TITLE: Missing Curfew
AUTHOR: Not Jenny
DISCLAIMER: WW & all of its genius belong to Aaron Sorkin... I'm just
playing around with all of this & I'm not making any money off of it, so
please don't sue me (for the whole $3.95 in my bank account at the moment)
SPOILERS: anything through 'The Leadership Breakfast' is fair game
SUMMARY: Toby has a date...
So here's the thing:
No one told me that love could be so treacherous, so completely underhanded
as to send Mr. Wrong after you time and time again- to have him do
something as completely adorable and unexpected as buying you a goldfish-
while Mr. Right sits in his office down the hall, seemingly oblivious to
the fact that you're even a woman.
So how was I ever expected to know how he felt? I'm not a mind-reader,
I mean, sure, I caught him looking at me every so often- maybe that should
have been a clue. And the way he asked me, seconds after my briefing the
night of the shooting, about the fact that I kept touching my neck. And
maybe I should have been more attentive to the fact that he behaved like a
jealous schoolboy every time he and Danny were in a room together. But,
hey, I had my own problems. Life can't just stop for Toby Ziegler and his
damned emotional retardation. Is it my fault that he, intellectual giant
though he may be, has the emotional IQ of a thirteen-year old boy?
Not that I'm much better, of course. I mean, look how long it took me to
kiss Danny. And even then, he had to take charge of the situation because
I was too nervous. Let's face it, if Toby has the emotional IQ of a
thirteen-year old boy, then I have the IQ of an eleven-year old girl (since
girls do, after all, mature faster than boys). So it's probably best that
nothing ever happened between us. We would've gotten as far as
hand-holding and asking Josh to deliver notes between meetings before
falling completely apart.
Of course, none of this is making me feel any better about the fact that
I'm sitting here alone in my office, at midnight on a Friday, while he's
out on a date. Nothing, short of discovering that he's actually on a date
with a republican female impersonator, could do that. And even then, I'd
probably still be sitting here waiting for him. Just to be sure that
As it is, I'm not quite sure what I hope to accomplish by treating him the
way my parents treated me when I was sixteen and prone to breaking curfew.
My midnight vigil can only end in disaster, and yet I can't seem to force
myself to go home. I'm a fool- that's the only explanation. Whether or
not he shows up is beyond the point. I mean, suppose he does show up, what
am I expecting to accomplish with this little ambush? To prove to him how
little I trust him? Or maybe that I'm an insane stalker who refuses to let
him live his own life? Yeah, that'll regain his undying love. And if he
doesn't show? I mean, Josh and Sam did secretly stash a box of condoms in
Toby's briefcase, just in case.
Oh God, what if "just in case" is happening right now?
Ugh, I can't think about it, I refuse to let that particularly heinous
image invade my mind. Toby may not be in his office, but that's definitely
not the reason why. They're probably just having a late dinner after the
symphony. The restaurant's just busy with the post-Kennedy Center crowd,
and that's why they're still eating at... 12:21 am. Besides, I'm sure he
wouldn't sleep with her so soon. They only met a week ago, and this is
their first date. He'd at least wait until the second date, right?
Anyway, he's in love with me- just ask anyone.
He just has to be.
Maybe I should try calling him at home, just in case he's decided to break
with tradition and actually attempt to get some sleep tonight. It's
possible that he had such a horrible time with the she-witch that he can't
possibly get any work done without smoking a nice cigar, drinking some of
his good scotch, and getting a few hours sleep.
Then again, this being Toby, he probably just brought some work home with
him. He's sitting in his living room right now, finishing up the
President's speech on the latest incarnation of the Violence Against Women
Act of 1994. He'll be back in the office in the morning, and everything
will be okay. We'll argue about the necessity of reparations for rape
victims, sneak glances at one another at Staff, and he'll never go out with
Ms. Republican Female Impersonator again.
So I'll just read one more thing, then I'll go home and try to get a few
hours of sleep before I have to be back here in the morning. Calling him
would be a mistake, an admission of feelings I've only just discovered,
and, more than that, it would piss him off. He hates to be interrupted
while he's working. So, as soon as I finish reading this very important
article about the economic ramifications of candle making in Norway- which
is not, I repeat NOT, merely an excuse to stay in the office on the off
chance he may still show up- I'll pack up and go home.
"I'll just give him another half hour. I mean, this article could come up
at tomorrow's briefing, and I'd hate to be caught off guard."
Shit. He had to show up while I'm talking to the fish.
"-Who are you talking to? As far as I can tell, you're the only one in
there, which would lead me to believe that you've finally gone over the
edge. You really need to get a life."
"Why, thank you, Dr. Freud, for the insightful analysis. Just bill me for
the session, and I'll be on my way."
OK, now all I have to do is pack up my stuff, grab my coat, and get the
hell out of here without caving in to my overwhelming desire to ask him
about his date from hell. Shouldn't be too hard- I'm a grown woman, after
all, a professional...
"So how was your date?"
"I mean, you don't have to tell me or anything. I was just wondering. I
mean, most people don't come in to the office after a date, and I thought
maybe something happened, so if you need someone to talk to, or vent at, or
anything, I mean... well, I'm here, is all, and I won't tell anyone else-
unless you want me to- so you can trust me. And I'll shut up now."
"Good. Because, honestly, that was painful. In fact, it was possibly the
most horrific mangling of the English language I've ever heard. And that
includes every speech Sam's ever written and Josh after he's had a few
Great. Not only does he think I've completely lost my mind, but now he
thinks I've lost my grasp on rudimentary English grammar. And maybe I
have, but how could anyone honestly expect me to form a coherent sentence
with him giving me that puppy dog look of his? I'm only human, after all.
I need a witty comeback, something to make him feel as small and
insignificant as I have all evening. Something to convince him that I have
not- contrary to all evidence to the contrary- turned into some crazy
Josh-Sam hybrid monster. But, since I'm at a loss for a sarcastic quip for
perhaps the first time in my life, I'll just try to end this tortuous
conversation as gracefully as possible.
"You could've just said that you didn't want to talk about it. I can
a hint, after all."
"I'll remember that for the next time."
WAIT!?!?! Next time?!?! There's going to be a next time?!?! He's going
to go out on a second date with a republican female impersonator who's
obviously only using him to get near enough to the president for an
assassination attempt?!?! I need to get out of here before I do something
really stupid. First step, start breathing. Good. Okay, now I just need
to grab these papers- check- stick them in my briefcase- check check- grab
my coat- check check check- and stride purposefully by him on my way out
"-well, goodnight Toby. See you tomorrow."
There has to be a way to avoid work this morning. It is Saturday, after
all, a day that most normal people spend at home, dusting or baking or
doing whatever it is normal people do on a day off. It's sad, but I can
barely remember how I used to spend my weekends before taking this job.
But I'm sure I could find a productive way to pass my time if only I could
convince Leo to let me play hooky. Unfortunately, we were specifically
warned yesterday at staff meeting that today is not an optional work day.
Either we show up or we find a new job.
Maybe I can go back to LA- I'll even try to care about the film industry
and all its pettiness this time around. I will read Variety and The
Hollywood Reporter religiously. I will suck up to Pamela Anderson and the
producers of every teeny-bopper soap opera currently playing on the WB if
only I can avoid facing Toby after last night. I will...
... never forget the look of sheer horror that crossed his face after I
asked him about his date. And the confusion that followed that. He
couldn't meet my eye, and his forehead crinkled up in that way it does
whenever Josh goes off on one of his tangents. He fidgeted.
Relentlessly. Toby is not a man who scares easily, but he looked petrified
for the entire duration of our disastrous confrontation.
His sigh of relief echoed through the hall as I made my escape.
And in exactly 30 minutes we will be forced to sit amicably in a room
together by the sadistic quizmaster known as the President of the United
States. That is, if I ever get up the courage to get out of my car.
"CJ? Whatcha doing in there?"
Well, it looks like I've been caught. I should've known that eventually
someone was going to notice me, but did it have to be Josh? He'll never
let me live this down.
"Thinking, Joshua." Right. "Now don't you have someone else to
He's got that smug thing going on with his voice, that 'I know you're
hiding something & I won't give up until I know all the details & I've
sure everyone in the White House knows them as well' thing that he thinks
is charming but is actually quite irritating, especially when I'm on the
receiving end of it.
"Donna, perhaps? I'm sure she could use a little of your Lyman charm right
now. Or Sam? I'm sure someone's in there, right now, just praying that
you'll brighten their life with your presence. Shouldn't you grant them
just that little piece of happiness?"
"I guess they'll just have to suffer. Sorry, but you're stuck with
"Well, I guess that's my cue to run to my office as fast as humanly
possible, so I can lock the door before you catch up with me. I always
knew there was an upside to being so tall."
"Seriously, CJ, I need to ask you something-"
*There he is.*
I know Josh is still talking, probably droning on about Donna and her
latest "local gomer" boyfriend, but I am honestly not paying a bit of
attention. I'm far too absorbed in watching Toby exit his car and head
over to the elevators.
"-so should I tell her he's only using her or let her figure it out for
herself? Because the last time I told her what I thought of one of her
dates, she nearly killed me, and-"
"Josh, as much as I'd love to sit here and listen to you ramble on about
your assistant's lack of taste in men, I really do have a job to get to.
As do you, for that manner. This isn't high school, and we really do have
more important things to do with our time than spread rumors about each
others' love lives. So tell her, don't tell her- I really don't care. In
fact, what you really need to do- what we all need to do- is face up to the
fact that anyone in this building lucky enough to get a date deserves more
than our idle busy-bodying. So I don't want to hear anymore about Donna's
loser girlfriends or Sam's escapades with Mallory or Toby's hot Friday
night flings. OK?"
Maybe that was too much.
It's all Josh's fault, anyway. If he hadn't expressed his surprise that
Toby had finally gotten over me, I would never have discovered the extent
of my feelings for him. I could have lived out the rest of my life in
ignorant bliss. But, no, Mr. Big Mouth just had to open his trap- never
mind that it's sent my world reeling.
But I need to stop obsessing over this and get to work. And since my
little tirade has shut him up for the moment, I'm going to make my escape
before he realizes what's hit him. I'll just add him to the ever-growing
list of people I've managed to alienate in the last twelve hours and
apologize some time in the distant future.
Maybe I'll print out some sort of form letter.
OK, so apparently someone forgot to forward me the memo declaring today
"National Pick On CJ Day." Staff Meeting started out alright, if you
disregard the fact that Toby avoided looking even in my general direction
the entire time. Which I can't, by the way, but that's just me. But
everything fell apart with just eight little words.
"CJ, Toby- work together on this one, OK?"
Sometimes, I could just kill Leo.
And Josh, who just happened to smirk at the precise moment Leo condemned me
to a level of Hell even Dante couldn't have imagined.
And Sam, who noticed Josh's smirk and winked at him.
And Toby, who still won't look at me.
*Look at me. Please, just once, look at me.*
"Hmmm..." Not even a glance. He just keeps staring at his notes.
"I'll meet you in my office after the morning briefing, so we can get
started on this."
"I've decided to forgive you for this morning."
"Josh, what in the name of everything holy are you talking about? I did
nothing to you this morning."
Besides convince you of my complete and utter insanity, that is. But no
way am I going to be the one to mention it first.
"You glared at me, CJ."
"For no reason, I might add, but I've decided to forgive you anyway,
because that's the kind of guy I am."
He's just staring at me, trying to work the ole' Lyman charm, I'm sure.
"Joshua? Is there anything else you need? Cause if there's not, I do have
a lot of work to do."
"It's just that I heard Toby had a good time last night, and I wanted to
know if you're OK."
He can be one of the most irritating people on Earth, but Josh really is a
sweetheart. A busybody, but a sweetheart.
"I'm fine. Really, Josh. And as much as I'd love to sit here and gossip
with you about Toby's love life, I can't right now. So scoot, because I'm
sure he's on his way over right now, and I need to..."
He smirked. Again. For the second time today, he's smirking at the idea
of Toby and I working together.
Josh Lyman is definitely up to something.
"What? You need to what, exactly? Fix your makeup?"
"Prepare, Joshua, prepare. You know, try to figure out something
intelligent to say about the topic at hand so I don't look like an entire
ignoramus when he gets here."
"Ignoramus, huh? Worried about whether or not he'll respect you in the
"Get out Josh."
"Fine. See ya later."
If I didn't know any better, I would say he's singing something under his
breath. In fact, it sounds a lot like he's singing that kissing song- the
one that goes "someone & someone sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G..." And
the names in question sound remarkably like "CJ & Toby."
I really do need to get a life.
He'll be here any minute now, and I still don't know what to do. My heart
is screaming for me to just tell him the truth, to utter the three scariest
words in the English language. *I love you.* How hard could it be? It's
only three little words- I give press conferences everyday with much more
challenging language. And yet, somehow I know that nothing I say on that
podium could ever affect my life as irrevocably as those so-called 'little'
Maybe I should just brief the press on my situation and leave it to the
Washington Post to pass the news on to Toby. Yeah. I'm sure Danny would
be just thrilled to declare my undying love of another man for me.
Or maybe I could let it slip to Josh. The news would get to Toby in
seconds, and I'd finally be rid of this horrifying secret.
The problem with these plans, and any plan I could ever come up with, of
course, is that I know myself too well. I know Toby too well. He'd
confront me, I'd deny everything, and we'd go back to the way things are.
Only I'd be the one avoiding eye contact in staff meetings, and our
friendship will have been destroyed in the process. Because no way in hell
would we be able to have a civil conversation after that. Not that we're
being particularly civil now, but still...
"CJ, you ready to work on this?"
Huh? He really has to stop sneaking up on me.
"Toby. Umm, yeah, just give me a second to organize my paperwork."
I should say something. Anything, really. I just can't seem to find the
words. I thought we might be able to ignore the events of last night long
enough to get our work done; now I know better. We are perfectly capable
of standing here in awkward silence for the better part of eternity. And
until we at least convince ourselves that nothing out of the ordinary
occurred last night, neither of us will be able to concentrate on anything
even remotely work-related. I, for one, am currently unable to concentrate
on anything besides the fact that he still hasn't looked me in the eyes.
On the fact that he seems to be making meaningful eye contact with
everything in my office besides me. Even Gail.
And maybe I'm paranoid, but he seems to be glancing in the direction of
Josh's office far too often for my peace of mind.
"I want to apologize for last night."
"I'm sorry about last night."
"I was cruel. Deliberately. And I apologize."
"I accept. Let's get started on-"
"You asked me about my date. Why?"
This is a surprise. Completely and utterly unexpected. First he
apologizes, something that Toby Ziegler almost never does. Even after he
pulled rank on me during that leadership breakfast fiasco he never once
said he was sorry. So why now? And then to ask me about last night? This
whole conversation is entirely surreal.
Yet somehow, with one simple word, he's managed to force me to make the
decision I've been obsessing over all day. Do I tell him the truth, that
I'm jealous, that I've somehow managed to fall in love with him just as
he's getting over me? Or do I try to shrug it off, make it into something
simple and definable?
Right. Simple and definable it is. Wouldn't want to mess with our now
perfect track record of hiding our true feelings.
"It's not important. You were right. You said I have no life, and you
were right. I guess I'm just trying to live vicariously through my friends
who are dating."
"I'm not- So that's the only reason you asked?"
"So let's get back to work."
And that's when it hits me.
"You're not what, Toby?"
"You're not what?"
"Earlier, you said 'I'm not,' then didn't complete the
thought. So I'm
just wondering, what exactly is it that you're not doing?"
The truth is, I really don't expect him to answer this one honestly. Not
that I can really blame him, of course- I haven't been particularly
forthright with him either. But now I think I've gained somewhat of an
advantage, and I mean to use it.
See, he's nervous. Not upset, mad, homicidal, or any of the other horrific
scenarios I've dreamt up over the last couple of hours. He's not planning
to send me to the funny farm, nor has he recommended my termination to
Leo. I just can't believe I didn't see it before.
He's scared. As petrified as I am, in fact, and suddenly I need to know
why. Because something in the way he's been alternating between staring at
my shoes and Josh's office has given me an idea. And if I'm right- well,
let's just say that I'm going to be a very happy woman. A very happy
But first I need to find out if I'm right.
*I just have to be right.*
"So? Ziegler, you're not being particularly eloquent here. I think the
very least you could do is come up with a plausible reason to avoid
answering my question. Although I personally happen to think I deserve an
He's fixing his eyes on Josh's office like it's a life line.
"And the answer's not in Josh's office, so you can stop looking for it
"I... I just don't want to get into all of this right now, that's all.
That's all I was saying."
"We need to finish this statement by two, so really do need to get started
"Fine. How's this?
'President and Mrs. Bartlet are thrilled, blah
blah, blah, and hope to someday blow up the entire
press corps in order to express their undying
gratitude to their talented and lovely press secretary,
This was a prank assignment, Toby. The president himself couldn't mess
this one up. There is no reason whatsoever for both of us to be working on
a throwaway statement on a complete non-issue. No one cares about this, no
one will ever care about this, and not even Danny would be crazy enough to
ask about it. There's only one person who could ever have convinced Leo to
give us this lame-brained assignment."
"JOSH!!!!! Get in here now!"
"CJ, this could show up at your next briefing. Remember the green beans."
"I do. And in the end we decided they were not important. Sure, it took
us far too long to come to that momentous decision, but still,... and
you're not going to get me off track here Toby. Joshua 'From here on in to
be known as Dolly Levi' Lyman, if you're not in here in five seconds I'm
going to tell the president you need a lesson in the finer aspects of
autumn foliage! Leaf peeping, Josh!"
Five, four, three, and there he is.
"Hey there, Joshy boy."
And now to catch my prey.
The two men standing in my office at this precise moment look like they're
about to wet their pants. Now, these are grown men, mind you, both of
whom have been compared to bulldogs, pit bulls, and a variety of other
ferocious canine species at various times throughout their professional
careers, and yet they're cowering in the doorway of my office as if I'm
about to dropkick them into a fjord.
*They look like I've felt for the last 24 hours.*
Payback's a bitch, boys.
"Josh, since Toby won't answer any of my questions, maybe you can enlighten
me about a few small details regarding last night. Now, if I recall
correctly, you've mentioned, on a number of different occasions in fact, an
alleged date that Toby was to take part in last evening. Is that correct?"
"CJ, let me explain..."
"Is that or is that not correct Josh?"
"Technically, using the strictest possible interpretation of the terms in
question, it's possible-"
"A simple yes or no will suffice."
"What was that? I'm not quite sure Toby could hear you."
Now I know that Toby has heard every mumbled word to leave Josh's mouth;
the frantic looks passing between the two of them are evidence enough of
that. It's just that I want to savor this moment. I've spent the last 24
hours reliving high school traumas I'd really rather forget, and it's nice
to finally be back in charge of my emotions.
And the situation, for that matter.
"Good. Now, Toby, did you or did you not have a date last night? And
please try to bear in mind that this is a simple 'yes or no' question, and
don't try to confuse the situation with legalese or a call to return to
Uh oh. He's got that smug look on his face; he's not taking my question
seriously. He's going to try to be cute about this.
"Well... Could you define the term 'date,' please? Because it really
be construed in a number of ways, and I'd really hate-"
"A date, Toby. Two people- specifically, you and some female individual I
have yet to meet- going out socially - in this case to the symphony and
dinner- to enjoy each others company and get to know each other better.
And stop being such a smartass."
"In that case, no."
"Hmm, what was that?"
"I said no, CJ. I was not out on a date last night. In fact, I was about
as far from having a date as is humanly possible. I was watching the game
with Josh. We had pizza and beer, and then I came into the office to
finish a little paperwork, which is when you so rudely accosted me, by the
"See, that wasn't so hard, now was it?"
"Why did you accost me?"
He really has the most amazing eyes. Words can't describe the way I feel
just looking into them. Drowning. No, that isn't it. Flying isn't right,
either. It's euphoric. It's this amazing combination of simultaneously
losing and finding myself, and, honestly, I could stay here, just gazing
into his eyes, forever.
Unfortunately, we're not alone, and Josh has chosen right now to remind us
of his rather unwelcome presence. To be fair, he's done so by attempting
to leave unnoticed and accidentally backing into the door, but then again,
who really cares?
Besides, I'll have to get rid of him before Toby and I can really confront
all of this. I may love Josh like a brother, but that doesn't mean he gets
to know *all* my secrets.
"Josh, if I were you, I'd take this opportunity to ran as far and fast as
you can away from here before CJ finds something to hit you with. I'll
Hit? Me? Never. OK, so maybe I'll occasionally knock one of my boys
upside the head with a file, but that's only when they really deserve it.
"Serves you right for not leaving when Toby gave you the chance."
"Shut up Toby. You don't get to talk now. And Josh, we'll definitely be
discussing this later. Ad nauseum. And just when you think we can't
possibly discuss it anymore, we will. Believe me. But right now, Toby and
I need some privacy. So scoot, before I come to my senses and really hurt
"Because I could, Josh."
I didn't think he could move that fast. Those jogging meetings with Hoynes
must be doing him some good after all.
Of course, now that Toby and I are actually alone, I'm starting to miss
Josh's nervous presence. Maybe I should call him back, force him to stand
in the corner as some sort of perverse punishment. You know, something
along the lines of 'you tried to push us together, now you get to
experience the fallout.' Actually, I just need someone else here to keep
me from throwing myself into Toby's arms without getting some sort of
explanation about all of this.
"Can I talk now?"
"So why did you accost me last night?"
"Why did Josh say you were on a date?"
No way am I confessing anything until I know his precise role in last
night's melodrama. In particular, I need to find out how much he knew.
And when he knew it. Because although I don't think this was his idea-
it's been pretty painful for him too- I can't quite forget that he didn't
seem particularly surprised to hear that Josh told me he was on a date last
night. So we can just stand here in silence until hell freezes over, or
he can answer me. I'm open to either option at the moment, although I'd
really rather he just tell me the truth.
Now I just need to find a way to ignore the fact that he's currently gazing
into my soul. The fact that he's suddenly granted me access to his. And
the fact that his thumb is hypnotically grazing my cheek, softly brushing
away imaginary tears.
"Josh thinks I might have some sort of crush on you."
"He thinks you might reciprocate these alleged feelings."
"He decided we needed a push in the right direction, and he somehow
convinced himself that he was the man to do it. He explained his entire
sordid plan to me this morning after staff meeting. I swear that was the
first I heard of any of this. He thought if you got jealous enough, it
might force us to confront the issue, or something to that effect. I
really stopped paying attention after he mentioned that you might have
feelings for me. And no."
"My feelings- they're not just alleged, they're-"
He really is an amazing kisser. We should have done this much sooner.
"I was jealous. Last night, when Josh told me- I was jealous. I thought
you should know."
He's just standing there, staring at me.
"You kissed me."
"So how exactly do you want to punish Josh? Cause I was thinking that he's
been in denial about his feelings for Donna for way too long, and maybe we
should do something about that."
"Just OK? No evil, machiavellian plan of your own? Not-"
We really should stop talking so much; conversation just seems to get us
Besides, kissing is much more fun.
2 years later- the spring after Bartlet's reelection
So here's the thing:
No one told me that love could be so treacherous, so completely underhanded
as to send a complete nitwit as my own personal Cupid. But I'm glad,
because I never would have believed them.
And love may be treacherous, and it is *definitely* underhanded, but it's
also exceedingly smart. Because only a nitwit like you could ever have
brought Toby & I together. So thanks, mi compadre.
That said, there are a few things we need to get straight.
First, about tomorrow. I want my "man of honor" to be bright and alert, so
nothing to drink tonight, OK? Not even one teensy tiny little beer. You
have a delicate system, Josh- don't forget that.
Think of it this way: stay sober tonight and Donna may even let you have a
sip of champagne at the reception tomorrow. I won't make any promises, but
if you're really good, I'll put in a word with her for you.
Another thing: the rings. I know that's technically Sam's job- he being
Toby's best man and all- but I'd really appreciate you just double checking
that he has them tomorrow. Between the two of you, they might even make it
to the ceremony. Nothing too obvious, of course: maybe you could just ask
to see them or something? I know you can be underhanded & devious when you
need to be: use that.
Because if *anything* goes wrong, I will blame you, my friend. You & no
one else. Because this is all your fault to begin with. Not that I'm
complaining, of course, but still...
And Josh? Have I ever told you how much I love you? Not just for this- I
think I've expressed my thanks quite adequately by setting you up with
Donna- but for *you*. You really are a brother to me.
Whether or not I always want it.
And you'd better not be looking all smug tomorrow after reading this.
Because I will not hesitate to slap you upside the head with my bouquet at
any point during the ceremony that you get obnoxious & brother-like.
And then you & Sam really will have to dance together, in your official
capacities as best man & "man of honor," instead of getting to dance with
Donna and Ainsley.
P.S. So what do you think about joining forces to get Leo a date?