See disclaimer, notes and standard Stacy-blame in Part 1.

Falling from the Sky (3/~4)

They sat hand-in-hand in silence. CJ dozed off for a while and woke
with her head on Toby's shoulder. She straightened and cleared her
throat, retrieving her hand from Toby's to adjust her hair. When she
looked at him she could tell some of the shock had worn off, but his
features were still pinched with concern.

"So tell me why it's taken so long for the two of you to get
together. The Shuttle and shooting were months ago."

"After the shooting, there was Josh. For David there were follow-ups
to the Shuttle mission. And let's not forget the midterms. We were
just too busy. We planned a couple of weekends. He got the flu.
Then we had to go...somewhere with the President. I can't even
remember where. We've been emailing each other quite frequently.
There's been a lot to catch up on. We just haven't made it to a face-
to-face meeting."

"Mind if I ask a question?"

"I'm dragging you across an ocean for a personal crisis. I guess
you're entitled to a question."

"What happened with you and David? I mean, when you and I first met,
we talked about him. By the time I joined the campaign you didn't
mention him at all. Sam said he didn't even know you had a brother
before the Shuttle crisis."

He absently took her hand again. "My brother David is perfect. I
know you're going to protest, but he is. He's nauseatingly happy.
He's got a beautiful wife, two kids--boy and girl--and a dog. They
have an SUV and a minivan. She stays home with the kids, and he does
important work..."

CJ had to interrupt him at that. "You say that like your job is
nothing."

"That's not what I meant. My job is everything--it's all I have.
David...well...David has his job and everything else to make our
parents proud."

"Your mother's proud of you."

"But my father wasn't, CJ. He died before I'd ever met Jed Bartlet.
I'd never won a political campaign and my wife had left me. Then my
father got sick and died within a matter of three months. When he
died I was a failure."

Although CJ had known Toby for years, they had not been exceptionally
friendly at the time his father died. She'd been in California and
Toby--well, Toby was Toby. When she'd heard the news, she'd called
him. He assured her all was for the best. She believed him.

"At least David did it right. At least my father lived to see the
Ziegler name carried on."

"You're being too hard on yourself," she said, squeezing the hand she
still held. "You have family. You have Josh and Sam. And me, Toby."

He raised her hand to his lips and kissed it lightly. "I'm glad I
chose you."

She stared at him, somewhat shocked and confused. "What are you
talking about."

He looked at their joined hands. "The President didn't send you. I
chose you to come with me."

"Oh."

"Now I've made you uncomfortable."

"Not at all," she lied, casting a sidelong glance at their hands.
She loosened her grip, but Toby didn't let go. "Feeling better?"

"Not really."

"We'll be landing soon. I should give Leo another call."

Toby exhaled slowly and shook his head. "No. Whatever has happened
has happened. It's not going to do me any good to know he's dead."

"There are survivors, Toby. How many times do I have to say it for
you to believe it?"

"The only way I'll believe David is alive is by seeing him with my
own eyes."

To be continued...

Fall From the Sky - 4

 

 

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