OK - so part 2, still not taking this very seriously. Thanks to Claire for wrinkling her nose and laughing at certain points.
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 2
Toby leaned against the bar, nursing his drink and gazing moodily at the group of people chatting and mingling before the party really got started. This wasn't how he wanted to spend the evening, he hadn't wanted to be here before, but now he was praying for a legitimate excuse to be somewhere else. He wasn't asking for much, just a small to medium sized crisis that would effectively demand his attention for the next six or seven hours - long enough for this nightmare to be well and truly over. Unfortunately no passing deities seemed to be paying attention to his request; he was stuck here.
'There are two dozen red roses in my hotel room,' a soft voice said from behind him, 'there was no card, I was wondering if you knew anything about that?'
He turned and found CJ standing just behind him, she looked stunning, but what he really noticed was her smile. It was impossible not to hope that his gesture had gone some way towards persuading her to forgive him. As he struggled for the right thing to say she continued,
'Thank you for the flowers Toby; I love them.'
'You're welcome. You look very beautiful tonight.' CJ glanced away, making sure that no one was watching them, she stretched out her hand and grasped his briefly. An acknowledgement of his compliment, but also an indication that they were on better terms than earlier.
'I'm afraid it's difficult to keep a gift like that secret - there's going to be some speculation,' she warned.
'I don't care. I sent them because I wanted you to know that I was sorry.' CJ opened her mouth to point out that he had retained enough forethought not to put his name on the card, but then decided against it, she had no wish to revisit that argument three times in the same day. And the roses were beautiful.
'We're calling a ceasefire,' she said, 'I hate fighting with you.'
'I notice that hasn't stopped you from doing it.'
'Well, let's face it, you're a monumental pain Toby, fighting with you is essential - otherwise you'd be even more impossible than you are now.'
'So, its for my own good?'
'Absolutely.' She laughed and saw him smile in response, 'Toby,' she leaned towards him, ready to discuss how and when they were going to celebrate their truce, only to be interrupted by Josh, who slapped Toby on the back as he joined them and asked jovially,
'What are you two conspiring about?'
'I was just asking Toby if he had any ideas who my flowers might be from.' CJ said calmly, meeting Toby's eyes for a moment, long enough for him to get the impression that she was more than a little amused at the prospect of joining in the speculation about who might have sent her the flowers.
'Ah yes, your secret admirer. Do you have any theories Toby?'
'I really haven't thought about it,' he replied, 'I don't actually care that much.' CJs lips twitched imperceptibly, but she suppressed the urge to laugh and wondered how Josh could possibly miss the playful tone in Toby's voice. But he was apparently quite oblivious.
'Well, I've been doing a bit of investigating myself. The front desk wouldn't tell me who had sent the flowers, but they did confirm that the order came from a guest. So, whoever it is, he's staying here, its probably someone at the party. Come on CJ, you must have some clue?'
'I really don't have the slightest idea.'
'What about the mystery man you've been seeing? The one you won't introduce us to?' Out of the corner of her eye CJ saw Toby begin to react and then stop himself. It was perfectly clear to her that Josh was fishing and hopefully it was clear to Toby as well.
'What mystery man?' She replied innocently.
'You know - the one you've rushing home to, the one who's been the cause of your very pleased with yourself look most mornings. You've been very relaxed recently Claudia Jean, don't tell me that your not getting...'
'You're impossible,' she interrupted, 'will you stop speculating about my private life!'
'Everyone is talking about it - you should see the roses Toby, they're beautiful, long stem, perfect, obviously very expensive.'
'What do I care?' Toby asked, actually enjoying playing the part of someone who thought this whole conversation was a waste of his time.
'What are you all doing?' Leo asked, suddenly appearing beside them. 'You're supposed to be working, this isn't a social event. Josh, Senator Baker wants to talk to you, don't annoy him. CJ, the press? Remember them? Toby - the President would like to speak to you about his speech, apparently he's had some ideas about opening remarks.'
Four hours later CJ, Toby and Sam were strolling slowly along the corridor together. Sam was babbling about how well the party had gone, how successful the President's speech had been, how fortunate it was that they'd been to persuade him to stick to the remarks they'd written for him. Toby and CJ weren't really paying that much attention, they were busy exchanging glances, shoulders brushing together as they walked, smiling quietly to themselves at the growing feeling of intimacy.
CJ was almost surprised when they stopped walking, but they'd reached Sam's room and he was still repeating the gist of a conversation he had with one of the guests. She leant against the wall and watched Toby for a while, she still wasn't sure how she'd got in so deep so fast. She'd gone from being surprised and flattered that he'd asked her to have dinner with him six months ago to considering him an important part of her life.
'Sam,' she said quietly but firmly, reminding both men of her presence, 'this can wait until the morning - can't it?'
'Yes, but...' Sam looked from CJ to Toby and back again, 'is somethig wrong, I mean what's..?' he was picking up on something in the air between them without really knowing what.
'I just need to talk to Toby for a while. Goodnight Sam.' For a moment he looked as though he was planning to ask some more questions - but then he obviously thought better of it.
When the door had closed behind him CJ and Toby resumed their slow walk, the silence not exactly comfortable until she said, only half seriously.
'So, here we are, alone at last.'
'Sam probably thinks we're arguing about something right now.' Toby commented, glancing across at her, trying to work out what was coming next - knowing he wasn't even going to be close.
'I'm not very interested in what Sam thinks right now.' OK - so that wasn't the right subject, he tried again.
'It has been a very long night, I really didn't want to compete for your attention with 130 other people.'
'For the next six hours you can have me all to yourself if you like.' He glanced across at her; watching the way she was holding herself, surprised that she seemed to be ready for him to reject her. Did she really not understand that on a daily basis he half expected her to come to her senses and tell him to get the hell out of her life?
'I thought that offer was off the table?'
'Well, blame it on the roses and your many charms.'
'OK.' He stopped walking and looked back at her, 'I have many charms?'
'I didn't say you don't hide them well.'
Toby slipped the key card into the lock and pushed open the door, he reached for CJs hand and led her into his room.
'OK - so what I think we need to do is start at the beginning and go through these "many charms" one by one - maybe a cover them a couple of times, just to be thorough.' Her reaction was almost predictable, as she pushed the door closed with her foot CJ laughed, 'I love making you laugh,' he said.
To Be Continued