"I can't believe this is my last day here!" Katie said, walking into the West Wing with C.J. for the last time.

"I know -- God, I'm going to miss having you around here! Everyone else here will too, you know that?"

"The people here are so great. I'm going to miss them. I have to go say goodbye to everyone."

"Okay. Meet me in my office in about an hour an a half, all right? Your flight is at 11:10."

"Okay." Katie walked in the opposite direction down the hallway with purposeful strides. She did want to say goodbye to all her new friends, but there was one person she had in mind specifically.

"Sam?"

He looked up immediately. "Hey, Katie. This is your last day, isn't it?"

"Yeah. I almost don't want to go back."

"Washington in winter, California in winter, I can see how you would be torn."

"Well, it's tough. Listen, I have a favor to ask of you."

Sam looked interested. "All right."

"First you have to promise never to tell anyone I told you about this. I wasn't sworn to secrecy or anything, but it was pretty much understood that it's confidential stuff."

"I promise."

"Okay." She closed his door and sat on the edge of his desk. "Now let's just say you knew two people who were absolutely made for each other, and they both want to be together, but they're both so stubborn and untrusting that they won't actually do anything about it. Wouldn't you want to do something to help them along?"

"Sure." Suddenly he realized. "Hey -- you're not talking about your sister and Toby, are you?"

"Yes! How did you know?"

"I've seen them together! I saw them together at the President's birthday party the other night and a whole bunch of times before that, but no one believed there was anything to it."

"Good, I'm not crazy. Will you help me?"

"I'll try, but I don't know what you think the two of us can do."

"I was thinking if you could just talk to Toby -- I mean, not directly, but..."

"Because," Sam interrupted, "you know that'll scare him and make him clam up."

"I figured. I don't know, if you just alluded to it somehow, plant the idea in his mind that he needs to do something...."

"You know what, I know exactly what I can say."

"Really?"

"Leave it to me, I've got it covered."

"Sam, I can't thank you enough."

"No problem, this takes care of my good turn for the day."

She laughed. "What, were you a Boy Scout, Sam?"

"I was an Eagle Scout, thank you very much."

*****

Toby went to C.J.'s office to talk to her and found it empty. "Carol?"

The secretary entered. "Yeah?"

"Do you know where C.J. is?"

She looked at him like he was crazy. "She's doing her morning briefing."

"Oh. Just started?"

"Yeah."

"Okay."

"Do you want me to tell her you wanted to see her?"

"No, forget about it."

*****

"Hey, Toby." Sam walked into his office.

"Sam I'm really pretty busy here."

"Working on the final draft of the President's speech?"

"Yeah."

"You aren't putting anything about the education bill in there, are you?"

"No -- Sam, why the hell would we talk about some stupid battle we're having with Republican Senators in a speech to the President of France?"

"Because you're upset about it and that's something you tend to do when you're upset about things."

"I'm really not that upset about it."

"Well, maybe you could put something in there."

"Sam, are you on something right now? I swear to God, I have serious work to do."

"Hear me out. Something like -- you know, just as a parallel -- the future of a country and its citizens should not be subject to petty little arguments, petty little doubts that each side holds, when both parties know that if they just got it through -- the bill, I mean -- everyone would be better off. If both parties could figure out a way to work together and understand each other, just stop fighting with each other for the sake of fighting, they'd probably see that when it really comes down to it, they have the same view of the issue. That being that nothing is more important than the future, and we only have a short time to ensure the future will be what we want it to be. The two parties are never going to agree on exactly how this should be done, but at least get into a room and talk and a lot would get accomplished. That was kinda meandering; don't quote me verbatim."

"Well thank you, Sam."

"Are you going to use any of that?"

"No."

"Okay. Can I just ask --"

"Because it's irrelevant, pointless, inane..."

"Okay, point taken. But you see what I'm getting at here, Toby?"

Toby looked up and really looked Sam in the eye for the first time. He couldn't be sure if Sam knew what was going on between him and C.J., but it sure seemed like it. In any case, it reminded him of her and what he knew he had to do -- of course, everything seemed to remind him that morning. But Sam made it seem more urgent somehow. "Yeah, I know."

"This is big, Toby. Don't screw it up."

"Yeah."

"'Cause, you know, the State Department's really particular about these toasts." Sam flashed him one last smile and, certain he had done his job, left.

Toby only waited a moment before he set out again for C.J.'s office, with renewed purpose. But again he found it empty. Carol anticipated his question this time and told him C.J. had left for the airport with Katie. It was just as well. His doubts had began to lessen, but there was still one more thing he had to deal with before he had any right to tell C.J. everything he was thinking.

*****

"Well, I guess this is it." Katie shifted her carry-on bag to the other shoulder as she stood in the airport with C.J.

"I guess so." C.J. smiled sadly. "This week went by so fast."

"Well, it only seemed that way because you spent half your time with Toby and not with me." The remark seemed to hurt her sister's feelings, and Katie added quickly, "I'm kidding. I just hope it was time well spent and everything works out for the two of you."

The woman's voice came over the speaker informing the passengers it was their last chance to board the plane.

"Oh, I've got to go. But listen, call me tomorrow morning."

"Katie, I'm going to call you tonight as soon as you get back home!"

"No you won't. You're going to be busy tonight."

"What are you talking about?" C.J. asked, puzzled.

"You'll see." Katie hugged her before she could question her more. "I'm going to miss you!"

"I'll miss you more! Oh, I don't want to let you get on that plane. You have to come back over the summer or for a quick weekend soon. Phone calls are not enough."

"I'll be back soon," she assured her sister as she started moving towards the gate. "Or you come visit me, if you ever get a weekend free."

"That's a big if!"

"Oh, and when you do, Claude, bring Toby with you!" Katie disappeared from sight before she could answer. C.J. stood there for a minute in silence and then walked away with a confused smile on her face.

*****

"C.J." Carol met her as she returned to the West Wing. "Toby wants to talk to you."

"About what?"

"I don't know, but he's been driving me crazy all morning."

"Is he in his office?"

"No, Ginger told me he went to see his ex-wife off at the airport. He was probably hoping he would catch you there."

"I don't understand --"

"Neither do I, but he's asked me where you were at least five times today. So talk to him as soon as he gets back, will you?"

"Okay." She went into her office, even more confused, wondering what Toby could have to say that was so important, and wondering if it had anything to do with the strange way Katie had been acting.

*****

"So,"Diane started, waiting for her flight to board, "you gonna take off your ring now?"

Toby smirked at her. "You gonna change your name now?"

"They're not exactly the same thing."

"Why not?"

"My maiden name is ridiculous."

"Diane Weimerskirch, I always thought that had a nice ring to it," he laughed.

"So, what are you going to do now?"

"Well, I've got a lot of work to do so I'm headed back to the West Wing --"

"You know what I mean."

"What am I going to do now?"

"About C.J."

"Well I'm going to... I don't know."

"I'll tell you what you're gonna do. Your plan was pretty good."

"Head back to the West Wing?"

"Yeah, go back to the West Wing," she said, smiling. "March right into her office, sweep her off her feet, tell her you love her and live happily ever after."

"Diane --"

"What? She makes you happy, Toby."

"You made me happy. That's no guarantee of anything."

"Toby, what you have with C.J.... it's not the same thing. As much as I hate to admit it, you were never that happy with me."

"Diane..."

"I can see it, Toby. Maybe you don't realize it yet, but I see it. Everytime she walks into a room, when someone mentions her name, when you were telling me about her yesterday -- you just light up. You never looked at me like that."

"I did."

"No, you didn't. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to make you feel bad about what we were. I'm trying to make you feel good about what you two are."

"I've been trying all morning to do exactly what you're telling me to do. Good thing I haven't been able to find her because I have a feeling I'd chicken out if I did."

"Why?"

"Because it's not as easy as you think it is, Diane."

"Well, why not?"

"Because--"

"Because you're still carrying around the past? Toby, what are you going to do, carry around this secret love you have for two women and be alone for the rest of your life? Not even you, Toby Ziegler, are strong enough to live for three people at once. So I'm getting out. From now on, all you have to worry about is you. And C.J." He still looked unconvinced, and didn't respond. She looked deep into his eyes and said, "Didn't you ever think that maybe loving me was just an extension of loving C.J.?"

A huge weight seemed to lift off his shoulders as he realized what she was saying was true. "Yeah."

She smiled at him. "Yeah. So what are you going to do now?"

"I'm going back to the West Wing."

"That's what I thought."

"You're amazing, you know that? Thank you."

"You know, I always thought that I would want you to suffer. But when I saw how much you really were --"

"Oh, believe me, I'll suffer."

"Well, if C.J.'s anything like me at all."

They laughed, and then held each other in a warm embrace. It felt good to finally be in a place of real friendship. "I love you, you know," he whispered in her ear.

"I love you too." She pulled away and gave him one last look. "I better go."

"Take care."

"Good luck."

*****

Toby was almost running through the West Wing when he got back, and he didn't notice the staffers staring at him as he passed them. He was focused single-mindedly and he couldn't wait a second more than was absolutely necessary to do what he needed to do. This time when he reached C.J.'s office he found her sitting at her desk. In his excitement he slammed the door behind him, causing C.J. to jump. He strode over to her desk.

"C.J., I have to tell you something."

"Yeah, Carol told me. Stop harrassing my secretary."

"All right, but right now I have to tell you something." He hit her desk with one hand for emphasis.

She looked down at it, surprised. "You're not wearing your ring."

He smiled. "No, I'm not."

"You're not wearing your ring!" She stood up, excited. "What does that mean?"

"I'm trying to tell you what that means, if you would just --"

"Wait, maybe this isn't the time for this."

"No, C.J. --"

"I mean we agreed that we can't afford to not do this right."

"C.J., I've been wanting to say this for over three years, I've been ready to say it all day, I've been trying to track you down so I could just say it -- so help me God, C.J., if I don't say this right now --"

Their faces were inches apart. She whispered, "say it."

"I love you!"

"I love you too!"

Their faces moved closer together, their eyes closed, their lips almost touched -- then Toby pulled away suddenly. "You know," he said, "when I finally took the ring off, I found that I really liked wearing it. And I sort of miss it now."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. And I was hoping that maybe some day I could put another one on my finger."

They both grinned as he pulled her close again again, hesitating for a moment to search each other's eyes, finally finding there everything they had sought for years -- and sealed it with a kiss.

THE END

 

 

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