OK - so I've had the opening line in my head for 2 days. Voyager fans will recognise it - almost. (I swiped it from Death Wish) It refused to go away - and to my ear it sounded like Toby. So, there you go.
TITLE: In Dreams
AUTHOR: Morgan firstname.lastname@example.org
SUMMARY: Toby is dreaming - probably.
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
I'm having a very strange dream.
In this dream I'm outdoors, and that by the way is how I know I'm dreaming, since there's no way in hell I'd be outdoors right now for real. I've always been firmly of the opinion that weather and wildlife should be classified as a spectator sport.
So anyway, I'm having this dream, which is odd because I feel completely awake. I'm conscious of everything - the sun on my skin, the murmur of voices from passers by, the sounds the jogger's feet make as they hit the ground and the distant calls of the skullers. Like I said it all feels incredibly real.
Except, and here's the thing, this is how I know for absolute certain that I am dreaming, I'm not alone. I am sitting on a park bench, holding onto an almost empty cup of coffee with one hand, looking out at green stuff, while my other hand is using a piece of my companion's hair to tickle her cheek.
She's trying to ignore me, but not really succeeding. She keeps making impatient noises about trying to read the paper, but her heart isn't in it and her attempts to swat my hand away are decidedly half hearted. Besides, she's lying with her head resting on my knees and in this dream I know very well that this is an invitation to touch her.
This is a really great dream, apart from the whole being outdoors aspect of course. I'm not at all anxious to wake up right now, there's no incentive for me to go back to thinking about mid-term elections, gun control legislation or any of that stuff. I never have dreams this good about any of that.
The dream version of Toby Ziegler has great taste in women as well - not to mention that at some point he must have got incredibley lucky, because the woman with her head on knees and her legs stretched out across the remainder of the park bench is CJ Cregg. How did he do it?
Did he sweep her off her feet with a combination of his intellect, wit and great charm? Was it his passionate convictions, his use of language that charmed her? Had she taken matters into her own hands and made the first move herself? Did they both finally recognised an attraction they had been skating around the edges off for years and decided to investigate it? Or, had my dream self simply summoned her up? Because, after all, in the world of the subconscious anything is possible - including apparently recognising the feelings I've had for her for a while now.
Anyway - regardless of any of these factors, in the dream she is here, using my legs as a pillow, as she lies - in public I might add, reading the Washington Post. I wonder distractedly, what should concern me more. That the Press Secretary to the President is openly reading the Post in public, or that we are sitting here, demonstrating a level of intimacy that would leave few questions about our relationship unanswered. I suppose the answer is that since this is a dream there is no reason for me to worry about either. I may decide never to wake up, being outdoors for the rest of my life would be a small price to pay if I could carry on dreaming like this.
Her hair looks lighter, the strands turning red and gold in the afternoon sunshine. She's discarded her jacket at some point and undone a couple of buttons at the neck of her shirt. The skin there is tantalising, soft and smooth to the touch, although its odd that I know this. Amazing isn't it, how in dreams these details are all somehow sorted out? She sighs contentedly and looks up at me with a decidedly amused expression.
'Are you bored?' she askes - and although I want to tell her that sitting here with her could never, would never bore me I know that even though this is a dream that's not what my reply is going to be.
'I'm sure its been longer than half an hour CJ - you definitely said we wouldn't be out here for longer than thirty minutes.'
'Its been twenty minutes,' she replies firmly, 'we still have ten minutes to go.'
'Yes - thank you CJ, I can actually do the math. Although I think that your minutes last longer than mine - are you sure your watch is working correctly?' I know I sound irritated and I can't help but wonder if she realises that I don't really mean it. Apparently the dream CJ is very perceptive because her response is to pull a face at me before she pushes herself up into a sitting position and puts her arms around my neck.
'You're funny, you know that.'
This is now an incredible dream, I'm terrified that I'm going to wake up and the whole thing will be ruined. I look into her eyes seeing amusement and affection there. She feels, well, real as I encircle her with my arms, I run my hand along her back, almost as though I know how sensitive she is there, another great detail courtesy of the dream realm and in response she arches her neck.
In my dream I'm not very good at resisting temptation. She makes as incredible sound as my lips find another sensitive spot. Her breath catches in her throat and she moans a little. Its a wonderful moment.
'Can you believe we're doing this in the open air?' she asks some time later.
'No, I can't believe you managed to persuade me to eat lunch outside.'
'I'm very persuasive,' she whispers and my heart thuds noisily in my chest because in that split second she is alluring and sexy and funny all rolled into one. That's it, I've decided, I'm staying right here in this dream. The Bartlet administration will just have to do without me, it will be tough for them at first, but they'll get through it. I'm not budging - ever. 'We can start heading back now if you like.'
'OK,' I try not to sound too pleased at this concession and know that I'm failing miserably. CJ uncurls herself from me, pulls on her jacket, folds her newspaper and stands up. I am suddenly convinced that I am just about to wake up - the idea terrifies me, because when it happens all of this will be gone.
'Toby?' She extends her hand to me and I take it as I start to stand up. 'You OK? You look miles away.'
'I'm fine.' I look at her as we stand together, our hands clasped and the realisation hits me. My voice is hoarse as I ask, 'this isn't a dream, is it? This is real?' She laughs delightedly as though I have just said the funniest thing she has ever heard. As much as I enjoy the sound of her laughter I'm embarrassed to have been the cause of such amusement, I've made myself sound stupid and I hate that.
'Hey,' she says as I start to turn away, pulling me back to her, 'this is very real. What makes you think it might not be?'
'It was the only explanation I could come up with for how I got to be so lucky.'
'Really? The only explanation.' She shakes her head at me, and then smiles gently, 'you know for a smart guy, you can sometimes be pretty dumb. I'm right here Toby, completely real, if you don't believe that now you take a hell of a lot of convincing.' And I do believe her - almost entirely. But its not until she steps into my arms and kisses me rapidly on the lips, steps back, straightens her suit and says, 'I have a briefing in an hour and you have a speech to write - remember?' That I am completely convinced.
Dreams are good. I have no doubt about that. Reality, in this case, is infinitely better.