This is not the sequel to Past Tense. Its a bit of fluff that popped into my mind and refused to leave. Its a snippet from CJ and Toby's relationship.
TITLE: Collision Course
AUTHOR: Morgan firstname.lastname@example.org
SUMMARY: A decisive moment in CJ's relationship with Toby.
DISCLAIMER: The West Wing belongs to NBC et al. I'm not quite sure why I'm doing this, I just am - but its for entertainment purposes only - no disrespect is intended.
Collision Course - part 1
'I can tell you're annoyed with me.' Toby Ziegler said cautiously, regretting how trite the comment sounded as soon as the words had left his mouth. CJ paused in the act of unpacking her suitcase and looked up at the man leaning on the door frame. He ws trying to look contrite, she had to grant him that much.
'Oh really - what makes you think I'm annoyed with you?' Toby paused, recognising the warning signs, he tried to tread carefully.
'Well, I'll admit its an assumption, but I'm basing that assumption on the fact that you've barely spoken two words to me since we left Washigton.'
'How astute of you.' He took a step into the room, irrevocably committed to placating the woman who was his colleague, friend and lover.
'Its been six months Toby, we sneak around, we don't go out together in public and when I try to discuss this with you you tell me you need some more time. When exactly were you planning to let people know about us?'
'Sometime after President Bartlet's second term is over.' Was his initial response - and it was only half in jest. This was a discussion they'd had before; more than once in fact. It was the discussion they had been having several hours earlier, before leaving for Chicago. 'I just need a littel more time. When people find out about us there will be all these jokes and...'
'So, your reticence is about you not wanting to be the victim of jokes? Thanks a lot Toby. I'm glad you're taking this relationship seriously.'
'I am taking it seriously, extremely seriously in fact. That's exactly why I'm being so cautious. You agreed that we should be discrete.'
CJ sighed, running her hand through her hair in frustration. She couldn't fault his logic, and she had agreed with him at the time. It was just that things weren't that simple anymore.
'I still agree that we should be discrete, but there's a huge difference between being discrete and being downright secretive. I don't want our friends and colleagues to find out about us by reading something in a gossip column, and neither do you,' she added, anticipating his response.
'If that happens you can tell them it was all my fault.'
'Oh, believe me I will.' He smiled, in spite of himself and took a few steps closer to her.
'And don't use that voice on my Ziegler, it has no effect, you aren't going to get around me.' They both knew that wasn't true.
'Oh really?' He slid his arms around her waist, lips finding a certain spot on her neck. 'I enjoy trying.'
'I'm still mad at you,' she said although she leant back against him and tilted her head so his lips could wander more effectively. 'I feel like we're a dirty secret, something to be ashamed of.'
'I am not ashamed of us and I'm sorry if I give you that impression. I just need some more time, I want to find the right moment to tell them. You know the moment they do find out I'm going to get all these lectures about treating you properly.'
'And you should pay attention,' she slipped out of his arms and went back to unpacking, 'because quite frankly I don't think you're doing that good a job.'
'Is there anything I can say right now to stop you being angry with me?' Toby asked hopefully.
'I don't think so.'
'OK. Well, its going to be an interesting evening, I'm looking forward to this party even more than usual.'
'You have no one to blame for that but yourself - you could have had a good evening, you could have had an excellent night. I had some plans for us tonight, but they're impossible now - because you're too worried about someone catching us.'
She watched his body language for his reaction, she was getting very skilled at reading him and she knew that his feigned disinterest was the absolute opposite of what he was feeling. In fact it was hard not to smile as he flicked at his tie, shuffled his feet and said,
'What kind of plans?' All without looking at her.
'I didn't feel like sleeping alone tonight. I was going to creep into you room and spend the night with you, I even slipped an outfit into your luggage so I wouldn't have to come back to my room to get dressed tomorrow morning. I thought being seen in my evening dress at breakfast time might draw attention to my nocturnal wanderings and that wouldn't be particularly discrete.'
'You're sure that wasn't just a ploy to get me to carry some of your luggage?' She nailed him with a look and didn't even dignify his comment with a response. Instead she picked up a towel and headed for the bathroom.
'You need to leave now, I want to have a long soak in the bath before I get changed, and I don't want people to get the wrong idea about our level of intimacy.' Reluctantly Toby faced the fact that this discussion had not rectified the situation.
'Can I have some estimate of how long you're likely to be annoyed with me?'
'How long is a piece of string?' She said airliy, retreating into the bathroom and firmly closing the door. He took that as a dismissal and wandered unhappily out of her room, he paused in the corridor thinking about what she had said, wondering how he was going to sort this out.
'Toby? Everything all right?' Sam asked, emerging from his room and finding his boss looking more depressed than usual.
'Yes - why?'
'Because you know, you look, well - miserable really.'
'Miserable? You think I'm miserable? Why would that be? Tonight is my absolute idea of hell and just to top that I've screwed up...' he shook his head, running out of energy. 'Nevermind Sam. Nevermind.'
To Be Continued