TITLE: Through This Dark Night
AUTHOR: Morgan email@example.com
SUMMARY: In the aftermath of the shooting.
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.
Through This Dark Night - Epilogue
(Three days later)
Toby paused before entering Josh's hospital room, through the window he could see that CJ was sitting at Josh's bedside, she appeared to be reading him an article from the Washington Post and judging by Josh's smiles and grimaces he was findiing it hysterical.
Toby hadn't seen or spoken to CJ since they'd left the White House three days before - but she had been on his mind a great deal. He'd complied with the President's instructions not to come to work, he had simply taken his laptop and all the files he needed home with him. He'd kept in touch with the people standing in for him and the others, speaking to them frequently throughout the day. In fact they were probably sick to death of hearing from him - he'd never been very good at letting go of things.
He didn't know whether CJ was working from home or not; they hadn't discussed her plans after she'd briefed the press following the President's statement. He'd heard on the grapevine that she'd spent some time with Danny and had then got annoyed with himself because he found the information disturbing. It had occurred to him that he was simply jealous, a notion he'd dismissed airly, because after all he wasn't planning to make any changes to his relationship with CJ.
He'd started to dial her number countless times over the last few days - never quite having the courage to allow the phone to start ringing. He wanted to ask her if she was sleeping yet, to talk to her about the fact that the statement she'd delivered in the hours after the shooting had swept around the world; that her words and her expressions had been watched by hundreds of millions of people. That she had been the first symbol that they were still in charge.
He hadn't known that CJ was going to be here tonight, in fact he'd come to visit Sam, only to find he'd been discharged a few hours earlier. This was good news, Leo had been released the previous evening and so now only Josh remained in hospital, and he was making a rapid recovery - well, as long as CJ didn't set him back by making him laugh too much.
'CJ, if he bursts his stiches or does himself some other damage you can explain how it happened,' Toby said walking into the room. He glanced over her shoulder and saw the article that had been the source of their amusement. 'Ah, now I understand - watching both the gun lobby and the extreme right try to distance themselves from the shooting has been my sole form of entertainment over the last few days.'
'This is the moment to get some tougher legislation through,' Josh pointed out
'You don't need to think about that at the moment,' Toby replied quietly, unwilling to admit that he'd already thought about it and put out some feelers.
'Toby, we both know that if our positions were reversed I'd have started putting together the bill by now.' CJ turned in her chair so that she could look at Toby,
'You've started work already?' He shrank back from her gaze, fidgeting uncomfortably at her attention.
'CJ,' he wanted to try and explain that he'd needed to do something, that he couldn't just sit at home and reflect upon what had happened to them.
'You should have called me, I would have helped, sitting around at home has been driving me mad.'
CJ watched Toby's expression change and realised that he'd been expecting her to criticize him, when in fact she envied him his ability to find a practical outlet for the feelings she had been struggling with over the last three days.
She'd been thinking about him a lot, wondering if he was OK, wanting to talk to him yet lacking the confidence to pick up the phone. She had found herself trying to work out what had changed between them, it had become very important to her to determine if their closeness had been a sudden by product of the shooting, or if the conditions had existed beforehand and they'd simply been too caught up, too busy to notice. There were no real answers to her questions and she was starting to wonder if her speculation was simply a way of avoiding acting on her feelings.
She could have sent Danny away when he'd appeared at her door yesterday, but she hadn't. Talking to him was easy and comfortable and fun and even when they disagreed, even when they outright fought, it was like playing a game she was more or less in control of. There was nothing that manageable in her interaction with Toby, everything was intense and demandng and she seldom thought she had an advantage over him.
'Is there anything I can do for you Josh?' Toby asked, remembering belatedly that he was visiting him.
'I don't think so,' Josh looked at his two companions and then said 'actually there is. When Sam came by earlier, I got him to take Donna and Mandy home; they were both exhausted. Claudia Jean you don't look much better. Take her home Toby,' CJ began to protest, but before she got very far Josh had a better idea. 'You know what, its Saturday night. Toby you should take CJ out to dinner or a movie or something. We can't allow her to spend Saturday night with a TV dinner.'
'Excuse me?' Toby was completely bewildered and he could see that CJ was equally speechless at the suggestion. Josh was clearly still a little groggy, otherwise he would have picked up on the confused looks they were throwing each other.
'Oh, come on guys. Its food and a movie, its not like a date or anything. What?'
The very last thing that CJ wanted was for Josh to start wondering if there was something going on between her and Toby that he should be interested in. She got to her feet and collected her coat and bag.
'All right Joshua, we're going and don't think I haven't realised that you're getting rid of us so you can exercise what passes for your charm on a certain Doctor.'
'I don't know what you mean,' Josh failed to sound either innocent or contrite, 'she is attractive, isn't she?' He added with a wink.
'You're impossible,' CJ pressed a quick kiss onto his forehead, 'I'll be back tomorrow, try to behave.'
'He seems better,' Toby remarked as they walked towards the elevator together.
'He gets tired easily; I'm worried that he'll push himslef, to get back to work.'
'Afraid he'll miss something?'
'How are you doing?' He asked, struggling to ignore how awkward it suddenly felt to ask her that.
'OK, I guess, I want to get back to work, doing nothing isn't helping, having time to think hasn't helped.'
'I know,' looking at him she could tell he meant that, that he too had faced questions he couldn't answer over the last few days. 'CJ, if you're tired you should just go home, we don't actually need to go to dinner...well, you know what I mean.'
The realisation was a sudden one, an abrupt burst of understanding that took her completely by surprise. He was shy, she was making him nervous. What a wonderful surge of power, what a miraculous tilt of the Universe to put them on an equal footing.
'Toby; don't you want to go out to dinner, or to a movie?'
'Do you want to?'
'I don't particularly want to go to a movie,' she frowned, 'well not unless we can find a movie that doesn't have guns or violence in it - and I'm not sure we'd agree about what to see.'
'I'm quite sure we wouldn't agree about a movie. How about dinner?'
'I don't know, maybe.' She'd pushed his buttons effectively, as his reaction proved.
'Its only dinner CJ,' he pointed out peevishly, 'its not a date or anything.'
'Isn't it?' She stopped walking and looked directly at him, challenging him to say something.
'What if it were?' he asked slowly, carefully.
'If it were I'd say you were doing a lousey job of asking me out. This was Josh's idea and, so far, I'm the one that's doing most of the talking.'
'I asked you if you wanted to go to a movie!'
'You said it wasn't a date.'
'All right, yes, I did say that. I didn't think that you would actually consider going out, on a date, with me. But now you seem to be indicating that you aren't absolutely adverse to the idea. Is that correct?' She didn't smile, but it was possible that she smirked a little.
'Let me see if I understand your question properly. You're asking me if you were to ask me out, on a date, which you aren't at present, would I accept?'
'Why don't you ask me and find out?'
'CJ,' he growled at her with irritation, but she folded her arms and stood her ground.
'Ask the question.' For a moment she thought he was going to walk away, that she'd pushed him too far and she was a little relieved that she wouldn't have to deal with this, perhaps she would always regret failing to take this path but...
'CJ, would you care to have dinner with me tonight, in a restuarant somewhere, where everyone will stare at us and the food will be overpriced?'
OK - well, he'd asked and now she really was going to have to answer. Whatever she decided now it was going to be her fault, no way she could blame Toby for being cautious when he'd taken the risk and she was the one considering playing it safe.
'Pick me up in an hour.'