THIS TIME AROUND 

by Tige

See disclaimers in part I.

 

***** 

Giggling, Whitney followed Toby into his office. "I can't believe we pulled off such a landslide, and worried so much. But we still did it."

"We do have an unbelievable track record of bad luck around here."

"Not anymore." Whitney exclaimed, seating herself at his couch. Staring at her, Toby looked at her, smiling. "What?"

"You sound like a bubbling teenage girl after you just landed a date with the big football jock." Toby said, laughing.

"And is this a bad thing?" Whitney asked, standing.

"NO! You…I don't know. You just look full of life and exuberance. It's infectious." Toby moved toward her, to emphasize his words, for he meant it.

"You've changed, Toby."

"It's my day of jubilee. And I guess last night brought on some real changes in me. I have you to thank."

"Well, I guess I pushed all the right buttons."

All this time during the conversation, they had slowly, subtly gravitated towards the other, meeting close in the middle of the room.

"Yes." Toby whispered. Whitney's eyes captivated him, as did her lips. She looked at him, silently approving the ensuing action. Toby closed the distance, his hand resting on Whitney's upper arm. Their lips started to lightly graze.

And a knock was heard on the door. The blinds had been closed enveloping their offbeat behavior. As they quickly but reluctantly backed away, Ginger opened the door. "Your brother is on line 2."

"Thanks, Ginger." Toby replied as she left the room.

"I should be going." Whitney announced, heading for the door.

"Whitney," The speechwriter called at the last moment, smiling. "Come back later."

"I will." She replied in the same tone.

*****

"You looked like a burdened world of worry has just been lifted from your shoulders." Abbey Bartlet remarked of her husband, as he entered their bedroom.

Jed sighed and smiled. "I think most of that worrying was put upon me by myself, and my staff. Of course, I made them that way, but who's counting."

Abbey was lounging on the couch for a brief moment when her husband entered the room. Josiah Bartlet joined her, collapsing in the seat. "They'd walk through fires for you, Jed."

"Yeah. But their optimism alone didn't keep me afloat for the past four years." He said, gathering his wife into his arms. "You've kept me going, honey. And I love you all the more for it."

"Seeing you use your big heart for good makes me love you even more, gumdrop."

They both smiled, and leaned in for a tender, loving kiss. Breaking away, Jed held a wry smile on his face. "Now, dear, how about an early morning exercise?" He asked, moving towards Abbey's neck, tracing light kisses and waiting for an answer.

"MMmmm. Jed, just because you were officially re-elected doesn't mean you are relieved from your duties of acting President. I know…you have work to do." Abbey managed to say, with Jed's magnetism making her lose her senses. "And so do I."

Abbey's last thought brought her out of the lapse, and she lightly broke away from her husband's embrace. Jed pouted like a puppy dog. Laughing, Abbey helped him to his feet. "Fine," he conceited. "but we will continue this tonight."

Walking out of their bedroom, hand in hand, The President and First Lady returned to their respective worlds of work.

*****

C.J.'s main concern thru ought Thursday and Friday was her date with Danny, and the accessorizing to go with it. She failed to ask where exactly they were going, and at what time. On Friday, after the last briefing, Danny stopped by the Press Secretary's office to cover the essentials.

"Danny, where are we going tonight? I would like to know what to wear, you know."

"Wear something formal. I'll see you at 7:30 at your place, and no I'm not telling you where we're going." Danny said, before CJ could even repeat her question.

She playfully frowned because of the withholding of information. Danny smiled, and quickly kissed her before leaving. "Bye, C.J." He said, before shutting the door.

C.J. had to smile as the door was shut. She had a feeling that they would go somewhere nice. Danny knew C.J.'s taste, in that sense. It was an obvious air about the Press Secretary. Claudia Jean already had something picked out to wear, knowing that it might leave Danny speechless, momentarily.

Before C.J. knew it, time was getting short, nearing 6:00PM. Packing her briefcase, and putting on her jacket and coat, C.J. left the West Wing for an early day.

*****

Donna did not receive her complimentary lunch with Josh, as promised. They became swamped with paperwork that came from nowhere. This put Donna in one of her bad moods. Josh was on tiptoe, with whatever he did or said.

His assistant did not know, however, that Josh planned to make it up to her. Donna's boss could be discreet, if he wanted to be, making reservations at an Italian Restaurant which he'd never visited, Guido's, but heard great reviews.

At 7:00, Josh finally came to a stopping point in his work, grabbed his coat, and went to Donnatella Moss' desk. "Close the shop up, Donna, we have reservations."

"Excuse me?" She asked with an incredulous tone.

"I wanted to make up lunch to you. So how about dinner?"

"I get that part…but…you handled getting the reservations … yourself? That's a first."

"Worrying that I don't need you?"

"Oh no, you still lose things all the time that I have to find. And you seem to find joy in yelling at me."

"I guess you're right. Grab your things. I've got to talk to Toby for a second, so we'll leave when I get back."

"Okay." Donna answered, flashing a smile. Joshua answered back with his own smile, as he turned and headed for the Communications Bullpen.

"Toby," Josh started as he entered the Communications Director's office.

"Yeah?" Toby answered back.

"I'll have stuff for you on the thing, tomorrow. I'm going to get out of the doghouse with Donna, tonight."

"What did you do this time?"

"Promised her lunch today, then got dumped with the thing. We're going to a place called Guido's. I've heard it's pretty good."

"It is." Toby replied. Josh stared at him. "What?"

"How would you know?" Lyman asked.

"I went there last night."

"You? Go with anyone?" Josh questioned.

"Yes." Josh again stared at him, waiting for an answer. "I'm not telling you whom."

"Fine. I'm out of here." Josh said, exiting. He missed Toby's smile as he left. The bearded man was thinking of the lighting in the restaurant that complimented Whitney's features so well.

For Toby, last night was the beginning of a potential renaissance for him. Speaking candidly with Whitney on the issues that plagued him was a time that he felt calm and relieved. It released the emotions that were hidden deep inside Toby.

Toby Ziegler was known for his rough exterior in Politics. Only a few were let into his inner shell. Some women had a certain effect on him, to the extent of which, he'd literally thaw in their presence. CJ had been that way with him, despite their constant banter, hiding their rapport. CJ was this source of constant strength and life, stealing attention away from a room just by entering it. But he could never overstep the boundary of friendship. The timing was never right, with his divorce, working in the White House, and Danny Concannon catching CJ's bright eyes.

Whitney was much the same, and came along at the right time. The Political Consultant was different, though, in that she wasn't completely overwhelming to Toby. CJ was not just a diamond in the rough, but the epitome, the Hope Diamond. In a sense, she was the White House goddess. And Toby Ziegler knew that he could never begin to think of being seated next to her on a throne. `She's going places, always has been, and I don't want to slow her down. Danny Concannon isn't afraid of her prowess, and has made that quite apparent. He knows she's a person, flawed and jaded, and is not afraid to know who that person is either.' Toby thought. While analyzing his social situations, he heard a knock on the door.

The Political Consultant walked through the doorway, smiling. "Hi."

"Hello, Whitney."

"You said to come back later?" She asked, playfully.

"Yeah, we have unfinished business." Toby answered, rounding the corner to the front of his desk.

"How's your brother?" Whitney asked.

"Fine. He was telling me about his next space endeavor. But I don't want to think about that right now."

"So what do you want to think about?"

"No thinking, acting on thoughts." Toby clarified.

"MMhmm. Those would be?" Whitney asked, smiling with her eyebrows raised.

"This." Toby answered, resuming the interrupted act of this morning. They kissed lightly, but meaningfully. It wasn't just something done in the moment of celebration. When they parted, looking into the other's eyes, they saw a mirrored look of more to come.

 

***** END PART VIII*****

 

 

This Time Around - 9

 

 

 

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