TITLE: "These Are Days"
AUTHOR: Luna (lunavudu@a...)
ARCHIVE: Please ask. Soon it'll be at
SUMMARY: See the signs and know their meaning.
NOTES: They're Aaron's, and he's blessed and lucky. Props to Natalie
Merchant for the title. Exorbitant props to Jess.

These Are Days

"Opening day," Leo said cheerfully.

Toby followed him into his office. "Yeah."

"Have you been watching?"

"I had Budget all afternoon," Toby reminded him. "We should discuss--"

Leo circled his desk and sat down. "Hundredth anniversary of the American
League, you know that?"

"Yeah. Listen."

"I still don't understand why they're playing in Puerto Rico."

"Leo." Toby drummed his fingers on the back of a chair, exasperated. "I
want to know what's happening here."

The weary lines on Leo's brow deepened. "You'll know what you need to know
when you need it."

"If there's something seriously--"

Sam coughed politely in the doorway. "Am I interrupting something?"

"No," Leo said. "What do you need?"

"I just wanted to borrow Toby for some input on the Correspondents Dinner

Toby did not turn to look at him. "In a minute."

"I am interrupting something."

"We're just talking about baseball," Leo told him.

Sam groaned mildly. "Six months out of every year, I might as well be
wearing crepe."

Leo stared at him. "Get out of here."

"Okay," he said amiably, and vanished into the hall.

"What are you doing at work on a Sunday anyway?" Leo asked.

"Trying to figure out--"

"You have better things to do."

"Not really."

Leo fixed him with a steady look. "You know what I like about baseball?"

Toby shrugged. "Watching the Red Sox get whomped year in and year out?"

"The pitcher and the catcher. And shut up."

"The pitcher and the catcher?" Toby repeated.

"Yeah. The catcher has to know exactly what the pitcher's doing. Without a
word spoken between them, the catcher has to pick up on it. But the catcher
can't make it obvious, what he knows, or he gives it away, and the pitcher
has to do something different. It hurts the team."

"Much as I'm enjoying this extended metaphor--"

"What, you and the President are the only ones who get to tell stories around
here?" Leo put on his glasses and reached for a piece of paper. "Go home.
The other things can wait."

He looked uncomfortable. "I don't want there to be a compromising position
here, Leo."

"I'm aware of that. I'm just saying, there's not a lot the catcher doesn't
know. Go home."

Toby started for the door. "It's gonna be a long season," he muttered.

Leo called after him. "Toby?"

He turned around. "Yeah?"

"I'm going to tell you something I've told you before. Bear in mind that I
wouldn't say this if it wasn't serious."


He looked up from his desk again. "Don't screw up."

Toby held his gaze for a moment, nodded slowly, and left. Some hours later,
the words recurred to him, and he reached across his bed for the remote

"What are you doing?" C.J. asked, as his arm passed over her shoulders.

"Do you know what today is?"

"April Fool's Day. Josh had me convinced I worked all morning with coffee
down the front of my shirt."

"That's not what I was talking about."

"Spring forward, fall back?"

"Opening day." Toby flipped the television on to Headline News. "I didn't
see the score yet."

C.J. looked up from his copy of 'The New Yorker'. "This is funny."


"Usually I'm the one watching CNN in bed."

He hid a slight smile under his beard. "Welcome to baseball season."

"I'm used to being asked to turn the damn thing off, in fact."

"Well, it's not as if I'm watching the three A.M. showing of SportsCenter."

"But you will be."

"One of these days," he conceded.

She yawned softly. "That's okay. I'll sleep through it. I sleep heavier
than you."


"You haven't slept much this week," she pointed out. "If I ask you what's
going on...."

Toby ran his hands over his face. "I don't know enough to answer that."

"Okay." C.J. took a deep breath and released it slowly. "One of these days
we ought to get to a game."

"You and me?"

She cracked a smile. "You see anyone else in here?"

"You've never expressed any kind of interest in baseball. Speaking of which,
I missed the score. Thank you."

"I do the best I can. Toronto beat Texas."

He turned his head and looked at her. "What?"

"Toronto beat Texas. I had it on in my office."

"You did."

"I'm a woman of many splendors," she informed him, sitting up. "I knew you'd
be watching it. So I figured it's time I broadened my horizons and learned
the basics."

"Yeah." Toby dropped the remote and reached for her. "So what do you know?"

She let her arms slide around his neck. "I know there's a diamond."

"Three bases and home."

Her mouth was close to his. "I know what a home run is, and a pop fly."

"And a strike, and a ball, and an out."

"And a pitcher, and a catcher."

He drew back slightly. "That too."

"Toby?" She studied his face. "What's going on?"

"I'll tell you," he promised. "When I know."


"One of these days."



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