All pertinent information is found in Part 1.

Part 3

His mantra was, "keep moving, don't look at anybody. Keep moving, don't
look at anybody," He made his way through the halls of the West Wing as
fast as he could. Out of the corner of his eye, Toby caught glimpses of
surprised staffers. It's not often that this particular member of the
Senior Staff would come to work in jeans and a T-shirt. Certainly no
Senior Staff member would wear house slippers. Toby didn't care...well he
did...if certain co-workers caught him, there would just be no end to the

He started to slow down as he got closer to the Communications Bullpen.
Cautiously he peeked into Bonnie and Ginger's area. Good, they had
already left for his house. He called them about 10 minutes before
asking if they could go get his copy of "Birth of a Nation." They
grudgingly agreed to go together, since he suggested they could go out
to lunch after, his treat. It would take his assistants quite a while
to find a book that didn't exist.

He stepped into the Bullpen and nervously glanced around. A quick look
through Sam's window confirmed his office was empty. Sam would probably
be in environmentalist meetings until noon. Toby had about an hour to
get his things.

He quickly went into his own office. Toby was about to shut the door
and close the blinds but thought better of it. That would draw
suspicion and he wouldn't be able to hear anyone coming. He stepped
around his desk and quickly began to pack his laptop. Next he gathered
files...California Energy Crisis, Public Education Initiative, Copyright
Law Infringement...that should keep him occupied for a while. Toby
longingly took one last look around his domain. He began to head out
the door, but hesitated for a moment. He scanned the room looking for
the familiar objects. Where were they? He looked under the remaining
papers on his desk. He pushed aside the pictures on the credenza. He
checked behind the TV on the bookshelf. Puzzled, Toby glanced around
the room again. A comforting splash of pink sat on the coffee table. He
stepped closer only to realize it wasn't a ball.

It was a plant crowned with a cluster of small pink flowers.

African Violets to be exact.

He recognized them because his mother lovingly cared for the ones she
kept in the kitchen window. She always said that African Violets loved
the steam from the hot water faucet.

Taking one more cautionary glance out the door, Toby put his work down
on the ground and sat on the coffee table. Tentatively, he poked at the
edge of a leaf, then at one of the flowers. It was soft, velvety and
easily gave way to the pressure. He looked as his finger. Nope, no
"leaf cut" here. It had sounded like such a good excuse at the time.

"Step away from the plant."

Toby jumped up from the table and promptly tripped over his things on
the floor. Two sets of strong hands grabbed him before he fell on his
butt. When he was sure of his balance, his eyes slid shut. "Oh
no...please don't let it be..." Toby opened his eyes again, right into the
grinning faces of Josh and Sam.

For a moment the three eyed each other in surprise. Josh gave Toby the
once over just to be sure he was okay. Josh thought Toby looked fine,
until he caught a glimpse of his feet. Josh's mouth gaped as he tried
to nudge Sam. The younger man caught Josh's glance down at the house
slippers. Sam ended up with the same disbelieving gape on his own face.
Before either could comment Toby rolled his eyes and thought what the

"Josh, Sam, where are my balls?"


Two Weeks - 4




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