Crack the Whip - 15


All pertinent information is located in Part 1.

Abbey was still facing away from Toby, when she straightened and stood stiffly. Oh my...this was going to be harder than she originally thought. Toby wasn't going to be a pushover, like her lovable clown. When she finally turned around her eyebrows quirked in disbelief, as she placed her hands on her hips in that high noon gunslinger stance she was so fond of.

"Excuse me?" She cocked her head. "What was that again, Toby? I might be wrong, but I think I just heard you speak to the First Lady of the Untied States in a less than respectful manner. Now...I'll let it slide this time since we are, after all, dealing with some unusual circumstances..."

"Is that what you're calling it...unusual?" Toby snorted mimicking her stance. What the hell...just like in a bad cowboy gunfight, he might as well go out "in a blaze of glory."

Abbey pursed her lips as anger flashed hotly in her eyes. She began to reassess her opinion that he was slightly smarter than the "other boys."

"What do you want me to call it? Monumentally insane...ridiculously stupid...outrageously disastrous?"

"Well, that would be a very small step in the direction of the truth, don't you think Mrs. Bartlet?" Toby retorted, knowing that Abbey considered their relationship beyond the need for formality.

"Truth? You want truth, Toby?"

"It would be a welcome change, ma am."

"All's MY truth...why don't we call this *thing*...insidious...
frightening...terrifying...dispairing...heartbreaking..." She let out a strangled gasp as she struggled through the last word. She covered her eyes and began to cry.

Toby could have kicked himself. He was such an insensitive, selfish, bastard. Of course, how blind and stupid could he be? She had been suffering through the President's illness all this time, just as much, and in some ways, even more. It had to be an unbearable burden to be the doctor of someone you dearly love. To know the prognosis of his illness in clinical detail. To know what the future might not hold even if you had all the hope in the world. Yet Abbey Bartlet, with full disclosure, handled herself with bravery and grace. She obviously had what it took to support her husband through his personal crisis. Toby dropped his head in shame. He obviously was not cut from the same cloth.

He moved around the desk and stepped close to her. Hesitantly, he reached his arms around Abbey. She flinched away from his touch and continued to sob. The movement hurt Toby to his soul and he pulled away slightly. He deserved her disdain. Cautiously he reached for her again. This time, Abbey settled herself into Toby's comforting embrace. He began to rock her gently. After Abbey seemed to quiet a bit, Toby pulled back and searched her face.

"I'm a blithering idiot."

"Yes, you are."

"I...I'm sorry."

"As you should be, but not as sorry as I am." His forehead furrowed in confusion, as she continued. "First, for my husband's decision not tell, secondly for his decision to tell you in such a hurtful way."

"I seem to remember I gave as good as got that night," Toby admitted sheepishly.

Abbey began to laugh, until she started to cough.

Toby pulled away and gently patted her on the back.

"Toby...cough...cough...could you please get me some water."

"Of course, I'll be right back." Toby looked at her once more, before deciding it would be all right to make his way down the hall to the water cooler.

Still coughing a bit, Abbey quickly went to Toby's laptop and opened it. He didn't have the chance to shut it off. The screensaver powered off and suddenly his words flickered onto the bright screen. What was she doing? Was she insane? This is such an invasion of privacy. The words "unusual circumstances" came to her mind. She began to scan, keeping a watchful eye for his return. She skimmed his beautiful words and suddenly took a sharp intake of breath.

" is therefore, with the deepest regret, that I tend my resignation. I have only the highest regard for President Bartlet and this Administration. I wish to extend my sincerest best wishes to all who will remain to serve at the pleasure of President and the People."

Abbey was too shocked to notice.

"I really had no idea that you were just as deceiving as your husband." Toby glared disapprovingly at her.

As he looked up from putting the water on the coffee table, Abbey Bartlet had quietly stalked over to him. He was surprised by how fast she moved. Abbey's features hardened, her pupils going dark and flinty. He didn't see it coming. When asked later, she couldn't recall doing it.



Crack the Whip - 16



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