VIEWS: 7 PAGES: 111 POSTED ON: 11/4/2011
EXPECTATIONS PART 1 Carol was standing at her desk with Donna as both women cooed over little Sarah Marshall. Sarah‟s mother Julie had just returned from lunch with Carol, and was having fun showing off the two-month-old to her co-workers. “Oh, Julie, she‟s so beautiful,” Donna gushed about the sleeping infant. “She‟s just precious,” cooed Carol. “I can‟t wait to have one of my own.” “Well, I can wait, I‟m definitely not ready to have a baby yet,” declared Donna. “Donna!” They can hear Josh approaching before they see him. “I don‟t need a baby, I have Josh,” Donna laughed. “Donna!” Josh yelled again as he and CJ strode down the hallway, on their way back from the staff meeting. “Shhh… you‟ll wake up the baby, Josh.” Donna admonished as she stepped closer to him. “Donna, I need the file on 604.” “Just a minute Josh. I haven‟t even had a chance to talk to Julie, yet.” “Donna, I need that file, now. I have to call Senator Cooper, or is it Hooper. Donna, that‟s why I need the file,” Josh whined. “Fine,” Donna replied with an eye roll and followed Josh, turning to shrug her apology to Julie. CJ walked over to Julie and gave her a hug. “Julie, it‟s great to see you. You look fantastic, and this must be Sarah.” CJ leaned over the baby carrier on Carol‟s desk to take a closer look at the little red headed baby. “Oh, Julie, she‟s adorable.” “Well, she‟s a heck of a lot more adorable when she‟s sleeping than when she‟s screaming her head off,” Julie said with a laugh. “You have no idea how nice it is to be out of the house around adults again.” “Aren‟t you enjoying maternity leave?” CJ asked. “Don‟t get me wrong. I love being a mother, I‟m not ready to come back to work yet and miss all that time with her, sometimes I just get a little stir crazy. Give me a few more months and I think I‟ll be ready to come back.” “Julie, there‟s no hurry. You have to do what‟s is right for you.” “Thanks, CJ.” “Carol, if you were serious about wanting to see meet the Olympic athletes you better get going, there‟s only about twenty minutes before their photo op with the President.” “Oh, I‟m serious, that Apolo Ohno is a babe. Julie, did you see him on TV?” “Carol, he‟s only nineteen .” “Yeah, but the rest of the medal winners are going to be there too, Jimmy Shea, Bode Miller, those cute snowboarders… Julie, why don‟t you come with me,” Carol suggested. “Carol, I should be getting Sarah home,” Julie reasoned, but it was easy to see she really wanted to go. “Oh, go ahead, Julie. I‟ll watch Sarah for a few minutes,” CJ offered. “Would you CJ?” Julie said sounding surprised. “Thank you.” “Sure, she‟s asleep, how much trouble could she be?” CJ quipped. As Carol and Julie left to go find the athletes, CJ picked up the carrier and walked into her office. She looked around for a safe spot to put the baby carrier and finally placed it on the couch. Since Sarah was still asleep, CJ sat behind her desk and went to work first checking her email then reviewing her notes on the Olympic medal winners. A few minutes later Sarah started to fuss. CJ rose and walked over to the carrier and gently rocked it back and forth. Sarah quieted for a minute then began to cry. “Shh, Sarah, your Mommy will be back soon. It‟s okay.” Finally CJ took Sarah out of the seat and she quieted down right away. Holding her CJ softly spoke to the baby, “See, it‟s okay. You‟re just fine.” She gently caressed Sarah‟s cheek and smoothed her downy red hair. “CJ” CJ looked up and see Toby leaning against her doorframe. “What have you got there?” he asked. “It‟s called a baby, Toby,” she replied. “I‟m aware of that, I just didn‟t know you were,” Toby said. “What‟s that supposed to mean?” she demanded. “Nothing, just… where did it come from?” he asked. “Toby, she‟s not an it. This is Sarah, Julie Marshall‟s baby,” she explained. “Julie‟s back all ready?” he asked. “No, she‟s just visiting. She and Carol went to meet the Olympic athletes before the Presidential photo op.” “And you‟re babysitting?” Toby said with a laugh. “It‟s only for a few minutes, and she was asleep when they left.” Toby walked up to CJ and took a closer look at the baby. He reached out and let her grab a hold of his finger. “She likes me; not a very good judge of character is she?” “She doesn‟t know you yet, give her time.” “You‟ve known me for years, what‟s your excuse.” “I‟m a glutton for punishment,” CJ replied. He reached for the baby and said, “CJ, let me hold her.” She looked at him for a minute, then gave in gently placing Sarah in his arms. “Be sure to support her head.” “CJ, I‟ve held babies before, she‟s fine,” Toby said just before Sarah started to cry. Toby gently jiggled her in his arms trying to calm her down. “Toby, give her back to me.” Toby shook his head and kept trying to quiet the baby, but she just cried louder and louder. Finally he relented and handed her back over to CJ. As soon as Sarah was back in CJ‟s arms she quieted down. CJ smiled triumphantly at Toby. “Hey, I‟m pretty good at this.” Toby just jammed his hands in his pockets and shrugged his shoulders. “I am,” she continued walking over to the couch and sitting down. “You know, I could really do this couldn‟t I?” “Do what?” he asked “Have a baby. Be a mother,” she declared. “CJ, I…” “I could Toby. I would be a good mother,” she argued. “CJ, I‟m sure you would. You‟re good at everything you set your mind to, but a baby is a big step,” he reasoned. “I know, it was just an idea,” she said with a shrug then looked back down at Sarah with a sad smile. Carol and Julie came hurrying into the office. “CJ, I‟m so sorry. I never thought I would be gone this long,” Julie apologized. “It‟s okay. Sarah and I got along just fine, didn‟t we?” CJ said kissing Sarah on the forehead, and handing her over to Julie. “I should be getting down to the Oval Office. It was great to see you Julie.” CJ picked up her notebook and left her office. “She‟s beautiful, Julie, come back again soon,” Toby said and followed CJ out the door leaving Carol and Julie both with puzzled looks on their faces. PART 2 The next afternoon, CJ entered Toby‟s office and plopped down in the corner of his couch. When she didn‟t say anything for a few minutes, Toby stopped typing and looked up at her. “What?” he asked. “What what?” CJ replied. “CJ, you‟ve got that look on your face. Don‟t beat around the bush, just tell me, I have to finish this speech.” “I‟ve made a decision,” she announced. He looked up at her, “Where are we going for dinner and how much will it cost me?” he asked then resumed his typing. “This is much more important than dinner.” She waited until she had his complete attention before continuing. “I‟ve decided to have a baby.” “CJ, if this is because of yesterday…” he said. “Toby, give me a little more credit than that. I‟ve been thinking about this off and on for a while now, Julie‟s visit just brought it back up again. I‟m not getting any younger, if I want to have a baby, I have to do this soon.” Toby got up from behind the desk, and moved to sit beside CJ on the couch. “Are you sure about this?” “I‟m sure I want to be a mother, and that I don‟t want to put that part of my life on hold anymore. Toby, look at me I‟m almost 43 years old, the longest relationship I‟ve been in lasted a sum total of 15 months. I work insane hours, I have no social life, the odds of my meeting Mr. Right and getting married at any point in the near future are slim to none, unless of course we lose the election and I don‟t want to lose the election. Do you?” “CJ, have you really thought about this? I mean… how… who… CJ your baby will have to have a father,” Toby stammered. “Toby, I‟m sure you‟ve heard of sperm banks. A woman doesn‟t need to … well… you know what I mean.” She said waving her hand. “I‟ll just make a withdrawal.” “CJ, do you really want to have some stranger‟s baby? What would you tell your child when he asks about his father?” “I don‟t know, but I certainly wouldn‟t be the first woman to face that. I‟ll have a few years to come up with an answer.” Toby took a deep breath, he couldn‟t believe he was about to propose this, but he couldn‟t let the opportunity pass him by, “CJ, what if there were another way?” “What do you mean?” she asked. “I feel the same way,” he said. “ I want to have a child before I get too old.” “Toby, it‟s not the same for men. You can have babies into your eighties.” “That may be the case, but I think I‟d like to be able to play with my child and not worry about breaking a hip.” CJ laughed a little, “Okay, I get your point.” “Do you?” he asked and looked at her intently. “Toby, you‟re not suggesting….” “That‟s just what I‟m suggesting. We could have a baby together.” “Toby?” she asked in amazement. “CJ, you know that I will be a part of your child‟s life no matter who the father is.” “Of course,” she agreed. “Well, then doesn‟t it make sense that this child have a father and a mother that love him or her.” She couldn‟t really argue with that, so she didn‟t say anything. “CJ, wouldn‟t that be the best thing for everyone?” Toby continued. “Toby, I don‟t know what to say.” “Just think about it,” Toby said, then he added, “please.” “Okay I will.” She got up and started to leave, then stopped in the doorway and turned back to him. “You think about it too. I‟ve been considering this for a while now, this is an important decision and I don‟t want you to rush into it.” Toby nodded and as she left, he muttered. “As if I could think about anything else now.” PART 3 A few hours later, Toby walked into CJ‟s office and found her working at her desk. “CJ, if we do this, and I really think we should…” “Toby, I was serious,” CJ interrupted. “ I think we both need some time to think about this.” “You‟re right, and I don‟t want to rush you, I just think there‟s a part of the equation that we forgot earlier and I want you to think about it,” he explained. “What‟s that?” “I think if we do this, and as I said, I really think we should.” He smiled. “I think we should get married first.” He motioned for CJ to remain quiet, but she was too stunned to say anything anyway. “I know that there are lots of couples having babies out of wedlock these days, but I think that we owe it to our child to create the best life possible and that would include being married. I think it would be the best for both of us personally, you‟ll need help with the baby and I don‟t want to miss important moments in my child‟s life by not being there. Also, I want you to know this is the least important thing to me, it would be better for the administration if we were married. I know neither one of us wants to be the cause of a scandal, and while technically I‟m your boss a lot of couples meet in the workplace these days and I don‟t think we‟ll have any trouble spinning that aspect of the story.” “Are you through now?” CJ asked. “I think so.” CJ sat back in her chair. “Well, you‟ve certainly put a lot of thought into this haven‟t you?” He began to pace in front of her desk. “Honestly, I haven‟t thought about anything else since you left my office.” “Toby, you seriously want to get married?” she asked. “I think it‟s best.” He answered. “It does make the most sense, at least in the short run. You‟re right about the spin, it would certainly be easier for the administration and for us if we‟re married, and I understand that you would want to be a part of this baby‟s life. Listen to us, it already sounds so real.” “It can be, CJ.” “I guess down the road if one of us meets someone, we can always get a divorce,” she offered. “I don‟t think that‟s likely to happen for quite a while, at least not for me,” he said. “Me either, between this job and a baby, I probably won‟t have time to eat let alone date.” “CJ, are you saying yes?” he asked trying not to sound too excited. CJ stood and walked around her desk. “I guess I am.” “Okay.” Toby said, as he took a deep breath and looked into CJ‟s eyes. “Okay,” she agreed as they stood almost nose to nose not really knowing what to do next, CJ finally decided for both of them and pulled him into a hug. PART 4 The next day Toby walked up to CJ‟s door. She was curled up in the corner of her office couch eating a salad, and reading a briefing book opened across her lap. Toby gently knocked on her open door. “You got a minute?” he asked. “Sure,” she replied placing the salad on the end table, and closing the binder. Toby closed her door, and took a seat next to her on the sofa. “I don‟t think I really did this right last night,” he said as he took her hand in his, “and you deserve to have this done right.” Toby edged off the sofa into a kneeling position on the floor. “You are my best friend, and you have stuck by me longer than anyone else in my life. Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?” CJ found herself fighting the lump in her throat. “Toby, that was so sweet.” “Don‟t let it get around,” he joked, then reached into his pocket and produced a ring box. “I thought we should make it official,” he said handing her the box. The ring was a traditionally cut emerald surrounded by square diamonds in a platinum setting. “Oh, Toby, I love it.” “It‟s an antique. I remember you telling me a long time ago that diamonds were all hype and if you ever had an engagement ring you wanted an emerald. It‟s still what you want, isn‟t it?” “It‟s exactly what I want. Thank you.” CJ started to remove the ring from the box, but Toby took it from her, then searched her eyes for approval, when she nodded he gently glided the ring onto her left hand. “So, we‟re really doing this,” CJ said looking at the ring on her finger. “I sure hope so, I don‟t think that thing is returnable,” he said, pointing to her finger as he sat back down on the couch. “Very funny, Ziegler.” “I guess the next thing we need to figure out is when. You know that‟s the first question everyone is going to ask.” “I‟m not so that will be their first question, but it should make the top five.” CJ rose to retrieve her calendar from her desk. “Okay, we don‟t really want to wait very long, do we?” Toby shook his head no, and CJ went back to looking at the calendar. “Next month is out, there are campaign trips every weekend. We could do it the month after next. How about the 6th?” “Sounds okay to me. We‟ll just have to make sure that everyone‟s available.” “Who‟s everyone? I think it should be something small, very small.” “CJ, I think your family is going to want to come to your wedding. I know mine will want to be there, at least my sisters will,” Toby explained. “You‟ll call David won‟t you?” she asked. “I will,” he agreed. “Okay, so if everyone can make it, the 6th it is,” she declared putting down the calendar. There was a knock at the door, and CJ called. “Come in.” Carol opened the door and said, “You guys will be late for staff.” “Thanks Carol, I didn‟t realize how late it was.” CJ replied picking up her notebook, and then she and Toby headed of to the meeting. PART 5 CJ and Toby had gone straight into the staff meeting in the Oval Office, not really giving any thought to the ring now sparkling away on her left hand. As the meeting wrapped up Leo asked his usual question, “Does anyone have anything else?” “CJ, do you have anything to add?” The President asked, looking her squarely in the eye. “No sir,” she answered. “We covered everything I had about the schedule for this weekend‟s trip, and the interview list for Air Force One.” “CJ, I was thinking there might be something more personal, you would like to share with us. Maybe something having to do with that ring you‟re wearing on your left hand. A traditional place to wear an engagement ring, I might add. Did you know that most historians believe this custom dates back to the Romans. Most ancient civilizations revered the circle as a representation of perfection and eternity.” CJ was embarrassed at being caught off guard, and looked at Toby who was sitting across from her. The President followed CJ‟s eyes and asked, “Toby, do you have some information about this?” “As a matter of fact sir, I do.” Toby stood up and walked behind CJ, placing his hands on her shoulders. “CJ has agreed to marry me, and I couldn‟t be happier.” “Well, its about damn time,” the President said and rose to shake Toby‟s hand. “Congratulations, Toby. Claudia Jean, stand up and give me a hug.” CJ stood and hugged the President as he congratulated her. “Thank you sir.” She said then took in the stunned faces around the room. “Doesn‟t anyone else have something to say?” “Yeah, I do,” Josh piped up, looking at Sam. “Fifty bucks, my friend and I want it now.” “Hey, I‟m not convinced that you won,” Sam countered. “Oh, I‟m convinced, now pay up,” Josh replied. “Just what was this bet about?” CJ demanded, as she stepped between Sam and Josh. “Um…. Nothing, CJ,” Josh stammered. “Oh, I just bet it‟s nothing. Joshua, I want an answer now,” she snapped. “People,” Leo chastised, “The President has a schedule to keep.” “That‟s okay, Leo,” Jed said. “I‟m curious about this bet myself.” “Sir, it was nothing really,” Josh replied. “CJ, maybe it‟s best we wait until later to kill the wonder twins,” Toby suggested. “Don‟t you want to know what they were betting about us?” CJ asked. “It really isn‟t that big a deal, CJ.” Sam finally spoke up. “We just bet that you and Toby were secretly dating, that‟s all.” “Oh, there has to be more to it than that, or you would have conceded defeat, Sam,” the President said. “Well, it all really depends on when they … uh… started… uh… seeing each other,” Sam stammered. “I have no intention of revealing my personal life so that you two adolescents can settle a bet,” CJ snapped and walked back over to stand next to Toby. “That does bring up an intriguing question, CJ,” The President said. “Sir.” CJ said indignantly. “You‟re right, it‟s none of our business. Josh, Sam, I‟m appalled that the two of you would do such a thing.” He turned and winked at them, so that CJ couldn‟t see. “Well, I have a question,” Leo said regaining the attention of the room. “When do you plan on announcing this to the press?” CJ took a deep breath, “Well, I was thinking we could get it over with today.” “Why the hurry?” Leo asked. “CJ, you‟re not….” “No, I‟m not pregnant if that‟s what you‟re asking, but we are planning to have the wedding in about six weeks, so I think we should get the initial announcement over with.” “Six weeks, CJ, that‟s hardly enough time to plan a wedding,” the President said. “Sir, we just want something small. Only family and friends.” Toby explained. “We‟re thinking the 6th, but we have to check the date with our families first. It‟s clear as far as any official functions are concerned,” CJ offered. “Well, that‟s fine I guess. If there‟s anything we can do to help out, just let us know,” Jed offered. “Thank you sir,” both CJ and Toby replied. “Well, if that‟s all, Mr. President, you have a meeting with the Joint Chiefs.” Leo motioned to the door. “CJ, Toby, you‟ve made my day,” The President said on his way out of the room. “Josh, Sam, I‟m not even close to through with you two,” CJ warned as she walked out of the oval office. Toby didn‟t even acknowledge Josh and Sam as he exited and caught up with CJ in the hall. “Well, I think that went well,” she said. “I totally forgot about the ring,” he said. “I‟m sorry.” “Why are you sorry, we had to get it over with sooner or later,” she stated. “ I told you the date wouldn‟t be their first question.” “You were right,” he conceded. “Just keep saying that and this will be a very successful marriage,” CJ joked as she turned down the corridor towards her own office. PART 6 One week after they announced their engagement, wedding plans were in full swing. It seemed no matter where Toby went in the West Wing someone was talking about the wedding. While it made things easier that everyone seemed to accept the idea of CJ marrying him, without question he was not comfortable being the main topic of conversation. People kept asking him questions, too. Things like what colors have you and CJ chosen? What flowers did you choose? Where is the reception going to be? Will there be a DJ or a band? Had they chosen centerpieces for the tables? Every detail seemed to be of interest to someone. Bonnie and Ginger had just asked him if it would be a day or evening ceremony, because they needed to go shopping for dresses. He still couldn‟t figure out why the time of day should matter to them, but had finally gotten back to work when CJ strode into his office stopping right in front of his desk. “Toby, I think there‟s something we need to talk about.” she started. “Please don‟t tell me this has to do with flowers or place settings or something…” he responded. “Toby, give me a little credit would you. I just made myself another appointment with my gynecologist. When I saw her six months ago, I told her that I was thinking of having a baby. She thought my chances of getting pregnant were good, but I just want to be sure.” “That sounds like a good idea,” he replied “I‟m glad to hear you say that,” she said, “because Dr. Davis suggested you get tested too.” “Me?” he questioned sounding shocked. “I‟m sure everything is in working order CJ.” “I‟m sure you‟re right Toby, but don‟t you think we should know for certain?” she reasoned. “Oh, God,” he groaned. “This is going to be humiliating.” “What‟s the big deal? You go in, you give them your sample and you‟re done.” “Easy for you to say, you don‟t have to get friendly with a specimen jar.” “If you‟re looking for sympathy from me you‟re sadly mistaken my friend. I have one word for you … stirrups.” Toby groaned and covered his ears. “Gets „em every time,” CJ gloated. “Here‟s the name and number of the doctor,” she said handing him a blue sticky note. “If you want me to I‟d be happy to call and make your appointment.” “It‟s okay, CJ, I think I can handle it from here,” he responded. “I think I‟ll just let that phrasing go,” she said, with a wave of her hand and headed for the door. “Thank God for small favors,” Toby muttered looking up at the ceiling. “You‟re welcome,” CJ called from outside the doorway. PART 7 It hadn‟t been a particularly difficult day, but Toby was trying to write an important speech for next week‟s campaign trip to Michigan, and the words just weren‟t coming. He got up and decided to take a little stroll around the building to try to get the creative juices flowing. Eventually he ended up hovering outside CJ‟s office, when Carol exited still writing notes on her ever present pad of paper, he startled her by asking, “Carol, how‟s it going?” Carol jumped then decided to warn him. “Watch out Toby, she‟ll put you to work.” “What‟s she got you doing?” Toby asked. “Oh, I‟ve got the menu.” Carol replied. “I get to go to the caterers, eat everything at least two times, gain ten pounds then come back to her with three different menu options.” Toby could only give her a sympathetic smile and shrug his apology. “Ziegler, get in here, I‟ve got a list for you.” CJ called from inside her office. “Hey, I already did the important part, I asked you,” he teased, as he approached her desk. “Oh, funny, here.” She held out the list. “You‟re in charge of arranging the bar for the reception, hotel reservations for your family, their transportation, and the judge.” Toby responded, “I think I can manage to remember those things.” “Take the list,” she said a bit too harshly. Toby took the list and sat down in one of the guest chairs facing her desk. “What‟s wrong?” “Other than trying to arrange a wedding in DC, that‟s supposed to happen in just under a month, while working an eighteen-hour a day job?” CJ asked flatly. “Everything‟s fine, just fine.” “Did you hear from Cynthia?” “Yeah,” she sighed leaning back in her chair and crossing her arms, “she‟s in Europe, won‟t be back until July.” “I‟m sorry.” “Who the hell am I going to get to stand up for me?” CJ asked as she reached up and stretched one hand across her eyes, rubbing her temples in a futile attempt to ease the headache that she had been fighting all morning. “You‟ll think of someone,” Toby responded. “Toby, this is so absolutely pathetic,” she said, shaking her head in disbelief. “Okay, think,” he said, “who is your closest friend?” “You are,” she quipped, “but I kinda think that‟s out.” “Wait,” he said holding up his hand, “you‟ve got a good idea there.” “Toby, I don‟t think you can be both the groom and the maid of honor,” CJ said with an obvious lack of patience. “No.” He explained, “What I mean is, why does it have to be a woman? Legally, we just need witnesses.” “I‟m not following you,” she replied. “Well, other than me,” he smiled, “who‟s you closest friend?” “Josh, I guess,” she answered. “Bingo!” he exclaimed leaning forward in his chair. “Bingo?” She questioned, “Since when do you say „bingo‟?” “CJ, try to stay with me here.” He told her slowly, so that it would sink in this time, “Josh could stand up for you.” “Hmm,” she replied thoughtfully, “Not a bad idea, you know it could actually work.” “Yeah, that‟s why I suggested it.” “What about you? Are you asking David?” “I‟m not sure,” Toby replied as he stood and walked behind her desk to look out the window. He continued with his back to her, “I‟ve thought about it, but it seems a little forced. He‟s coming to the wedding, but I don‟t think either of us would feel comfortable with him being best man.” “Who are you going to ask then?” He turned back to face CJ and leaned against the window hands shoved in his pockets. “We really are pathetic aren‟t we?” “That‟s what happens when you marry your best friend,” she said. A comfortable silence hung between them for a moment, then CJ stood and leaned against the other side of the window next to him. “Toby, have you thought about asking Sam?” “I have actually,” he answered staring out her open doorway. CJ turned to study him, a slight almost imperceptible smile began to twitch at the corners of his mouth, really few people would have even known it was a smile, but CJ was one of those people so, when he didn‟t continue she prompted, “And?” “If I didn‟t think he‟d be bounding around the White House planning bachelor parties and strippers, I think I would consider it.” “You know how much it would mean to him.” CJ saw the smile disappear from Toby‟s eyes and added, “I think I can convince him to forget the bachelor party.” “We could tell him if he does anything stupid he‟ll have to dance with Josh at the reception.” Toby suggested. “Now that I‟d like to see,” CJ responded, seeing the smile creep back across Toby‟s face as they both imagined the sight of Josh and Sam dancing together. PART 8 The next afternoon, CJ walked up to Josh‟s office and when she saw it was empty, she turned and headed for Donna‟s desk, but before she could open her mouth Donna quickly answered the obvious question, “He‟s not back yet, but he should be here any minute.” “Thanks, Donna, can you call me when he…” “Donna…” As usual, Donna could hear he boss before she could see him. She stood up and grabbed a pile of message slips as she went to answer his shout; CJ followed her. “You bellowed?” Donna greeted him as he exchanged his backpack for the phone messages. “Josh, I have something I‟d like to ask you,” CJ interrupted following Josh into his office. “Ask away oh tall one,” Josh replied as he walked over to his desk reading the messages. Donna hung the backpack on the coat tree and left CJ to talk to Josh. “I take it your meeting with the finance committee members went well,” CJ commented. “I am king of the world!” Josh proclaimed spreading his arms wide as he stood behind his desk. “I think that line‟s already been taken.” “I am da‟ man.” “Yes Josh, you are indeed the man.” CJ humored him, sounding preoccupied. “Right, you had something you wanted to ask,” Josh said, putting the messages down on his desk. “Never mind,” she replied and turned to leave. “No,” he stopped her, “CJ, ask.” She turned to answer him arms crossed. “I‟m not so sure now.” Josh walked around his desk to and tried again. “CJ, come on, what is it?” He guided her to one of his guest chairs, and leaned against his desk waiting for her to speak. “This is ridiculous,” CJ argued. “CJ,” Josh demanded starting to sound a little annoyed. “Fine, will you stand up for me at the wedding?” she shot back at him. “Huh?” “Will you be my witness?” she asked again. “You want me to be your maid of honor?” he questioned. CJ rolled her eyes and replied, “Witness Josh, witness. There‟s no law that says it has to be a woman. We‟re getting married by a judge, it‟s just a civil ceremony. All you have to do is stand there during the vows and then sign the marriage license.” “CJ, I don‟t know what to say,” Josh solemnly replied. CJ stood and looked down at him. “Say yes Josh, before I go find someone who will.” “I don‟t have to wear a dress do I?” he teased. “No, but if you keep this up, I‟ll make you dance with Sam at the reception,” she threatened. “Sam? Toby‟s gonna ask Sam to be his best man?” Josh asked excitedly. CJ stepped closer to Josh, “Joshua, I swear to God if you say one word to Sam before Toby talks to him when I‟m done with you‟ll feel right at home wearing a dress,” she threatened. Toby sat behind his desk bouncing his rubber ball and still working on President‟s speech for the Auto Workers Union for next week‟s campaign stop. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Sam returning to his office, and called out, “Sam, got a minute?” “Yeah, sure,” Sam answered, as he walked into Toby‟s office and sat on the sofa. Toby stood and walked around to lean against the front of his desk. “Sam,” he said crossing then uncrossing his arms nervously, “I would be honored if you would be my best man.” “Really?” Sam questioned. “No, Sam, I just asked you for the hell of it,” Toby snapped back at him. Sam stood and shook Toby‟s hand, “Toby, I‟m the one that would be honored. It means a lot that you would ask me. I won‟t let you down.” Pulling his hand away from Sam‟s grasp Toby replied, “See that you don‟t.” “I promise,” Sam answered sincerely. “Sam, I was kidding,” Toby explained. “I knew that,” Sam argued. “Sure you did,” Toby said with a chuckle and he sat back down behind his desk. “I knew,” Sam countered then turned to leave. Before Sam could get out the door Toby said, “Sam, one more thing, no bachelor party.” Sam turned, a surprised look on his face. “Toby, come on, that‟s the best part, the male bonding.” “Okay, first of all, I‟m not interested in male bonding. Second, I‟ve been married before, remember,” Toby listed, “and most importantly, CJ will kill YOU.” “Won‟t she kill you, too?” Sam asked. “No, she won‟t, because I won‟t be there to begin with.” PART 9 With the wedding only one week away, things were definitely buzzing around the West Wing. Only senior staff and the people CJ and Toby directly worked with had been invited, but everyone somehow felt part of the big event. Toby sat secluded in his office trying to stay out of everyone‟s way, especially CJ‟s. No matter how much he offered to help she seemed determined to handle the bulk of the arrangements herself. She had been edgy the last week or so, and Toby couldn‟t quite figure out why. Sure the wedding plans were a hassle and work had been chaotic as usual, but there seemed to be something on her mind and Toby hadn‟t quite figured out what it was yet. He was very surprised when CJ breezed into his office and greeted him with, “Hey Pokey, what‟s up?” as she took her usual spot on the corner of his couch. “You look happy,” he commented. “I am, I just got my test results back from Dr. Davis,” she said with a smile. “I take it that means everything‟s fine.” “Better than fine,” CJ announced, “she said that I‟m in good health and she can‟t find any reason I shouldn‟t be able to conceive.” Toby stood and began searching his desk finally fishing an envelope out from under a pile of papers and folders. “I forgot to tell you, this came yesterday from Dr. Kline‟s office.” “Toby, you got the results and you didn‟t tell me!” she exclaimed. “I forgot, okay, things got a little hectic; I didn‟t even open the letter until this morning.” “Well…” she prodded. He sat down next to her as he said, “Seems the plumbing all checks out.” “Toby…” she smacked him on the shoulder. “My sperm count is good and my guys are strong swimmers,” he explained. “Your guys? What are you like twelve or something.” “CJ, I assure you that at twelve years old I was certainly not interested in sperm motility rates,” he retorted They both laughed for a moment, then an uneasy silence settled between them and they realized there was something important they had yet to discuss. “So, what‟s next?” Toby asked, hoping to start the conversation. CJ took a deep breath before answering. “Dr. Davis says that we should give the old fashioned method a try for at least 6 months to a year before discussing alternatives.” “That sounds logical,” Toby responded. CJ continued staring at the board above Toby‟s desk. “So, for now I keep monitoring my ovulation cycle and we…” Toby made and effort to keep his voice completely neutral. “Yeah… so when will that be?” “Should be about two weeks,” she answered trying not to betray any of her nervousness in her voice. “So, two weeks….” “Yeah,” she said standing, “I… uh… I should be getting back to work.” She was out the door before Toby could even respond. PART 10 After work Sam and Josh had convinced CJ to put aside the wedding plans for a while and go out to their favorite bar. Toby hadn‟t been nearly as difficult to convince, and the four were now ensconced in a rear booth well into their second round of drinks. “Come on just something small, a few guys, some beer…” Sam urged. Josh chimed in, “A very tasteful dancer.” “I told you a hundred times already, no bachelor party,” Toby groaned. “Toby, it‟s not really for the groom,” Josh argued. “It‟s for the rest of us.” “No,” snapped Toby. “Just consider this your bachelor party guys.” Raising her glass CJ said, “To bachelors everywhere.” “CJ, you know the bride really isn‟t supposed to be at the bachelor party, right?” Josh asked. “Yeah, well neither is the maid of honor,” she replied, glaring at Josh. “CJ, I still don‟t understand what the big deal is.” “Sam, as long as I‟m the Press Secretary I will personally see to it that there is never a headline that reads 'White House Senior Staffers Cavort with Stripper'.” “CJ, we weren‟t going to get a…” Sam again tried to explain. “Yeah, right!” CJ cut him off with a wave of her hand. Toby'd had enough, “Can we please change the topic? I don‟t want a bachelor party, I never wanted a bachelor party, and I don‟t see the point of bachelor parties to begin with. The important thing is the wedding, is it not?” “You know, I‟ve never even seen you two kiss,” announced Josh. “What?” Toby and CJ both asked at the same time. “Kiss, you‟re getting married, you do kiss each other, right?” Josh replied. Toby explained, “I don‟t believe in public displays of affection.” “It‟s just us, what‟s the big deal?” Sam asked. “Sam,” Toby warned “The wedding‟s a week away, you‟re going to have to kiss in front of a room full of people then,” Josh countered. “Don‟t you think you better practice?” CJ quickly answered, “I do not need practice kissing, Joshua, thank you very much.” “You may not, Claudia Jean, but I‟m not so sure about Toby here,” Josh taunted. “Just how long were you two sneaking around anyway?” questioned Sam. “Sneaking around?” Toby echoed. “Well obviously you got pretty good at hiding your relationship,” Sam reasoned. “You‟re still trying to settle that bet aren‟t you?” demanded CJ. Josh began to chant, “Toby and CJ sittin‟ in a tree NOT k-i-s-s-i-s-n-g.” CJ turned to Toby, who was sitting next to her, and said, “You do realize they aren‟t going to stop.” “Yeah,” he agreed. Toby raised his eyebrow quizzically, and CJ shrugged her response. He slowly leaned toward her and gently touched his lips to hers, but CJ impulsively reached up and held his face with both hands as she deepened the kiss. Her intention had been to teach Sam and Josh a lesson, but soon she became lost in the sensations created by the kiss. The sound of Josh‟s voice brought them both back to reality. “Okay, okay, okay,” Josh whined. “Jeez, get a room already.” “Problem Josh?” Toby gloated with a grin. “Yeah, don‟t do that ever again, okay?” Josh pleaded. “Then stay out of our personal life, okay?” Toby shot back. “Josh… you do know as best man Sam will get to lead?” CJ asked. “I am not dancing with him!” Josh and Sam both said pointing at each other across the table. “Then get me another grasshopper,” CJ said pointing to her empty glass. Sam and Josh practically tripped over each other in their race to the bar. PART 11 There was no actual rehearsal, but the President and First Lady had insisted on hosting a dinner the night before the wedding, so that they could meet CJ and Toby‟s families. The Creggs and the Zieglers were getting along wonderfully with the First Family and the senior staff; everyone was thrilled that CJ and Toby had finally decided to get married. After dinner, the President gave a beautiful toast claiming that the first time he had seen CJ and Toby together he could tell that they were meant to be. Then CJ‟s brother Matthew, had toasted Toby for actually getting his older sister to commit to something other than her job. Finally Josh teased them about sneaking around and trying to throw everyone off track by fighting so much of the time, but he had closed his remarks by saying that one day he hoped to find with someone what CJ and Toby had, friendship, understanding, and true love. Once the toasts were completed people began to break off into smaller groups to talk and exchange stories about the bride and groom. About an hour later, Toby looked around the room for CJ, but couldn‟t spot her. After asking several people, Donna was the one who told him that she had seen her go out onto the balcony, and sure enough that‟s where he found her, leaning against a column in the shadows, looking out across the lawn. He walked up and leaned against the railing facing her. “What‟s wrong?” Toby asked. “I‟m sorry I drug you into all this,” she replied, without taking her eyes off the darkened grounds. Toby protested, “You didn‟t drag me anywhere?” “This whole thing was my idea.” “Granted, having a baby was your idea to begin with, but I‟m the one who suggested we do it together. I‟m the one who proposed. CJ, I‟m exactly where I want to be.” “Don‟t you feel like a hypocrite?” she argued, at last turning to look at him. “You know it‟s not that simple.” “Yes it is. This whole thing is one big lie. It‟s just… everyone thinks that we‟re some fairytale love story.” Toby shook his head. “I guarantee you no one thinks that about us.” “You know what I mean.” “CJ, we‟re getting married tomorrow, this whole evening is part of the tradition,” he reasoned. “Just a big build up to get everyone ready for the wedding.” “I know, but I feel like we‟re lying to everyone, to our friends, to our families. They‟re inside thinking that we‟re…” she gestured wildly with her hands trying to find the words. “Well, that we‟re something that we‟re not.” “CJ, our decisions are no one else‟s business,” Toby countered. “Do you regret our decision to try to have a child together?” “No,” CJ answered quietly. He continued, “Do you still think the best thing for our child would be to have two parents who love him?” “Yes,” she responded. “Do you still think that it‟s the best thing for our future child is for us to be married?” he asked trying to get her focused. “Yes,” she replied a little more confidence finding it‟s way into her voice. “So just remember what the stakes are here.” He gently took hold of her upper arms. “Our reasons for getting married are just as valid as anyone else‟s.” “You‟re right,” she agreed finally sounding convinced. “I know I‟m right,” he said with a satisfied smile. “Now, you‟re not going to leave me standing at the altar tomorrow are you?” “No, I‟ll be there,” CJ replied with a smile, “I promise.” “So, shall we go back and face the masses?” Toby gestured toward the French doors. CJ nodded and they returned to the party. PART 12 It was early evening, and the terrace of the hotel where the ceremony was to be held looked like a garden. Potted plants and trees lined the perimeter and sparkled with tiny white lights and a white runner marked the aisle where CJ would make her appearance. Toby entered from the side of the room with Sam, Josh and the officiant, Judge Harris, signaling that the ceremony was about to start. Once they had taken their places, Toby with Sam standing next to him and Josh on CJ‟s side of the aisle, Toby turned and began to survey the faces before him. He saw CJ‟s mother sitting in the front row; surrounded by CJ‟s brothers and their families. Toby absently wondered what it meant that the President and Mrs. Bartlet had chosen to sit right behind CJ‟s family. Leo sat on the other side of the First Lady with Margaret; they had clearly made their choice. Donna was also there on CJ‟s side of the aisle, as were her deputies, Carol, and several correspondents who were under strict orders that they were present merely as guests. Well, at least Bonnie and Ginger were sitting on his side Toby mused as he continued to scan the assembled group. Ed and Larry were on his side, too, but Toby couldn‟t remember seeing their names on the guest list. Just across the aisle from their parents were Elizabeth, Ellie, and Zoey with Charlie. Well, if he had to choose, Toby would pick the first daughters over the President any day. His brother and sisters filled the rows closest to him with their families. David caught his eye, grinned and gave him the thumbs up sign, but then the music started. As the soft strains of a harp filled the air with Pachebel‟s Canon, all eyes including Toby‟s turned to the back of the terrace in anticipation of the bride‟s appearance. Just as CJ and Toby made eye contact everyone stood up blocking their view of each other. CJ paused at the entrance, took a deep breath then nodded to her father and he escorted her slowly down the aisle. Once she reached the half way point Toby could again see her, and she looked absolutely stunning. She wore an elegantly simple ivory suit and carried a bouquet of pastel tulips hand tied with an ivory ribbon. Her hair was pulled up with little wisps escaping to gently frame her face. CJ tried to take in the smiling faces of her friends and family as she walked down the aisle, but only a few actually registered in her mind, the President and Mrs. Bartlet, her brothers, her Mom. Then she looked at Toby and once their eyes locked it seemed like suddenly she was standing next to him. Her father gently kissed her on the cheek then placed her hand in Toby‟s and took his seat. Judge Harris began to speak, “Claudia, Toby, we have gathered here this evening to celebrate with you one of life‟s greatest moments, the joining together of two lives in the bonds of marriage. Should there be anyone who has just cause why this couple should not be united in marriage, speak now or else forever hold your peace.” After a brief moment of silence both CJ and Toby realized they hand been holding their breath and smiled at each other relaxing a bit. The judge addressed CJ and asked, “Claudia Jean Cregg, do you take Toby Zachary Ziegler, to be your wedded husband to live together in marriage? Do you promise to love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, and forsaking all others, be faithful only unto him, so long as you both shall live? CJ took a breath and tried to steady her voice before answering, “I do.” Then the judge looked to Toby and asked, “Toby Zachary Ziegler, do you take Claudia Jean Cregg to be your wedded wife, to live together in marriage? Do you promise to love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, and forsaking all others, be faithful only unto her, so long as you both shall live? Toby looked into CJ‟s eyes and squeezed her hand as he responded, “I do.” The judge instructed, “Please join right hands.” They were already holding onto the correct hand, but both looked down to double check, which elicited a chuckle from Josh and nervous smiles from CJ and Toby. Judge Harris shrugged then continued, “Claudia, please repeat after me.” CJ recited her vow repeating after Judge Harris, “I, Claudia, take you, Toby, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.” As she spoke her voice remained strong, but a few tears quietly slid down her cheek as she promised her love to her best friend. Toby reached up with his left hand and gently wiped the stray drops away. Then Judge Harris addressed him, “Toby, please repeat after me.” Toby‟s voice cracked as he began, “I, Toby, take you, Claudia, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.” Next, the judge asked for the rings. CJ turned and handed her bouquet to Josh as Sam handed both rings to Judge Harris. The judge then gave Toby‟s ring to CJ and she placed it on his finger saying, “With this ring, I thee wed.” Judge Harris then handed CJ‟s ring to Toby, but before he placed it on her finger he saw that she was still crying. He silently asked her if she was okay while again brushing the tears from her face. When she nodded, he slid the wedding band onto her finger saying quietly, “With this ring, I thee wed.” The judge again spoke, “Claudia and Toby, now that you have given yourselves to each other by solemn vows, with the joining of hands and the giving and receiving of rings, I now declare you to be husband and wife.” CJ took a shaky breath as she looked into Toby‟s eyes and he gently caressed the backs of her hands with his thumbs. Judge Harris broke the silence by reminding Toby, “You may now kiss the bride.” Toby smiled self-consciously as he leaned slowly toward CJ. When their lips met, CJ reached up to gently caress Toby‟s cheek with her hand. The couple exchanged a gentle kiss eliciting cheers and applause from their families and friends and reminding them that there were nearly eighty people watching. Embarrassed, Toby ended the kiss and turned his back on the cheering crowd. Josh quickly thrust the flowers back into CJ‟s hands eager to be rid of them. Judge Harris motioned for bride and groom to turn and face everyone then announced, “President and Dr. Bartlet, ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you, Mr. and Mrs. Toby and Claudia Ziegler.” Once again, cheers and applause rang out from the assembled group and Toby and CJ exited down the aisle to the notes of Beethoven‟s Ode to Joy. PART 13 After the ceremony, everyone moved inside for cocktails and hors d‟oeuvres. CJ and Toby posed for a few photographs with the Creggs and Zieglers, as well as their extended family, including Josh and Sam, The President and Mrs. Bartlet. Once that was out of the way the newlyweds ventured inside to accept congratulations from their guests. One of the first people they ran into after joining the reception was Congresswoman Wyatt. Andi approached the couple with a warm smile, hugging first Toby and then CJ. “Congratulations, I‟m so happy for both of you,” she offered sincerely. CJ waited a moment giving Toby a chance to say something, but when he didn‟t she filled in the silence between them. “Thank you, Andi. It‟s good to see you.” “CJ, you look beautiful. Marriage definitely becomes you,” she looked to Toby and added, “both of you.” Toby finally spoke, “Thank you.” “I think part of me always knew that you two would end up together.” There was no malice or anger in Andi‟s voice, just a pure statement of fact. CJ looked down and began examining the bouquet still in her hands as her mind suddenly flashed on a very similar scene that had played out several years before. Only that time she had been the one offering her congratulations to the newly married couple. When she felt Toby‟s hand against the small of her back, she glanced over at him and they exchanged a brief understanding look. Toby turned back to Andi. “I…. I‟m glad you could make it.” “Are you kidding?” Andi quipped. “Toby, I never miss one of your weddings. They‟re always a damn good party.” Relaxing a bit, Toby countered, “As I recall, there‟s only been one other.” Andi teasingly replied, “Yeah, but this time you got it right, Pokey,” as she kissed him on the cheek before excusing herself. Neither Toby nor CJ had the chance to dwell on the feelings that Andi brought up, as person after person offered their congratulations and best wishes. After dinner, Toby and CJ took the floor for the obligatory first dance. Toby felt very uncomfortable being so much the center of attention. Halfway through the dance, CJ leaned close to him and whispered, “Try to smile a bit there, Pokey.” “I can‟t smile,” he muttered, “I‟m counting.” CJ laughed. “Why are you counting, you‟re a good dancer?” “Not with everyone watching I‟m not,” he said through clenched teeth. “Be careful, everyone will think we‟re having our first fight already. Not that anyone would be too surprised mind you.” “Would you be quiet,” he shot back at her and began quietly counting. CJ laughed again. “Stop laughing,” he demanded. She only laughed harder. “What do you suppose that‟s about?” The President asked Leo, as they stood off to the side of the dance floor watching Toby and CJ. “I never understood them before,” Leo replied. “They‟re just going to get worse now that they‟re married.” Everyone enjoyed the reception thoroughly. CJ danced with her father and brothers. Then she danced with David, Sam, Josh, Leo, Charlie and Simon. She had danced with Ed until Larry cut in half way through. The President had of course insisted on several dances. Toby certainly wasn‟t a wallflower. His dance card had so far been filled by his sisters, CJ‟s Mom, Abbey, Donna, Ginger, Bonnie, Margaret, Carol, Elizabeth, Ellie, Zoey, and Ainsley. While all of this was going on Toby and CJ had even managed a couple of less nerve-racking dances together. As the evening wound to a close Josh, Sam, Donna, and Ginger were the last of the White House Staff left on the dance floor among the Creggs and Zieglers. The band announced that they were about to play their last song of the night. Josh asked, “It can‟t be that late, can it?” “It can,” Donna confirmed. “What are you two still doing here?” Sam asked. “What, we aren‟t allowed to enjoy our own reception?” CJ said a little too forcefully. Both she and Toby had both been stalling, and she knew it. “Sure,” Josh said, “but don‟t you want to, you know, enjoy your wedding night or something?” Toby put his arm around CJ‟s waist and pulled her against him. “We have the rest of our lives,” he said with a smile, while trying to keep the nervousness he felt out of his voice. “CJ, one more dance?” She nodded, happy to get away from Josh and Sam. The last song was slow and romantic; wordlessly Toby held her close as they moved across the floor. CJ decided it was probably just for show, but she wasn‟t above enjoying the feel of being in his arms. Toby felt her nuzzle against his neck and took a deep breath. He knew that it would be very easy to get lost in her, but he also knew that she thought of him as her best friend. He would never do anything that would damage that friendship. PART 14 After promising to meet their families for brunch at the hotel the next morning, Toby and CJ headed home. They had decided to live at her condominium, but since the rent on his apartment was paid until the end of the month nothing had been moved yet. CJ unlocked the door, but Toby stepped in front of her blocking her path before she could walk through. “Wait here,” he instructed as he set down the duffel bag he was carrying just inside her entry. “Toby, you don‟t have to do this.” “I know I don‟t,” he countered. “I want to.” He walked back out next to her. “You‟ll hurt yourself,” she argued. “CJ, I‟m fine,” he said as he lifted her up into his arms. She was still protesting as he stepped over the threshold. “Toby really… it‟s okay…I don‟t…” She stopped once she realized that they were now inside, and Toby gently eased her back onto her feet. An uneasy silence stretched between them, Toby reached out and caressed her cheek then pulled her toward him. CJ‟s heart pounded as he leaned forward and gently kissed her on the forehead then softly said, “Goodnight, CJ.” “Toby? I… um…” “CJ, I don‟t expect… I mean I don‟t want you to ever feel obligated…” “I don‟t.” She cut him off defensively. “I just thought maybe we could talk or something.” “It‟s been a long day,” Toby said rocking back on his heels and looking at a spot on the wall over her left shoulder. “I thought you might be tired, but we can talk if you want.” “No, that‟s okay. I am kind of tired.” She turned and headed down the hall to her bedroom, but stopped halfway. “The guest room‟s all made up and there are fresh towels in your bathroom. Let me know if you need anything.” He called back to her, “I‟ll be fine,” as he picked up his bag and headed in the opposite direction. About an hour and a half later, Toby emerged from his room to get a glass of water wearing navy pajama pants and a tee shirt. The only light in the room came through the open drapes from the streetlight outside. He didn‟t notice CJ in her green satin pajamas curled up in the corner of the couch. “I made tea if you want some.” Toby jumped. “Damn, CJ. I didn‟t even see you there. You scared the crap out of me.” CJ laughed. “Sorry, I couldn‟t sleep.” “Me either,” he said as he went into the kitchen. He returned a few minutes and sat down on the other end of the couch a steaming mug in his hands. “What‟s wrong?” he asked, as he blew into the hot liquid. “Nothing, just thinking.” CJ answered. “CJ, you‟re sitting here in the dark,” he said, as he reached out and patted her legs that were pulled up next to her on the couch. “It‟s nothing bad,” she assured him. “We‟re just making so many changes so quickly, it‟s just a lot to get used to. Why are you up?” “The same thing I guess. It‟s kind of hard to keep from thinking about twelve steps down the road. Up until now I was focused on the wedding, but as I was laying there in bed I started thinking about diapers, and teacher conferences, and college funds.” “Toby, you‟re getting a little ahead of yourself there.” “I know.” CJ looked at him over the rim of her mug. “Toby what if this doesn‟t work?” “What do you mean?” “What if we can‟t get pregnant?” She explained. “CJ, everything‟s going to be fine,” he reasoned. “We both got tested. It‟ll happen.” “But, what if it doesn‟t?” “Well, I guess at least if it doesn‟t work, we‟ll know that we tried. Isn‟t it better to have at least given it a shot?” “I guess so.” CJ agreed reluctantly. They sat quietly for a while drinking their tea, until CJ asked, “Want to watch television?” “Sure.” CJ put her tea down on the coffee table and turned the TV on with the remote. She scanned the stations until she saw the image of Cary Grant chasing a little dog across the screen. “Ooh, „Bringing Up Baby.‟ I love this movie.” She resettled herself on the couch so that she could see the TV better and was leaning against Toby‟s shoulder. “This has Katherine Hepburn in it doesn‟t it?” Toby asked as he placed his half-finished tea on the end table, and propped his feet up in front of him. “Yep.” Toby reached behind them and pulled the throw blanket off the back of the couch and draped it across CJ‟s legs. Then he wrapped his arm around her shoulders thinking of the ways CJ reminded him of Katherine Hepburn, strong, independent, intelligent, strikingly beautiful, tall, witty, determined. “You know I‟ve always loved Katherine Hepburn,” he said out of nowhere. CJ looked up at him and replied, “Me too.” Then she snuggled in closer and closed her eyes. They both drifted off to sleep as they watched the movie. PART 15 CJ had been taking her temperature and charting her ovulation cycle every morning for the past couple of months. She was always regular and she knew that in all likelihood this morning the chart would tell her that she was about to ovulate. The thermometer beeped and for the first time her hands were shaking as she recorded the temperature it displayed. Yep, today was the day. She heard Toby up making coffee in the kitchen and decided if she was going to be preoccupied thinking about this all day, he should be too. She pulled on her robe and padded barefoot into the kitchen. He still hadn‟t learned where everything was and she could hear him muttering and banging cabinets from down the hall. He didn‟t even notice when she walked right past him and got a carton of orange juice out of the refrigerator. He was standing in her way so she asked, “Toby, would you please hand me a glass?” He didn‟t even look at her, just demanded, “Where the hell are the coffee filters?” CJ reached out and opened the cupboard directly above the coffee maker and handed him a filter, then she got herself a glass, poured some juice and sat down at the breakfast bar. Once Toby finished assembling the coffeemaker and turned it on he looked to her and grumbled, “Good morning.” “Good morning,” she replied sweetly, and now that she had his attention she made her announcement. “I‟m ovulating.” “That‟s nice.” Toby replied as he got a mug out and placed it on the counter next to the coffee maker and began to stare intently at the machine as it spitted and sputtered. “Toby did you hear me?” “Yeah, sure I heard you,” he responded. “Okay, then what did I say?” Toby didn‟t take his eyes off the coffee maker. “Toby.” She tried to get his attention again. He turned and leaned against the counter and looked at her. “What did you say?” CJ rolled her eyes and repeated, “I‟m ovulating.” Toby‟s eyes went wide and CJ knew that at last her point had gotten across. She picked up her juice and headed back to her room to get dressed. Toby stood leaning against the counter for a few minutes, then walked back to his room completely forgetting about the coffee. He no longer needed the caffeine to wake him up. The day had been hectic and most of the senior staff ordered dinner at about seven-thirty. CJ was finally able to call a full lid at nine o‟clock and headed home. After giving Sam detailed instructions on the speech to introduce the President‟s new education initiative, Toby followed about a half hour later. When he got home, Toby walked in and dropped his keys in the dish on the table in the entryway. CJ was nowhere to be found, but there was light peeking out from under the door to her bedroom. Toby decided a little freshening up would be in order; it had been a long day. He dropped his jacket over the chair in the guest room and took off his tie, then headed for the bathroom where he splashed some water on his face, brushed his teeth, rinsed with a little mouthwash, applied some deodorant and a splash of cologne and looked at himself in the mirror. Try as he might, he couldn‟t get the stupid grin off his face. He was definitely nervous, but he was about to make love to CJ Cregg and no matter how anxious that idea made him, he was one hell of a lucky man. When Toby emerged from the bathroom he noticed that CJ‟s door was now open. As he got closer he could see the room was filled with flickering light from the many candles she had scattered around the room. “CJ,” he called out tentatively. From the dressing area of her bathroom she answered, “Just a second.” Toby‟s eyes were trained on the doorway when she appeared and he knew instantly that he would never get used to just how beautiful she was. CJ walked toward him and his eyes drank in the sight of her. She was wearing a long cream colored silk robe, almost no make up and he had never seen her look more gorgeous. She paused about three steps away from him. “You are incredibly beautiful.” Toby said quietly. CJ took a half step toward him. “Yeah?” “Definitely.” He said with a nod as he took a half step toward her. She looked at him and tried to smile. “Are you as nervous as I am?” “You‟re the one that announced at the Kennedy Center you were good in bed, not to mention telling the President.” Shaking her head, she said, “Don‟t remind me,” “Why?” he questioned. “You seemed pretty confident about the statement at the time? “I was, I am. It‟s just…” she stammered, “it‟s been a while.” “For me too,” he confessed looking down at the floor. He looked back to CJ and tried to lighten the tension, “But I don‟t think it‟s something you forget how to do. At least I hope not.” CJ laughed nervously “Let‟s just take this slow. Okay?” “Okay.” She nodded. Toby reached out and gently caressed her cheek and began tracing his thumb along the outline of her lips. He inhaled sharply as CJ softly kissed the thumb he was gliding across her mouth. She couldn‟t help but smile at the reaction she elicited from him. Toby quickly decided that two could play that game. He took her hand in his and deliberately lifted it up drawing the tip of each finger into his mouth to gently kiss it before moving on to the next never taking his eyes from hers. Then he used his hold on her hand to pull her towards him. Their faces just inches apart, Toby leaned forward and paused, his lips barely grazing hers, then suddenly the final distance between them was closed as their mouths joined in a kiss that moved quickly from tentative and timid to probing and passionate. CJ slid her arms up Toby‟s chest and around his neck. He tangled one hand in her hair as his other held her tightly to him. Finally the need for air forced them to part and they stood gazing at each other wide eyed. Toby reached down and slowly untied the sash on her robe. He then slid it methodically across her shoulders to reveal the thin straps that held up her matching negligee. CJ sighed audibly as he began trailing kisses from just below her ear, down her neck and across the newly exposed flesh of her shoulder. He let go of the robe and it fell off her arms and pooled on the ground at her feet. CJ couldn‟t keep her hands still any longer. She grabbed hold of Toby‟s shirt and pulled it out of his pants then began undoing the buttons. Toby unbuttoned the cuffs then allowed her to push it off his shoulders and before it could hit the floor they were once again locked in an ardent kiss. When the kiss ended, CJ pulled out of Toby‟s arms and stepped back. He looked puzzled, but then she reached out her hand and led him to the bed. A while later, Toby sat propped up in bed looking down at CJ curled up on her side facing him. He thought back to the quiet conversation that they‟d had while lying tangled in the sheets holding hands. She pointed out that he had called her Claudia and when she asked for a reason all he could say was that it seemed right at the time. Now the distinction seemed so clear, CJ was a colleague, a drinking buddy, a friend, but Claudia was the woman he had married, the woman with whom he planned to have a child. He watched her sleep peacefully a few minutes longer before deciding it would be best to avoid the awkward morning after. Slowly he eased out of bed being careful not to wake her; then he blew out the candles around the room and gathered up his discarded clothing. Before leaving he took one last look over his shoulder at her sleeping form and couldn‟t resist bending down to place a gentle kiss on her forehead. The buzz of the alarm clock woke CJ and she rolled over to quickly hit the snooze button before flopping back on the bed. Slowly remembering the night before, a smile spread across her face. Last night she had been surprised by their intensity, but now that she thought about it she realized that it shouldn‟t have come as such a shock. Judging by the way the two of them argued, she should have known that they would do other things just as passionately. Looking over at the empty side of the bed, CJ understood why Toby hadn‟t stayed, but still couldn‟t shake the slight feeling of loneliness that tugged at her heart. Absently she wondered what it would be like to wake up in the arms of Toby Ziegler. Before her musings could wander too far, the alarm sounded again reminding her she had to get up and start the day. PART 16 After completing her midafternoon briefing, CJ strode down the hall and into her office. She was surprised to find Toby standing at her desk. “What‟s up?” He turned to face her and explained, “I was just leaving you the memo on the new trade agreement. Come see me when you‟ve had a chance to look it over” As she rounded her desk, CJ nodded. “Okay.” Toby turned to leave then decided to add, “I saw how you handled that last question. Good job.” Then he headed for the door. CJ stopped him, quietly calling, “Toby.” He turned back to her. “Yeah.” “I‟m not pregnant,” she stated flatly. “How do you…” Toby began to ask, then mentally answered his own question, “Oh.” “Yeah.” He took a couple of steps toward her. “You didn‟t really think it would happen right away.” “No.” CJ dropped her briefing book on the desk, then continued, “I guess I was kind of hoping though.” Toby nodded his understanding. “I‟m just used to deciding to do something, then making it happen. Logically, I know odds are it‟s going to take a while, but I don‟t want to be logical right now. I don‟t want to wait.” The frustration was evident in CJ‟s voice. Toby shrugged. “So we try again next month, then the month after that, and the month after that.” Stepping closer to where she stood behind her desk he lowered his voice, “You can‟t tell me you don‟t enjoy…” CJ couldn‟t stop the little smile that played at the corners of her mouth. “Oh, I enjoyed it, and I‟m fairly certain you do, too.” Toby looked down at the floor then ran a hand over his head, when he looked back at her the blush was rising under his beard. “So that‟s something to look forward to.” CJ leaned over her desk towards him and spoke in a soft breathy voice, “You could say that.” Toby looked around the office and asked, “Is it getting hot in here?” CJ let out a deep throaty laugh and dropped into her chair. “Is it really this easy to get you bothered? Or are you just trying to cheer me up?” “You‟ll never know,” Toby gloated, then walked out of her office. “Don‟t bet on it, Pokey,” CJ shot back at him and then continued to laugh. PART 17 (For continuity purposes of this fic, please pretend that commencement for Notre Dame is at the end of May not the middle.) CJ ducked into Toby‟s office and shook her head when she saw him lying on the couch rhythmically throwing one of his pink rubber balls into the air and catching it. “So, when do you think you might get out of here tonight?” she asked. “Depends,” he answered between catches. She sat down on the arm of the sofa and crossed her arms. “Depends on what?” “When Sam finishes his part of the commencement address,” Toby explained not taking his eyes off the ball. CJ seemed surprised. “That‟s not for almost two weeks.” “Leo wants a rough draft on his desk first thing in the morning and once Sam is done with his pass, I‟ll have to reintroduce him to the finer points of grammar and punctuation. Why?” “Well, it‟s that time again.” He caught the ball and looked at her. “What time?” “Baby-making time,” she replied. She tried to keep a straight face, but couldn‟t completely stop the smile from reaching her eyes. Toby immediately stood up and was yelling, “Sam,” before he reached the door. CJ was definitely grinning when she headed back to her own office. It was almost eleven o‟clock when they ultimately made it home. CJ dropped her keys and briefcase in the entryway. Toby took off his coat, then helped CJ with hers and hung both in the closet. An awkward silence settled between them. CJ finally asked, “Are you hungry?” “We ordered Chinese, remember?” Toby replied. “Yes, yes we did,” she said with an embarrassed laugh. Taking her hand, Toby said, “This still feels a bit strange, doesn‟t it?” “It‟s silly. I mean we‟ve done this before,” she said gesturing toward her bedroom with her free hand. “Yeah, and as I recall we do it rather well.” He began caressing the back of her hand with his thumb. CJ took a deep breath. “Oh, we do this very well.” “So maybe we should stop talking and start doing?” Toby suggested. CJ laughed a little at his comment but stopped when his mouth covered hers. She closed her eyes and deepened the kiss sliding her hand up his chest and around to the back of his neck. The kiss left them both breathless and very aroused. CJ drew Toby‟s hands away from the buttons on her blouse and pulled him in the direction of her bedroom. It was after midnight DC time, and the President and his staff were on Air Force One flying home. They had spent the day in Indiana where among other things the President had given the Notre Dame commencement address. Toby was watching CJ shift around uncomfortably in her seat, and when she grimaced for the third time in as many minutes he finally asked, “What‟s wrong?” “Nothing,” she replied off hand. “CJ.” She took a deep breath before telling him, “It‟s just cramps.” “Oh.” He replied, then gently covered her hand with his, “I‟m sorry.” “It‟s okay. I wasn‟t really expecting it to happen this time.” “Why not?” he asked. She shrugged. “I don‟t know, I just wasn‟t.” CJ shifted in her seat again and he asked, “Is there anything I can do?” “No.” “I could see if Dr. Bartlet has anything that would help,” he offered. “Toby, I‟m fine. As a matter of fact, I can‟t believe you‟re even discussing this. You usually hate it when I talk about this stuff.” “Oh, trust me, I still hate it,” he assured her. “Are you sure there isn‟t anything I can do?” CJ smiled. “Well, I do have some Aleve in my purse.” “Okay, where‟s your purse?” “In the conference room we were in earlier,” she replied shaking her head in disbelief as Toby left to retrieve her purse. A few minutes later Toby returned carrying her tan handbag and a bottle of water. CJ thanked him while she fished the pillbox out of her purse and downed two Aleve. Toby watched her stuff the purse under the seat in front of her, settle back and close her eyes. Once he knew she was asleep, he got a blanket from one of the stewards and carefully tucked it around her, then he got out his notebook and began writing. PART 18 A couple of weeks later, CJ again found herself on Air Force One late at night. This time they were flying back from a five-day G8 summit in Europe. She looked at her watch and tried to calculate the time in DC. Sam glanced up from his book and asked, “Got an appointment CJ?” CJ responded, “What?” “That‟s got to be the fifth time you‟ve looked at your watch in the last ten minutes,” Sam explained. “I just want to get home,” she answered, then turned to look out the window at the darkness. “You miss him don‟t you?” Sam inquired, with a grin on his face. “We‟ve only been gone five days.” “So, you still miss him don‟t you? That‟s why you‟re so anxious to get home.” CJ contemplated telling Sam that she had already missed several prime fertility days and she was anxious to get home and have sex with Toby before the window closed completely for the month. It would be fun just to punish him with that information, but she decided in the end it would only lead to more teasing. So instead she went on offense, “What if I do? Shouldn‟t a wife miss her husband?” Sam had wanted to get a reaction out of her, but not an argument and he stammered back, “Well, yeah. Sure.” Then he went back to reading his book. CJ turned to look out the darkened window. Did she really miss Toby that much? They spoke every day on the phone, but only about work. She did miss their conversations at the end of the day or just sitting together on the couch while they both caught up on their reading. A steward approached interrupting her ponderings by telling her, “CJ, you have a call on line four.” “Thanks, Jim.” She picked up the phone in the seat next to her and answered, “CJ Cregg.” Toby‟s voice greeted her on the other end, “Hi.” “Hi.” “So, what time do you land?” he asked. “Should be about another hour I think.” CJ tiredly rubbed her eyes. “What time is it there?” “Almost nine o‟clock.” “Feels later,” she mumbled. “That‟s because you‟re still on European time,” he told her. CJ corrected him, “No, that‟s because I got three hours of sleep last night.” “Why is that?” he asked. “Oh, I don‟t know, maybe because some yutz called me at four o‟clock in the morning?” Sheepishly he responded, “I‟ll make it up to you. I promise.” “Damn right you will?” CJ demanded. “Are you going in after you land?” “I wasn‟t planning on it. After the photo op of the President de-planing I thought I‟d release everybody. I‟m exhausted and five days nonstop with the press corps is enough for anyone.” “If you‟re too tired, we can always skip this month,” Toby offered hoping that she wouldn‟t agree. “No way!” “Okay. Okay.” Toby laughed at her forcefulness. “I‟ll see you when you get home, goodbye” “Bye,” CJ said then hung up the phone. Sam saw her look back out the window and nodded at the smile on her face. CJ was shocked when she got home to find Toby had drawn her a bubble bath then insisted on giving her a back rub. She felt a bit self-conscious at first, lying on her bed with her robe pulled down below her waist, but it felt silly to object and Toby was a surprisingly good masseur. She really didn‟t want to stop him, but after about fifteen minutes she had to. “Toby, if you don‟t stop, I‟m going to fall asleep.” “Okay,” he said, his hands still kneading the muscles of her bare back. “I could tell on the phone that the press was driving you crazy this trip. I thought you might want to unwind a little.” CJ answered, “They were, and I did.” Then she rolled over on the bed and pulled Toby down on top of her. “Now, that you‟ve got me sufficiently unwound, how exactly are you going to wind me back up again?” Toby‟s hands roamed over her exposed flesh and he teased, “I have my ways.” “So do I,” she quipped then took hold of his face with both hands and drew him towards her. CJ was wrapping up a meeting with her staff when she noticed Toby hovering in the doorway of her office. Once everyone had left he walked in and closed the door. “So, is there anything I should know?” he asked. “Are we talking work or personal here?” she asked taking off her glasses. Toby answered, “Well both, but at the moment I‟m more interested in the personal. Did you, you know……” As his words trailed off he ran a hand over his head. CJ couldn‟t help but smile at his discomfort, but her smile disappeared as she replied, “If you‟re trying to ask if I started my period, the answer is yes.” “Oh,” he said stuffing his hands in his pockets and rocking back on his heels. CJ looked down at her desk and took a deep breath. “I was actually a day late. I kind of thought…… maybe……” Toby looked worried and asked, “It‟s been three months, do you think we should get tested again?” “No, I think we‟re two people with very stressful jobs and I‟m forty-two years old,” she responded. “Yeah, I guess you‟re right,” he agreed. CJ continued, “Toby, I refuse to worry about this for at least three more months. Okay?” “I think that sounds like an excellent plan. Can you actually do that?” She sighed. “I‟m trying.” PART 19 Toby entered the Roosevelt Room and took a seat next to Josh. Bruno, Doug and Connie sat on the opposite side of the table and Sam stood at one end of the room poised to begin the meeting. “Go ahead and start, Sam. CJ will be here any minute,” Toby instructed. Sam picked up a stack of binders that said „Convention 2002‟ on the cover and began passing them out. “Okay, the schedule will change another hundred times in the next week so let‟s skip that part and start with talking points, page twenty-seven.” Everyone flipped through their binders to the appropriate page and began going over the list, except Bruno. He was scanning the last section in the binder marked „Travel Itineraries.‟ “Toby, I see you‟re not arriving until the end of the week,” Bruno pointed out. “Yeah…” Toby responded cautiously. “I think you should plan on being there for the whole thing,” Bruno stated. “The President doesn‟t address the convention until the last night, why do I need to be there?” Toby questioned. “I think you should be there with your wife,” Bruno said, his tone condescending. “Oh.” Toby responded. Bruno explained, “I think we should play up your marriage in the press.” Toby leaned forward in his chair and demanded, “You think what?” Bruno continued in his usual tone, “Well, I admit it won‟t help us in the Mid-West or the Bible Belt, but I think it plays well on both coasts.” Toby stood and leaned across the table towards Bruno, “My personal life is not the story here.” “That‟s where you‟re wrong, “Bruno said as he reached into his briefcase and pulled out a file folder. Then he began lining up newspaper clippings on the table. „Love Blooms in the Bartlet White House,‟ „Passion on Pennsylvania Avenue,‟ „Romance Among the Senior Staff.‟ Toby glanced over the clippings and argued, “Those are from right before the wedding. That was months ago. We‟re old news now.” Bruno leaned back and crossed his arms, “That‟s exactly what I‟m trying to prevent. Your marriage can give us a bump in places like California, New York, Chicago…I think we should use that.” “I think we should focus on the issues,” Toby shot back at him. Doug was the only one willing to wade into the argument brewing between Toby and Bruno, “Come on Toby, you‟d be saying the same thing if you weren‟t directly involved.” Toby turned to Doug. “No, I‟d be saying we should focus on the issues.” “Well then you‟d be wrong.” Bruno stood and raised his voice. “You use whatever you‟ve got.” Toby yelled back, “Well you don‟t use my marriage.” CJ could hear the argument from down the hall and burst into the room demanding, “Someone want to tell me what the hell is going on here?” Toby and Bruno glared at each other across the conference table. When no one in the room answered CJ, Sam finally spoke up, “Bruno wants to trot you and Toby out as a couple at the Convention.” “Oh,” was CJ‟s response. Toby turned to her. “Oh?” CJ shrugged. “Well, I‟m not surprised if that‟s what you mean.” She looked from Toby to Bruno and asked, “How much of a bump do you think it would give us?” Bruno answered, “A point in New York and Illinois, maybe two in California.” CJ sat down in an empty chair on the same side of the room as Josh and Toby and reached for a bottle of water from the middle of the table. “California is going to be close.” Doug chimed in again, “That‟s fifty-four electoral votes.” “I know how many electoral votes California has,” Toby growled. Bruno sat back down and said, “Just think about it.” Toby picked up the binder in front of him and asked, “Can we actually discuss this now?” as he dropped it back onto the table. Bruno nodded and Toby gestured for Sam to continue. Sam looked from Toby to Bruno then back again and began, “Okay, we were going over the talking points on page twenty-seven.” PART 20 As Toby entered the hotel room with CJ he pulled off his already untied black tie and tossed his tuxedo jacket over a nearby chair. CJ dropped her purse on the dresser, removed her strappy high-heeled sandals with a sigh, and began taking off her jewelry. Then she ran her fingers through her hair and turned to face Toby. “You know, we should actually be grateful to Bruno.” Toby moved closer to her. “Don‟t ever let him hear you say that.” CJ continued, “Well if he hadn‟t suggested that you come early we might have blown our chances for this month.” Toby argued, “Originally you weren‟t even supposed to be here this early and I didn‟t come because of Bruno‟s suggestion. I came because the President had more speaking engagements added to his schedule.” CJ spun around to face him. “Toby does it really matter? You‟re here to write and Bruno gets his photo ops, what‟s the problem?” “The problem is I don‟t want people to think I‟m here because Bruno wanted us back in the news,” Toby shot back at her. CJ brushed passed him on the way into the bathroom. “I‟m not having this argument with you again.” She emerged a few minutes later, after removing her contacts and make up. Toby stepped up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. “I don‟t want to argue either, Claudia,” he said between the kisses he trailed down her neck. CJ placed her hands over his and leaned back against him. “I take it we‟re skipping the awkward silence this time.” “I thought it would save time,” he murmured as his hands found the zipper of her black gown. After he unzipped the dress, CJ turned in his arms and began unbuttoning his shirt. “Sounds like a good idea to me.” A while later, they lay in bed covered only by the rumpled sheet. CJ absently ran her hand across her abdomen and asked, “Do you think we made a baby this time?” “I don‟t know.” Toby replied. “What do you think.” “I‟m just wondering, not speculating,” She clarified. “Right,” Toby said looking up at the ceiling. CJ rolled over to face him, “You are planning on sleeping tonight aren‟t you.” Toby was puzzled by her question. “Yes, why?” “Well, this is the first time we‟ve shared a room and I just wanted to make sure you don‟t have any dumb ideas about sleeping on the floor or anything.” CJ watched him unsure of how he would react. “I‟m too old to sleep on the floor,” Toby said rubbing his eyes. “Yes, you are,” CJ teased automatically. He turned to look at her. “What‟s that supposed to mean?” CJ smiled innocently, “I just agreed with you.” Toby laughed. “Well don‟t do that, I‟m not used to it.” CJ laughed and replied, “Don‟t worry. Won‟t happen again” They lay there looking into each other‟s eyes for a moment, and then Toby rolled away from her and began wrestling with his pillow in an effort to get comfortable. CJ watched amused as he finally settled down and closed his eyes, then she rolled towards the wall and tried to go to sleep. Each night in California they fell asleep on their own side of the bed and each morning they woke up touching each other somehow. The first morning CJ had awakened to find Toby‟s arm across her waist. The next couple of mornings she found herself cuddled against him with her hand on his chest. Yesterday Toby had been spooned up behind her his arm across her stomach. That‟s how he was again on the last morning of the convention when she bolted out of bed and into the bathroom. Toby gingerly knocked on the open bathroom door. He found CJ kneeling on the floor emptying the contents of her stomach into the commode. He walked over to her and pulled her hair away from her face with one hand then gently stroked her back with his other. Once she was able to speak she said, “Toby, I‟m fine.” “Obviously not,” he countered. “Go back to bed,” CJ said, as she leaned back against the hotel bathtub and closed her eyes. “Here,” Toby said handing her a glass of water. After she rinsed out her mouth he handed her a damp washcloth and knelt down next to her. Once she had wiped her face he took the cloth from her and held it to the back of her neck. Hesitantly he asked, “Do you think maybe you‟re pregnant?” “I don‟t know, but I think it‟s too early for morning sickness. It‟s only been a few days.” He held his hand against her forehead. “You feel like you have a fever. Do you think you can make it back to bed?” “Toby, I‟m not missing today. I‟ll be fine.” As soon as the words were out of her mouth she lunged for the toilet and was sick again. After she settled back against the bathtub, Toby gave her another glass of water. “No matter how much you want to sometimes, you can‟t actually throw up on the press corps.” “Funny, very funny,” she replied as she sipped the water. The phone rang in the other room. When Toby returned, CJ was standing at the sink brushing her teeth. “Wake up call,” he explained. CJ turned to face him. “I‟m going back to bed, but only because I‟m sure that by this afternoon I‟ll be fine.” She refused his help getting back into bed and was asleep by the time he was ready to leave for the morning staff meeting. True to her word, CJ stood on the side of the platform that night as the President accepted the nomination of his party. She handled the press briefing before the role call vote and the endless parade of journalists and TV crews that wanted to speak with the President both before and after his speech. Later, at the party in the President‟s suite Abbey pulled her aside and said, “Claudia Jean, you look like hell.” “Well, thank you Ma‟am,” CJ replied. Abbey reached up and felt CJ‟s forehead, “Hmm, if I had to guess I‟d say about a hundred and one.” CJ stepped away from Abbey‟s touch, “Ma‟am, I‟m fine really.” “CJ, who‟s the doctor here?” Abbey said as she took hold of CJ‟s wrist and looked at her watch. “Your pulse rate is slightly elevated.” Abbey led CJ through the suite and to one of the bedrooms. “We‟re leaving for the plane in an hour, I want you to lie down until then.” CJ objected, “Dr. Bartlet, really, I‟m….” “Don‟t argue with me CJ. You‟re going to lie down and then when we get to Air Force One I‟m putting you in one of the rooms and I want you to sleep until we get back to DC.” CJ began to protest again, but Abbey silenced her, “Are you trying to get everyone else sick?” “No Ma‟am,” CJ said guiltily. Abbey‟s voice softened. “I didn‟t think so, just lie down and rest, that‟s the best thing for you right now.” “Yes Ma‟am.” CJ reluctantly stretched out on the bed and was asleep within minutes. PART 21 Toby strode down the hall towards CJ‟s office. His stated purpose would be to ask her to lunch, but he also wanted to gauge how she was feeling. Dr. Bartlet had said it was just a stomach virus at the Convention, but that was almost two weeks ago and she still wasn‟t back to her normal self. He found her sitting at her desk, leaning her head against the chair back, her eyes closed. He gently knocked on her open door; her only reaction was to open her eyes. He took that as approval to enter and walked in closing the door behind him. “I came by to see if you wanted lunch?” She closed her eyes again. “Don‟t mention food.” Toby sat down in one of the chairs facing her. “You need to eat.” “I‟ll eat, just not right now,” CJ said, her eyes still closed. “CJ, you haven‟t been well since the convention.” “I had the flu,” she argued. Toby replied, “The flu doesn‟t last for two weeks and you know it.” “I know,” she said with a sigh. “CJ?” CJ opened her eyes and stated calmly, “I‟m five days late.” “Why didn‟t you tell me?” he asked sounding hurt. CJ explained, “I didn‟t want to get your hopes up if I was wrong.” “Don‟t you think we should find out for sure?” he reasoned. “I bought one of those tests on the way to work this morning,” she confessed. “And?” Toby questioned leaning forward and bracing his forearms on the arms of the chair. “And, I haven‟t taken it yet,” she replied. “Why the hell not?” he demanded immediately regretting the angry tone of his voice. “Don‟t argue with me Toby,” CJ shot back at him. His voice softened and he asked, “Why haven‟t you taken the test?” “If it‟s negative I‟ll know I‟m not pregnant.” “And if it‟s positive we‟ll know that you are,” he countered. “Well I‟m sure as hell not taking it here,” she argued. “Good point,” Toby said leaning back in the chair. “I guess we wait until we go home tonight. Will you take it then?” CJ sighed. “That‟s what I was planning on.” Then she picked up her glasses and began surveying the stacks of papers on her desk. Toby nodded and stood to leave. “Promise me you‟ll try to eat something later.” CJ replied, “Don‟t start hovering.” “Get used to it,” Toby said with a smile on his way out of her office. CJ opened the door to her bathroom and found Toby pacing the length of her bedroom floor. When he heard the door open he stopped his pacing and asked, “Well?” “Toby, the test takes five minutes,” she explained. “Yeah… right… okay” he said running his hand over his head then rubbing the back of his neck. “Five minutes.” “Toby, either I‟m pregnant or I‟m not. The test isn‟t going to make a difference, it‟s just going to tell us.” “I know,” he replied, “I guess I‟m just nervous.” “This is what we wanted,” she declared. “You still want it don‟t you?” Toby asked hesitantly. “More than ever,” she answered. “What about you?” Toby walked closer to her and replied, “Definitely.” He looked over her shoulder at the bedside clock. “Has it been five minutes yet?” CJ checked for herself and laughed. “More like two.” Then she walked over and sat down on her bed. “Toby we waited all day. I think we can make it three more minutes.” Toby resumed his pacing and they both did their best not to watch the clock, but neither was very successful. When three minutes had finally passed CJ got up and went back into the bathroom. Toby hovered outside the open door as CJ checked the test then turned to him and said, “It‟s positive.” “Positive?” he asked in disbelief. “Positive,” CJ repeated a grin spreading across her face as she walked back into the bedroom. Toby quickly gathered her into his arms and hugged her tightly. After a moment he leaned back to look into her eyes but didn‟t let her go. CJ reached up and caressed his bearded cheek then she softly said, “We did it.” Toby nodded, not trusting his voice. His eyes focused on her lips and all he wanted was to kiss her, but he leaned forward and touched his forehead to hers instead. Then he quickly released her and took a step backwards. CJ was startled and hurt at the loss of contact. She crossed her arms over her chest and tried to keep her expression neutral. Toby nervously ran a hand across his head and asked, “You ah…you should see your doctor, right?” “I‟ll call her tomorrow and make an appointment,” she answered. CJ crossed to her dresser and took out a pair of pajamas. Toby was rocking back and forth on his heels and contemplating a spot in the middle of her carpet. “It‟s been a long day,” she said. Toby took the hint. “I‟ll see you in the morning.” He started to leave then turned back and strode over to her. He gently kissed her on the cheek and tenderly said, “Goodnight, Mommy,” before exiting her bedroom. CJ was too moved by his actions to say anything and she was thankful that the tears didn‟t start until after he had left the room. PART 22 CJ navigated the hallways of the West Wing deftly dodging anyone who tried to sidetrack her until she reached Toby‟s office and found it empty. She spun around in the doorway and looked across the communications bullpen for either Bonnie or Ginger. The place seemed almost deserted. She started to walk away from his office when Ginger came back to her desk carrying an arm full of files. CJ quickly asked her, “Do you know where he is?” gesturing to Toby‟s office. Ginger answered, “He‟s in a meeting.” “Oh,” CJ replied and turned to leave. Ginger stopped her. “I could get him out if you want.” CJ considered it for a moment and asked, “Who‟s he with?” “Senator Harper,” Ginger said with a smile, “I‟m sure he would love an interruption.” CJ nodded and said, “I‟ll wait in his office.” Toby quickly strode into his office and found CJ perched on the edge of his desk. He closed the door and stepped closer to her. “Well?” “Dr. Davis confirmed the results of the test I took at home. We‟re definitely having a baby.” Toby sat down on one of his guest chairs and smiled up at her. “Tell me everything the doctor said.” CJ laughed at his enthusiasm. “Well, she wrote me a prescription for prenatal vitamins, gave me a bunch of pamphlets to read, and suggested that I try to eat small meals throughout the day to help with the nausea.” “How do you feel today?” he asked. “Actually today I feel fine, so far.” “That‟s good,” he said with relief. CJ continued, “We‟ll need to talk about prenatal testing later, there‟s a lot to consider, and I have an appointment to see her again next month.” “I want to go with you next time, okay?” “I‟d like that.” Then Toby got up and walked around to the other side of his desk. “I got something for you,” he said as he opened up his briefcase and handed her a brown paper bag. CJ took the bag and opened it. Inside was a copy of „What to Expect When You‟re Expecting.‟ “I thought it would be kind of fun to follow along with the book, you know see how big the baby is getting,” he explained. CJ began to page through the book, then looked at him and said, “I love it, thank you.” Toby glanced down at the floor then back up at CJ. “I should be getting back to Harper.” “How‟s that going?” she asked. “Don‟t ask,” he said shaking his head then he smiled again. “But right now, I don‟t care so much.” “I don‟t think we should tell anyone right away, at least until after we do some of the tests,” she said clutching the book to her chest. “You‟re right, but I think everything is going to be just fine,” Toby said wanting to reassure her. CJ smiled at him then teasingly said, “Go,” and pushed him towards the door. He nodded and smiled at her one more time then headed down the hall back to his meeting. PART 23 Periodic trips to CJ‟s office had become part of Toby‟s daily routine. Sometimes he just walked by and casually glanced in and saw her working at her desk or meeting with one of her staff. On those occasions he just kept walking down the hall giving the appearance that he was working out the phrasing of a speech. Other times he brought her a carton of milk or a bottle of juice, which would earn him a polite „thank you‟ and a look that told him that she knew he was really checking up on her. Sometimes he actually had a genuine work-related reason. That afternoon the Senior Staff had a meeting scheduled with Leo, and at that point, it was the only reason he could think of to use. As he approached her office, he saw that Carol was away from her desk and that CJ‟s door was ajar. When he opened the door he found CJ stretched out on the couch fast asleep. He closed the door behind him and quietly sat down on the coffee table in front of her sofa. She looked so peaceful and happy that he just watched her moment before he leaned forward and tried to rouse her quietly. “CJ, CJ, wake up.” The only response he got was a muffled, “Hmm.” Gently he took hold of her shoulder and said a little louder, “CJ, wake up, we have meeting with Leo in a little while.” Then he removed the large white binder opened across her lap and placed it on the coffee table next to him. Sleepily CJ said, “I was reading that.” Toby smiled and replied, “No, you were sleeping. Besides we have a meeting with Leo.” CJ woke up a bit more. “Toby, I need to finish reading that.” Toby read the cover of the binder „Housing and Urban Development Report Second Quarter 2002.‟ “CJ, there‟s no reason for you to read this entire report.” “Yes there is,” she countered, “it‟s being released the day after tomorrow and I need to know what‟s in there that will come up in the briefing room.” He looked surprised. “You always read these reports yourself?” “Most of them, yes.” CJ answered. “Well, maybe it‟s time one of your deputies took on a little more responsibility.” Toby suggested. “Toby, I‟m the best one to…” He interrupted, “Of course you are the best one to do this, but maybe Simon could do a pretty good job. Have him read the report and write you a briefing memo. CJ, he‟s been working for you long enough to deserve a little more responsibility. Plus the added experience will be good for him.” CJ started to object, but reconsidered. “You might have a point, I haven‟t really thought about what will happen when I go on maternity leave. A little more responsibility might be good for Simon.” “I think delegating will be good for both of you. You can‟t keep working 16 and 18-hour days.” CJ rubbed her eyes, “I know you‟re right, I just didn‟t think it would be this hard this soon. I‟ve never been so tired before in my life.” “Why don‟t you go home after this meeting and I‟ll bring home dinner. How does Italian sound?” “It sounds good. I think I‟ll take you up on that.” Toby stood up and said, “The sooner we get to this meeting the sooner you can go home.” “Agreed.” Toby unlocked the front door and went straight into the kitchen carrying the bag of take out. As he began to unload the food he called out, “CJ, I picked up the minestrone soup you like.” CJ yelled back from the living room, “We‟ll eat in a minute. Come here, I want to show you something.” Toby left the cartons on the counter and walked into the living room. A familiar sight hanging over the fireplace caught his eye. “What‟s my painting doing there,” he wondered aloud. “I unpacked a some of your things. This is your home, too and I thought it was time it looked like it,” CJ explained. “CJ, you shouldn‟t have done this by yourself.” “I didn‟t do that much just unpacked a few things.” Toby noticed the voice of Ella Fitzgerald singing „That Old Black Magic‟ coming from stereo. “Is that my CD?” “Yeah,” she answered. “I unpacked some your CDs too, that‟s okay isn‟t it?” Toby walked closer to the fireplace and noticed a framed photo of him with his brother and sisters taken when they were children was sitting on the mantel next to a similar photo of CJ with her brothers. “Of course it‟s okay, I just wish you had let me help you is all.” CJ patted the couch next to her. “Come here, I want to show you this,” she said holding up a book. Toby sat down next to her and teased, “Isn‟t it a bit early for you to be nesting?” CJ smacked him on the arm and demanded, “What do you know about nesting anyway?” Toby shrugged and replied, “I read about it somewhere.” “Well stop reading things,” CJ instructed as she scooted closer and opened up the book she was holding. “Here look at this.” “You just told me to stop reading things,” he joked. CJ reached down and pinched his thigh. “Ouch. Why did you pinch me?” “Because to hit you I would have had to move and I just got comfortable.” “Well stop,” Toby said rubbing his leg. “Then stop teasing me.” She nudged him in the ribs with her elbow. “This is the book you gave me and I was going to show you what the baby looks like now.” “So show me.” CJ flipped through the book. “Hold on, I lost the page when I hit you.” Toby almost succeeded in suppressing his laugh that came out as a sort of choking sound, which CJ ignored. “Okay, here, it says that by eight weeks the baby is around 1½ inches long and weighs about ½ an ounce.” Toby pointed to a drawing in the book. “Look at the picture, you can see fingers and toes.” CJ stared intently at the picture. “Can you imagine how small those tiny fingers are?” “The heart is now divided into four chambers. Hands feet, fingers and toes are fully formed….” As Toby read aloud from the book, CJ rested her head against his shoulder, her hand automatically covering her still flat stomach as she imagined the child growing inside. PART 24 Toby sat restlessly in the waiting room of CJ‟s obstetrician‟s office. He absently picked up a magazine from the table next to him and dropped it back on the table when he caught sight of the scantily clad woman on the cover. He always wondered why a women‟s magazine like Cosmopolitan didn‟t have a scantily clad man on the cover. He scanned through the mastheads of the other magazines on the table hoping for a Time or Newsweek or maybe even a People but all he found were Vogue, Ms., Elle, and Redbook. He checked his watch for what felt like the fiftieth time but it had only been twenty minutes since CJ had gone in for her appointment. He finally picked up a copy of Ladies Home Journal when he noticed that the picture on the cover was Nancy McNally. Just as he began to read her interview the nurse came out and said, “Mr. Ziegler, they‟re ready for you now.” Toby dropped the magazine back on the table and followed the nurse to a small exam room and left him standing there. He looked at the door and saw a medical file labeled Claudia Ziegler hanging in the box and he smiled as he knocked gently on the door. CJ‟s voice called, “Come in.” Toby slowly opened the door and found CJ wearing one of those paper gowns sitting up on an exam table. She rolled her eyes at his amused expression and said, “Believe me I know how ridiculous I look.” “I… ah… I know this is a dumb question, but why are you wearing it backwards?” Toby asked, trying not to laugh. She explained, “They told me to put it on this way for the ultrasound.” Toby tried valiantly to not laugh at CJ‟s appearance, and he decided changing the topic might help. “Do you know Nancy McNally did an interview for Ladies Home Journal?” CJ shook her head and said “Toby, you okayed that months ago.” He scratched his head and asked, “I did?” “Yes, you did,” she answered. “What are you reading Ladies Home Journal for anyway?” “Let‟s just say the next time we come to one of these appointments, I‟m bringing my own magazines.” Dr. Anne Davis entered the room and introduced herself. “Hello, Mr. Ziegler, I‟m Dr. Davis. It‟s nice to meet you, and I bet you‟re both anxious to see this little one. Claudia, go ahead and lie down for me, okay.” CJ lay down on the exam table and Dr. Davis pulled a piece of equipment closer. “This is the ultrasound machine. It‟s going to give us a picture of what‟s going on inside your uterus. I‟ll be checking to see where the baby is positioned and confirm how far along we are developmentally.” Toby asked, “There‟s no risk for the baby is there?” “There have been several long term studies done showing absolutely no ill effects from ultrasounds. Now, it‟s still pretty early on so you aren‟t going to really be able to see any detail.” CJ nodded her understanding and Dr. Davis continued, “This gel will help conduct the sound waves better. It will feel a bit cold at first.” Dr. Davis spread the gel on CJ‟s abdomen. Dr. Davis passed the transmitter over CJ‟s uterus and a blurry picture appeared on the screen. “Is that it?” CJ asked excitedly pointing to the screen. Dr. Davis pointed out a small area on the screen with her free hand, “That‟s your baby‟s heart beating.” When she looked up Dr. Davis noticed that Toby was still standing a few steps away and she said, “Mr. Ziegler.” Toby was mesmerized by the image on the screen of his child‟s heart beating. CJ looked over at Toby and held out her hand. “Toby, come here so you can see better.” Toby slowly walked over and took CJ‟s hand then the doctor flipped a switch on the machine and the room was filled with a sound neither Toby nor CJ had ever heard before. “That sound is your baby‟s heartbeat,” she told them smiling at the look of wonder on their faces. Toby looked into CJ‟s eyes as he brought their joined hands up to cover his heart and after a long pause quietly said, “There are no words.” CJ squeezed Toby‟s hand in reply. She didn‟t even notice that she was crying until Toby began to wipe at the tears that slid down the side of her face. After a moment Dr. Davis switched off the machine and handed CJ a towel to wipe off her stomach. “Well, as far as I can tell your baby looks just fine. He or she has a good strong heartbeat. I‟d put you right at about 10 weeks, which is just what you thought Claudia. You told me you decided to go ahead with the amniocentesis. I would recommend that you do that at about 14 weeks. I‟ll want to see you a day or two before the test and we can go over any last minute questions you may have. Jenny can help you with all of those appointments on your way out.” Toby thanked Dr. Davis and she left the room. After CJ cleaned off the gel she sat up on the exam table and Toby leaned over and kissed her on the forehead then said, “I‟ll wait for you outside.” Then he left the exam room. When Toby and CJ walked back into the West Wing, they were immediately accosted by Josh. “Where were you guys?” “We had something to take care of,” Toby answered. “Meanwhile all hell‟s been breaking lose about the dinner. Don‟t worry CJ, I covered for you?” CJ stopped dead in her tracks and grabbed Josh‟s arm stopping his forward momentum and spinning him around to face her. Toby just barely kept from running into both of them as CJ hissed, “Just exactly what did you cover for me? Josh if you set one foot inside my Press Room so help me…” Josh looked down to where CJ held his arm in a vice like grip. “Relax, it didn‟t have anything to do with the Press Room. They‟ve been going crazy over the seating arrangements for tonight.” “Seating arrangements?” Toby questioned. “You‟ve got your panties in a bunch over seating arrangements?” Josh blinked several times, a pained look on his face. “Toby, please don‟t ever say panties to me again.” “Joshua!” CJ demanded tightening her grip on his arm. “Will you please find the point?” “There was a big commotion in the protocol office because they realized that they had Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters seated at the same table. Julian about flipped his lid when someone told him that they‟re feuding. Now will you please let go of my arm?” Toby asked, “Why would Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters even be invited to the same State Dinner?” Josh explained, “Seems the King of Morocco has a satellite dish and is some kind of American news magazine junkie.” “So you took care of this exactly how?” CJ asked. Josh replied, “I told them to seat them at different tables, that‟s how.” “Well did you at least make sure that one doesn‟t have a better table than the other?” Josh shrugged. “Doesn‟t that go with out saying?” “Nothing goes without saying, Josh,” CJ admonished as she smacked Josh in the back of the head and took off toward her office calling, “Carol!” Later that night as Toby led CJ across the dance floor she asked him, “So what did you do with the picture from the sonogram?” Toby smiled. “It‟s in my desk drawer. I wish I had asked her to make two.” CJ smiled at him and replied, “That‟s okay, I can always visit yours.” “Anytime,” he replied. Toby was feeling very pleased with himself and as the music picked up he stepped up the footwork and tempo of his dance. He spun CJ out with a flourish and as he pulled her back the look on her face told him he had made a big mistake. CJ quickly covered her mouth and sped off the dance floor. PART 25 In September the President decided that everyone needed a break, some time away before the mad dash to the November election. The First Family and Senior Staff were all packed up and transported to Manchester for the weekend. There was still a campaign to run so strategy sessions and the inevitable arguments abounded. After Leo had called a temporary cease-fire between Bruno and Toby, CJ snuck out onto the porch for a breath of fresh air. She didn‟t notice the First Lady sitting at the opposite end until Abbey called out to her, “CJ, come sit with me.” CJ walked over and sat down on the wooden bench next to Abbey. ”So, how far along are you?” The First Lady asked. CJ replied, “I suppose there‟s no point in pretending I didn‟t understand your question.” Abbey smiled and answered, “No.” “You don‟t beat around the bush do you?” CJ remarked. “That‟s old news and you‟re stalling, Claudia Jean.” Abbey chastised. “Almost twelve weeks,” CJ finally answered. “That makes you due when, early April?” “The doctor says the end of March. Ma‟am, how…” The First Lady cut CJ off with a gentle hand on her forearm, “For this conversation, I‟m Abbey.” CJ smiled in return and asked, “How did you know?” “Well, I‟ve been suspicious for a while,” Abbey explained, “but the dead give-away was the look on your face earlier when Jed passed out those cigars. Oh, I remember when I was pregnant, one whiff would send me running to throw up.” “I thought I was hiding it rather well,” CJ said, a little disappointed with herself. “Oh you are. I‟m sure the men are completely oblivious.” Abbey responded. “I think Carol‟s figured it out. Someone keeps mysteriously restocking my cracker supply.” “It pays to be observant,” Abbey said with a nod. “I particularly enjoy watching the way Toby watches you, that was my first clue. I would imagine he‟s thrilled.” CJ wondered what the Abbey meant about Toby watching her, but answered, “We both are.” “You two planned this all along didn‟t you?” Abbey asked, then added, “Not that it‟s any of my business.” “Since when does that stop you?” CJ joked. Abbey laughed and replied, “Oh, it doesn‟t.” “It‟s nice to be able to talk to someone about it besides Toby,” CJ confessed. “What about your Mom?” “I haven‟t told her yet,” CJ replied. “We haven‟t told anyone.” “Oh.” CJ continued, “We‟re waiting until after the amniocentesis.” “When are you having the test?” CJ‟s smile faded and she became more serious. “We have an appointment in two weeks.” Abbey reached out and gently laid her hand on CJ‟s shoulder. “Odds are everything will be just fine.” CJ replied, “I‟ll relax after I know the results.” Abbey leaned closer to CJ and her voice took on a motherly tone. “I know it‟s easy to get caught up worrying about everything, but try to let it go sometimes and enjoy the process. Claudia Jean, there‟s a little person growing inside you. As a physician I understand all the biology, and still I can‟t help but see babies as our own little miracles.” CJ nodded, her eyes glistening with unshed tears. Then the screen door creaked open and Toby emerged looking around. He saw CJ with The First Lady and headed over to that end of the porch. “CJ, there you are.” Abbey stood up and kissed Toby on the cheek then whispered, “Congratulations, Daddy.” Toby stammered, “Ah, Thank you, Ma‟am.” As Abbey headed back into the house CJ declared, “I didn‟t tell her she just knew and before you say anything you are part of the reason she figured it out.” Toby shoved his hands in his pockets and replied, “I wasn‟t going to say anything.” “You weren‟t?” she asked in surprise. “No.” “Okay.” Toby gave CJ and appraising look and said, “I wanted to make sure you were all right. I‟m sorry about the cigar earlier, I know the smell makes you sick.” “Toby, it‟s okay. The President and Bruno were both smoking one anyway, and I know you enjoy them.” Toby nodded then raised his right hand above his eyes and rubbed his forehead. “What did you mean when you said I was the reason The First Lady figured it out?” CJ smirked up at him from her seat on the bench, “Well, apparently by the way you have been looking at me?” “What way is that?” Toby questioned. CJ shrugged. “I don‟t know, I guess you do it when I‟m not looking at you.” “Well that helps,” he grumbled. CJ laughed. “You can ask her, but I doubt she‟ll tell you. She says she enjoys watching you.” “Thank you for planting that piece of information in my mind. I don‟t think I‟m comfortable with the idea of The First Lady watching me.” “Don‟t worry in another month or so everyone will be watching me and I‟ll be as big as a house.” Just then the screen door creaked open once again and Sam announced, “Leo wants us to start in on the debate answers.” CJ sighed and stood up. “Oh this ought to be fun. Remember how long this took us last time?” As they reached the door, Toby muttered, “Yeah, and that was without Bruno and his minions.” PART 26 CJ glanced over at her bedside clock as the digital display changed from 2:32 to 2:33. She had been lying in the dark for hours unable to stop thinking about the amniocentesis scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. Every horrible possibility went through her mind, the chance that the test itself could harm the baby or cause a miscarriage, the long week ahead waiting for a result that would tell her something was wrong with the baby. Every time she closed her eyes she envisioned something tragic. In her heart she knew that there was only one way she would make it through this night with her sanity intact. She threw off the covers and padded down the hall. The door to Toby‟s room was open halfway and light from the hall spilled across the floor. She stood in on the threshold, her hand gripping the knob and whispered, “Toby.” He was lying on his side turned away from her and she couldn‟t see his face. “Toby,” she whispered again this time a little louder, and he stirred. “Toby, are you awake?” she asked quietly. Toby mumbled, “Mm hmm,” as he turned toward the sound of her voice. He opened his eyes and saw CJ framed by the doorway. The light shining from behind made every outline of her body visible through her thin nightgown. “I can‟t sleep,” CJ said. Toby sat up against the headboard and said, “Come here.” CJ walked over and sat down on the foot of his bed. “I just keep thinking about everything that can possibly go wrong.” Toby confessed. “I know, I‟ve been worried about it, too.” “Yeah, but you managed to get to sleep.” Rubbing his eyes he said, “Only a couple of minutes ago, I think.” “I‟m sorry. I shouldn‟t be bothering you,” CJ apologized. “You aren‟t bothering me,” Toby corrected. “Will it help if we talk about what has you so worried?” CJ‟s hands fidgeted in her lap. “I don‟t know. Everything has me worried. This test alone could hurt the baby or worse.” “CJ, you know the chances of that happening are very slim. These people do hundreds of these tests every year. They know what they‟re doing.” “I know, but it‟s a possibility. How am I ever going to make it through the waiting next week? There are so many things that could be wrong…” CJ‟s voice trailed off. Toby replied, “We‟ll make it through together.” She nodded and Toby noticed that she was rubbing her arms. He wasn‟t sure if she was cold or just scared, but he folded back the covers on the other side of the bed and said, “I doubt that either of us is going to get much sleep tonight, but lie down.” CJ crawled up the bed and got under the covers facing Toby. He reached over and covered her up, his hand lingering on her shoulder, then tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. CJ took a deep breath, as she looked into Toby‟s eyes in the dim light. “We haven‟t talked about what we‟ll do if there is something wrong.” Quiet tears began to slide down her cheeks. Toby began to wipe away her tears with his thumb. “And we don‟t have to. CJ, I know in my heart that everything is going to be okay, but if it‟s not we‟ll do what ever we have to. We don‟t have to figure it all out now.” CJ began to cry harder. Toby wrapped his arm around her and pulled her across his chest and kissed the top of her head. He could feel her tears as the fell onto his chest. Tenderly he stroked her back and murmured to her over and over that everything would be okay. She clutched his tee shirt with her fingers and gave in to the tears she usually fought so hard against. After a while, her crying lessened and her breathing returned to normal. Toby was thankful that she would at least get some sleep. Then he closed his eyes and slept holding his wife and child as close to him as possible. CJ did her best throughout the day to focus on her job and not the test. She was successful when she had to be, however, outside of the briefing room, she was a bundle of nerves. She snapped at Carol over a missed phone call, was so preoccupied during the senior staff meeting that Josh had to elbow her every time Leo asked her a question, and she misplaced her glasses three times. At three o‟clock she and Toby finally left for George Washington University Hospital for the test. Once there they had to negotiate a labyrinth of hallways marked with arrows and colored lines painted on the floor. Toby kept his arm around her waist as they walked, and CJ prayed that he would be able to lead them back out again because she knew her brain wasn‟t registering anything that she passed. At last they came to the right office. Toby led her over to the reception counter and said, “Hi, we‟re Mr. and Mrs. Ziegler. My wife has an appointment for an amniocentesis.” The woman at the desk handed him a clipboard and replied, “The technician will be ready for you in just a few minutes. Would you please read over this consent form and be sure both of you sign it, then fill out the form on the second page.” Toby and CJ sat down in the waiting area. Toby read over the standard hospital release form and paused before signing on the line that said „Father,‟ realizing this was the first legal document he would sign as a parent. Then he handed the clipboard to CJ. She didn‟t even read it, she just signed above his signature and handed it back to him. Toby flipped to the second page and began filling out the form. The first few questions were easy, CJ‟s name, address, age, is this a first pregnancy. Then they got more specific about CJ‟s health. He answered all the ones he knew and said, “CJ, there are a few questions here I‟m not sure how to answer.” CJ quietly took the form and checked the appropriate boxes, then got up and handed the whole thing back to the receptionist, who said, “Thank you, Mrs. Ziegler. You can come back now.” Toby got up and walked with CJ down another hallway and into a small exam. Inside was a woman dressed in hospital scrubs that greeted them with a smile. “Hi, I‟m Lauren. I‟ll be doing your procedure today.” She handed CJ the typical paper gown saying, “Go ahead and put this on, and I‟ll be back in just a few minutes.” Then she exited the small room and closed the door. CJ immediately took off her suit jacket and began unzipping her skirt while Toby turned and stepped toward the door. CJ‟s voice stopped him, “Stay, please.” Those were the first words she had spoken since leaving the White House. Toby turned around and watched as she removed her blouse and stockings noticing for the first time the slight swell of her stomach. He smiled as she donned the light blue gown and sat down on the exam table. When she was finished, he moved closer to her and took hold of her hand. Lauren returned with another woman in scrubs and said. “Mr. and Mrs. Ziegler, this is Susan, she‟s going to be assisting me today. Do you have any questions about the procedure?” Toby looked to CJ and she said, “No, Dr. Davis went over everything with us the other day.” “Okay, Mrs. Ziegler, lie down please.” CJ complied. Susan sat down at an ultrasound machine and Lauren explained, “She‟ll monitor the baby‟s position with a sonogram. Why don‟t you watch the monitor and see what this little one‟s up to” The screen flickered to life and Toby squeezed CJ‟s hand as they looked at their child. Dr. Davis had done one in her office just two days earlier, but they couldn‟t get enough of watching the baby move around. Lauren said, “I‟m going to take some measurements of the baby first.” CJ nodded but didn‟t take her eyes off the image on the screen. “Look how active she is,” CJ commented to Toby. Toby looked down at CJ and smiled. “So, you‟re back to thinking it‟s a girl?” CJ smiled up at Toby. “Well, she looks like a girl doesn‟t she?” “If you say so,” Toby said with a slight chuckle and they continued to watch the image of the baby. Lauren spoke again. “I‟m going to mark a spot to draw the amniotic fluid.” Lauren reached for a small tube and pressed it to CJ‟s abdomen, then she cleaned the area. “Mr. Ziegler, why don‟t you go ahead and sit down.” Toby replied, “I‟m fine.” Lauren smiled and explained, “We find that moms generally do fine, but some of our fathers get a bit lightheaded.” Toby shrugged then reached over with his free hand and pulled the chair closer to the exam table and sat down. He saw Lauren open up the sterile packaging on the needle and decided to try to distract CJ. He squeezed her hand slightly and she turned to him. Lauren said, “Okay, you should feel a pinch. It might even feel like a cramp, but it will just last for a moment. I promise.” Gently Toby caressed CJ cheek as he quietly said, “If we do have a girl, I want her to look just like you. Your hair.” CJ‟s face tensed as he gently ran his hand through her hair. “Your eyes.” He brought his thumb up and touched her eyelid. “Definitely your nose.” He trailed his finger down the bridge of her nose. “All done,” Lauren announced. “Mrs. Ziegler how did that feel?” CJ kept her eyes on Toby, and replied, “Not too bad.” Susan said, “Baby‟s heart looks strong and steady, never even knew anything was happening.” CJ and Toby looked back at the monitor as Susan and Lauren rechecked the baby. “I want you to take it easy for the rest of the day. Don‟t lift anything until at least Monday, okay.” CJ replied, “We‟re actually taking the whole weekend off.” Lauren told them, “The results should back from the lab a week from Monday.” PART 27 Waiting for results preoccupied both Toby and CJ for the week following the amniocentesis. During the day they both tried to distract themselves with work and, with the election two weeks away, they succeeded sometimes. The nights, however, proved to be more difficult. CJ quickly discovered that the only way she could get to sleep, during the week after the amniocentesis, was lying next to Toby. She gave up trying to figure it out or worry about how Toby would interpret it. She simply felt safe in his arms, and she desperately wanted to believe him every time he told her that it would all be okay. On the two occasions she had awakened from a nightmare about the baby, he had soothed her back to sleep. CJ sat in her office between briefings making notes of what she wanted to bring up to the President later that day. She knew that Dr. Davis would call today with the results, but she didn‟t know when. Then Carol put a call through. CJ picked up the phone with her typical, “CJ Cregg.” The voice on the phone said, “Hello Claudia, this is Anne Davis.” CJ took a deep breath and replied, “Hi, Dr. Davis, I‟ve been expecting your call. Do you have the test results?” She answered. “Yes, I do.” CJ quickly asked, “Can you hold on just a moment while I track down Toby?” The doctor agreed, and CJ put her on hold and dialed Toby‟s extension. Ginger answered the phone, “Toby Ziegler‟s office.” “Ginger, it‟s CJ. Do you know where he is?” Ginger said, “Yeah, he‟s in Sam‟s office hold on a moment.” CJ replied, “Can you just tell him to come down to my office for a phone call, please?” “Sure,” Ginger agreed then called out, “Toby.” Toby poked his head out of Sam‟s office. Ginger said, “CJ wants you to come to her office. She said something about a phone call.” Toby was on his way to CJ as soon as Ginger spoke. Sam stepped into the hall and asked, “What was that about?” Ginger just shrugged and went back to work. Sam lingered in his doorway for a moment looking puzzled then headed back inside. Toby walked straight past Carol‟s desk and into CJ‟s office closing the door behind him. CJ was pacing in front of her desk. When he walked in she hit the speaker button on the phone and said, “Okay, Dr. Davis we‟re both here. Go ahead.” CJ reached out and Toby took hold of her hand. “All the tests came back clear. The baby looks just fine,” Dr. Davis explained. They both let out the breath they had been holding. CJ looked up and murmured, “Thank you.” Toby said a silent prayer then spoke, “Thank you very much Dr. Davis.” “You‟re welcome,” the doctor answered. “These are my favorite phone calls to make. You‟re sure you don‟t want to know the baby‟s sex?” Toby looked at CJ quizzically but she shook her head and replied, “We‟re sure.” Dr. Davis responded, “Okay. I guess I don‟t have to tell you two to have a good day do I?” Toby smiled at CJ who answered, “No, I don‟t think so. Thank you very much.” “Claudia, Toby, I‟ll see both of you at your next appointment.” Happily CJ said, “Yes you will. Bye.” “Goodbye,” Dr. Davis responded. Toby reached over and disconnected the call then took hold of CJ‟s face with both hands and without thinking pressed his lips to hers. After a moment he pulled back, worried about what her reaction would be. CJ threw her arms around Toby‟s neck and hugged him tightly. Finally they released each other. CJ looked at Toby beaming. “The baby‟s okay, Toby. Our baby‟s really okay,” she said, as she looked down and gently touched the slight swell of her stomach. Toby reached toward her and stopped himself. CJ took hold of his hand and placed it over the baby. “It‟s okay, Toby.” He smiled as he felt the rounded curve of her belly against his palm. “You know, we‟re going to have to tell everyone pretty soon.” “I know, but everyone‟s so focused on the election next week. Maybe we should wait until after that‟s over with.” The senior staff, the campaign staff and many others sat crowded into a hotel suite in New Hampshire watching election returns being broadcast on multiple TVs. Slowly but surely the polls across the country were closing and though the numbers were close, state after state was being called for President Bartlet. The feeling in the room was one of quiet excitement, as if everyone were afraid if they actually reacted to the good news it might change the outcome somehow. When finally the commentators decided to announce President Bartlet the winner, CJ was sitting next to Josh on one of the sofas. Josh leapt to his feet and in his excitement yanked CJ with him. She momentarily wavered, feeling a bit dizzy at the sudden change from sitting to standing. Josh watched as CJ closed her eyes in an attempt to get the room to stop spinning and asked in concern, “What‟s wrong?” “Nothing” CJ answered, still a bit unsteady. Josh wasn‟t buying it. “Obviously something‟s wrong.” CJ explained, “I just stood up too fast, that‟s all.” Josh didn‟t understand that explanation. “What?” Toby, who had raced across the room, wrapped his arm protectively around CJ, “What‟s the matter?” CJ answered, “I‟m fine.” Toby wasn‟t completely convinced. “You sure?” CJ looked at him intently willing him not to make an even bigger deal out of this. “Yes.” Toby nodded. “Okay.” Josh still felt like he was missing something. “Hey, what‟s going on?” Toby answered, “Nothing Josh.” Josh argued, “No something‟s going on and you‟re not telling me what it is.” Sam wandered over wondering why Josh, Toby and CJ weren‟t celebrating with the rest of the room. “What‟s going on?” Josh looked to Sam and replied, “I don‟t know they won‟t tell me.” Frustrated CJ looked at Sam and said, “Sam, everything‟s fine.” The four of them didn‟t notice that the buzz in the room was getting quieter and quieter as more people tried to listen to their conversation. “Oh, you‟re right, something‟s definitely going on,” Sam said to Josh. Josh nodded and pointed to Sam, “See, he agrees with me.” None of them noticed the President had made his way across the room to them until they heard his voice. “Have you heard, I‟ve just been reelected President of the United States?” “Congratulations, sir,” Josh replied quickly. The President said, “I sense a lack of enthusiasm there Josh.” “Sir, congratulations,” Sam said making sure to sound more excited than Josh had. Then the President asked, “Someone want to tell me what‟s going on here?” Sam volunteered, “Well it‟s something with Toby and CJ, but they won‟t tell us what.” CJ responded, “Sir, really, it‟s nothing,” then she offered, “Congratulations, Mr. President.” Toby echoed her. “Congratulations, Mr. President.” The President just shook his head at the two of them. “Okay spill it.” CJ shrugged. “Sir?” “I want to know just what has every one so distracted from the news of the evening” he said with a smirk. He looked from CJ to Toby, neither said a word. “Toby?” the President prompted. CJ was the one who spoke up. “Sir, we‟re having a baby.” “A baby! That‟s wonderful Claudia Jean,” the President said as he pulled her into a hug. Then he looked to Toby. “Congratulations.” Toby shook the President‟s outstretched hand. “Thank you, Mr. President.” The President turned back to the room CJ and Toby on either side of him and announced, “Have you all heard? CJ and Toby are having a baby, isn‟t that great!” The room erupted in cheers and applause. PART 28 Toby was sitting in the comfortable chair in his office next to the sofa laptop balanced across his knees when CJ stepped through the door and asked, “Can I hide in here?” Toby looked up at CJ smiling, because the maternity dress she wore accented her expanding waistline. “Sure, Why?” “Do you know how many television shows and magazines want to do a profile of the pregnant press secretary?” Toby nodded. “Ah.” “Yeah,” she replied as she sank down into the corner of his couch and pulled off her shoes propping her feet up on his coffee table. “My feet are killing me.” Toby placed his laptop on the coffee table and moved to sit next to her. He pulled her legs across his lap and began to gently massage her left foot. CJ groaned in pleasure and leaned her head back After a moment, Toby asked, “Are you sure you don‟t mind spending Thanksgiving at my sisters‟?” “Sure I‟m sure,” CJ replied. “ I‟m looking forward spending the holiday like normal people.” “Normal people?” he questioned. “Yeah, a house, a family, a turkey!” “One time, one time I forget a turkey,” Toby protested. “You‟re never going to let me live that down are you?” “Nope.” Toby defensively asked, “Well, what‟s wrong with Chinese food for Thanksgiving.” “Everything!” she replied with a laugh. “Will David and his family be there?” “No. They‟re spending Thanksgiving with his wife‟s family.” Josh poked his head into Toby‟s office and asked, “Toby, do you have the file on welfare to work?” Toby kept massaging CJ‟s foot. “It‟s on my desk, second stack from the right near the bottom I think.” Josh walked over to Toby‟s desk to look for the file and Sam followed him in sitting down in one of Toby‟s guest chairs. “You guys are so cute,” Sam announced with a smirk. “I am not cute,” Toby argued. Sam nodded his head and said, “Yeah, you are.” Josh looked up from the stacks of files on Toby‟s desk and gestured to Toby and CJ on the couch. “I still want to know how all this happened.” Toby shot back, “Josh, if you don‟t know the facts of life by now, I‟m certainly not going to explain them.” Josh shook his head, “Not that! I mean you two and your relationship.” Sam asked, “How come we didn‟t know anything about it until you announced your engagement?” Toby stopped his ministrations momentarily and CJ wiggled her foot in his lap to remind him to continue. Then she said, “They‟re still trying to figure out that bet.” “Well if you won‟t tell us when you started having sex, at least tell us when you fell in love,” Josh whined. Toby was quickly losing what little patience he had. “Josh do you have that file yet?” “Yep, right here,” Josh replied holding it over his head. “Good, now go away, and take him with you,” Toby snapped back pointing at Sam. Sam looked over at Josh and said, “I think they want to be alone,” but neither moved. Josh looked disgusted. “You aren‟t going to do it in the office are you?” “Josh!” Toby yelled. “Josh, that‟s terrible,” Sam admonished, and then he looked at Toby and CJ. “You haven‟t done it in the office, have you?” “Out! Both of you! And close the door,” Toby shouted. Josh and Sam got up and started toward the door. On the way out Josh said, “All right, all right, jeez, but you might want to close the blinds.” “OUT!” CJ and Toby took the shuttle up to New York then rented a car and arrived at his sister Rachel‟s home in the early afternoon on Thanksgiving Day. Rachel greeted them at the door with a hug. “I‟m so glad you could come. Toby, Ben‟s in the den watching football. CJ, why don‟t you go on in with them and sit down.” CJ asked, “Do you need help with anything in the kitchen?” Rachel answered, “Not right now, go on in and relax.” “Okay, but first, where is your…” Rachel interrupted before CJ could finish her question, “Ah, the joys of pregnancy. First door on the right at the top of the stairs.” CJ thanked Rachel and headed upstairs. Toby watched her for a moment then went into the den to say hello to his brother-in-law. CJ walked out of the bathroom and began to go downstairs, but stopped when she saw Toby‟s 5- year-old niece, Hannah standing in the hallway. “Hello Hannah, how are you?” “Fine,” Hannah replied. “Aunt CJ, Mommy says you‟re going to have a baby.” CJ smiled at the little girl. “You‟re Mommy‟s right. Your Uncle Toby and I are going to have a baby.” Hannah looked shocked. “Uncle Toby‟s having a baby, too?” CJ laughed. “You know how you have a Mommy and a Daddy?” The little girl nodded her understanding. “Well, I‟m going to be this baby‟s Mommy and your Uncle Toby is the baby‟s Daddy.” “Okay,” Hannah said and was quickly on to something new. “Want to see my room?” CJ answered, “Sure,” and Hannah took CJ‟s hand and led her down the hall to her room. When CJ didn‟t come back downstairs, eventually Toby began looking for her. As he walked down the upstairs hallway he could hear voices coming from his niece‟s bedroom. Then he saw CJ sitting on the floor playing Barbies with Hannah. He watched them for a few moments then he heard is sister calling Hannah from downstairs. “Hannah, I think your Mom‟s calling you.” “Okay,” the little girl jumped up and put her Barbies into a basket and ran downstairs leaving CJ sitting alone in the middle of the floor. CJ looked over to Toby who leaned against the doorframe gazing down at her, “So just how long have you been standing there?” “Long enough,” he answered a smile playing at the corners of his mouth. “Well, get over here and help me up?” Toby walked over to CJ and helped her get up off the floor. When they stood face to face he gently smoothed a lock of hair behind her ear and quietly said, “You are going to be an incredible Mom.” CJ leaned forward and gently kissed Toby on the cheek and whispered, “Thank you.” Then they both went back downstairs. A little while later, Toby‟s other sister Leah, her husband Daniel and their two teenage sons Ethan and Jacob arrived. Toby sat in the den watching football with the guys, while CJ helped his sisters with the final preparations for dinner. Toby decided to get another beer before dinner and walked toward the kitchen, but he stopped when her heard the conversation going on in inside. “You two have been friends for so long. When did you fall in love?” Leah asked. CJ was quiet for a moment and Toby held his breath waiting to hear her answer. “I‟m not exactly sure when it happened, one day I just looked into his eyes and knew that I was in love with my best friend. It seemed like the most natural thing in the world.” Toby stepped back away from the door, his beer forgotten. CJ sounded so sincere. Most likely she was just making this all up for his sisters‟ benefit, but his heart raced with the idea that she might actually be in love with him. CJ and Toby spent Thanksgiving Night at Rachel and Ben‟s house and while they got ready for bed Toby couldn‟t get CJ‟s words out of his mind. Could she actually be in love with him? When CJ sat in bed next to him and pulled the covers up. He reached over and ran his hand down her back. “CJ…” She turned to look at him. He wanted to tell her he loved her. He wanted to ask her if she loved him, but instead he simply said, “Thank you.” CJ smiled at him and replied, “You‟re welcome, but what are you thanking me for?” “For making this the best Thanksgiving of my life. You know, next year there‟s going to be a highchair at that table with our child sitting in it.” “I know, and I can‟t wait.” CJ turned out the light and laid her head on Toby‟s chest. He wrapped his arm around her back and they went to sleep. PART 29 CJ sat in the living room wrapping holiday presents while Toby worked in the office. On his way to the kitchen to get more coffee Toby stopped and watched CJ for a few moments finally saying, “I don‟t understand why you‟re doing all that now. Chanukah doesn‟t start for two weeks and Christmas is almost a week after that.” “I‟m doing this now, because I have time now. Who knows what crisis might come up between now and the holidays and I want to get these ready to send to your family.” CJ opened a toyshop bag and held up a doll. “Do you think Hannah will like this?” Toby shrugged, “I‟m sure she‟ll love it.” “Ooh,” CJ said quickly putting down the doll. “Toby, come here quick.” Toby hurried over to the couch. “What‟s wrong?” “Give me your hand,” CJ replied. Toby reached out. CJ grabbed his hand and placed it against her stomach. “Did you feel that?” Toby‟s eyes went wide as he felt the baby kicking. Slowly he sat down next to CJ. “That‟s… that‟s incredible.” CJ laughed. “You should feel it from my side.” “Have you felt that before?” he asked. “I‟ve felt little flutters,” she explained, “but never anything this strong.” They both glanced down at her stomach as the baby kicked again. After a moment they looked back up into each other‟s eyes. Toby reached up with his free hand and gently caressed CJ‟s cheek, running his thumb along the outline of her lips. Slowly they leaned closer to each other and Toby gently covered CJ‟s lips with his own. CJ opened her mouth and they deepened the kiss. Abruptly Toby pulled away. “CJ, I‟m sorry, I shouldn‟t have done that.” CJ turned his face toward her. “Toby, we‟re married, and we‟re having a baby. If we can‟t do this now, when can we?” Toby shook his head. “CJ, that‟s not what I…” Toby took a deep breath then took her hand in his. “Claudia, I love you so much.” CJ blinked back the tears that threatened to spill and smiled at Toby. “Good, because I love you, too.” CJ pulled Toby towards her and their mouths connected in a searing kiss. Toby‟s lips left hers and he began trailing kisses along her jaw and below her ear as his hands wandered across her pregnant body. She tangled her hands in his hair and could feel him smiling against the skin of her neck as he said, “You know I haven‟t said anything until now, but being pregnant has definitely filled out more than just your stomach.” CJ laughed and replied, “You‟ve been holding that line in for a while now haven‟t you.” Toby murmured into her neck, “That‟s not all I‟ve been holding in.” “Oh really?” CJ responded. “Well, I think we can do something about that but definitely not on this couch.” Toby tentatively asked, “Are you sure.” CJ ran her hand across his chest, “It may require a little creativity, but I‟m sure.” Toby smiled. “Creativity sounds interesting.” “Help me off this couch and I‟ll show you just how interesting.” A while later they lay in bed CJ curled around Toby, her pregnant belly against his side. They were again marveling at how active the baby was inside CJ‟s womb. The baby kicked and Toby reached down and touched CJ‟s stomach. “That was a strong one,” he commented. “You‟re telling me,” CJ replied. Toby kissed the top of CJ‟s head and ran his hand down her bare back. “CJ, on Thanksgiving I overheard the conversation you had with my sisters in the kitchen.” “What conversation was that?” she asked. “The one where they asked you when you knew you were in love with me.” CJ turned her gaze up to Toby‟s face, “Ah, that one.” “Was that the truth? One day you just knew you were in love with me?” CJ reached up and ran her finger along Toby‟s eyebrow. “Yeah, that was the truth.” “When was that day?” CJ smiled and continued to trace the features of his face, running her finger along the bridge of his nose. “You tell me when you fell in love with me first.” Toby slowly slid his fingertips up and down her spine. “When I fell in love with you? I think I‟ve been falling more and more in love with you every day since we met. When exactly it changed from falling in love to being in love, I‟m not completely sure. I think I‟ve been in love with you for years. I didn‟t realize it until that day you came to me and told me you wanted to have a baby. I couldn‟t imagine you having a baby with anyone else. I knew then how deeply in love with you I was and I decided if you had a baby I would do everything in my power to be sure I was the father.” Tears quietly slid down CJ‟s cheeks as she wiped at them in frustration. “I hate this stupid crying. I‟ve never cried this much in my whole life.” “I love it, Claudia. It‟s part of you, it‟s part of being pregnant with our child.” Toby brought her face to his mouth and slowly began to kiss away her tears. CJ calmed down and the tears slowed. Finally he pulled back and looked into her eyes smiling like a little boy. “Okay your turn. When was that day you knew you were in love with your best friend.” “You remember what I said word for word?” “I‟ll never forget it.” CJ laughed at his enthusiasm then continued, “It was our wedding day. I think part of me hand wondered if I might have feelings for you for a long time. Honestly, I kept trying to talk myself out of that idea because I didn‟t want to ruin our friendship and I didn‟t think you would ever really be interested in me. As I stood there looking into your eyes and vowed to love and cherish you until we are parted by death, I knew it was the truth and that no matter what happened between us I would always love you.” Toby pulled her to him in a passionate embrace and they reveled in each other and the knowledge of their love. PART 30 The whole Cregg family gathered for Christmas at the Napa home CJ‟s older brother Alex Cregg shared with his wife Sharon and their teenage daughters Jamie and Megan. Since they couldn‟t leave the White House until afternoon on Christmas Eve, CJ and Toby were the last to arrive. Alex met them at the airport in San Francisco and it was after seven o‟clock when they finally reached Napa. As they walked through the front door, Alex loudly announced, “Toby and CJ are here. Wait „till you see her.” CJ smacked her brother on the arm. “What‟s that supposed to mean?” He laughed and replied, “Nothing Sis, you‟re beautiful.” CJ‟s Mom and Dad were sitting in the living room listening to Christmas Carols and immediately Kathleen Cregg stood and rushed to embrace her daughter. “Claudia, you look absolutely beautiful. How do you feel?” “I‟m fine, Mom.” Her father Charles was slower to rise but welcomed her with a warm hug. “Claudia Honey, it‟s so good to see you.” CJ relaxed a little when her father recognized her, and she hugged him back tightly. He had good days and bad days as far as his memory went, and even though it hadn‟t happened yet, she feared the day he wouldn‟t recognize her face or her voice. She felt Toby‟s reassuring hand on her back and knew he had been thinking the same thing. “Dad, I missed you.” The youngest Cregg sibling Matthew walked into the living room carrying an arm full of firewood, which he quickly stowed by the fireplace before rushing over to his big sister. After giving her a quick hug he placed his hand on her rounded stomach, looked to Alex and commented, “Can you believe it? I never thought I‟d see the day.” Then he shook Toby‟s hand saying, “Good work Toby my friend, keep her barefoot and pregnant. Too bad she can‟t cook.” CJ glared at her little brother. Toby replied, “That‟s okay, she makes up for her lack of skills in the kitchen with other talents.” CJ railed at Toby, “I cannot believe you just said that.” Matthew, Alex and Toby began to laugh at her indignation. Matthew said. “Take it easy Sis, I was just kidding. I knew that would get you going.” “All three of you better watch out. It‟s not good to piss off a pregnant woman.” Alex quickly replied, “Hey, I didn‟t even say anything.” “I don‟t care, you laughed.” “What did they do now?” Sharon asked as she emerged from the kitchen with Matthew‟s wife Tracy. Kathleen answered, “The boys were just teasing Claudia.” Sharon and Tracy both shook their heads and walked closer to CJ. “CJ, you‟re absolutely glowing,” Sharon said as she placed a kiss on her sister-in-law‟s cheek. “Pregnancy definitely agrees with you,” commented Tracy as she gave CJ a quick kiss on the cheek, too. “You should have seen me the first three and a half months. It wasn‟t a pretty sight.” The women laughed in understanding. Toby wrapped his arm around CJ‟s shoulders and said, “You were beautiful right from the start.” CJ scowled at Toby, “Flattery will get you absolutely nowhere.” Toby removed his arm and replied, “You can‟t blame a guy for trying.” “Don‟t bet on it, Pokey.” “Pokey?” Tracy and Sharon both asked simultaneously. “Don‟t ask,” Toby responded. CJ‟s eyes gleamed as she teased Toby. “Don‟t tempt me.” Then she looked around the room and asked, “Where are the kids?” Sharon answered, “I think Jamie and Megan took Michael upstairs to play a video game. If I get back into the kitchen dinner should be ready in just a few minutes.” “Do you need any help?” CJ offered. “Don‟t let her anywhere near the food,” Alex pleaded. CJ gave him a very irritated look and he held up his hands, “What? I was already in trouble; I might as well deserve it. Besides, you do remember the time you set fire to Mom‟s kitchen.” “I was sixteen,” CJ protested. Sharon and Tracy headed back into the kitchen and Alex asked, “Would you two like some eggnog?” “Ooh, eggnog. I‟d love it, make sure mine‟s plain.” CJ replied. “Eggnog sounds fine,” Toby answered, “but be sure mine‟s not plain.” Alex nodded and went into the kitchen to fix their drinks. CJ and Toby sat down on the couch across from CJ‟s parents, next to the blazing fireplace. Toby turned to CJ and commented. “You can‟t seriously like eggnog. The only reason people drink that stuff is because of all the alcohol.” “I like the taste,” she explained. “You like the taste of plain eggnog?” Toby asked. CJ crossed her arms. “Yes, I do. Is that a problem?” Toby shook his head. “No, absolutely not.” Toby sat in bed watching CJ change into her nightgown. “Wasn‟t it cute how Michael ran to the tree when we came home from midnight mass to see if Santa had been here yet?” CJ asked, as she brushed her hair. “I‟m surprised a seven-year-old was still so awake at one-thirty in the morning,” Toby commented. “Never underestimate the power of a child to stay awake on Christmas Eve. He‟ll be up at the crack of dawn, too. I just hope Matthew has that bicycle finished by then.” Toby laughed until he pictured himself doing the same thing a few years down the road. “CJ, when our kid wants a new bicycle, we‟re buying it pre-assembled.” CJ put down her brush and began rummaging through her suitcase finally removing a present wrapped in blue and white paper. Hiding the gift behind her back she walked over and knelt on the bed next to Toby. “I have a present for you.” Toby looked over at her with a gleam in his eye and leaned in pressing a kiss against her collarbone. CJ laughed and gently pushed him away from her with one hand. “Not me silly, this,” she said handing him the flat package. Toby looked down at the wrapped gift in his hands. “You gave me my Chanukah presents at home.” “Since tonight was the last night of Chanukah I brought this one with me. Open it,” she told him excitedly. Toby ripped away the paper to reveal a copy of Dr. Seuss‟ „Green Eggs and Ham.‟ “The rest of the set is at home. I thought you could read them to the baby when he gets bigger.” Toby smiled and looked down at her pregnant belly. “So now we‟re having a boy?” he asked. CJ shrugged. “I love it, thank you very much,” he said and gently kissed her. Then he opened the book and started to read, “I am Sam. I am Sam. Sam I am. That Sam-I-am. That Sam-I-am! I do not like that Sam-I-am.” As Toby read the book aloud, the baby actively kicked against CJ‟s stomach. “He likes it,” she said settling back against Toby, “keep reading.” “Do you like green eggs and ham I do not like them, Sam-I-am. I do not like green eggs and ham…” Toby continued. “…I do so like green eggs and ham! Thank you! Thank you, Sam-I-am!” When Toby finished reading the book, CJ was sound asleep. Toby placed a gentle kiss on her forehead then put the book on the nightstand and turned off the light. Then he snuggled under the covers next to her and went to sleep. The next morning Michael ran into CJ and Toby‟s room at full tilt and jumped onto the foot of their bed. “Aunt CJ, Uncle Toby, wake up, wake up!” Toby rolled over and asked, “What time is it.” CJ looked at the clock beside the bed and answered, “Six-fifteen.” Michael began bouncing on the end of their bed, “You have to get up. Daddy says I can‟t go downstairs and see what Santa brought until everyone‟s up.” “Michael, who else is up?” CJ asked. “Um, Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Alex, and Aunt Sharon.” “Okay, you go wake up your cousins, and we‟ll meet you in the hall in a few minutes,” CJ instructed her nephew. “Okay,” Michael agreed and scampered out the door. CJ rolled over and looked at Toby, “Well, that should buy us a few minutes. Teenagers are impossible to wake up.” Toby rubbed his eyes. “You‟re kidding me. Michael can‟t go downstairs until he tortures all the adults?” “Cregg family tradition,” CJ explained. “Everyone goes downstairs together.” Toby groaned and CJ got out of bed and put on her bathrobe and slippers. “Come on. It‟s not so bad just put on your robe, or a pair of sweats, or something. If you don‟t he‟ll come back.” Toby groaned again, but got up and put on his sweats. “Why can‟t your family open presents on Christmas Eve?” “Because this is more fun,” she replied as they headed into the hallway to greet the rest of the Cregg family. Everyone exchanged “Merry Christmases” and then headed downstairs led by Michael who raced to the Christmas tree and the bright red bicycle that stood in front of it. After the adults settled themselves around the room armed with coffee, gifts were passed out and opened in turn. CJ and Toby received a few presents for themselves, but mostly things for the baby including a beautiful baby blanket hand-knitted by Tracy. Alex and Sharon gave them a digital camera so that they could take lots of pictures and email them to the rest of the family. Toby reached into the pocket of his sweat pants and produced a small box wrapped in gold paper. He gave the box to CJ and waited eagerly while she slowly tore the paper off and opened lifted the lid. Inside was a pair of emerald and diamond earrings that perfectly matched her engagement ring. “Oh, Toby, where did you ever find these, they‟re incredible?” CJ gushed. “The same jeweler where I got your ring. He said they were from a set made in the early part of the century. He thinks they‟re from Russia before the Revolution.” “Toby they‟re gorgeous. Thank you.” CJ threw her arms around Toby‟s neck and kissed him enthusiastically. The kiss began to draw the attention of the rest of the family, and finally Matthew cleared his throat and said, “Uh CJ, do I need to remind you there are children present,” earning him mild chuckles from the family. “If your son‟s never seen married people kiss I feel very sorry for Tracy,” CJ shot back at him sending everyone into more laughter at Matthew‟s expense. Then Kathleen got up and took a box from the back of the tree and presented it to CJ. CJ lifted the lid and slowly pulled back the tissue paper then gasped. “Mom, where did you find this?” Kathleen answered, “I‟ve been saving it for a long time, Claudia.” CJ reached into the box and held up an intricate garment only slightly aged by time. “This was my Christening gown,” she explained to Toby. “When I was little I used to beg Mom to let me put it on my dolls, but she said I could only have it when I grew up and had a real baby of my own.” CJ handed the box and the outfit to Toby then walked over to her Mom and hugged her. “Thank you. Thank you for not letting me ruin it all those years ago. I can‟t wait to put it on our baby.” Kathleen hugged her daughter back, tears brimming from both their eyes, “You‟re welcome, Honey, you‟re welcome.” Then she took a deep breath and asked, “Okay, who‟s ready for breakfast?” After a big breakfast, another Cregg family tradition, everyone went off in their own directions. CJ‟s parents went to take a nap upstairs. Jamie and Megan went to call their friends and compare gifts. Tracy and Matthew went outside to teach Michael how to ride his new bicycle and Sharon and Alex went into the den to set up Alex‟s new home entertainment system. CJ and Toby were left to cuddle together in the living room next to the roaring fire. CJ looked up at the Christmas tree then at Toby next to her. “Thank you for being such a good sport about all the Cregg Christmas traditions. I know it‟s not something you‟re used to.” Toby gently kissed her temple and confessed, “I loved every minute of it because it makes you so happy.” “Toby, thank you for not making a big deal about the christening gown. I know we haven‟t talked a lot about how we are going to mix our two religions.” Toby slid his hand across her stomach. “CJ, I know how much your faith means to you and that you will want the baby baptized in the Catholic Church.” CJ sighed. “I want our child to grow up with both our religions.” “So do I,” Toby agreed. “I‟m not sure exactly how we‟ll manage that,” CJ said with a smile. “I guess we‟ll just make it up as we go along.” Toby pointed out, “That‟s what we‟ve done so far and things have turned out pretty well.” CJ snuggled closer to Toby. “I think so far things have worked out perfectly.” PART 31 Josh poked his head into Toby‟s office and looked around, then asked, “Where‟s CJ?” Toby continued to pound into his laptop while answering, “She went home?” Josh was surprised with Toby‟s response. “She went home?” he echoed. “Yes, she went home. Is that a problem? It‟s eight o‟clock at night, and she‟s seven months pregnant. I gave her my car keys and she went home.” Toby explained in frustration. “Can you give me a ride when we finish up?” Josh nodded. “You didn‟t tell her about this meeting tonight did you?” “Can you give me a ride or not?” Toby asked. “Yeah sure,” Josh answered. “Toby, you really should have told her, she‟s going to be pissed.” Toby replied, “I think I can take care of my own wife.” Josh continued his questions. “What are you going to do when she finds out you didn‟t tell her about the meeting?” Toby shrugged. “Who says she has to find out?” “This is CJ we‟re talking about, she‟ll find out.” “Josh,” Toby warned. Josh held up his hands. “I‟m just saying she‟ll find out. Not from me, but she‟ll find out.” Toby closed his laptop then stood and rounded his desk. “Can we just get this meeting started so that I can go home?” “The guys from State are waiting in the Roosevelt Room with Sam,” Josh said gesturing out the door. “Let‟s go.” When Toby came home at midnight CJ was sound asleep, but when he reached for her a few hours later her side of the bed was empty. He got up and went looking for her. Walking down the dimly lit hallway he found her in what was still the guestroom but would shortly become the nursery. He walked up to her as she stood looking out the window and wrapped his arms around her waist from behind. “You should be sleeping.” CJ leaned back against Toby‟s chest and covered his arms with her own. “Tell your child to stop with the jumping jacks and maybe I could.” Toby leaned down and spoke to the baby through CJ‟s stomach. “You need to settle down little one. Your Mommy needs to sleep now.” They both watched as the baby became even more active. Toby looked back at CJ. “She doesn‟t seem to listen very well. Wonder where she gets that from?” “Her father,” CJ turned to look at him and replied with a straight face. Toby smiled. “Let‟s just agree she gets a healthy dose of stubbornness from each of us.” CJ took a deep breath. “Oh God help us. Toby, can you imagine what a little terror we could have on our hands? With a double dose of our traits, opinionated, smart-mouthed, obstinate and short-tempered.” Toby reached up with one of his hands and caressed CJ‟s cheek. “How about your sense of humor, your intelligence, your wit, she might end up with those qualities too.” CJ‟s eyes reflected the love she saw on Toby‟s face as she wrapped her arms around his neck. “I want her to have your idealism, your tenaciousness, your compassion.” “I know a lot of people that would argue with you on that last one.” “They would be wrong.” CJ pulled Toby to her and kissed him tenderly. After the kiss she rested her head on Toby‟s shoulder. “Do you really think we can do this? Toby, you and I are going to be completely responsible for another human being. How will we know we‟re making the right decisions? How will we make sure we don‟t mess this child up for life?” “CJ, we‟re going to make mistakes, but we‟ll do what every other parent does, the best we can. We love each other and we love this baby, we‟ll all be just fine.” “Toby, I don‟t know what I‟m doing. What if she doesn‟t like me? What if she cries and I can‟t figure out why? What if she gets sick? I don‟t know anything about feedings or formula or medicine.” Toby gently took CJ‟s face in his hands. “First of all, this baby will love you unconditionally, he or she already does. All babies cry and all babies get sick. If we need medicine, the doctor will tell us what to do. Babies eat when they‟re hungry, sleep when they‟re tired, they laugh, play, cry and do all kinds of other things in between.” “I suppose you‟re right. I mean our parents weren‟t perfect and we turned out okay.” “We still have a couple of hours before we have to get up. Why don‟t you see if you can get a little more sleep?” CJ nodded and they headed back to bed hand in hand. The next day at work everything went smoothly right up until CJ‟s afternoon briefing. She was about to leave the podium, but decided to take one more question. “Okay one more question and that‟s it. Mark, make it a good one.” “CJ, I understand that there was a meeting last night between the White House Senior Staff and State Department officials on a possible bailout for the government of Qumar.” CJ‟s only outward reaction was the slow deep breath she took before answering. Luckily the reporters couldn‟t see her knuckles go white as she gripped the top of her portfolio. “Mark, I‟m not aware of any such meeting, but I‟ll check on that and get back to you before the end of the day. That‟s all.” She picked up the portfolio, stalked out of the briefing room ignoring the shouts from the reporters. Then when she reached the door she practically threw the portfolio at Carol as she sped through the hallways. CJ stormed into Toby‟s office and slammed the door behind her quite possibly breaking the White House yet again and not giving a damn. Toby‟s head snapped up with the crash of his door and he stood bracing himself for an explosion of anger. “Qumar! Qumar! We‟re planning to bail out the Qumari government! When the hell were you planning on telling me this?” Toby did his best to keep his voice neutral because the last thing he wanted to do was make her even more upset, though he doubted that was actually possible. “CJ, we aren‟t planning, we‟re just talking.” CJ threw up her hands. “Oh, so we aren‟t going to do it then?” Toby rubbed his forehead as he tried to explain, “I didn‟t say that.” “You didn‟t say anything, Toby,” she argued. “You left me out of the loop yet again. You let me go into MY pressroom and get totally blindsided by the question.” Toby rocked back on his heels and said, “CJ, I didn‟t know it was going to come up.” “Oh I‟m sure of that! What I want to know is why! Why was I left out this time?” she demanded. “CJ, you weren‟t left out,” Toby replied. “It was just a meeting with State.” “Who was in this meeting?” “What?” “Not what! Who?” she barked. “Who was in the meeting? I‟m assuming you and Josh. Sam. Anyone else Toby? Ed? Larry? Jimmy the intern?” Toby ran his hand over the top of his head as he replied, “CJ, It was just Sam, Josh and myself. Okay?” “No!” “CJ…” “When? When did you find out about the meeting? Mark said it was last night. Oh my God! You sent me home! You sent me out of the building so I would miss the meeting!” Toby protested, “No, I didn‟t!” “You didn‟t send me home?” she challenged. “I didn‟t send you, I suggested,” he clarified, trying to regain a calmer tone of voice. “Yeah, you suggested I go home so that I would miss the meeting!” she countered. “No, I suggested you go home so you could rest!” Toby rubbed a spot above his eyebrow as he tried again to explain, “CJ, you‟ve been doing too much. With the inauguration and rolling out the new economic stimulus package, you‟ve been working too many hours. I‟m worried about you and the baby. I just wanted to be sure you were taking care of yourself.” “You‟re kidding me right!” she yelled. “You didn‟t send me home so I would miss the meeting, you sent me home because I wasn‟t taking care of myself and the baby! “CJ you‟re twisting my words!” he objected. “No, you don‟t think I‟m capable of making decisions for myself. Is that it?” CJ argued. “No, I just worry about you. I knew that you needed to rest and that this subject would upset you.” “Tell me you didn‟t just say that!” she railed. “Now you‟re claiming that you were keeping me in the dark for my own good? Well, I guarantee you I‟m much more upset right now than I would have been sitting in a meeting last night!” “CJ, I…” She cut him off. “You know what? You really need to stop talking to me right now!” Toby protested, “CJ.” “No! I don‟t want to hear another word.” CJ stepped toward the door and suddenly grabbed her lower abdomen. “Ooh!” Toby rushed toward her, but she held up her other hand to stop him. “I‟m fine!” she barked at him. “CJ, you‟re not fine!” Toby said frantically. “Just stay the hell away from me!” CJ rubbed the spot where the pain originated and stalked out the door. Toby began to pace his office with worry. Toby did his best to stay out of CJ‟s way for the rest of the day. He knew he would only upset her more, but he was worried about that pain she had felt in his office. He sent nearly every person on staff to check on her at some point in the day. They all reported that she was fine, incredibly pissed at him, but fine. Finally on Bonnie‟s third trip by CJ‟s office to ask Carol how she was doing she came back and told him CJ had gone home. Toby waited a couple of hours before heading home himself, hoping that by the time he got there she would have cooled off a bit or fallen asleep. The house was dark when he arrived, and he quietly tiptoed into the bedroom. CJ lay on her side facing away from him and he couldn‟t tell if she was sleeping or not, but he was happy to find her in bed. He undressed and crawled in beside her. After a few moments of listening to her breathing he decided she was probably awake. When she reached behind her and began rubbing her back he knew she wasn‟t asleep. He sat up and gently moved her hand and began to massage her lower back. “I‟m still pissed as hell,” CJ declared. “I know.” “Toby…” “Just relax and try to get some sleep,” Toby said softly. “You can be pissed at me again in the morning.” He heard her sniffle quietly and hoped she wasn‟t crying. “CJ, you have every right to be angry with me. I‟m an idiot, everyone says so.” “Oh, I know you‟re an idiot,” CJ replied, then quietly sniffled again. Toby continued gently kneading her back. “Why are you crying?” “I don‟t know,” she answered. “Must be the damn hormones”. “Are you sure you‟re okay? You scared the hell out of me this afternoon,” he confessed. “It scared me, too, but I called the doctor and she thinks it‟s just Braxton Hicks contractions,” she explained. Toby was still worried. “Are you sure?” “No, I‟m not sure,” CJ admitted then took a deep shuddering breath. “I‟ve never done this before, I‟m not sure about anything.” CJ rolled over and in the dim light Toby could see the tear stains on her face. He pulled her into his arms and held her to his chest. A few minutes later CJ sleepily murmured, “You know I‟m still pissed, right?” “I know,” Toby mumbled. “Go to sleep.” He gently rubbed her back until she fell asleep and then drifted off himself. PART 32 CJ concluded her morning briefing and headed into her office to find Toby sitting on the edge of her desk waiting for her. “Yes?” she asked with a grin as she deposited her portfolio on the desk next to him. “What happened in there?” he asked, the concern evident on his face as he took hold of her hand. “What are you talking about?” she replied, as he rubbed the back of her hand with his thumb. “You were in the middle of answering Katie‟s question about the new tariff and you just stopped. You never get distracted like that when you‟re briefing, what happened?” CJ grinned and placed Toby‟s hand on her stomach. Toby didn‟t feel anything at first then he asked, “What is that?” CJ laughed. “The baby has the hiccups.” Toby smiled and laughed with her. “You‟re kidding me.” “Nope, just started right in the middle of the briefing,” she explained. “Was it really that noticeable?” she questioned. “Only to me,” he replied. “So is it a boy or a girl this week? I forget.” CJ shrugged. “I don‟t know anymore, you decide.” “I think it was a girl last week. This week it should be a boy.” CJ suddenly looked worried and asked, “Toby, honestly, does it matter to you if it‟s a boy or a girl?” Toby gently caressed her face. “It doesn‟t matter to me at all. I love you and I love this baby so much. I‟m still amazed sometimes that this is real. It‟s everything I ever hoped for. All I want is a happy, healthy baby and to spend the rest of my life with you.” He brought her mouth to his and kissed her deeply. CJ wrapped her arms around Toby‟s back and held him to her as tightly as her pregnant body would allow. When the kiss ended Toby stepped back and led her over to the couch. “Sit down and put your feet up. You were just standing for almost an hour.” “Toby, I‟m fine,” she protested, as she sat down and allowed him to lift her feet onto the coffee table. Toby sat down on the couch next to her. “CJ, I wish you would reconsider taking your maternity leave.” “I really don‟t want to have this argument with you again,” she stated, her frustration evident. “I don‟t want to argue either,” he replied, “but you‟re due in less than four weeks and I don‟t want you giving birth in the Mural Room.” “Toby, I hate the Mural Room. Now the East Room maybe…” “Stop joking, I‟m being serious here,” he argued. “So am I. I want to take as much leave as possible after the baby‟s born. What‟s the point of me sitting at home all by myself?” she asked. “I know I‟m not going to convince you to change your mind, but will you at least think about working half days? You could go home after your three o‟clock briefing or you could come in later in the morning? Please do something, I know you aren‟t sleeping through the night.” CJ laughed. “Only here could working from seven o‟clock in the morning to three o‟clock in the afternoon be considered a half day. Fine, I‟ll think about having Simon do the last briefing of the day. Will that make you happy?” Toby answered, “Very.” Then he took a small box out of his jacket pocket and picked up her left hand. “I noticed you weren‟t wearing your rings the last few days.” “I know,” she replied looking down at her hand. “My fingers are just too swollen. I hate not having them on. I didn‟t realize how often I touch them or look at them when I‟m thinking about you. I miss having that reminder of how much you love me right there.” Toby smiled and touched her rounded belly. “I think you‟ve got an even bigger reminder of just how I feel about you.” CJ laughed. “I guess I do at that don‟t I? But, that doesn‟t explain what‟s in the box.” Toby handed her the present. “Why don‟t you open it and find out.” CJ unwrapped the package and lifted the lid. Inside was a white gold box chain. “It‟s beautiful Toby, thank you.” “Why don‟t you put it on,” he suggested. She lifted the chain out of the box and hanging underneath the cardboard liner were her engagement and wedding rings. She fingered the rings and smiled at Toby. “Will you help me?” Toby took the necklace from her and fastened it around her neck. CJ was still holding onto the rings. He lifted her hand to his mouth and kissed her fingers tenderly. Then he placed his hand back on her stomach. “Still has the hiccups I see.” CJ nodded. “I wonder how long they‟ll last.” “You‟ll have to let me know, I‟ve got a meeting with Gillette,” he said as he stood up and kissed her on the forehead. Toby headed for the door and CJ said, “Don‟t forget about class tonight. I don‟t want to be late.” “I won‟t forget,” he called back as he headed down the hall. CJ stood in the doorway of Toby‟s office, coat on, purse over her shoulder. “Toby, I swear to God, if we‟re late to this class again you will be paying for years to come,” she warned. He didn‟t look up as his fingers flew across the keys of his laptop. “Take it easy, we‟re not going to be late.” “Then come on,” she said looking at her watch. Still typing, Toby replied, “I just need to finish this paragraph.” “Toby!” CJ said her voice low and menacing. “I‟m almost done,” he replied. “Toby, we‟re seeing the video tonight we need to go,” she stated firmly. “Oh crap, I forgot about the video,” he muttered rubbing his forehead. “I … um… I have some things I need to finish up.” “Oh no, you‟re watching this too,” she protested as she walked over to his desk, hand poised to close his laptop. “Move it or lose it Ziegler, I want to be sure we get a good seat.” “CJ, there are only twelve other people in the class, how could we possibly get a bad seat?” he reasoned. “Toby!” she growled. Toby quickly saved what he was working on and closed his computer. “I‟m coming, I‟m coming.” Toby unlocked the front door and held it open for CJ. She went inside and sank down on the couch, leaned her head back and closed her eyes. After sitting that way for a few minutes she looked up and declared, “Toby, I‟ve rethought this whole thing. I can‟t go through with it.” “What are you talking about?” asked Toby. “Childbirth,” she stated, “ I can‟t do it.” Toby sat down on the coffee table facing her. He looked down at her very pregnant stomach and replied, “I think it‟s a little late for that now.” “Toby, don‟t be cute,” she responded. Toby reasoned, “CJ, birth can‟t exactly be a shock to you.” “I didn‟t really think about the actual birth part before,” she explained. “Did you see that video?” “I did,” he answered, “but you had your face buried in my shoulder most of the time.” CJ squeezed her eyes shut at the memory. “I saw enough.” Toby laughed. “It wasn‟t that bad.” “Easy for you to say,” she protested. “All you have to do is stand there and watch. I‟m not good with pain I can‟t do this.” “Yes, you can,” Toby assured her. “I wish I could…” CJ interrupted, “Don‟t give me any line about wishing you could do this for me. We both know that‟s a crock.” “I wasn‟t going to say that,” he answered. “If it were up to men to give birth, the human race would have died out thousands of years ago. I‟d be the first to say that women are stronger than men are.” “Well you won‟t get an argument from me on that.” “I didn‟t think I would. You know there are options.” “Like what?” she demanded. “The miracle of modern medicine… drugs,” he replied. “CJ, no one is going to think any less of you if you need something to ease the pain. We should talk about the options with Dr. Davis. When‟s your next appointment?” CJ responded, “Day after tomorrow.” “I‟m sure that she can help us come up with a plan that will make you feel more comfortable about this,” he offered as he moved to sit next to her and took hold of her hand. “I hope you‟re right.” Toby stood and suggested, “Why don‟t we go to bed? You‟ll feel better in the morning.” CJ looked up at him, “Will you read to us? The baby likes it when you read.” Toby smiled, “The baby likes it or you like it?” “Both,” she answered with a grin. “I‟ll read,” he said as he helped her up off the sofa and they walked to the bedroom hand in hand. PART 33 CJ cut back on her hours and finally agreed to begin her maternity leave two weeks before her due date. She concluded her mid-morning briefing by informing the Press Corps that Simon would be acting as their ringmaster until further notice, but warned them if they gave him any trouble she would be back to personally kick their butts. After she left the podium many of the reporters offered their personal well wishes, then as a group they presented her with a baby carriage wrapped with a giant bow, which she graciously thanked them for. CJ maintained her composure while in the Press Room surrounded by her reporters, but once in the hall she could feel the tears stinging her eyes. Carol quickly handed her boss some tissue, then said, “The First Lady wants to see you in the residence.” CJ nodded and asked, “Time for the shower already?” Carol was stunned, “CJ, you aren‟t supposed to know about that.” CJ shook her head. “When will anyone learn that they can‟t keep a secret from the Press Secretary. Don‟t worry, I‟ll look surprised.” CJ handed Carol her portfolio, “I guess I won‟t need this for a while.” “I‟ll put it in your office and be up in a few minutes.” “Thanks,” CJ replied dabbing at her eyes. “Bring more Kleenex, will you?” Carol nodded and headed back to her office with a smile. CJ indeed acted surprised when she walked into the residence, and found the entire female population of the West Wing along with most of the First Lady‟s staff and several other notable women of the administration in attendance including the Surgeon General and Nancy McNally. “Wow, thank you all for coming. I‟m honored.” “Can the crap CJ, who told?” Abbey asked as she took CJ by the arm and sat her down on the sofa in the center of the room. “I reserve the right to protect my sources,” CJ answered with a grin. “That‟s okay, I‟m glad we didn‟t surprise you. Wouldn‟t want to scare that baby out too soon,” Abbey replied. CJ laughed. “It can‟t be soon enough for me. I‟m ready now. I walk like a duck, I can‟t sleep, I have to pee every ten minutes and several other things I don‟t even want to talk about.” “Oh, I‟ve been there, but enjoy this time off CJ. Sleep as much as humanly possible. If you think sleep is hard to come by now, wait until that little person is here demanding every second of your time.” CJ smiled. “Fine by me.” Abbey nodded indulgently at CJ then announced, “Okay, on with the shower.” CJ looked around at all the traditional pink and blue decorations. “Please tell me we aren‟t playing any games.” “I was promised this shower would be game-free,” Nancy said. “No one could possibly hate shower games more than I do. Just lunch and champagne for everyone except CJ,” Abbey explained. “Then cake and gifts.” The assembled women breathed a collective sigh of relief. Downstairs Toby stood outside Oval Office waiting for The President. Charlie looked up at him and said, “He should be ready for you in just a minute.” “That‟s what you said ten minutes ago,” Toby countered. “Why am I here anyway?” “You‟re here because The President wants to see you,” Charlie answered, then went back to his studying. Toby jammed his hands in his pockets, rocked back on his heels, and waited. Inside the Oval Office Sam, Josh, and Leo entered through the other door. The President stood up and said, “Good you‟re here. I‟m sure Toby‟s getting antsy out there. Leo, tell Charlie to let him in.” Leo looked over at The President, “Still can‟t work the intercom can you?” “Just tell Charlie.” Leo opened the door to the outer office and nodded to Charlie who said, “You can go in now.” “Thank you,” Toby muttered and walked into the Oval Office. “Toby come on in and sit down,” The President greeted him. Toby looked around the room at the smirks on Sam, Josh, and Leo‟s faces and sat next to The President on one of the couches. “Sir, why exactly am I here?” “Well, the ladies are upstairs doing their thing and I didn‟t want you to feel left out.” “Left out, sir?” Toby asked. “Yeah, we, well I thought that the father deserves a little get together too,” Jed reasoned. Toby shook his head in disbelief, “You‟re kidding, right sir?” “No, Toby, I‟m not kidding,” Jed answered seriously. “Yeah, we even got you gifts,” Sam said indicating the wrapped presents on the table. “Um… I… ah… really don‟t… know what to say,” Toby stammered, running his hand over his head. “Thank you.” “We pay him to communicate,” Leo asked. Jed replied, “At the moment I‟m rethinking that.” “Open the presents Toby, then we can go upstairs and crash the shower,” Josh suggested. “Yeah, I heard they have champagne up there,” Sam commented. Toby smiled and began unwrapping the gifts. First was a tiny Yankees‟ outfit from Josh. “This is great Josh, but what if it‟s a girl?” “What, a girl can‟t be a Yankee fan?” Josh joked. Next came Sam‟s gift, a silver bowl and spoon. “After you name the baby I‟ll take them in and have them engraved,” Sam explained. Toby responded, “That‟s very thoughtful Sam. CJ will love it, thank you.” Then Toby opened up an envelope from Leo containing a savings bond. When he saw the amount he couldn‟t hide his shock or his enthusiasm when he said, “Thank you very much, Leo.” Leo waved his hand and offered, “Put it away for the kid‟s education.” Finally, The President went over to his desk and picked up a very expensive box of cigars and handed them to Toby saying, “From one father to another.” “Thank you, Sir. I don‟t know whether to hand these out when the baby‟s born or keep them for myself.” “Well, I don‟t care what you give to anyone else, but I expect one of those.” The President said tapping the lid of the box. “You got it,” Toby said with a grin. Then he looked at the faces of the men surrounding him. “Thank you very much for the gifts and thank you for being so accommodating about everything. I know having CJ on maternity leave is going to make things rough around here for a while. We both really appreciate all you have done to make this work.” The President replied, “Nonsense Toby, family comes first. You and CJ will be excellent parents and we‟ll do whatever is necessary to make sure that this job doesn‟t get in the way of that too often.” “He‟s right Toby,” Leo agreed. “I learned that lesson the hard way. Be smarter than I was.” After dropping Toby‟s things off in his office, the men headed upstairs to raid the shower. When they arrived CJ was still opening her gifts, but she took a moment to show the guys what she had received so far. There were many boxes of clothes and blankets along with a stroller from Ginger, Bonnie, and Carol, and a swing from Donna and Margaret. Then Abbey got up and asked two of the White House stewards to bring in her gift. It was huge and CJ had Toby help her unwrap it. Underneath the paper and bows was a hand made rocking chair. CJ immediately sat in the chair and began to rock. “Oh, I love it. How did you know this was the last thing we needed for the nursery?” Abbey just smiled and echoed CJ‟s words from earlier, “I reserve the right to protect my sources.” “This is amazing, where did you find it?” CJ asked. “There‟s this little old carpenter in New Hampshire that makes nothing but rocking chairs. Jed got me one when I was expecting Elizabeth and I loved it. I rocked all three girls in a rocking chair just like this one,” Abbey explained. “You‟re kidding me, Mr. Rooke is still alive?” Jed questioned. “Abbey he had to be a hundred years old when I bought yours.” Abbey turned to look at her husband, “Wrong Jed, he‟s eighty-three, which would have made him younger than you are now when you bought my rocking chair.” Jed was in shock. “You can‟t be serious.” Toby looked around the room and the stacks of gifts. “We‟re going to need a moving van to get all this home.” The President walked over to Toby and patted him on the back. “I‟ve arranged for everything to be delivered to your place tomorrow.” “And that‟s why you‟re the President,” Toby replied. Jed nodded. “You got that right.” CJ stood up and took in all the smiling faces that looked back at her. “I can‟t thank you all enough for everything. The gifts are wonderful, but the most important thing is all of you.” Toby took hold of CJ‟s hand and as she spoke. “It means so much to me,” Toby squeezed CJ‟s hand and she looked at him and smiled then corrected her statement, “to US, that you will all be a part of our child‟s life. You are all family, and we love you all very much.” PART 34 Toby came home from work to find CJ in the nursery filling the chest of drawers with freshly washed baby clothes and blankets. The room had been repainted what CJ termed a cheery yellow and the walls were adorned with illustrations from classic children‟s books. The crib, which he had put together the night before with Josh and Sam, was all made up complete with the sheets, bumper pad and quilt. The room was unrecognizable from the one he slept in up until three months ago. The only thing missing was the baby. Officially the due date had been five days ago, but so far nothing. CJ moved to stand up and Toby immediately went to her. As he helped her up CJ said, “I didn‟t think you would be home until later.” “CJ, you are supposed to be resting, not working. I could have put those things away when I got home.” “Toby, relax. I took a three-hour nap this afternoon, and if I let you put the things away I wouldn‟t know where they were. It‟s just laundry, and I have to say it‟s the tiniest laundry I‟ve ever seen.” She opened up a drawer and held up a onesie. “Isn‟t this just the cutest thing you‟ve ever seen?” Toby chuckled. “It is pretty damn cute.” Then she turned to face him and ran her thumb along his eyebrow. “I missed you.” She leaned in and kissed him passionately. Toby wrapped his arms around her. “Claudia, where‟s this coming from?” he questioned. CJ traced her finger along the outline of his beard, then up and around the outside of his ear. “Did I ever tell you how much I absolutely love it when you call me Claudia?” Toby smiled at her. “Not specifically, no.” She continued running her finger around his ear and asked, “Do you know the very first time you called me Claudia?” Toby reached up and ran his hand through her hair. “Sure I do,” he answered, “I called you Claudia the first time we made love.” CJ nodded at his answer. “We did, didn‟t we? Make love, I mean, even before we said it out loud we were saying „I love you‟ with our bodies.” Toby smiled slyly and nodded. “Yeah, I guess we were.” She took a deep breath. “You know, a couple of people have suggested that making love might just move things along a little faster.” Toby pulled back. “You‟re kidding me, Claudia, you could go into labor any minute.” “That‟s the point Toby, well that and the fact that I haven‟t been able to get the idea out of my head since Dr. Davis suggested it this morning.” “I miss one appointment and the doctor tells you to have sex to bring on labor?” Toby asked in shock. CJ shrugged. “What can I say, you missed the wrong appointment.” Toby asked, “Who else did you talk to about this?” “Toby, what difference does it make,” she answered. “The doctor said it couldn‟t hurt, and the other women I talked to said they tried it and it actually worked. They said they were in labor within a day or so.” “CJ who did you ask?” CJ rolled her eyes, knowing that once she told him it would sidetrack her idea. “Leah and Abbey.” “My sister and The First Lady. You talked to my sister and The First Lady about our sex life?” “Toby, they‟re both grown women with children of their own,” CJ explained. “I think they know we have sex.” Toby shook his head and rubbed his eyes. “Okay, let me get this straight, you want to have sex so that you will go into labor sooner.” “No, I want to make love to my husband because I love you and I want you. An added benefit would be if it helped me go into labor sooner. Are you actually going to turn me down?” CJ was beginning to get upset. “Is the idea that repulsive to you?” Toby wrapped is arms back around his wife. “Claudia, I can‟t imagine a time I would ever turn you down. I love you and I want you. It‟s just that was the absolute last thing I was thinking when I came home tonight.” He tenderly kissed her, but the kiss quickly grew in intensity and finally they both needed to breathe. “I‟m sure you‟ve put some thought into just exactly how we‟re going to manage this.” CJ‟s eyes lit up. “As a matter of fact I have.” CJ slid her hands down the front of his jacket and pushed it off his shoulders. Then she untied his tie and pulled it off his neck and she began unbuttoning his shirt. Their lips found each other again. Toby ran his hands up and down her back then across her hips to her rear and she moaned into his mouth as he began to squeeze gently. They broke the kiss long enough to move from the nursery into their bedroom. When Toby left for work the next morning at seven, CJ was still sleeping. He knew she had been up and down several times during the night, so he had quietly showered and gotten dressed in the guest bathroom. CJ got up around eight-thirty and found a note from Toby on the kitchen table asking her to call as soon as she was up and around for the day. She picked up the cordless phone and dialed the White House switchboard. Bonnie answered Toby‟s line and immediately transferred her. Toby‟s voice greeted her, “Hey you, good morning.” CJ could tell he was trying to cover the anxiousness in his voice. “Good morning.” “I was beginning to think you would sleep all day,” he teased. “Yeah, all day.” She chuckled. “Toby, it‟s only eight-forty-five.” “I‟m not complaining,” he replied. “What time did you finally fall asleep?” “I dozed off and on most of the night, but I think I actually slept from about three o‟clock until fifteen minutes ago.” “Good, I‟m glad.” There was a moment of silence between them, then Toby tentatively asked, “So… ah… how do you feel.” “I feel pretty good actually. It was nice to get some sleep for a change.” “Do you think that last night might… ah… might have any effect?” Toby stammered out. CJ laughed at his discomfort. “I don‟t know.” He responded, “Okay.” “Okay?” she asked. “Yeah. I should probably try to get some work done now.” “I‟ll talk to you later. Bye.” Judging from the past week, she knew later would mean about ten more times before the end of the day. “Bye.” Toby looked at the phone for a moment and then hung up. CJ spent the morning trying to keep her mind occupied and off the fact that she was now six days overdue. After reading her usual five morning papers, there wasn‟t much to do. The nursery was ready, the house was clean, and the hospital bag was packed. She decided to make a few phone calls. Once she had exhausted her family, she started on Toby‟s, then her friends at the White House. The only problem was that Toby kept interrupting her conversations with people by calling every thirty minutes to check on her. By twelve-thirty, when she was talking to Josh, Toby‟s calls were driving her nuts. Josh was going over the latest antics of a certain Senator and how the spin might go when the call waiting beeped at her. She muttered a stream of unintelligible curses as she asked Josh to hold on. When she heard Toby‟s voice on the other line she let him have it. “I swear to God, Toby. Every time I distract myself for a few minutes and actually think about something other than the fact that I‟m as big as a house and this baby doesn‟t seem to be planning on making an appearance anytime soon, you call and remind me. If you call one more time I‟ll kill you. No, that‟s too good, too easy. I‟ll just make your life such a living hell that you‟ll beg me to kill you to put you out of your misery, and you know I‟m just the woman to do that Toby.” “Okay, CJ. Maybe I should just come home,” he suggested. “Would that be better?” “NO!” she exclaimed forcefully. “Why not?” he asked. “Toby when you‟re here you watch me like I‟m a time bomb about to explode at any second. Just stay at work, please.” “Okay,” he agreed, “but you have to promise to call me if anything happens, okay?” “Toby,” she replied, “I promise to call if I need you.” “Okay. I‟ll see you later.” “Bye.” “I love you,” he said quickly before she could hang up. “I love you too, but you‟re driving me crazy,” she explained in exasperation. “Okay, okay,” Toby said then hung up the phone. CJ switched back to Josh and heard him singing to himself, “… I just can‟t stay inside all day, I gotta get out get me some of those raaaaays….” “Josh!” “Huh?” “Josh,” CJ demanded, “you have to help me.” “Sure CJ, what is it?” he answered. “Toby. You and Sam have to make sure he doesn‟t call me anymore, it‟s driving me insane,” she explained. “Okay, is that it?” he asked. “That and see to it he doesn‟t come home until at least six o‟clock. Can you do that?” she pleaded. “No problem,” Josh assured her. “Josh, if you sit on Toby for me, I might actually forgive you.” “For what?” “Putting that damn song in my head,” she told him. “What song?” he questioned. “The one you were singing to amuse yourself when I came back on the line. The one from „The Brady Bunch.‟” “I don‟t know any songs from „The Brady Bunch,‟ well except the theme song.” “„Sunshine Day,‟ Josh,” she informed him, “„Sunshine Day!‟” “That‟s from „The Partridge Family.‟” “No,” CJ corrected, “it‟s from „The Brady Bunch,‟ just ask anyone.” “I will.” CJ hung up the phone with a smile on her face knowing that Josh would do just that. He would begin asking everyone in the West Wing about that song and the minute he said the title they would have the song stuck in their minds for the rest of the day. CJ got up and headed into the living room singing, “I think I‟ll go for a walk outside now, the summer sun‟s callin‟ my name.” Josh hung up the phone and headed out of his office running into Donna who was on her way in carrying his lunch. “Where do you think you‟re going?” Donna asked. Josh answered, “I have to go tell Toby he can‟t call CJ anymore.” Donna nodded knowingly. “He‟s driving her crazy isn‟t he?” “Yep,” Josh confirmed. “How exactly am I going to keep him from calling her?” Donna shrugged and put the styrofoam container down on his desk. Josh stopped in the doorway and spun around. “Donna, you know that song from „The Partridge Family?‟” “I know many songs from „The Partridge Family‟ Josh, it was a show about a singing family, can you be a little more specific?” “The one about the sun shining?” “You mean „Sunshine Day?‟” “Yeah, that‟s the one,” Josh nodded enthusiastically. “I knew it was from the Partridge family.” “Yeah, except it‟s from „The Brady Bunch,‟” Donna said. “„The Brady Bunch?‟ Are you sure Donna, because I‟m pretty sure it‟s from „The Partridge Family.‟” “Buzzz,” Donna said crossing her arms into the shape of an „X‟. “Wrong Josh, but thank you for playing. We have some lovely parting gifts for you.” Josh rolled his eyes and took a couple of steps down the corridor, then leaned back into his doorway and said, “Don‟t touch my lunch. I‟ll be back.” Donna shrugged opened the box and grabbed a hand full of fries and headed back out to her desk. She took two steps and found herself humming „Sunshine Day‟ around a mouth full of French fries and silently cursed Josh. Then she began to plot her revenge. Josh walked into Toby‟s office and found him sitting at his desk staring at the phone. “Toby, you can‟t call her.” “How do you know?” Toby asked without taking his eyes off the phone. “I was on the other line.” Josh flopped into one of Toby‟s guest chairs. “Man, you‟re driving her batty. You seriously can‟t call her again today.” Toby finally looked up at Josh and demanded, “What if something happens?” “If something happens, she‟ll call you.” Josh said. Toby took a deep breath, leaned back in his chair and ran a hand over his head. “I guess you‟re right. She did seem pretty pissed. I really don‟t want to upset her anymore.” Josh shrugged and offered, “I think she‟s just as anxious as you are, but she needs you to stop bugging her.” Toby waved Josh toward the door. “Okay, I get it. You can go now.” Then he took a rubber ball out of his desk and began bouncing it off the wall. Josh rose from the chair and asked, “You gonna be okay?” Toby kept bouncing the ball, “No, but I‟ll kill a couple of hours and then go home.” “Oh, that‟s another thing. You can‟t go home until six o‟clock.” “I what?” Toby asked. “You can‟t go home until six o‟clock.” Toby began to throw the ball harder against the wall. Josh started to leave and turned back. “Hey, you know that song about a walk in the sun from „The Partridge Family?‟” “No!” Toby answered between catches. Josh was surprised at the vehemence of Toby‟s answer and backed out of his office. “Okay.” Josh passed Sam in the hall between his and Toby‟s offices. “Sam, you have to help me keep Toby occupied. He‟s driving CJ crazy.” Sam nodded. “He‟s not allowed to call her again today, and he can‟t go home until six.” Sam nodded once more. “Well, that should be easy enough,” he said his voice dripping with sarcasm. “Just help me, okay?” “Sure, but you don‟t have to listen to that ball all day,” Sam said gesturing to Toby‟s office with his head. “You can take it,” Josh replied then he remembered to ask, “Sam, you know that song about the sun from „The Partridge Family?‟” “You mean „Sunshine Day‟ from „The Brady Bunch?‟” Sam replied. “Why does everyone keep saying that was from „The Brady Bunch?‟” Josh questioned indignantly. Sam made a show of shrugging and answered, “I don‟t know, maybe because it WAS.” Josh waved Sam off with his hand and wandered away mumbling, “Fine. Whatever.” Sam headed into Toby‟s office humming under his breath, when he realized what he was doing he shook his head and smiled. Toby walked through the door and announced loudly, “I‟m home. It‟s exactly six o‟clock and I didn‟t call.” He saw CJ lying on the couch watching CNN. He walked over and sat down on the coffee table and looked down at her. “You didn‟t think I could do it did you?” CJ smiled up at him. “Nope, I didn‟t.” She reached out and took his hand. “Thank you.” Toby leaned down and kissed her on the forehead. “You know I would do anything for you. I won‟t even ask how you feel.” CJ smiled again and replied, “No, you can ask.” Toby brushed the hair off her face with his free hand and tried to decipher her expression. Was she just happy he hadn‟t bothered her, or was there something else? He tried to keep the excitement out of his voice as he asked, “CJ…. How do you feel?” “Well, other than these labor pains I‟ve been having, I‟m kind of bored,” she answered. “Labor, CJ, you‟re really in labor?” He wasn‟t trying to hide his excitement now. She nodded. “Are you okay? Why are you just lying there, shouldn‟t we do something?” “Toby, relax. They‟re still more than twenty minutes apart.” “Twenty minutes, CJ, just how long have you been having contractions?” he demanded. She closed her eyes knowing the reaction she was about to get from him. “They started about ten minutes after your last phone call.” “CJ, that was more than five and a half hours ago, you promised to call me if anything happened.” “No,” she corrected, “I promised to call if I needed you. We‟re just fine.” She ran her hand across her abdomen. “There‟s no hurry.” He leaned forward, gently kissed her on the mouth, then pulled back and looked into her eyes. “Does it hurt very much?” “So far it‟s not so bad,” as she answered. Then her grip suddenly tightened on his hand and her face tensed, finally she remembered to breathe. “This is it? You‟re having one right now aren‟t you?” he questioned. She nodded once. When it stopped she caught her breath and replied, “Yeah. Toby, I started a list.” She pointed to the coffee table. “Will you write this one down?” Toby picked up the pen on the table, but the only paper there was the newspaper. He looked at the different sections and saw a list of times written down on the side of the New York Times crossword puzzle. He picked it up and laughed. “The crossword puzzle, you really are bored aren‟t you?” He checked his watch and added the most recent time. “Well, the Op Ed page is too annoying to look at for very long,” CJ explained. Toby did the math quickly then put the paper back down. “Okay, it was twenty three minutes since the last one. Can I do anything to help? A back rub maybe?” “That would be great, but you know what I really want?” CJ replied. Toby nodded and said, “A bath?” CJ smiled, “Yeah, I was waiting for you to come home. I didn‟t want to try to get in and out by myself.” Toby got up and said, “You stay put; I‟ll go run the water.” He prepared the bath and helped CJ get undressed and into the warm water. Then he got out a cloth and gently washed her entire body while she tried to relax. He kept checking his watch and waiting for the next contraction. Just as CJ sat up to get out of the bath the next contraction hit. Toby had his hand on CJ‟s stomach and felt it get hard as a rock. He watched her eyes squeeze shut and he reminded her to breathe. When it passed he helped her out of the tub and wrapped her in her bathrobe. Once he got her comfortable on the bed he got the newspaper and recorded the last contraction. “That time it was only twenty-one minutes,” he told her. “I think they‟re getting a little stronger than before,” she explained. “That‟s the point isn‟t it?” He asked tenderly. CJ took a deep breath and nodded. “I could use that back rub now if you‟re still offering.” CJ was lying on her side and moved over on the bed a bit to give Toby better access. He eased the robe off of her and used it to keep her legs warm as he began kneading the muscles of her back. PART 35 After several more hours of labor with the contractions getting stronger and closer together, CJ decided to try another warm bath. Toby knelt on the floor next to her. “Claudia, you really need to get out of the tub now.” CJ shook her head, “Mmm mm, feels good in here.” Toby held up one of her hands. “Your fingers are getting all pruney, and we need to get to the hospital.” “I don‟t want to move,” she replied. Then another contraction hit. Her face tensed a bit, but she continued to breathe through it. After the contraction, Toby wrote down the time on the list next to the crossword puzzle. “CJ, the contractions have been six minutes apart for over an hour, that last one was closer to five. I am not delivering this baby here in the bathtub. We‟re going to the hospital now.” CJ laughed at the panicked tone of Toby‟s voice. “Well, since you put it that way, I guess we‟re going to the hospital now.” “Thank you,” Toby said as he helped her out of the tub, then he called Dr. Davis‟ service to let them know they were leaving for the hospital. Between the two of them CJ was dried off and dressed within two contractions and they were on their way. By the time CJ was checked in to the hospital, settled into a room and changed into a hospital gown, Dr. Davis walked through the door. “Hello Claudia, Toby. I see you took my advice yesterday.” Toby looked down at the floor, the tips of his ears turning red with embarrassment. CJ just smiled and responded “Well, who would have known?” Dr. Davis nodded. “Works every time. So, how are you doing? I know you were worried about managing the pain.” CJ answered, “I was doing okay at home, but the contractions are getting a lot stronger now. When can we do the epidural?” “Let‟s check and see where you are,” Dr. Davis replied. CJ moaned as another contraction began. Toby gently caressed her face and reminded her to breathe. After the contraction, Dr. Davis examined CJ. “You‟re dilated to about six centimeters I‟d really like to hold off on the epidural until you‟re at a seven. Claudia, we talked about the walking epidural. It‟s a lower dosage, and it doesn‟t completely numb you. You‟ll still feel the contractions, but you‟ll be able to move around and be better able to push when the time comes. Is that still what you‟re planning?” “Yeah, I don‟t want to be completely numb,” CJ explained. “I just want a little relief.” “Okay, then that‟s what we‟ll do. I‟d like to see you up and walking as much as possible. Let gravity and your own body work for you. By all means stop when you feel a contraction and if you need to take a break. I‟ll be back to check on you in a little while.” Toby helped CJ into her socks and slippers, then once she was standing he tied her bathrobe around her and they headed out into the corridor. They made several laps of the floor walking slowly with CJ holding on to the railing with one hand and Toby supporting her on the other side. As they walked down the hallway for the fourth time CJ suddenly stopped and said, “Toby we have a big problem.” “Are you okay?” Toby asked frantically. CJ resumed walking and answered, “Yeah, I‟m okay, but we never decided on a name for the baby. He or she is going to be here in a matter of hours and we still don‟t have names picked out.” Toby breathed a sigh of relief. “Is that all?” “Toby, a name is very important. It affects your whole life, determines who you are.” “Claudia, do you really think you wouldn‟t be here right now if your name were Mary or Jane? I love you and I love your name, but I would love you even if you were a Martha or a Hildegard.” “Hildegard? Where the hell did that name come from?” she asked then stopped to breathe through another contraction. They started down the hallway again. “Seriously, we need to decide this.” “I‟ve actually been thinking about this a lot,” Toby said, “and I think the names we choose should mean something to each of us. I was thinking of maybe Charles for a boy.” “After my Dad.” CJ was touched. “Toby I love you for suggesting that. Charles Ziegler, how does that sound? He‟ll need a middle name.” Toby responded, “I thought you decided to use Cregg as a middle name for a boy.” “Yeah, but Charles Cregg Ziegler?” CJ argued. “We need something from your side too.” “The Ziegler‟s enough for me,” Toby countered. “That‟s from my side.” CJ shook her head. “I‟m not totally convinced, but let‟s move on to girl‟s names for now. I was thinking of a „J‟ name after your Mom. What do you think of Jessica?” “Jessica Ziegler,” Toby tried the name out loud. “I like it. My Mom would be very happy to know she had a granddaughter named after her. I‟ve got the perfect middle name, Claire.” “Jessica Claire,” CJ said. “That‟s pretty. Oh, but Toby that would make her JC.” Toby nodded. “I know, I like it, CJ and JC. She wouldn‟t have to use her initials, she could be Jessica or Jessie if she wanted to.” Just then another contraction started and CJ stopped in her tracks squeezing Toby‟s hand. “CJ, breathe, in, out, in, out…” CJ began to breathe slowly with Toby and when the contraction was over she still looked like she was in pain. “Let‟s go back to the room and have Dr. Davis check to see if you‟re ready for the epidural,” he suggested. “God I hope so,” she replied, and they walked back to her room. A few hours later, Dr. Davis was again checking CJ‟s progress. “Okay Claudia, you‟re dilated to about an eight. That means that you should be entering transition pretty soon. The contractions are going to get stronger and closer together as the baby moves into the birth canal, but the good news is this is the shortest phase of labor and it means you‟re almost done.” CJ just nodded as a contraction began. Toby leaned down next to her face gently caressing her and breathing with her. Dr. Davis had been right. Transition began and the contractions were fast and furious with very little time in between for CJ to rest or recover. Her hair was plastered down around her face from sweat and from the water on the cloth Toby kept wiping her brow with. “Toby, I can‟t do this anymore.” “Yes you can, you can do anything. You‟re the most amazing woman I have ever met.” “Well, obviously I can‟t do this,” she cried, her eyes filling with tears. “Yes you can,” Toby reassured her as he wiped away her tears. “You absolutely can. I‟ve seen you hold your own with royalty and heads of state, take on an entire room full of Republicans, and bring reporters to their knees. You can do anything you put your mind to.” CJ moaned as another contraction hit. Toby breathed with her until it passed. CJ groaned. “Toby, my back.” The nurse who was monitoring CJ‟s contractions said, “Mr. Ziegler, come over to this side of the bed.” Toby walked around to where she was standing. “Okay, I want you to put pressure right here,” she said indicating a place on CJ‟s back. Toby put his hands where he was told and pushed. “Claudia, is that any better?” the nurse asked. “Yeah, but harder,” CJ replied. “Go ahead and push harder, you won‟t hurt her,” the nurse told Toby with a smile and Toby increased the pressure on CJ‟s back. About twenty minutes later Dr. Davis came back in to check on CJ. “How are you doing?” CJ gave her a tired smile, “I‟m okay, there haven‟t been any contractions for a few minutes though?” “Well, enjoy the break, that means transition is over and you‟re going to feel like pushing very soon.” She turned to the nurse, “Are we all set for delivery?” The nurse replied, “All ready.” “Okay, Claudia, I want you to tell me when you feel the urge to push, okay?” “Okay.” CJ agreed and a few minutes later the contractions began again. The nurses helped CJ get into position. “I want to push now,” CJ announced. “Just a minute Claudia. I want to check the baby‟s position. Okay, on the next contraction you can push. Toby, support her back and breathe with her. Make sure she and that baby are getting plenty of oxygen.” Toby nodded and got in position to help support CJ‟s back. After pushing on and off for half an hour, CJ was very tired and very frustrated. She pushed through another contraction and still nothing. “Okay Claudia, I know you‟re tired,” Dr. Davis said, “but hang in there.” CJ leaned back against Toby. He could see how exhausted and upset she was. “CJ, honey, you can do this. You‟re almost there. Just think back, can you believe it was a little over a year ago we decided to try this? Look how far we‟ve come. We‟ve made it through everything, the wedding, getting pregnant, morning sickness, tests, dealing with the press… You‟ve handled it all like a pro and now in a matter of minutes you‟re going to be holding our child in your arms. I told you that I‟ve been falling in love with you every day since I met you, Claudia, I never dreamed we would actually get to this point, but here we are. You can do this! Just a few more pushes and it will all be over. Okay?” CJ nodded and with determination announced. “Okay. Let‟s get this show on the road.” “On the next contraction I want you to push steadily for a count of ten, okay?” “Got it,” CJ agreed. As the contraction started, “Okay Claudia, one, two, three, …” Dr. Davis counted to ten, CJ took a quick breath. “Let‟s do that again, one, two, three, four, …” CJ pushed like that through the next few contractions. “Claudia on the next push I think we‟re going to get the head out. I want you to keep pushing until I tell you to stop. If you look up into the mirror, you can watch the whole thing.” CJ pushed as hard as she could, “Okay, that‟s good, we‟ve got the head,” Dr. Davis explained. “Now I‟ll guide the shoulders out and on the next push you should be all done.” CJ nodded and Dr. Davis guided the baby‟s shoulders out. CJ felt incredible relief as the baby passed though the birth canal. Dr. Davis quickly examined the infant and announced, “Congratulations, Claudia, Toby, you have a beautiful daughter.” She placed the baby up on CJ‟s stomach. CJ reached down and gently caressed her daughter‟s head. “A daughter, Toby, we have a daughter.” Toby looked from CJ to the baby with absolute wonder. He placed his hand on top of CJ‟s as she continued to softly stroke the baby‟s head then he leaned down and kissed CJ on the lips. “I love you so much.” “I love you, too.” CJ replied. Toby gazed back down to his daughter and said, “Welcome to the world Jessica Claire.” Dr. Davis gave the new parents a moment then asked, “Dad, would you like to cut the cord?” Toby was taken aback, “Ah… sure.” He took the surgical scissors from Dr. Davis and cut where she showed him. The nurse said, “We need to clean this little one up and do a quick exam, we‟ll give her right back.” CJ and Toby both watched as they cleaned the baby off then weighed and measured her and wrapped her in a blanket. They gave her back to CJ who immediately opened the blanket and inspected her daughter closely counting fingers and toes. “Claudia, why don‟t you see if she‟ll nurse a little bit,” Dr. Davis suggested. Toby unfastened the back of CJ‟s hospital gown and helped her slide it down over one shoulder. Then CJ brought the baby to her breast and gently grazed her nipple across the baby‟s mouth. She latched on right away and began to suck; CJ beamed down at her daughter. Toby looked on in amazement and softly ran his fingertips over Jessica‟s downy hair. Then he leaned down and gently kissed CJ‟s forehead. Once CJ was settled back in bed, Toby looked up at the clock on the wall. “It‟s after nine o‟clock. I think I should call Ginger so she can tell everyone why I won‟t be in today.” CJ replied, “You didn‟t call them yet?” “Well, we were a little busy,” Toby answered. CJ smiled and nodded. “I guess so. After you call Ginger, let‟s call my parents.” “Okay,” Toby agreed. He called Ginger and filled her in on all the details. “She was born at 8:07 this morning, weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces and was 21 and a half inches long.” He smiled and looked over at CJ, “Yeah, she has her mother‟s height. Her full name is Jessica Claire Ziegler.” Toby laughed then replied, “I like JC, but I‟m not sure about CJ, for now let‟s just call her Jessica, okay.” When Toby was finished talking to Ginger, he dialed CJ‟s parents‟ house and handed her the phone. “Hi Mom,” CJ said. “I‟m sure I do sound tired. Tell Dad to pick up the extension, okay? Hi Dad. I love you, too. Yeah, I have some news for you.” Toby took hold of CJ‟s hand and she smiled at him. “You have a new granddaughter. Her name is Jessica Claire and she was born at 8:07.” CJ‟s eyes filled with tears and Toby gently wiped them away. “Dad, she‟s absolutely perfect.” She gave her parents all the specifics then asked, “Mom, I‟m going to try to get some sleep, now. Will you call Alex and Matthew and fill them in? Tell them I‟ll call them both later, okay? Thanks.” Then CJ hung up the phone. About three hours later a nurse brought Jessica into the room. CJ was still asleep so Toby decided not to wake her until necessary. He sat and held his daughter for about half an hour before she began fussing. CJ heard the baby and slowly opened her eyes. She saw Toby standing by the window with Jessica in his arms, gently swaying back and forth trying to soothe her. When he turned and saw that CJ was awake, he walked over and sat on the bed next to her. “I think she‟s hungry,” he said. “I‟m sure she is. She‟s had a tough day,” CJ replied with a smile. Toby held the baby while CJ sat up a little more in bed and untied the front of her nightgown. Then he gently placed the baby in her mother‟s arms. CJ gave her daughter a tender kiss on the forehead and cooed, “Hello there sweet girl,” then moved her into position to breast-feed. Jessica quickly took hold and began to nurse hungrily. CJ and Toby laughed at the sucking noises the baby was making, “I guess she really was hungry,” CJ said happily. “I guess so,” Toby agreed. Toby shifted on the bed so that he was sitting next to CJ with his arms wrapped around both her and the baby. He brushed a gentle kiss against CJ‟s temple as they both looked down at Jessica. “So, is it everything you expected?” he asked. CJ turned to look into his eyes and answered, “Oh, it‟s more, Toby. It‟s so much more.” CJ brought her lips to Toby‟s and they shared a tender, loving kiss.
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