See all the pertinent information in Part 1.

CJ noticed it right away as she walked down the hall to her office. There was something oppressive in the air. She hoped it wasn't true, but she had a pretty good idea of what or rather who it was.

Toby had assured her before she left for California that he and everything would be just fine. He hadn't wanted her to change her plans. Against her better judgement she had gone. Although she had seen her Dad and family after the Stackhouse Filibuster, that trip had been too short. Toby wasn't about to let CJ give up seven days with her family. Not on his account at least.

She didn't stay the whole week.

Everything had been fine the first few days. She had enjoyed the California sunshine, frivolous shopping with her siblings, having heart to hearts with her Dad. One day Dad was shooting the kids a disapproving look when they were too rambunctious in the house.

"Really, you kids are WAY old enough to know better! Calm down or take it outside!"

As they started to walk towards the yard, CJ guiltily snuck a peek at him. Was he really mad? She felt warmth in her heart watching him seated in his favorite chair fighting with the newspaper. They both flinched when her brother slammed the back screen door a little too hard. "Sorry!" was yelled out louder than the slamming door...and then...Dad began to chuckle softly.

It had reminded her of all the times she had caught Toby smiling in his beard or laughing after watching Sam and Josh do something particularly stupid. She remembered him in the back of the pressroom giving her an encouraging nod when she had to spin a particularly difficult story. Her mind went to images of Toby waving his hands while talking to Leo, who nodded in agreement as he listened intently. She began to smile seeing those moments when Toby cringed and then smirked at hearing the President change the words of his perfectly written speech.

That night the first nightmare came to her. It was so vivid. There was a crisis and nobody knew what to do. She, Sam, Josh and Leo tried their best but could not help the President. Wasn't there anybody who could? In her mind, a name had nagged but she couldn't remember it.

"TOBY!" she cried out sitting bolt upright in bed. As she calmed down she began to laugh nervously. This comes from listening to him the other day. There is nothing wrong, it's just his and my imagination.

But that feeling of being off balance did not go away the next day. Nor did the darkening circles under her eyes. If her Dad had noticed, which he did, he didn't mention it. Throughout the day there were plenty of distractions to keep her mind occupied. Night time...dream time...was the problem. Again she woke suddenly crying out Toby's name. This time, however, the bedroom door creaked open.

"Claudy? Are you okay?"

"Come in Dad, I'm fine." She turned on the nightstand light.

Her father shot her a skeptical look. "Claudia Jean Cregg, if Toby Ziegler is in some kind of trouble, you will march yourself on to a plane first thing tomorrow!"

She blinked at him in surprise. He sighed and sat on the edge of the bed. "I know you think it's silly, but often times your dreams are trying tell you something, honey." She chilled as the words echoed Toby's earlier sentiments.

She began to fuss with her hands nervously. "Dad, do you think we can call the airlines NOW?"

So, here she stood in front of Carol. At first, Carol had been surprised, and then, if CJ didn't know better Carol seemed relieved. She hadn't known that Carol had been debating whether to call her in California or not.

Now it was a moot point.

"CJ! You're here! Let me take your things. Did you come straight from the airport? You should have you should check-in with Toby."

"Carol? What's going on?"

"Huh? You the better person to answer that question," Carol said, not looking at CJ, as she put her things in the office.

"Okay." CJ turned and walked towards the Communications Director's Office. She could see him as she neared his door. Something wasn't right. She silently and stealthly padded into the room. He hadn't looked up.

"Toby?" Gaunt and ghostly bloodshot eyes looked into her bright and shocked ones.

"CJ?" She had caught him by surprise.

She pursed her lips, closed her eyes into betrayed slits and yelled, "YOU BASTARD!" and ran from the room.

Toby dropped his head to the desk. "Oh God, just kill me now."

CJ rushed blindly through the halls, tears streaming from her face. That was it! The Enforcer was taking over. Toby Ziegler was going to know her wrath and she was going to have help. She decided in a split second, like the supreme strategist that she is, that the "big guns" were now called for. She made her way into the East Wing.

"Lily Mays? When is the First Lady expected back?"

"Right now," came a voice from behind.

CJ looked up into the eyes of Abbey Bartlet.

Slowly they stepped closer to each other and grinned conspiratorially.

They both knew, in that instant, that this was just going to be...oh... so...GOOD.

Crack the Whip - 9



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