Disclaimers: They're not mine. Sometimes I ask them out to play, but they go home with
Mr. Sorkin, et. al.
CJ's life had settled in to some strange routine. Spending time with Toby and avoiding being alone with her mother were her most important activities of the day. Oh yeah. Running the country. She was somehow peripherally involved with that, too.
Now that she was breathing again, she was managing her crutches much better. Toby still insisted she use the wheelchair to get in from the car, but he tried not to hover during the day. He really tried. He didn't often succeed, but he did try.
"Lunch?" he asked.
"Toby, it's only 10:30."
"Josh said Leo's sending you to the Hill for lunch to talk with..." She waved her hand in lieu of coming up with the actual names.
"He is, but that's not until 12:30."
"You have a lunch meeting on the Hill and you come in here asking me if I want to eat in the middle of the morning? Thank you, Toby. Now go away. I'll see you later this afternoon."
CJ was sitting in her chair, resting her eyes when there was a knock on the door. "Come in."
"Hi, Mother. What are you doing here?"
"Tea with the First Lady and her daughter."
"I didn't think that was until 2:00." She consulted her watch. "It's not 1:30 yet."
"I didn't want to be late. I thought maybe..." She motioned to the couch.
"Have a seat, Mother. But I'm working. I don't have time to chat."
"I brought a book. I'll be quiet."
Mrs. Cregg settled in and opened her book. CJ thought about asking what she was readingjust to be politebut didn't want to encourage her mother to converse. She sighed and went back to her own reading, soon forgetting her mother was even there.
"So I hear you're living with my husband."
Congresswoman Andrea Wyatt was standing in CJ's open door holding her coat over one arm.
"Good afternoon, Congresswoman," CJ said, struggling to stand. She leant heavily on her desk to avoid getting her crutches.
"Is it true?"
"Are you living with my husband?"
"I don't believe I'll discuss this with you," CJ said. "I think you should be speaking to your *ex*-husband.
"Yes, but I'm speaking to you and I would appreciate an answer."
CJ smiled politely. "Which I have no intention of giving you. Toby will be back soon. Why don't I have Carol show you to somewhere you can wait."
"I can wait here."
"I don't think that's wise." CJ looked to her couch and realized, for the first time, that her mother was still there. She almost fell back in to her chair, but caught herself in time. "Congresswoman, my I introduce you to my mother? Mother, this is Congresswoman Andrea Wyatt, Toby's ex-wife."
"So I assumed." Mrs. Cregg held out her hand, which the Congresswoman shook. "A pleasure to meet you."
CJ said a small prayer of thanks for her mother's rare display of tact.
"So, did my daughter break up your marriage?"
CJ retracted her prayer.
"Mother!" CJ retrieved her crutches and hobbled around the desk. "Mother, be quiet!"
Congresswoman Wyatt glanced from CJ to her mother and back. "I'll wait for Toby in his office. I know the way. Pleasure meeting you, Mrs. Cregg." She turned and exited.
CJ grabbed for her phone and dialed. "Ginger? It's CJ. Congresswoman Wyatt is on her way. Allow her to wait in Toby's office, but find a reason not to leave her alone. Thank you." She hung up and turned on her mother. "I cannot believe you did that!"
The only thing that kept CJ from lunging for her mother's throat was Lilly's appearance at her open door. Well, that and her dependency on crutches. "The First Lady is running slightly ahead of schedule for a change," Lilly explained. "She sent me down to see if there was a chance Mrs. Cregg was here early."
"Take her," CJ said. "Keep her!"
"This way, Mrs. Cregg," Lilly said, choosing to ignore CJ's last statement.
Lilly closed the door as CJ's phone started to ring. She dropped back in to her chair. "CJ Cregg."
"It's Ginger. She never showed. I sent Bonnie to see what she could find out and she said Congresswoman Wyatt left directly from your office."
"She left the building?"
"Uh-huh. Anything else you need?"
"Toby. The very minute he sets foot in the West Wing, I need to see him. Immediately. Before phone calls. Before messages. Before Josh or Sam. Understand?"
"Got it," she said calmly. "You could try him on his cell."
CJ thought about it. "No it's probably best to wait. I could be over-reacting."
CJ thought again. "Yeah, but the minute he gets back..."
"He's in your office before he gets his coat off," Ginger promised.
While she was waiting, CJ came up with several ways to make her mother disappear. The problem was they were all illegal. She threw a pencil at the door just as it opened. Toby looked at the pencil, which had hit the door and fallen just in front of him. He bent to pick it up. "So what happened?"
"Congresswoman Wyatt showed up at my door."
"Really?" He shrugged out of his coat and sat on the couch.
"My mother was here."
"*So* much worse than that. Her opening line was, and I quote: "So I hear you're living with my husband.""
"Dammit!" Toby rose. "Where is she?"
"She was supposedly heading for your office, but Bonnie said she left the building."
He grabbed his coat and headed for the door. "I'll find her."
"Toby, there's something more." CJ hesitated. "Mother asked her if I broke up your marriage."
"When is it that your mother's leaving and I get my life back?"
CJ stared at him. "And by that you mean?"
"Nothing," he assured her. "I just thought that maybe we'd ease in to this thing a little. Now we've gone from zero to 60 in 4.3 seconds."
"A car illustration?" CJ asked. "You're full of surprises."
"Where is she now?"
"I told you she left. I didn't have her followed."
"Not Andrea," he said. "Your mother."
"In the residence. She'll be done soon."
"I'm going to go find Andrea," he said. "Try some damage control."
He was gone before she could respond.
CJ remained in her office with the door closed and had Carol direct her mother to go home. She waited for Toby. At 7:00 her door opened. She looked up, expecting to see him.
"Hey," Josh said. "You're here late."
"Heard you had a visitor today." He sat on her couch.
"Mother?" she asked hopefully.
He grinned. "Congresswoman Wyatt."
"Ginger told Donna. Donna told me. Donna said Ginger said you seemed pretty stressed. What happened?"
"She came by while Mother was here."
"I would have liked to have seen that."
"I bet you slow down to look at car wrecks, too."
He shrugged. "It's an American thing. So what happened?"
She told him.
"That doesn't sound too bad. What did Toby say?"
"He was off to see Andrea for damage control," CJ said.
"And how did that go?"
She paused. "I have no idea. He hasn't come back." She yawned and looked at her watch. "I'm exhausted."
"Get your stuff together. I'll take you home. Just let me grab my coat and I'll be right back."
"Josh, can I ask a huge favor?" she asked as they pulled up to her building.
"Will you come up with me?"
"I thought I'd just pop the trunk and let you wrestle the wheelchair out yourself," he said with a smile. "Of course I'm coming up with you."
"Stay until Toby gets back?"
He didn't answer until they were in the elevator. "I'll stay a while," he said. "But are you sure Toby's coming back?"
"No. I'm not."
Josh had had enough encounters with Mrs. Cregg to know to tread very lightly. He kept the conversation on CJ's childhood. Although potentially embarrassing to CJ, it was much less so than any present-day topics might be. "Claudia, you look exhausted. You've had a really long day. I think I should leave and you should turn in," Josh suggested. "Need any help?"
"Not that you'll be giving me," she said with a smile. "Just hand me my crutches and be on your way."
"I'll take care of her," Mrs. Cregg said. "Thank you Joshua."
Josh helped her stand and gave her the crutches. "I think you should go straight to bed. You need your sleep. Don't wait up for Toby. You know how the President gets. Toby'll be lucky to make it home tonight."
That's the story Josh had told Mrs. Cregg. The President had called Toby in for consultation and asked Josh to bring CJ home. Josh's idea, not CJ's. She was too tired to propose an alternate. Maybe something along the lines of the truth. But why should truth start being important now?
"Right to bed," CJ promised, accepting Josh's kiss on her cheek.
"Call if you need me," he whispered, before stepping back.
"Thanks, Josh," she said. Then added, "For the ride."
"If Toby sleeps in his office tonight, call Donna and she'll round someone up to bring you in."
"I'll just call the car service," she said. "See you tomorrow."
CJ managed to escape any long conversation with her mother by simply turning and heading for bed once Josh left. "Good night, Mother."
For once in her life, her mother chose not to respond.