See part 1 for disclaimer
This was it. The last three months had been the most excruciating ones of his entire life. Oh, sure, there were a few shining moments. The time he spent with a certain red-haired Press Secretary certainly ranked among of them. As soon as they discovered their feelings, however, the Mendoza confirmation began in full swing and they were both swamped with work.
At first, Toby was afraid his heavy workload, therefore an inability to spend much time with her exploring their new-found relationship, would upset C.J. She, however, understood better than anyone the amount of work the job demanded. She was also busy with the Mendoza confirmation along with the India/Pakistan situation, Josh’s secret plan to fight inflation, the hate crimes legislation, and all of the other daily crises that arose.
Toby also worried that he would take his stress from the difficult confirmation out on her. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. In fact, she was probably the only thing in his life that had kept him sane during all of it. She seemed to have a sixth sense when it came to him. She knew when he needed to be alone, and ran interference for him. And she knew when he needed to be with her away from all of the craziness. She would pop in his office during their lunch break and force him to leave and walk around the mall with her. Some evenings, she would show up at his apartment unannounced with Chinese take-out and a movie. They would talk about anything and everything; their families, jobs, past relationships, preference of pizza toppings, etc. Often, they wouldn’t talk at all, and just enjoy being together. It was those small respites that helped him keep going.
This was the last day, though. He was about to be paroled. It was almost over. A part of him was saying he just wanted it to be over. But, another part knew that wasn’t enough. He had to win.
"Congratulations," a woman Toby didn’t recognize said, as she passed him in the hallway.
"Not yet," he mumbled and walked into the Mural Room. It was full of festive West Wing staffers holding champagne flutes. His assistants, Bonnie and Ginger, stood in front of two television monitors that showed the Senate vote on Mendoza’s confirmation. 12 yea votes; 2 nay. Everyone was smiling and laughing. Bonnie was holding a bottle of the champagne.
"Only one drink per person," she said gleefully. "Who’s driving?"
"Put it down!"
"Toby," she complained.
He looked at her incredulously. These people worked at the White House, for God’s sake. Didn’t they learn about Senate procedure when it came to confirming the President’s nomination for the Supreme Court in school? Did they know nothing about the little concept of tempting fate? Were they purposefully trying to ruin his Day of Jubilee?
"Put it down," he ordered, then proceeded to give them all a lecture on those very topics while collecting their flutes. He would not let these ignorant people completely undo all of his hard work by tempting fate! After properly chastising them, he looked around the room for the one person he did want to share this with.
About that time, Carol walked into the room. Alone.
"Carol, where’s C.J.?"
"She had a last minute thing to take care of she said," C.J.’s assistant answered. "She should be here soon. She told me to tell you ‘congratulations.’"
"Not yet," he mumbled gruffly. Everyone turned their attentions back to the television monitors. 30 yea; 8 nay. Toby’s thoughts were elsewhere, however.
"How ‘bout some champagne," Josh’s ebullient tone filled the room as he and Donna entered.
"No," the group of staffers replied dejectedly.
"What the hell?"
Toby sighed. "Ginger," he ordered, his mind too preoccupied to explain to yet another ignorant federal employee the concept of tempting fate. How did these people get hired?
More importantly, where was C.J.? What was she doing instead of being here with him? It had to be pretty important. She knew how much this meant to him.
Boos and shouts focused his attention back to the vote. 39 yea; 10 nay. Another yea vote was cast, inducing cheers from the staffers.
"Toby," Sam called from the doorway he just walked in.
"It’s our Day of Jubilee."
Toby briefly entertained the thought of going to check on her. Maybe he could help her with whatever it was. He quickly, but reluctantly, discarded the idea. There was no real reason to do that. C.J. was perfectly capable to handle whatever came up. If he left, especially during the confirmation, it would raise everyone’s suspicions.
Another round of cheers erupted. 48 yea; 14 nay.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Leo enter the room.
49 yea; 14 nay.
He could see the finish line. His heart started to race.
50 yea; 14 nay.
"Toby, Sam," Leo pronounced. "You’re about to put a guy on the Supreme Court."
Silence fell over the room. Did time stop? Why was it taking so long?
"Senator Rindell," the Senate secretary called.
All of the muscles in his body tensed. His hands tightened around the neck of the champagne bottle he held.
Ironic, that this particular senator could cast the vote to put Roberto Mendoza on the bench. Off all of Mendoza’s judicial decisions and opinions, of his remarks in the press, issues with his background as a judge; that senators brought up to Toby -- and there were plenty -- Senator Rindell from Nebraska had found the most obscure ones to quibble over. Every other day it seemed, he called Toby’s office having found some new issue with Mendoza. The only thing about Rindell that kept Toby from strangling him most days was the fact political factors rarely swayed his decisions. He only looked for the best argument for or against. Toby had to respect a man like that.
However, that meant Toby wasn’t certain how the elder man planned to vote. It could go any way.
The room exploded. Toby let out his breath that he wasn’t aware he had been holding.
"Toby," Josh called.
A genuine smile came over his face as he enthusiastically popped the cork. He let out a yell and stood up quickly as foam overflowed the bottle onto his pants. Everyone laughed and started to toast to the confirmation.
The champagne flowed and hugs of congratulations filled the room. Toby felt like he had shed 200 pounds and 17 years. Only one thing could make this night better, he thought as his mind once again turned to C.J. Where was she?
His mood slightly less cheerful, he reached into his coat pocket and pulled out the cigar he brought with him. The President had given him the cigars last year for the holidays. They were the best he had ever smoked, and kept them for special occasions. He placed it between his lips, then began to search his pockets for his lighter.
Suddenly, everyone grew quiet. A slender hand came from behind him, holding a lighter and lit his cigar. Vaguely, he heard someone start the stereo. A pulsing jazz beat filled the room. Toby’s attentions, however, were on her. She was wearing the suit she had on all day, except her jacket was now gone and a few more top buttons on her blouse were unbuttoned. Her eyes gleamed mischievously and a sly smile danced on her red lips as he gazed at her in surprise.
The crowd went crazy and quickly cleared the center of the room for C.J. in anticipation of the infamous ‘Jackal.’ Toby was mesmerized. They sway of her hips, her artistic flare as she pantomimed to the lyrics, her seductive glances; he was spellbound. Dozens of people had crowded into the room to watch, but it felt as she was performing just for him. So erotic. Like they were the only two people in the room. God, how he wished that were true.
"The Jackal," the deep voice sang, the song coming to an end.
C.J. saw the desire in his black eyes and couldn’t help but wink at him and smile.
She watched as he stood quickly as the song finished and took a step towards her. C.J. knew he had forgotten about everyone around them, and was about to grab her and kiss her passionately. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on the viewpoint, the staffers broke out in applause.
Unaware of what was happening between the Communications Director and Press Secretary, they rushed to surround the two, separating them. C.J. nodded absently as several people gushed over her performance, her eyes always on him. As soon as the opportunity presented itself, she slipped out of the room.
He was about to go and show her exactly what she was doing to him when all of the sudden he was surrounded by people. Toby suppressed the urge to shove them aside to reach her. Instead, he mumbled a few ‘thank you’s’ and feigned interest in what they were saying. Finally, he was able to push through the crowd to where she had been.
She was gone.
Her office was dark, except for the small light from her desk lamp. She bent down to scribble a few notes for Carol. The song still in her head, she hummed along with it, her hips moving to the beat.
She heard the sound of her door closing. Turning around slowly, she leaned against her desk. A playful smile came over her face.
"I wondered when you would get here."
Without a word, he strode towards her purposefully. She threw her arms around them and they began to kiss passionately.
After a few minutes, they separated breathless.
"I thought we had a rule of no kissing in the office," she whispered, her voice raspy.
"It’s my Day of Jubilee," he replied. "All rules are null and void," Toby concluded and captured her lips once more.
The passing sound of loud laughter from the corridor caused them to break apart.
"Let’s get out of here," said Toby.
C.J. giggled at the urgency in his voice. She kissed him, lightly. "My place. I have a surprise for you."
"Okay," Toby agreed. "I’ll meet you there in twenty minutes."
He was halfway to the door, when he turned around and kissed her once more soundly, then left.
Twenty minutes later, C.J. opened the door to her apartment. She was barely able to shut the door behind him, before he pulled her into his embrace and began dancing to music only he could hear. She laughed at his behavior. It was so wonderful to see him like this.
"So, what’s my surprise," he asked, his tone almost child-like.
‘Kind of impatient, aren’t you?"
"Yes," he replied, unabashedly. "What is it?"
"Wait here," she instructed. "I’ll be back in a moment."
Toby watched as she went into her bedroom and shut the door. He quickly found the light switch and dimmed the lights, then he lit a several of the candles carefully placed around the room. He was lighting the last candle, when he heard the door open behind him.
He felt his breath catch in his throat as he saw her in the doorway. She was no longer wearing the business suit. Instead, she had changed into an exquisite white silk and lace nightgown. Candlelight glistened off the tiny straps of the gown against her delicate shoulders. The hem ended several inches above the knees, allowing him a sensational view of her long legs. He groaned inwardly. Yup. He was a legs man.
"Happy Day of Jubilee, Toby."