Please see disclaimer and notes in part 1.


Flamingo Falling, Epilogue (2/3)

Sam was surprised to find Toby sprawled on his office couch when he went to drop off some files the next morning. "I didn't think you were in," he said as Toby stretched. "You haven't been sleeping here since... Well... Since you and CJ... Well, since Mrs. Cregg came to town," he finally finished.

"What have you got?" he asked, ignoring Sam's ramblings.

"The stuff you wanted from Commerce. Call me if you need anything else."

Sam went immediately to Josh.

"What's up?" Josh asked.

"Toby slept here."

"Damn," Josh said, tossing a folder onto a pile. "I took CJ home last night."

Sam shrugged. "So, Toby worked late."

"Did you hear Congresswoman Wyatt showed up at CJ's office yesterday while her mother was here?"

"Carol told me, but I thought it was just gossip."

"Well, she did. Toby went after her. He was MIA for the rest of the day. And he hadn't called CJ by the time I left last night at 10:00."

"Damn," Sam echoed. "They're not going to screw this up before they even get started, are they?"

"I thought maybe it would be nice for someone here to have a love life," Josh said. "Granted, I certainly didn't expect it to be Toby and CJ, but I didn't think they'd crash and burn this fast. We should fix this."

"And how would the two of you do that?" Donna asked from the door. They both shrugged in response. "You're doomed to fail. Leave it alone."

 

"Do you want me to come get you?" Donna asked CJ when she called her a few minutes later.

"No, I've got a car on the way. Is Toby in?"

"Yeah. He's in with Leo right now. Sam said he slept here last night. Everything okay?"

"Fine, Donna. I'll see you in a while."

CJ hung up and turned on her mother. "I get my cast off this afternoon. When I get home tonight, we need to have a talk, Mother." The door buzzer sounded. "I'll be home right after the doctor's office. Try to stay out of trouble." She opened the door to find a familiar driver waiting to assist her.

 

CJ culumped down the hallway, grateful that she'd be getting rid of the cast in a few hours. She was tired of crutches and had a new admiration for people who used such things on a daily basis. She stopped outside Toby's office. "Is he in there?"

"Yup," Ginger answered.

She knocked on the closed door. "Toby. It's CJ."

"Come in," he said. "I heard you half a mile away."

"It comes off this afternoon," she said.

"I know. Have a seat."

"I don't think so."

He looked her in the eye for the first time. "What's wrong?"

"What could possibly be wrong?" she asked.

"You tell me."

"I'm telling my mother to leave. So you can have your life back." She turned and, for her current state, made excellent time getting back to her office.

Toby was too stunned to follow immediately. By the time he decided he should, she'd locked her door.

"Let me in, CJ," he said.

"I don't really want to talk to you right now," she answered through the door.

"CJ."

"Go away."

He rattled the door once more for good measure and then turned away. Shortly, Carol unlocked the door and pushed it open.

"Traitor," CJ shot at her assistant as she closed the door behind her.

"Hey," Toby said.

"What?" She shuffled files.

"It occurs to me that I did something stupid."

"What's that?" she asked.

"I went after my ex-wife and left you sitting here. I got distracted, because I ran in to a Congressman from New York after I finished with Andrea. I got back here late and I crashed on the couch."

"Okay."

"I didn't call."

"No reason to."

"It's been a long time since I've had anyone to call, CJ. I just wasn't thinking. I'm sorry if you were worried."

"I wasn't. I figured you were with Andrea."

"Really?" He seemed surprised.

"Why shouldn't I? You chased out of here after her fast enough."

"I didn't want her to say anything to anyone before I had a chance to explain," he said. "We've managed to keep this information fairly limited. I didn't want this to wind up in a gossip column. Or hitting you in a briefing."

"Really?" Now it was her turn to be surprised.

"Why else would I want to talk to her?"

She went back to her files. "No reason."

"CJ?" No response. "You're jealous."

She decided there was no way out of it. She brushed the file aside. "Okay. I was jealous. Happy? You made me jealous. You ran out of here after your ex-wife. What did you expect my reaction would be?"

"I didn't expect jealousy, CJ," he said quietly. "I thought you knew or I would have explained."

"You don't need to explain anything."

"Obviously I do." He came around to stand beside her.

"Don't tower over me," she directed. "It makes me uncomfortable."

"Now you know how the rest of us feel," he said, trying to keep some part of the conversation light. He pulled a chair around so he could sit beside her. "Now let me explain."

"There's nothing to explain."

"CJ, just shut up for once."

Her eyes widened, but she remained silent.

"Okay. CJ Cregg, I think you are the most amazing woman in the world. I have been honored to call you my friend for years. And I wondered what more there could be—if anything. But I was married and that was that."

"I never would have..."

He cut her off. "You're being quiet right now," he reminded. "Then Andrea left me. I wasn't as heartbroken as everyone thinks. I knew it was over. It was yet another failure to add to my list of life failures. It's a long list, you know. I was getting used to it. I thought about you, but you were in California and I was in New York, so I didn't bother you. When Leo wanted to bring you on the campaign, I insisted on seeing you in person. You fell in the pool—I almost went right in after you. You joined up. But then there was the primary. Then the election. Then the administration. It just never seemed like the right time to make a move. I didn't want to screw anything up."

"Okay."

"All of a sudden, you're in a situation where I can help you. This insane farce you cooked up for your mother was a kick in the ass for me. That and the First Lady. You don't need help very often you know. You can be intimidatingly independent."

"It's my height." She smiled slightly. He glared at her. "Shutting up."

"The reason I chased after Andrea was to explain so it didn't get all over the Hill. I found her and told her you and I are involved now. I didn't tell her anything about your mother other than she's a little nuts. And from California. And I asked her to keep it to herself."

"What did she say?"

"Let's just say your mother and Andrea's mother would probably get alone quite well. Andrea's happy for us. She said she's been worried about me. Didn't think I'd gotten over her."

"Have you?"

He took her hands in his. "What kind of question is that? Would I have become involved with you if I weren't over Andrea?"

"You tell me."

"I'm over Andrea. We've been divorced for years now, CJ. True, she's the one who left me, but by the time we signed papers I was relieved to have it over." He gently ran his fingers down her cheek. "I love you, CJ."

"I love you, too." She closed her eyes and leaned in to his hand.

"I realize I have for a long time. How could you think otherwise?" he asked.

She opened her eyes and leaned back. "You still wear your wedding ring."

He held up his left hand. "This? Why didn't you say something?"

She shrugged.

"CJ, I was right out of college when I married Andrea. And, among other things, I was a good 50 pounds lighter. The only way this ring is coming off is with a saw." He stared at her for a moment. "Which I obviously should have done."

CJ nodded.

"Okay," was all Toby could say.

 

Flamingo Falling - Epilogue - 3

 

 

 

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