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 22/23)
Toby sat on the couch, dutifully holding CJ's hand, squeezing it occasionally to keep her awake while her mother rambled further about her lunch at the White House. She was interrupted by a loud knock on the door about 9:00 p.m. Toby crossed the room and looked through the peephole. He turned back to them. "CJ, company. Sit up and look awake." He opened the door. "Good evening, Vince."
The Secret Service man entered with a companion and they began to inspect the apartment.
"Oh, my," Mrs. Cregg said, scurrying off to the bedroom.
Toby looked at CJ and raised his eyebrows. "Make-up, I would suspect," she explained. "I am so not up for dinner theatre this evening, Toby. I'm exhausted." He went over to her and helped her stand. "I'll be glad when this damn cast comes off."
"Not soon enough." She put her left arm across his shoulders. "How did I loose my crutches?"
Vince and friend returned and exited, leaving the door open. Toby kept one arm around CJ's waist in lieu of her crutches. "I think your mother moved them. You can sit soon enough. Besides, it makes a nice little prologue to the evening's drama."
"More likely farce," CJ whispered as her mother returned.
"Good evening, CJ," the President said, allowing his wife to enter before him. "I'm sorry I didn't get to see you this afternoon. And of course I couldn't get to the hospital. So, as Abbey and I were heading back across town from tonight's rubber chicken I insisted we swing by. Lovely to see you again, Mrs. Cregg." He shook her hand and bowed slightly. "You're looking good, CJ." He kissed her cheek. "You gave us quite a scare. Especially Toby here. He loves you a great deal, you know."
"He's come to torture me," Toby said under his breath.
CJ smiled. "Oh, it goes both ways, sir." She turned slightly and whispered in Toby's ear. "He's come to torture both of us."
"Sit down, CJ," the President said.
"I'm fine, sir."
"Don't be ridiculous."
Toby helped her settle back on the couch. "Can I offer you something to drink, sir?"
"What have you got?" he asked.
"There's some soda. Probably beer," Toby responded.
"Something in a can."
"Don't be silly. I can make coffee," Mrs. Cregg offered.
"Cans are better, Mrs. Cregg," Toby said. "If it's sealed, the Secret Service doesn't insist on testing it."
Mrs. Cregg held a hand to her mouth. "Oh my."
Toby smiled and looked at the floor. "Oh my, indeed."
"We'll take whatever you have in the refrigerator, Toby," Mrs. Bartlet said. "Let me help you in the kitchen."
"Toby'll be fine," CJ said.
Mrs. Bartlet smiled at her. "No, I insist. Come along, Toby." He made a small whimper as he got up off the couch and followed her.
"How's your love life, Toby?" she asked quietly as they opened cans of diet soda.
"May I speak freely, Ma'am?"
"When haven't you?" she laughed.
"If only you knew. I'm exhausted, Mrs. Bartlet. So is CJ. We were just sitting through another blow-by-blow of yesterday's lunch, counting the seconds until we can get to bed."
"Yes, well, the President did tell Mrs. Cregg you two have a very physical relationship," she continued to laugh.
"I really thought you'd be more help than this," Toby said, setting the cans of soda on a tray he'd pulled from the top of the refrigerator. "You never struck me as one who would enjoy torture." He heard the President and Mrs. Cregg laughing in the other room.
"Is it torture spending time with CJ?"
"Of course not. That's not what I meant and you know it," he said sharply.
"I suggest you change your tone of voice, Toby."
"Ma'am," he added, more quietly. "Of course I don't mind. That's not the issue."
She laughed again. "Toby, when are you just going to admit you've fallen in love with her?"
He dropped one of the cans to the floor. "That one will be for the President." The First Lady laughed even harder.
"Nice avoidance technique, Toby. Answer my question."
"What question would that be, Ma'am?"
"When are you going to admit to CJ-to yourself, for that matter-that you've fallen in love with her?"
"I don't know what you're talking about." He continued to arrange and re-arrange cans, glasses and ice, but refused to meet her gaze.
"Why not?" she asked. "What if she feels the same way about you?"
"How are you so sure?"
"She hasn't said anything."
"For being in communications, the two of you don't seem to do it very well," she said. "Let me make this easier for you. You tell her or I will." With that she walked out of the kitchen. Toby had no choice but to follow her back in to the center ring.
"Gee, thanks, Toby, but we really should go," the President said, standing and helping his wife with her coat. "We just wanted to stop by. I'll see you both on Monday."
"Walk us to the elevator, Toby," the First Lady suggested.
"Of course," Toby said.
"I'll come too," CJ said. "Mother, please get my crutches." She began to push herself to the edge of the couch, but a wave of exhaustion overcame her. "On second thought..."
"Stay there, CJ. Presidential order. Toby?"
"Yes, sir." He followed the couple and the Secret Service to the elevator. "Now, my wife wanted us to stop tonight. I trust she told you what she so desperately needed to?"
"I believe so, sir."
"Good. Take the weekend and come back to work Monday. I expect things to be back to normal-if not better."
"Yes, sir." The elevator door slid open. "Thank you, Mr. President. Ma'am."
"You have until Monday, Toby. Or I'll do it for you," Mrs. Bartlett said as the doors began to close.
To be continued...