TITLE: "Turkeys and Margarita Machines"
RATING: My characters don't say anything they haven't said on the show...
SUMMARY: A woman from Toby's past arrives in D.C., just in time for the
holiday.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Okay, first of all I know a Thanksgiving story is kind of
out of season, but when I was on the set I had this idea for a Thanksgiving
thing because of this ridiculous fake picture they've got hanging on the
set of Bartlet with a turkey (look for it on the show--it's in almost
everyone's office and you can often see it). Second, I also know that
<SPOILER ALERT!> we're about to find out that Toby's wife isn't dead, but I
already had this idea, so oh well. This story takes place at Thanksgiving
of this year, so it's basically set seven months in the future.
DISCLAIMER: The West Wing and its characters are the property of Aaron
Sorkin, Warner Brothers Television and NBC. No copyright infringement or
disrespect is intended.

"Turkeys and Margarita Machines"


Monday, Nov. 20
9:35 A.M.

"Explain it to me again," Toby said with a sigh, rubbing his eyes to ward
off the headache he could feel coming on. "Why doesn't the President eat
the turkey?"

"Because it would inflame animal rights activists, not to mention be
distressing to children and just downright tacky," C.J. answered. They were
in her office, bickering over the annual presidential Thanksgiving
tradition.

"But the National Turkey Federation presents the turkey to the President
for his Thanksgiving dinner?" Toby asked.

"Yes."

"And then the President has to give the turkey a Presidential Pardon?"

"So to speak"

"So they can send it off to a farm where it will supposedly live happily
ever after?"

"Right."

"But isn't the White House kitchen just going to get another dead turkey
for the President's dinner? Just like every other household in America who
participates in this antiquated holiday?"

"Toby-"

"So why can't the President just eat the turkey from the National Turkey
Federation?" Toby persisted. "Why do we have to pretend that these turkeys
don't exist for the sole purpose of being eaten while America watches
football?"

"It's just a gesture, Toby."

"And nothing about this strikes you as the least bit ridiculous?"

Carol stepped in to C.J.'s office. "Toby."

Toby looked up, irritated to be interrupted when he was on a roll. "What?"
he snapped impatiently.

"Ginger says there's phone call for you."

"I'm kinda busy here, tell her to take a message."

"She says it's your sister-in-law," Carol said.

Toby froze, taken by surprise. C.J. shot him a questioning look, which he
ignored. "Tell her I'll be right there," he said after a pause.

"I didn't know you had a sister-in-law," C.J. said as Toby gathered his things.

"I wasn't aware I was expected to submit my family tree to you for approval."

C.J. ignored the barb. "Is she Ruth's sister?"

Toby softened a little as he looked up at C.J. "Yeah," he said quietly and
walked out, leaving Carol and C.J. to exchange a meaningful look.


* * * * *


Toby walked into a crowded D.C. restaurant at lunchtime and scanned the
crowd. His eyes fixed on an attractive, thirtyish woman seated at a table
and he made his way over to her.

"Toby!" she exclaimed and stood up as he approached.

"Hi, Rachel," Toby said. "You're looking well." He hesitated a little,
unsure what to do next.

But Rachel was not the least bit unsure. "I know it's been a while, but
don't I still rate a hug?"

The ice broken, Toby smiled and took her in an uncharacteristically warm
embrace. He had forgotten how disarming she could be. And how much he'd
missed her.

They sat down and a waiter came over to take Toby's drink order.

"So I'll bet you were a little surprised to get my call this morning,"
Rachel said after the waiter left.

"You could say that. I haven't heard from you sinceŠwhat? Last spring?"

"You've got a phone too, buster, don't try guilting me."

"I know. I'm sorry. I kept meaning to call, butŠ" Toby trailed off. There
was no need to finish the sentence.

"It's okay. I know," Rachel said softly.

"Yeah, I guess you do."

Rachel looked down and noticed Toby's left hand. She shot him a quizzical
look. "You're still wearing your ring, Toby? Don't you think-"

"No, I don't. And I'm not talking about this with you." Toby decided it was
time to change the subject. "So how long are you in town?"

"Oh, I don't know. Couple years, maybe the rest of my life," Rachel said
with a mischievous smile.

"What?" Toby was stunned.

"I'm not visiting D.C., Toby. I live here now."

"Since when?"

"Three weeks ago."

Toby rubbed his beard in aggravation. "I don't know what to say to that."

"I've accepted a consulting job with Senator Cumberland."

"Why didn't you tell me?" Toby demanded.

"I should have, I know. I just didn't know how you'd take it."

"What the hell does that mean?"

"Don't get mad, Toby. It's just that ever since Ruthie died, I get the
feeling that you maybe don't like being around me so much," Rachel said.

"That is absolutely not true."

"C'mon, Toby, I know I remind you of her-you always used to say how alike
we were. I just thought maybe what you needed was to not be reminded so
much. That's why I stayed away. So you could move on."

"Oh." Toby looked uncomfortable. He glanced around helplessly for the
waiter. "I knew I should have ordered a stiffer drink."

"I wasn't wrong, was I?"

"No."

"So that's why I didn't tell you I was coming. It had been so long since
we'd talked and I didn't want to be a bother. But now that I'm here I had
to see you. We're family, no matter what, and I couldn't just live in the
same town and not see you."

"You're not a bother," Toby said quietly.

"Ha!" Rachel exclaimed. "I think Ruth would have disagreed with you on that
point."

Toby smiled. Once again Rachel had managed to diffuse a tense situation.
"Well, maybe you could be, but you aren't. Not to me." He grew serious
again. "I'm sorry you felt you had to stay away. And I'm sorry I didn'tŠyou
know."

"It's okay, Toby. Really. I just want you to know that I only did it
because I thought it's what would help you. If I'd thought you needed me I
would have been on the next plane."

"I know that," Toby shook his head. "I wish I'd known you were moving here,
I would have helped you find a place."

"I know you would."

"I could've helped you move," he muttered.

Rachel reached across the table and laid her hand gently on his. "I know,
Toby." After a moment she smiled and picked up her menu. "So what's good to
eat here?"


TO BE CONTINUED...

 

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