for a few days. Toby wondered if she'd even heard him. His happiness about his twin sons was unabated, though tempered by his other child, but his marriage was a less happy topic. Busy arranging for her maternity leave and the myriad of things to be done before she left and then for when the babies came, Andi had not been anymore Toby's wife since their wedding than she had been before. And Toby didn't mind, as long as he didn't think of the other woman he could have had. The other woman. The one thing she didn't want to be, and now, in my mind if not Andi's, she always will be.
Toby's thoughts grew more and more wretched as the miles fled beneath him and his concern deepened. The thought struck him suddenly that at this very moment he might be a father. Without pause he keyed in the exorbitant price to use the plane-phone. This was nothing like Air Force One. CJ's cell phone rang, rang, ran-
"Who is this?"
"Michael Cregg, who's this?"
"Michael, it's Toby Zeigler," Toby told CJ's brother. He was met with silence and knew that Michael had at least guessed the father of his sister's baby. "Michael, how- I need to know how she is."
"Her water broke early and she's having the baby. They say it's turned the wrong way, but she's still okay and they don't want to do a C-section yet." Michael spoke quickly, his speed belying his fear and Toby's heart raced.
"I'm on a plane, I'll be there as soon as I can." Michael was silent again as Toby confirmed his guesses. "Tell her...just wait for me."
"Right." The hint of sarcasm that Toby was suddenly someone to hold the delivery for was not lost on the soon-to-be father, and he ended the conversation with a sadness that calmed his worry. Whatever this child's future was, there was no way he could be part of it.
"Toby?" CJ's father asked questioningly as Toby entered the hospital waiting room two hours later.
"Yes sir, you called me?"
"Oh..." The man continued to look confused and Toby turned to Michael for answers.
"She's in the delivery room. You can go in with her, if you want."
A nurse, watching, helped Toby to get scrubs and led him into the sterile smelling room where all he could see was CJ, pale and sweaty, her face clenched tight in pain and then surprise as she saw him. There were questions in her eyes for a moment, but then her body went rigid in the end of the contraction and their emotions were put on hold so she could have the relief of the arm around her, a wall of support.
Toby tried not to think how right it felt to be helping her to breathe, to control her body, and yet how wrong that he'd only practiced this with Andi. He wondered if CJ had even learned Lamaze, how she had prepared, but couldn't think how to ask. They were a good team nonetheless, as ever.
CJ pillowed her head against Toby's shoulder for a moment between contractions, grateful for his presence.
"So, have you picked out names?" he whispered. She bridled at the thought that he would try to suggest some now but then realized he was not, in fact, assuming any rights of fatherhood. The thought threatened to clutch at her heart, but it was busy making a baby.
"It's a girl," she whispered back, remembering that she hadn't told him. Toby gazed at her, stunned. This was real. In a few hours he would have- not a baby, but a daughter.
"What will you call her?"
"I was thinking- I think Abbey." Toby smiled at the rightness of it.
"Of course. Abigail Ziegler." He winced as CJ's eyes grew sad.
"Right." Their eyes met in shared pain for a moment before it was forced away by the next contraction.
And then there she was. A beautiful little girl, lying in CJ's arms. All the pain was suddenly forgotten, meaningless, because the end was this incredible new life. CJ blessed both Abbeys silently for giving her this moment.
Abigail Ann Cregg, read the birth certificate. Mother: Claudia Jean Cregg. Father: Tobias Zachary Ziegler. He'd insisted on it above the unspoken protests in her eyes. It was the last thing he could give to the two girls whom he loved most in the world at that moment.
Toby did everything he could over the next two days. The second day after the delivery, CJ was allowed to return home, with her father and brother maintaining a watchful distance as Toby guarded his beloved and their child. As CJ rested between the diaper changings he could help with and the feedings he couldn't, Toby told her of the West Wing, colorful anecdotes that made her miss her friends and yet laugh at how ridiculous they could be. The President and first lady and the boys had called to congratulate them unreservedly, and CJ had basked in the renewed connections to her friends. Their love was not spoken of, but was always present, and for the first time in their relationship, they were at peace with it. They joked and talked and held their child and communicated in so many of the ways of love without needing to say the words, simply acknowledging their truth in all the ways married people do. And then it was time for Toby to leave.
Abbey had finally fallen asleep. Toby couldn't imagine how anyone could manage a baby alone, and thanked God that CJ would have help. He looked down at the baby in the basinet with a smile, then moved toward the bed where CJ lay watching him. He picked up one of CJ's swollen feet and began to rub.
"Umm... I wish I'd had you a week ago, they were carrying a lot more weight then," she joked, then she opened her eyes when he paused and she realized there was no joke in her words.
Sinking down on the bed beside her, Toby held CJ closely.
"You did marvelously," he whispered.
"I'll just have to keep it up," she whispered back, glancing at the basinet to make sure she wouldn't wake Abbey. "For every second of the rest of my life, I'll be a mother, Toby," she added in awe.
He smiled into her hair even as his eyes stung with tears at the thought of not witnessing the rest of this metamorphosis of his best friend and lover into the mother she was becoming as well and of leaving the family he already cherished incomplete. CJ pulled back to brush his tears away.
"I'm sorry," he murmured.
"Don't be. Toby, Abbey is...us. You and me, together. I'm not lonely anymore. If I can't have you, at least I won't be alone-" Toby pulled her into a fierce kiss to quell the words, trying to communicate how perfect and right this was, how much his heart didn't want for her to be without him, how angry he was at the universe for this...At last he pulled back, carefully heeding the doctor's warning about what 'he and his wife' could and could not do, though all that he wanted to savor what was perhaps the sixth time he'd been allowed to kiss CJ unabashedly. Something more urgent struck him.
"What will you tell her when she asks about her father?"
"That I loved him dearly," said CJ, firmly, completely thoughtlessly. She flinched at the pain in his face at her admission.
Toby spoke no more, but held her more tightly, quiet now, and in their last moments together, they slept.
"Happily Ever After" Ending
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