THIS TIME AROUND 

by Tige

See disclaimers in part I.

 

*****

"Since this month of waiting is coming to a close, have you thought of when you'd like to go out on that date we talked about?" Danny asked, after sipping some of his beer.

"Well, hmm. Today's Tuesday, so…how about Friday night?"

"Friday sounds fine."

"I have feeling you already know where we're going and what we're doing."

"I do. I have no trouble in admitting that I've thought this out for a while. Only a few years, that's all." Danny laughingly joked.

CJ joined in his reverie. "See, I knew it."

"MMhmm."

"Listen, It's getting kind of late, and if I want to get through a few reports and have a good night's sleep, I'd better be going."

"I'll walk you to your car." Danny said, as they both rose from their booth, and he tipped the waiter. They headed for the door; a crisp, cold blast of air greeted them as they exited outside.

"I had a nice time, Danny." CJ said, before unlocking her car.

"Me, too." The reporter replied.

"I'll see you, tomorrow, then."

"Right. And Bartlet's going to do just fine in the Electoral College." Danny added reassuringly.

"That's what they said about our Republican opponent the first time President Bartlet ran." CJ retorted. Danny was trying to make things light, and could not reply. Claudia Jean smiled at his ruffled state, and unlocked the door to her car.

"Goodnight, CJ."

"Night, Danny." They wanted to kiss. There was obvious tension and anxiety, with the thought of committing an intimate act out in the open for anyone to see, and possibly leak to another reporter. It was, after all, Washington D.C.

"You know, this will become a problem, even if it might be the President's last term." Danny said, reading CJ's thoughts.

"And we can wait on dealing with it, which I intend to do with an attitude that states `I don't give a damn, because it's my personal life', on Friday night, and there after." CJ declared as her hand reached out to squeeze his forearm.

"Okay." Danny said as she released her grasp, and got into CJ's car. "Goodbye." The redhead said as he closed CJ's door, and stood in the cold as she sped off into the distance. He could still feel her presence, her smell hung in the air as Daniel inhaled her scent. He walked off to his own car, and headed to his apartment to have dinner and dwell even more on the nearing date with CJ.

*****

Whitney drove her car with the radio humming lightly. Her face was furrowed, her forehead wrinkled. Was this…a slight date? Despite finding Danny Concannon considerably attractive, Toby did have a certain air about him. When in a heated argument, Whitney always wanted to laugh and smile at his flared nostrils. He was insufferable, to most when Toby argued. She seemed to enjoy it. It made Whitney feel alive, and powerful.

Toby Ziegler was brilliant, an incredible writer. His rumpled smile was endearing, when you were lucky enough to see it. All of these thoughts were stock piling in Whitney's mind, making her slowly realizing, she had a thing for Toby. `Toby!' She laughed to herself. `Who would have thought? Maybe I've always had a thing for him. It has been known to happen.'

Parking outside of Guido's, Whitney took a moment to compose herself. Looking in the mirror, she smoothed her hair, checked her make up, and put on more lipstick. The typical checkup right before a date. Whitney caught herself before entering the restaurant, and smiled because of her behavior.

Once inside, Whitney looked around the restaurant, admiring the lighting and music. "Do you have a reservation?" The hostess asked.

"No. My friend came before me, and should be around here, somewhere."

"Does he have a full beard, and is partially bald? Dark hair?"

"Mmmhmm."

"He's in the bar."

"Thanks." Whitney answered, while turning left, into a darker light room, with sparser candles. Toby sat hunched at the bar, swirling a snifter. His face was relaxed, all tension released from work. She'd never seen him like that. Toby looked…normal. `He couldn't have had too much to drink, all ready.'

Walking towards him, Toby didn't notice her enter. "Hey." She whispered.

Slowly turning towards her, he replied slowly. "Hi." Finally speaking again, he asked, "Ready to eat?"

"Definitely." Whitney said as Toby got up from the bar stool, tipped the bartender, and followed the Political Consultant.

*****

"No matter what we find out tomorrow, I can say I've enjoyed the experiences over the two years I've been with the White House."

"Me, too. Well, for four, technically. The first two years were the most excruciatingly difficult work years of my life. Partly because I just had divorced Congresswoman Wyatt."

"You can call her Andrea." Whitney murmured. She was surprised at his candidness. But his formality with his former wife was something he needed to end. `It was over…has he moved on?'

"Yeah, well. She's in this business, too. I only think of her, really, as a Congresswoman."

"Hmm." Whitney looked away. It was a little uncomfortable for her.

"I'm sorry, this is bothering you. But to tell you the truth, you're the first person I've spoken to about this."

"I guess you don't hate me as much as we both thought you did."

"Yeah, I think you're right." Toby admitted, smiling.

"You said, the first two years were difficult partly because of your divorce. So what else?"

"Obviously, we were stuck in a big rut that we could not get out of it. Congress repealing the gun control act and us vetoing it creating big problems in the polls, Leo's drug problem being discovered, the Mendoza confirmation. And the biggest thing, my brother being stuck on the Space Shuttle Columbia and not being able to land for a few days. There are no small problems in space. When I found about his safe return, we were at the Town Hall meeting in Roslyn. Which, of course, brought on the biggest thing of all, the Assassination attempt."

"Yes, the assassination attempt. I remembered starting on the job as you all were still coping with the whole thing. You all tried to appear that it wasn't bothering you…but even I could see there was something still wrong."

"The trauma of every time you ever closed your eyes, and saw the bullets flying near you, the smell of blood, the hysteria…it eats away at you."

"If it's still bothering you, just know you can always talk to me. I can be a pretty understanding person." Whitney said, looking in to Toby's eyes. He nodded, obliging, and let silence take over.

 

*****END PART V *****

 

 

This Time Around - 6

 

 

 

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