Disclaimers: They're not mine. Sometimes I ask them out to play, but they go home with Mr. Sorkin, et. al.
Summary: CJ takes a fall and Toby gets roped in to picking up the pieces.
Flamingo Falling (Part 18/~23)
"I see you're ready to go," Toby said upon arriving in CJ's room. She was fully-dressed, seated on the edge of her bed with her crutches on one side and her bag on the other.
"They let me out of bed late last night. I passed my lung scan this morning and my physical therapy refresher course half an hour ago. Let's blow this joint. I've got work to do." She stood on her good leg and picked up her crutches. She teetered a moment, but Toby reached out to steady her.
"They'll bring a wheelchair, CJ."
"Don't want it."
"Look, I'm glad you're feeling better, but you're not doing anything to hurt yourself further because I am not spending another evening alone with your mother. Sit your butt down and wait for the wheelchair." She silently sat back on the bed. "No argument?" She shook her head. He regarded her for a moment. "Not that I don't appreciate it, but may I ask why?"
"Because I figure it's the least I can do," she said quietly. "Now that I'm feeling better-and much less light-headed-I can't let you go through with this sham."
"This is beginning to get annoying." He took the wheelchair from the nurse who had just entered the room. "Come on. Climb in. We'll talk about this in the car."
"I won't do it, CJ."
"I know. That's why I have to find some way to explain to Mother..."
"No, that's not what I meant. Do you love your mother?"
"Of course I love my mother." CJ swatted his arm. "I just don't like her very much." She sighed. "We just don't have anything in common, Toby. The only things she ever wanted for me were a husband and family. Eventually, I just got tired of fighting. One day, when she was haranging along, I told her I was living with somebody."
"How did my name get attached to this fantasy?"
"Let's see, my choices were you, Josh, Sam or Leo. Hmmmm."
He laughed. "It's nice to know I won that race. Some day you'll have to explain your criteria. But I was specifically thinking of Danny. The father of your goldfish?"
"I forgot about her!"
"Carol's been feeding the fish. Back to your selection criteria?"
"You and I both know nothing can ever come of the thing with Danny." At least five smart responses came to Toby's mind, but he managed not to say any of them. And he gave himself points for that. "See, the plan was to keep her off my back through the administration. After the assumed second term, you and I were going to quietly go our separate ways. My mother would spend the next several months lecturing me on cows and milk..."
"Cows and milk?"
"You know. Why should he buy the cow when he gets the milk for free?"
"Meaning, that I would come off as the bad guy who would sleep with you, live with you, but not marry you? I think I'm hurt."
She looked at him. "And I think you're taking this a little to seriously."
"CJ, I haven't had an exceptional amount of sleep lately. Even less than usual. Let me have some pleasure where I can find it."
"I know. Anyway, back to your mother. You're not going to tell her anything. We'll get through this and she'll go back to California. Then it gets simple again. You can just lie your way to Hell over the phone instead of in person."
He actually had to chuckle. "It's fine CJ. If I had your mother I'd have come up with something similar, I'm sure."
"So we're good?"
"We're better than good," he said, picking up her hand and raising it to his lips. "We're in love." He wiggled his eyebrows at her.
"I am going to pay forever," CJ said.
Toby took the rest of the afternoon off. Or, rather, he worked at his laptop at the dining room table while CJ sat on the couch with her cast elevated, going over her mail.
"Have I mentioned I love what you've done with the place?"
Toby looked up from his laptop. "I didn't do much. You're not an exceptionally frilly person, you know."
"Thanks for pointing that out, Toby." She continued to mutter under her breath for a few moments, so Toby returned to his work. "Where's Mother?"
"It's taken you this long to miss her? I ditched her at the White House with Josh in charge. Somebody will bring her home."
He shrugged. "I just knew that I wasn't going to sit trapped in a car with her after her lunch."
CJ was still moaning when the doorbell rang a few moments later.
"We don't need to ring," Mrs. Cregg said, walking in with Sam right behind.
"Toby! CJ! I'm so glad to see you!" Sam said a little too enthusiastically.
A little while later, Toby walked Sam to the elevator. "Thanks again, Sam."
"You know how you were saying your head might explode earlier?" Sam asked and Toby nodded. "I think I know exactly how you felt." He rubbed his temples. "I'm sorry I ever teased you about this, Toby. You deserve a medal for hazardous duty for signing on for this gig."
"CJ's a friend," Toby said. "I'm sure anyone
"And then the President came in!" Mrs. Cregg exclaimed.
Toby had moved over to share the couch with CJ at her insistence. He'd taken his laptop with him and continued to work, barely listening to Mrs. Cregg until he heard the word "president."
"This could get interesting," Toby muttered so that only CJ could hear. He put aside his laptop.
"Well, you know, I'm a Republican, but my goodness."
"And she's off," CJ whispered. "Wind her up and
"...just so charming..." Mrs. Cregg said.
"It's Friday," Toby whispered. "Don't
"...said he made the chili himself. Mrs. Bartlet told him not to exaggerate..."
"I'm certainly not staying here," CJ said.
"We'll compromise. Half-day. Do you know when she's going home?"
"I hope it's soon."
"...said you're actually a very physical couple..."
"Did she just say..." CJ asked.
"Yup." He picked up her hand and held it to his lips. "I told you we were in love."
She looked in to his eyes and was suddenly uncertain of what she saw.
"...swear you two aren't even listening to me."
"No I guess we weren't, Mother. I'm sorry."
"I apologize," Toby said, standing. "It's been a very long week for us you know. We're not used to being apart so much. I mean we live together...work together. I'm glad you had a pleasant time at lunch. But CJ's tired and I hardly had time to sleep last night. So I think we're going to turn in."
"Oh, of course. I'm sorry. I've been babbling like a schoolgirl here. Let me help you up."
"No problem." Toby said, bending and lifting CJ.
"I am happy you're better," Mrs. Cregg said, kissing CJ's cheek. "I'll check on you a little later. Good night CJ. Toby."
To be continued...