Nothing As It Seems
Character(s): Abbey, Jed, Toby, OFC, Leo, Margaret
Pairing(s): Abbey/Jed, Toby/OFC, Leo/Margaret
Category(s): Romance, Drama
Disclaimer: Jennifer, Marrah and any other new characters are mine... and this storyline in mine... the rest... not mine ::sigh::
Summary: California here they come.
Author's Note: This takes a place about 2 months after the last one, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
Jennifer Bartlet shuffled into her office. After being gone, two weeks she was
thrilled to be home... However she was less than thrilled to have to be in her
office thirty minutes after getting off the plane.
She looked over to see her assistant, Patrick staring at her in sympathy. She
shook her head, "A thirty-six hour flight, Patrick."
The younger man smiled, "I can imagine... Is Mrs. Bartlet?"
"She's with the twins and my Dad in the Oval," Jennifer completed his
thought. "I want any important messages now, other than that... screw it
Patrick nodded, "You got it boss." He opened his mouth to speak, but
was interrupted by the phone. He reached over and lifted the receiver,
"Jennifer Bartlet's office... Yes, sir. She just came in... Yes, sir. I'll
Jennifer looked at him with interest, "What?" she asked as he hung up
"The President requests your presence in the Oval Office." Patrick
"Ugh," Jennifer groaned. "Okay, take anything that I'm going to
need to know before Monday morning up to the residence before you leave,
"You got it boss."
"Thank you." Jennifer responded, walking out of her office. She made
her way through the West Wing, speaking to people along the way. She smiled...
she had come a long way in the last two months... a very long way.
Still smiling, she walked up to Mrs. Landingham's desk, "Hello Mrs.
"Hello Jennifer, did you have a nice trip?"
"As nice as it could be with a thirty-six hour flight," Jennifer
responded, walking past her and into the Oval Office, "I'm here Dad,
what's the urgent urgency?"
Jed Bartlet made a face, "Well... nothing much except..."
From behind her, Jennifer heard a sound she hadn't heard in a very long time...
To be more exact, she heard some singing that she hadn't heard in a very long
"A regular tom boy, but dressed for a prom boy, how cute can one girl be?
Gidget is the one for me. It very well may be that she's just a baby, speaking
romantically. If that's a bad feature, I'll be the teacher, Gidget is the one
for me. Although she's not king size, her finger is ring size, Gidget is the
With a huge grin, Jennifer turned and launched herself into the arms of the man
that was standing behind her, "Lindsey!" She planted a kiss on his
"Excuse me, Mr. President-" Toby froze the moment he walked through
the door. He blinked his eyes, not sure at what he was seeing... Jennifer had
her arms wrapped around another man in the middle of her father's office. Toby
felt his insides grow cold.
"Toby?" Jed asked, looking past his daughter and her friend.
"You want something?"
Toby stood frozen. His eyes on Jenn and... him.
And it was at that moment that Marrah ran in, "Mommy!" She skidded to
a halt when she saw the man standing with her mother, "Lindsey!!"
Jenn released the man she was clinging to. He turned and held out his arms,
"Lindsey!" the little girl hurled herself into the man's arms.
"I missed you!!"
"I missed you, Queen of my heart." Lindsey replied. He looked up,
noticing the man standing awkwardly in the doorway of the Oval Office,
Jennifer finally seemed to notice Toby too, "Toby! I want you to meet my
very best friend. Toby Ziegler, Lindsey Deyman. Lindsey this is Toby."
"So this is Toby?" Lindsey shot his friend an enigmatic look.
"I've heard a great deal about you Mr. Ziegler... It's a pleasure to meet
Toby nodded his head, careful to keep his face void of any emotion or reaction
of any kind, "Mr. Deyman." He glanced back at the President,
Jed looked back at him, sensing the storm that was building in his
Communication's Director. He glanced over at his wife for conformation.
Abbey sat on one of the couches with her sons in her lap. She returned his
glance and nodded... She sensed the potential problems as well.
Pursing his lips, Jed turned his attention back to Toby, "Did you need
"Yes, sir." Toby ripped his attention from Jennifer and Lindsey.
"I have the speech that you wanted..."
Jed nodded, "That's right, I almost forgot." Jed turned to the others
in the room. "I hate to cut this reunion short, but if I want to sleep
tonight I gotta finish up here."
Abbey rose from her place on the couch, "Okay, come on. Let's go so Dad
can work," she propelled her boys toward Jennifer and motioned for the
door. She turned to her husband and whispered very quietly, "I'll see you
Jed grinned at her and, discreetly, smacked her on her butt as she walked past
Jennifer wrapped an arm around Lindsey and the pair walked out the door of the
Oval Office without a backwards glance.
Toby watched them leave with his typical, uninterested expression painted
across his face. However, the grinding of his jaw gave him away to those who
knew him best... including his President.
Jed gave a mental sigh, "What do you have for me Toby?"
and Lindsey walked through the halls of the White House. Lindsey looked his
friend up and down, "Your Dad mentioned something about a change of
wardrobe... but I never would have believed it if I hadn't seen it... You look
downright matronly in this get up."
Jennifer glanced down at the long skirt and plain blouse, "Yeah... I just
haven't been comfortable enough to wear my old clothes yet."
"We'll have to do something about that."
Jennifer shook her head, "I don't know, Lindsey."
"Well, I do. And that's all that counts." Lindsey grinned when he
heard her laugh. He raised an eyebrow, "I like your Toby Ziegler..."
Immediately, Jennifer's pale face grew flushed, "Thank you."
Lindsey grinned at her, "You're blushing Gidget."
Jennifer rolled her eyes, "Thanks so for pointing that out!" She
laughed. Jennifer looked at Lindsey for a long moment, "I have missed you
Lindsey held her tightly, "I missed you." He tilted his head,
"So, are you and Toby doing anything that I shouldn't tell your father
"I'm just asking!"
"God, you're nosy!" Jennifer exclaimed. "You know that?"
"Yes, I do." Lindsey said quickly. "Answer the question,
Jennifer rolled her eyes, "No... if it's any business of yours."
"And it is."
"We aren't." Jennifer finished. She shook her head, looking off in
the distance, "I still have nightmares, Lindsey."
Lindsey looked at her, his eyes showing his love and devotion, "Your Dad
told me when he called me... He thought that a visit from your insane friend
would be perfect for you."
Jennifer brought her attention back to him, "That's a first... Seems to me
that, once upon a time, he did everything he could to keep us from spending too
much time together."
"Ah, see... that was when he was afraid that you were going to run off
with me and be a scruffy, hoodlum..."
"In other words," Jennifer concluded. "My father was afraid that
I was going to run away and be a musician."
"That would be correct."
Jennifer sighed, "There are time, Lindsey... there are time when I wish I
Lindsey stared at her, "No you don't. You're too smart to be a musician
... although you haven't used that intelligence too much in your life."
"You're welcome pookie." Lindsey grinned. All of a sudden he grew
serious, "I don't think your Toby likes me..."
"What are you talking about?"
"Just a feeling I got," Lindsey shrugged. "Anyway, your Mom says
that you're both leaving tomorrow afternoon for California?"
Jennifer groaned, "Ugh... yeah... She has a... thing out there. And to
top it all off, I think I'm catching a cold."
"Poor baby." Lindsey looked at her as if he had just had a thought,
"Show me your office."
"Show me your office."
"Okay," Jennifer said, leading him in the direction of her office.
and Lindsey walked through the doorway that signified the Office of the First
Lady. Jennifer shrugged, "It's not much, but we're pretty proud of
Lindsey tilted his head, "How can you stand to be somewhere so damned
stuffy and formal?"
Jennifer shook her head, "It suits me right now." She tightened her
hold on her friend as they approached her office. She smiled when she saw
Patrick give her a confused look, "Hey Patrick."
"Hey Boss," Patrick returned. He took note of Jennifer's contact with
the man standing next to her with interest. He tried to keep the... shock...
off his face. He hadn't seen Jennifer that comfortable, or close for that matter,
with a man since... well, since before The Trip... Not even with Toby was she
"Patrick, I'd like you to meet my very best friend in the entire world,
Lindsey Deyman." Jennifer grinned. "Lindsey, I'd like you to meet my
assistant, Patrick MacAllen."
Lindsey stuck his hand out, "You have my sympathies, Mr. MacAllen."
"Hey!" Jennifer exclaimed, landing a punch in Lindsey's gut.
Patrick couldn't help but laugh, "You too, Mr. Deyman."
Jennifer set her jaw, "Why do I feel ganged up on?"
Lindsey wrapped his arms around her, "Possibly... because you
"Ugh..." Jennifer groaned, moving out of his arms, towards her office
door. She flipped the light on and stepped inside. "Well, here it is. Not
like my California office... but I kinda like it."
Lindsey stepped inside the office and immediately saw the evidence that this
was, in fact, her office. "Yeah... you keep it about as clean as your old
one. This is pretty messy, Gidget."
"I prefer the term organized chaos, thank you very much." Jennifer
said, putting her hands on her hips. "And you're one to talk... At least I
can find stuff when I need it."
Lindsey nodded his head, "True... quite true my vertically challenged
"Yeah... well..." Jennifer floundered for an appropriate come back.
Lindsey looked down at her and covered his heart, "I'm hurt... wounded to
Jennifer stuck her tongue out at him.
"That's mature," Lindsey remarked.
"Thanks." Jennifer retorted. She looked up when Josh Lyman skidded to
a sudden halt in her office doorway. "Hey Joshy."
Josh looked at the pair in front of him for a moment, "Hey
"Josh, I'd like you to meet my best friend..."
fidgeted uncomfortably as Toby rose to leave the Oval Office, "Hey Toby..."
The other man turned and looked back at him, "Yes... sir?"
"About Jennifer and Lindsey..." Jed trailed off.
Toby shook his head, "Mr. President, I-"
"Toby, let me say this please." Jed cut in. "Lindsey and
Jennifer are very close... they have been since they were two years old.
There's a certain safety that Lindsey has for my daughter..."
"Thank you sir," Toby replied stiffly. "I understand."
Jed nodded his hand and waved the other man out of his office. He sighed as his
door closed, "I wish you really did, Toby."
Toby stalked through the halls with an intense glare in his eyes. He
sidestepped anyone that might get in his way as he made his way to his office.
When he reached it's safety, he shut the door and leaned against it.
He had spent the past two months getting to know Jennifer again... Trying to
get things back to the way they were before The Trip... The progress had been
so slow on that front. Jennifer was still just a little bit skittish around him
... around most men except her father and Leo.
And then Lindsey Deyman walked in and Jennifer threw herself in his arms. He
shook his head... and so had Marrah.
Hell, he could have been wallpaper for all either one of them would have
noticed. They were so wrapped up in Lindsey Deyman.
Toby threw the papers in his hands across the room in a burst of anger. He hung
his head and sighed, irritated with himself for his flash of fury. He walked
over and started to gather up the scattered papers.
There was a knock on the door and Ginger stuck her head in his office,
"Josh was over here looking for you..."
"What did he want?"
"He didn't say, he just said for you to find him when you got out of the
"Fine," Toby snapped. He picked up his phone and called over to
Josh's office. "Donna?... Where the hell is he?... Where?... Fine."
He hung up the phone without another word.
Toby slung open the door to his office and started out, on his way to the
office of the First Lady's Chief of Staff.
Bartlet is going to Los Angeles tomorrow."
Leo sighed, "Yes, Margaret. I know this. Thank you for that hourly
Margaret raised her eyebrows, "I'm just saying that someone else is going
to Los Angeles."
"Thank you," Leo stared down at his computer screen. "I wouldn't
have been able to deduce that without you telling me."
"I've never been to Los Angeles." Margaret went on.
"So you've told me."
"Other people keep getting to go," Margaret's voice almost had a pout
Leo shook his head and tried to ignore her.
"Everyone in the White House is going to get to go to California before
me. If I ever get to go..." Margaret trailed off as she walked out of his
"Oh for the love of everything Holy, Margaret!" Leo exclaimed as Jed
walked into his office.
Jed looked at him, "What was that?"
"Margaret being Margaret." Leo answered.
"I was just pointing it out!" came Margaret's voice, floating back
"And you've been doing that for the last three hours! I got the
point!" Leo hollered back at her. He rolled his eyes and turned to Jed,
"What can I do for you, sir?"
Jed tilted his head, "You two need to go sit in time out, you know
Leo ignored his comment, "Mr. President?"
"Lindsey Deyman came today..."
Leo's eyes went wide, "Oh?"
"Yeah, I called him and asked him to come visit."
"You called him?" Leo asked, incredulously. "Are you sick?"
"No, I'm fine." Jed made a face. "It was Abbey's idea and it was
a good one... I think."
"Well, Jennifer reacted the way she always reacts when Lindsey's
"She was all over him?" Leo asked, looking for conformation. When Jed
nodded, he shrugged, "Well, that's a good thing... at least she's
trusting someone besides you, Abbey, and Toby again..."
"Toby walked in and..."
"Oh, good grief." Leo sighed.
"Yeah." Jed agreed. "I'm going to talk to Abbey tonight about
Leo nodded, "You might want to talk to your daughter about it too."
"Yeah," Jed nodded. He walked towards the door, "I think I
better do that now."
Jed started out the door, "By the way, what's with Margaret?"
"She's never been to California, we were going to go that last time when
you went, but I didn't go and-oh never mind sir," Leo waved it off.
"Okay," Jed walked out, a confused expression painted on his face.
Margaret walked back in as Jed left, "Well, I haven't..."
Leo didn't answer, he merely glared at her as she walked back out of his
laughed, "Jeffener, you used to sing?"
Jennifer grinned, "A very... very long time ago. Lindsey and I were in a
band together and we used to sing duets all the time."
Josh turned to Lindsey, "Was she any good?"
"Well, I don't know what you mean by-" Lindsey seemed to mull it over
until he felt Jennifer's expertly placed elbow in his gut. He laughed and
pulled her into his arms, "She was the best."
"How about now? Is she a good duet partner now?" Josh pressed; He
couldn't keep the smile off his face. He was thrilled that Jennifer was acting
so much like her old self... She was laughing and smiling and she was allowing
a man to touch her... She was getting better and Josh was thrilled.
Lindsey hugged Jennifer to him, "I've had my share in the past, but
Jennifer is the best I've ever had the pleasure of having."
"Well, she'll-" Josh cut himself off when he glanced at the doorway
of Jennifer's office. "Toby..."
Toby addressed him, but kept his attention on Jennifer and Lindsey, "What
did you want Josh?"
Jennifer and Lindsey turned around at Toby's voice. Immediately, Jennifer
sensed that there was something wrong with him.
Josh could see that his friend was angry about something. He shook his head,
"It's not important. We can talk about it Mon-"
"Well, then," Toby cut him off. "Iíll be on my way then."
Toby turned and walked away fuming, but determined not to show it.
Jennifer stared at the empty doorway for a fraction of a second, before
launching herself out of Lindsey's arms and after Toby.
Josh turned to Lindsey, "What the-"
"Think about it Josh," Lindsey interrupted, giving him a significant
look. "Think about it."
Josh stared at him for a long moment before the light went off,
"Toby!" Jennifer ran down the hallway after him. "Toby
Toby paused in his exodus as Jennifer caught up with him.
"Toby, what's wrong?"
"What's wrong?" Toby repeated her question. "What's wrong?"
"Why nothing's wrong, Bartlet. Nothing at all." Toby replied,
allowing the acerbic side of his nature to come flowing to the surface.
"Why would you think that something's wrong?" Toby began to walk
With an exasperated sigh, Jennifer gave chase, "Because you're acting like
an ass, Ziegler. Now," Jennifer reached out a hand and spun him around.
Toby whirled on her, "What's wrong is him."
Jennifer stared at him in confusion, "Him?"
"Yes, him!" Toby hissed.
"What are you talking about?"
"I've been here everyday since you got back from the damned trip,"
Toby hissed at her, furious. "I've done everything in my power, everything
that I know how to do... Just to make your life easier. I've watched you wake
up screaming from nightmares and... And I can barely touch you without you
stiffening... without seeing fear and panic in your eyes."
"And he comes waltzing in here and you're suddenly back to your old
self," Toby went on. "You're in his arms, you kissed him..."
"Toby, you don't-"
"I don't what? I don't understand? You're damned right, I don't
"Damnit Toby, listen to me!" Jennifer exclaimed. "Lindsey is...
"Yeah I know... you feel safe with him. The President all ready told me
that." Toby held up his hand. "The point to that is... you don't
feel safe with me."
"Toby, that's not-"
"Whatever," Toby shook his head and resumed his treck away from her.
stood in the hallway. He had been on his way to his daughter's office when
Jennifer and Toby's voices reached his ears. He froze in place as he listened
to the argument unfold.
When he heard Toby walked away, Jed turned and made his way back to the
residence. He walked to the nursery, where he knew Abbey would be. Jed stopped
in the doorway and watched his wife.
Abbey sat in a rocking chair, holding her red-haired son, Chase. The little boy
slept soundly as his mother rocked him gently. After a moment, sensing him near
her, Abbey looked up at Jed and smiled.
"Hey," she whispered.
Jed leaned in the doorway, "Hey."
"I've been away for so long... I hate that." Abbey rose from the
chair. She placed her son in his bed. "And I'm leaving again
"You could take them with you." Jed suggested.
Abbey shook her head, "No, they're too young to travel." She covered
Chase with a blanket and, leaning over, placed a kiss on the little boy's
forehead. "And besides, I'll be back day after tomorrow." Abbey moved
over to Matthew's bed and kissed his forehead as she smoothed his dark brown
hair out of his
"I missed you." Jed said from the doorway.
Abbey walked over to him and wrapped her arms around him, "I missed you."
Jed brought his head down and touched her lips with his. He smiled when Abbey
leaned into him, letting him support her completely, "I love you."
"I love you," Abbey responded, closing the door to the nursery. She
held Jed closely as they walked down the hallway to their own bedroom.
"Jennifer was thrilled to see Lindsey."
"Yes, she was." Jed replied, remembering, not only the scene in his
office, but the one he had heard minutes before.
Abbey knew something was wrong before Jed finished his sentence,
"There's a problem..."
Abbey looked at him, "Toby?"
"Yeah," Jed confirmed as they walked into their bedroom. "He's
upset about Jennifer and Lindsey. You saw how she reacted to him... she was
all over him. Toby's hurt... and I think he's a little jealous."
"But that's silly" Abbey protested. "Toby has nothing to be
"You know that, I know that... but Toby doesn't know that." Jed
answered as they dressed for bed. "They had an argument."
"Toby and the Munchkin."
"I was on my way to talk to her about Toby, but he beat me to her."
Jed explained. "I heard them in the hallway. Jennifer tried to explain
everything to him, but Toby wouldn't listen."
"Oh, Lord." Abbey sighed, moving to the bed. "It's always something...
One of them is always, never listening to the other."
Jed nodded, climbing on the bed next to her, "Shame everyone can't be like
you and me, huh?"
Abbey laughed, "Crying shame." She snuggled into Jed's side as he
reached over and turned off the light. "But, as I recall, you and I have
had our share of communication problems in the past."
"Oh? Well... tell me what I'm trying to communicate right now?" Jed
challenged, holding her face close to his.
"Well, if I had to guess... I'd say that you want me to stop talking and
you're wanting to make out with me right now." Abbey said with the utmost
seriousness. "Am I right?"
"Give the girl a prize," Jed leaned in for a kiss.
When the kiss ended, Abbey ran her fingers through his hair, "Oh... I
already have my prize right here..."
woke the next morning, coughing her head off of her shoulders. Head pounding,
she rose in her bed... only to fall back down again. She groaned, her head was
completely stopped up. There was no oxygen entering her body via her nose.
Jennifer threw off her covers and, gingerly, slid on her robe. She crept out of
her room and down the hall to her parent's room. Jennifer knocked on the door,
"Momb?" She called out, her speech altered by the congestion in her
"Come in." Abbey called out.
Jennifer opened the door, "Momb?"
"What's wrong?" Abbey was at her side the moment Jennifer walked
through the door.
"I don't feel good."
Abbey put a hand on her daughter's forehead, "Come sit down." Abbey
led Jennifer to the couch, "Tell me what's wrong."
"Bmy head hurts and I can't breath through bmy nose..." Jennifer
launched into another round of coughing. "Oh... and I keep
Abbey pressed her lips to her daughter's forehead, "You've got a cold,
Jennifer groaned, "I can't have a cold, we're going to California."
"You're not going anywhere, but back to bed."
"I have to go with you, I'll be fine."
Abbey looked down at her daughter, "Oh yeah?"
"Then say the word, mom." Abbey challenged.
Jennifer scowled, "Momb."
"Back to bed." Abbey ordered.
"No," Abbey shook her head. "Don't argue with me, young lady.
You're not going to California-"
Jennifer grumbled as her mother propelled her to her bedroom, "But I
"I don't care," Abbey cut her off as she helped her daughter lay
down. "Now, go back to sleep. And do not get out of this bed."
Abbey waited for a moment before walked out of Jennifer's room. She shook her
head as she walked in the direction of the West Wing.
Bartlet and Jennifer are leaving for California today."
Leo groaned as Margaret entered his office with that greeting, "Good
morning to you too, Margaret."
"They're leaving in four hours."
"Oh, good morning to you Leo, did you get a good night's sleep?" Leo
carried on a conversation with himself. "Why, yes I did. Thank you for
"I've always wanted to go to California," Margaret continued without
taking notice of the words streaming out of Leo's mouth.
"Why, you're welcome Leo. Could I get you a cup of coffee?" Leo
carried on in the face of her lamentation. "Why thank you Margaret, that
would be wonderful."
"I just-" Margaret came to a sudden breaking point in her sentence.
She stared at him for a moment, as if processing the words he had uttered
"Here we go," Leo observed.
"What were you-"
"Nothing Margaret," Leo shook his head. "Just carrying on a
fantasy conversation with the secretary I wish I had hired."
Margaret looked at him for a moment, her face was blank, but Leo could see a
flash of something oddly reminiscent of hurt streak through her eyes. She
blinked and walked out of his office without a word.
"Margaret, I-" Leo cut himself off when Jed walked into his office.
Jed shook his head, "You really need to take her to California, Leo."
"What did you do now?" Jed asked, sitting down on Leo's couch.
"I think I hurt her feelings," Leo shook his head. He glanced out his
door as he moved over to where Jed sat. Margaret was sitting at her desk,
shuffling papers around her desk. "What did you need, Mr. President?"
"Nothing really, I-"
"Jed?" a female voice floated into Leo's office.
Immediately, Jed's eyes lit up, "Abigail?"
"Where are you?" came the disembodied voice.
"In here," Jed called back.
Moments later, Abbey walked into Leo's office, "Hey Leo."
"Hey Abbey," Leo responded.
Abbey leaned in the doorway, "Jennifer's sick."
What?" Jed questioned.
"Jennifer is sick," Abbey repeated. "She has a cold."
Leo looked over at her, "Are you going to cancel the trip?"
Abbey shook her head, "I can't... but now I'm two people short. Patrick
isn't going if Jennifer's not going... He's going to have to stay in her office
while she's sick."
Jed pursed his lips, an idea beginning to take root in his brain, "Take
Toby with you."
"What?" Leo and Abbey replied in unison.
"Take Toby with you," Jed repeated.
"Jed... honey... he's a member of your staff." Abbey said slowly.
"Thank you Abbey, I wouldn't have known that if you hadn't pointed it out
to me," Jed made a face. "You're giving a speech, correct?"
"And, correct me if I'm wrong, you were worried about this speech
Abbey sighed, "Yes."
"Who better to go with you then my Communication's Director?" Jed
Leo spoke up, "How about, it's probably going to piss him off?"
"Don't care," Jed shrugged.
Abbey eyed her husband carefully, over thirty-two years of marriage and five
kids had only served to sharpen her senses when it came to her husband,
"Yeah," Jed replied.
Abbey pursed her lips and then let out a breath, "Okay, but you're telling
"No, I'm not." Jed countered quickly.
Leo's eyes opened quickly, "No."
Jed smirked, "Yes."
"Yes," Jed replied.
"This is what you get for hurting Margaret's feelings." Jed replied.
Abbey looked up, "You hurt Margaret's feelings?"
"I didn't mean to," Leo retorted. He looked back at Jed, "Mr.
Leo let out a groan, "Fine."
walked past Margaret's desk on his way to Leo's office. He looked over at her,
"Is he in?"
Toby waited for more, but the redhead said nothing further. He raised an
eyebrow, "Is he busy?"
Letting out a sigh, Toby moved for the door to Leo's office. He knocked lightly
as he walked into the office, "Leo?"
"Yeah, come on in." Leo responded from behind his desk.
"What's wrong with Margaret?"
"What do you mean?" Leo replied, a little too quickly.
"She's not being... Margaret." Toby said. He shook his head, he had
enough to worry about without thinking about Leo's neurotic secretary...
"What did you want?"
"You're not going to like it."
"Leo there's been very little that has happened in the past three years
that I have liked."
"You're going to California with Mrs. Bartlet in two hours."
Toby looked at him for a moment, "Excuse me?"
"You're going to California-"
"Why am I going?" Toby interrupted.
"Mrs. Bartlet is unsure about the speech she has to give and-"
"And Jennifer can advise her, she's good at that." Toby finished.
"Jennifer isn't going."
"She has a head cold and Mrs. Bartlet has forbidden her from getting up
out of bed." Leo explained. "Patrick can't go, because he's going to
have to hold down the fort with Jennifer sick..."
"So... the President volunteered me?"
"And then he volunteered you to tell me?"
Toby closed his eyes for a moment and willed himself to breath normally,
"I'm going to need to take Bonnie or Ginger with me-"
"You're not taking Bonnie or Ginger."
"Because I said so," Leo replied. "Now, get out of here. You've
got an hour and a half to be ready to leave. Mrs. Bartlet will meet you in the
Toby scowled and moved out of Leo's office without another word.
Leo frowned for a moment and then called out, "Margaret!"
In an instant, she was in his doorway, "Yes?"
"Come in and shut the door."
stood silently in Leo's office as he paced around the room. He had been trying
to talk to her for the past ten minutes, but so far he hadn't said much.
Leo stopped for a moment and looked at her. He opened his mouth to say
something, but the words wouldn't come out. He closed his mouth and resumed
pacing around his office... He felt horrible for his comment that morning and
had been trying to think of ways to make amends since then.
The solution had hit him like a ton of bricks shortly after Jed and Abbey had
left his office... It had been perfect, the best way to get his secretary back
to normal... well, normal for Margaret.
The problem was, actually doing it.
Margaret glanced down at her watch. She sighed, "Leo, I'm supposed to go
to lunch with Ginger and Bonnie."
Leo stopped pacing and whirled to face her, "You can't go to lunch with
Ginger and Bonnie."
Margaret looked at him, "Why?"
"Because..." Leo looked down at his watch. "Damn..."
"How fast can you go home and pack a bag?"
"Why? Leo what-"
Margaret shook her head, "Thirty minutes... I guess, why?"
Leo nodded and started towards his door, "Okay, you're going to have to
hurry to be back in time to call personnel and get someone up here to cover you
"What are you talking about?"
Leo stood still for a moment, "I uh... I know that um... you got your
feelings hurt this morning and I... I um..." He shifted his weight to one
foot, "Jennifer is sick."
"She's not going to California." Leo expounded.
"The President is sending Toby with Mrs. Bartlet..." Leo trailed off
for a moment. "And umm... since Jennifer isn't going, Patrick isn't going
either and Toby needs someone to assist him. So, I'm-"
"Leo," Margaret cut him off, her eyes slowly widening.
Margaret took a breath, "Are you telling me what I think you're telling
"What do you think I'm telling you?" Leo countered, not being able to
resist the urge to toy just a little bit with the woman standing in front of
"Are you sending me-"
Margaret bit her lip, she seemed to be frozen in time for a brief moment. Then,
all at once, she launched herself into Leo's arms.
Leo staggered back into the wall, "Whoa, Margaret!" Leo held onto her
in an attempt to steady them both.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you!" Margaret exclaimed, throwing her
arms around his neck.
"You're welcome," Leo replied, secretly thrilled at her excitement.
"So am I forgiven-" Leo's words were cut off my Margaret's lips on
"Leo, I-" Josh's voice floated into the room as he walked in. He
froze in place, "I have got to learn to start knocking!"
For a moment, neither Leo nor Margaret noticed Josh's arrival or his
declaration. Then, all of a sudden, Margaret flung herself away from her boss.
"How long do I have?"
"An hour and a half."
"Is there a-"
"I'm going to-"
"Fine, be sure you-"
"I'll do it before I-"
Josh followed this verbal game of tennis, his head shifting from side to side
as he watched the pair in front of him serve. He blinked when Margaret rushed
out of Leo's office and to her own desk.
Leo looked over at his deputy, "What?"
Josh fought to keep the grin off his face, "What was-"
"Cause it looked like-"
Leo walked to his desk, "What do you want?"
Josh stood silently for a moment, grinning from ear to ear. He was completely
amused to find his boss so... unnerved.
Leo looked up at him as he sat down, "Josh!"
"What_ did_ you_ want?"
"Nothing," Josh shook his head. "Nothing at all."
"Josh," Leo growled. "You come in here and interrupt-"
"Interrupted what?" Josh challenged when Leo cut himself off.
Josh grinned, "Then I had nothing."
"Fine," Josh moved towards the door.
"You say one word about... it... And you'll wish I had never even known
you were alive. Clear?"
"Crystal, oh red-faced, boss of mine."
"Get out... now."
"Getting out now."
walked down the hall of the White House residence with a scowl. He hated the
whole situation... He didn't want to go to California. He didn't want to advise
and Abbey Bartlet on the speech she was giving.
And he damned sure didn't want to talk to Jennifer Bartlet about the speech or
the message that was behind it.
Toby looked up to see a blonde haired child running in his direction,
Marrah ran for him. She held up her arms and grinned as Toby swept her up into
his embrace, "Mommy's sick."
Toby held her tightly as he walked to Jennifer's room, "I know,
"She can't go to California with Grandma."
"I know that too."
Marrah looked at him, "Are you going to take care of Mommy while Grandma's
Toby shook his head, "No, I'm going to California with Grandma. I have to
talk to Mommy about what Grandma is going to do while she's there."
"What you going to bring me from California?"
"What makes you think I'm going to bring you anything?"
"Cause you love me," Marrah replied, hugging him around the neck.
"And what makes you think that?"
"Cause, I love you and you love me!" Marrah grinned. "We're a
"Don't sing that."
"Okay," Marrah replied as they reached the door to Jennifer's
"Okay," Toby put Marrah down. "I've got to talk to Mommy
"Can I listen?"
"It's... tall talk, Princess." Toby replied. He raised his eyebrow,
"But you know what you can do?"
"Go annoy your Grandfather for me, will you?"
"How... annoying do you want me to be?"
Toby smiled, "As annoying as you can possibly be, Princess."
"Okay!" Marrah replied, skipping happily in the direction of her
grandfather and the West Wing.
Toby watched her go for a moment. Then he took a breath and knocked on the
"What?" came the croaked reply from the other side.
Toby opened the door and walked in, "Jennifer?"
"What?" was the much more subdued response.
"We need to have a discussion..."
Jennifer shifted in her bed, uncomfortable with seeing him, but determined not
to show it, "Oh?"
"Yes... the President has ordered me to accompany the First Lady on her
"I heard you, I-"
"Do you think that I-"
"That's not the-"
"Because, you walked away from me!" Jennifer shouted, rising up off
her bed. "Because you left me standing in the middle of the hallway
"I was trying to talk to you about-"
"I already know all about-"
"No, you don't!" Jennifer exclaimed. "You think you do, but you
don't know one damned thing about it! I-"
"I said forget it!" Toby thundered. "Forget I was up here! I'll
find out everything I need to know from Patrick!"
"Damnit Toby!" Jennifer raged.
"See you later!" Toby yelled as he walked out.
"Go to hell!" Jennifer shouted right back as Toby exited her room
with a mighty slam. Breathing heavily, Jennifer sank back into her bed. She
fought to keep control of her breath for a long moment, trying to get the anger
that had welled up inside her capped off.
Jennifer covered her face with her hands when the tears came...
In the hallway outside, Toby paced like a caged animal. He walked to her door
and reached out to touch the knob, but drew his hand away just as quickly.
He hadn't meant to loose his cool with her... She was sick... and here he was,
making life just a little more difficult for her.
He glanced down at his watch and groaned; It was time to meet Abbey Bartlet to
leave. Toby stared at Jennifer's door for a few moments later and then, turning
on his heel, walked quickly in the direction of the West Wing.
stood with Abbey in the middle of the Oval Office, "When does your plane
get back in?"
"One o'clock, Monday afternoon." Abbey replied, wrapping her arms
around his neck as Jed's arms snaked around her waist.
"Call me when you get in."
"I always do." Abbey replied. "I wish you could go..."
"I know, I do too." Jed responded. "But that damn Leo and Mrs.
Landingham won't let me out of any of my appointments."
Abbey laughed, "Be nice."
"Aren't I always nice?" Jed asked with mock innocence.
"No," Abbey shook her head. "You're not."
"Well, if that's-" Jed was cut off when Abbey pressed her lips to
his. Jed pressed his wife to him with the intent of deepening the kiss, but
Abbey pulled away. "Hey."
"What?" Jed asked, capturing her lips.
"Gotta go." Abbey said in between kisses.
Jed backed her up until her back was against the wall, "Wanna do this
"We did this last night..."
"So?" Jed countered as he kissed a trail from her jaw to her
shoulder. "Wanna do it again."
"Jed..." Abbey groaned as Jed's hands began to wander up and down her
body. For a moment, she considered giving in...
But that moment passed when the door to the Oval Office began to open with a
knock, "Mr. President?"
"Oh, for the love of God, what?!" Jed exclaimed.
Mrs. Landingham didn't bat an eye, "It's time for Mrs. Bartlet to leave,
Abbey shot the other woman a grateful look, "Thank you, Mrs.
"No problem, Mrs. Bartlet." Mrs. Landingham replied. "I just had
a feeling that if I didn't come get you, you'd never leave."
"That was the point, Mrs. Landingham." Jed muttered.
Abbey laughed as Jed moved his arms and allowed her to move from the wall,
"I'll be home Monday, you can prove your point as much as you want
"Promise?" Jed's eyes immediately lit up.
Abbey caught his face in both of her hands, "Promise."
Jed kissed his gently, "I'll walk you out."
and Leo stood in the front hall of the West Wing, waiting for Abbey and Toby.
Neither had said much to the other since their verbal tennis tournament in his
Margaret kept her eyes on the ground, studying the pattern of the tile beneath
her. She tilted her head to the side, the design was not something she had ever
noticed before. This was something she would have to discuss with someone in
the future... perhaps on the plane.
Leo stood next to her, but not right next to her. He kept rocking from side to
side, not sure as to what the proper amount of distance between the two of them
should be. Every few moments, he would glance at his watch and then at
They stood like that for a good ten minutes until, finally, Margaret turned to
Leo, unable to stand the silence any longer, "Wanna hear a joke?"
"Wanna hear a joke?"
Margaret bounced on her heels, "Your mama's so fat she sat on a rainbow
and Skittles popped out..."
Leo simply looked at her.
Margaret sighed, "Okay."
Leo shook his head and turned to the hallway. He let out a sigh when he saw
Toby walking towards them with a bag in his hand. Then, a though occurred to
him. He turned back to Margaret, "Where did you hear-"
"Marrah told you-"
"You repeated a joke a little-"
Leo shook his head, "Okay."
"Leo!" Toby's voice flew over the front hall.
Leo turned to the other man, "Where have you been?"
"I had to get my notes for the speech." Toby replied. He shifted impatiently,
"I still need an assistant."
"And you've got one," Leo replied.
"Margaret," Leo pointed to the redhead standing next to him.
Toby's eyebrow went up, but he elected to say nothing.
Leo immediately picked up on the unspoken thoughts that were in Toby's silence,
"Your eyebrow went up."
Toby blinked, "Your... point?"
"Your eyebrow went up," Leo went on. "You had something to say,
but you didn't say it."
Toby shook his head, "I didn't have anything to say."
"Are you sure?"
The trio stood in the hall for a few more minutes, before Margaret spoke up,
Toby looked over a her, "What?"
"Do you want to hear-"
Leo cut her off, "No, he doesn't. Toby does not want to hear that joke or
any other joke. I don't ever want to hear that joke from you again. As a matter
"Toby! Margaret! Are you ready to go?" Abbey's voice drowned out
"Not really, but I was told I don't have much of a choice," Toby
"Margaret?" Abbey asked.
"Yeah," Margaret tore her eyes from Leo. "I'm ready, Mrs.
"Okay then, let's go." Abbey smiled. "Good-bye Leo," Abbey
said as she walked off.
Toby gave Leo one last menacing glance before following Abbey.
Margaret, however, looked back over at Leo with soft eyes.
"Good-bye," she said softly as she gave an almost timid wave.
"Bye," he returned her wave with one of his own.
With that Margaret walked off to join Abbey and Toby, leaving Leo standing
alone in the hallway, but not for long...
"Leo," Jed grinned as he placed a hand on Leo's shoulder.
Leo watched as Margaret and the others walked down the hallway for a moment
longer. Then he turned and faced his friend, "What?"
"Anything you'd like to share?"
Leo shook his head, "Nothing that I can think of, sir." He turned and
walked back toward his office.
Jed was on his trail immediately, "You sure about that?"
"About what, sir?" Leo responded, attempting to get Jed off his case.
"About, oh I don't know..." Jed trailed off, trying to reel him in.
"Anything... out of the ordinary..." Jed saw Josh close by as he
Leo shook his head, unwilling to allow himself to be drawn into any kind of
discussion at all about Margaret, "Nothing that I can think of, sir."
Jed caught the expression that crossed Josh's face when he heard Leo say that.
He halted his efforts on Leo, "Okay." He watched as Leo walked to his
office and waited until he saw the door close, before turning around and going
Josh, for his part, saw his President walking towards him. He groaned,
"I've gotta learn to knock before I walk into rooms..."
"Josh," Jed grinned. "Walk with me."
"Walk with me, talk with me."
"Sir, aren't you supposed to be in the-"
"I have nothing else to do for the next two hours, Josh. So I say again,
walk with me. Talk with me."
"So, is there anything you would like to talk about?" Jed pried.
"No, sir. I can't think of a thing."
"Okay," Jed paused. "So what do you think of Leo and
"I think I hope I never walk in on them kissing again," Josh
commented, without realizing what he said.
Jed stopped suddenly, "You think you hope you never see who doing what
Josh looked at him wide-eyed, "Uh..."
"Repeat that, please."
"Um... sir, I'd rather not."
"I don't care," Jed replied.
Josh groaned, "I said, I think I hope I never walk in on them kissing
"Who was kissing?" Jed pressed.
"Leo and Margaret."
"And where was this?"
Jed let a slow, almost evil, smile grace his face. Josh winced when he saw that
smile, "Sir, please don't do anything."
"Huh?" Jed looked at him innocently.
"Please, don't do anything." Josh repeated. "Leo's will make my
life three hundred kinds of hell if he finds out I told anyone... especially
"Don't worry, Josh." Jed responded as he walked off. "I'll
Josh watched him leave with a doomed expression painted on his face,
"Funny... that doesn't do anything to reassure me..."
walked into the hotel lobby, rubbing her forehead. She shook her head, Margaret
hadn't stopped talking since they left Washington. Abbey sighed, she liked
Margaret... She liked her a lot. But there was only so much she could hear
about the pattern of the tile in the foyer of the West Wing.
Abbey glanced over at Toby... He looked like he was planning nine different
ways to kill Margaret... and Leo, for that matter.
"And then I noticed that the tile beside the windows has a grayish color
to it, not at all like the color of the tile in the middle of the room."
Margaret continued, completely unaware of how closely she was coming to
having her travel companions kill her.
"I'm going to call the President to let him know we're here," Abbey
jumped in, not allowing Margaret to go off on yet another tangent about the
blasted tile. "Margaret, why don't you unpack and get settled in your room
and I'll come get you when I'm off the phone. I thought we'd do some
Margaret immediately nodded, "That sounds wonderful, ma'am."
"Good, Toby?" Abbey turned to the man standing next to her.
"I'm going to go have a very strong drink..." Toby looked her in the
eye, communicating his reasoning perfectly.
Abbey nodded, "Have a double for me..." She muttered.
"Absolutely," he muttered, walking off.
Abbey sighed as she sat down on the bed in her hotel room. She let out a breath
and picked up the phone. Moments later a welcomed voice spoke from the other
end of the line.
"You sound exhausted."
"I am exhausted, Jed."
"The next time you're in a mood to give someone a long speech about some
absolutely inane subject matter, please give that speech to Leo. Would you do
that for me, please?"
"Sure." Jed paused. "Why am I doing that?"
"To pay him back for the fact that Toby and I have been listening to
Margaret talk about the tile in the front foyer of the West Wing since we left
"Speaking of Leo and Margaret, are you alone?"
"Well, did you notice something odd about the two of them when you three
"I wasn't really paying that much attention, Jed." Abbey answered.
"Well, I did." Jed paused. "And I tried to question Leo about
it, but he would say one word... But..."
"Who did you bully?"
"Josh!" Jed replied, gleefully.
"Why did you do that?"
"Because, Josh saw something!" Jed's response sounded downright giddy
to Abbey's ears. "He walked into Leo's office earlier today... guess what
"Just tell me."
"He saw them kissing!"
Jed sighed, "Leo and Margaret!"
"You're kidding me..."
"Nope." Jed replied. "I was just sitting here thinking-"
"Don't you dare, Jed Bartlet." Abbey warned.
"What?" Jed question in false innocence.
"You know full well, what." Abbey replied. She let out a breath,
"What about Jennifer and Toby?"
Jed groaned, "And I was having such a good time thinking about anything
but those two..."
"Okay, okay. What about them?"
"What are you going to do to fix things with them?"
"Me? Why is it going to be me?"
"Because you're the one that called Lindsey."
"Which is why you should be the one. I'm obviously not thinking very well
"Jed," Abbey sighed.
"Abbey, chances are that you would have better luck with Toby then I would
have with Jennifer. You know how the two of us get. And if I try to step in on
her love life... well, we know how that goes."
"Jed, it's not stepping in on her love life." Abbey returned.
"It's expressing concern on seeing the two of them so unhappy."
"Jed, you have to talk to her about Toby." Abbey cut him off.
"You're going to have to get her to tell Toby-"
"Because you're closer to her than I am, that's why you!" Abbey shot
back. "I'll talk to Toby and take his temperature on the whole thing, but
you've got to talk to Jennifer."
Jed groaned, "Oh, fine."
"Before we come back."
"I'll talk to her!" Jed exclaimed. "Happy?"
"Yes," Abbey shot back. Then she glanced at her watch, "I've got
to go, Babe. I told Margaret we'd go shopping."
"Have fun," Jed snickered.
"Don't start with me, Josiah."
"I'd never dream of it, Abigail."
Abbey tilted her head, "Yeah... right."
"Try to get Margaret to tell you what happened-"
"Come on, please...."
Abbey rolled her eyes, "If you'll promise not to start on Leo."
"I promise," was Jed reply.
"Uncross your fingers and try that again, Gumdrop."
Jed groaned and did as he was told, "I promise."
"How did you know?"
"I always know, Jed." Abbey answered. "Okay, I'm outa
"I'll talk to you later, Babe."
"I love you."
"I love you too."
Deyman knocked on the door to Jennifer's bedroom, "Hey Jenn..."
Jennifer shifted in her bed, "What?"
Lindsey walked further into the room, "Can I come in?"
"You're already in..."
"Quite true," Lindsey replied, strolling over to her bed. "You
"Thanks, I feel like death on a soda cracker." Jennifer made a face.
"Have you seen my daughter today?"
"Nope," Lindsey responded. He put a hand on her forehead, "Well,
I think your fever's going down."
"It is..." Jennifer grumbled. "I could have gone on that
California trip and then Toby wouldn't have-"
"Wouldn't have what?" Lindsey questioned when Jennifer cut herself
Jennifer shook her head, "Nothing."
"Come on, Gidge." Lindsey cajoled. "Remember, no secrets? What's
going on there?"
Jennifer sighed, "Nothing... don't worry about it."
"Lindsey, drop it." Jennifer commanded. "I don't want to talk
"Talk about what?" came a voice from the doorway.
"Nothing Dad." Jennifer replied.
"Something about her and Toby, Mr. President." Lindsey moved to avoid
Jennifer's flying hand. He looked down at her, "I just dropped by to see how
you are... I'm going to head back the hotel."
Jed nodded to the young man as he walked out of the room. He waited a moment
before approaching his daughter's bed, "Do you remember when you were a
little girl and you got sick? You drove your mother crazy asking when I'd be
home... We'd sit and read together until it was bedtime. And then I'd pick you
up and carry you to your bed."
Jennifer nodded, "And then I'd cry until you took me to you and Mom's
bedroom and let me sleep in between the two of you."
Jed sat down on the bed next to her, "You grew up so fast..."
"Mom made you come in here and talk to me, didn't she?" Jennifer
Jed made a face, "Yes, she did. She said that since I was closer to you, I
had to come in here and talk to you about Toby-"
"Dad, I don't want to talk about Toby."
"I know you don't, Munchkin." Jed returned. "But we're both here
and that subject seems to be on both of our minds at the moment..."
"And you're not going to leave me alone until we have this little talk...
"No, I'm not."
Jed waited a moment, "He's jealous, Jennifer."
"Of what?" Jennifer exclaimed. "He has nothing to be jealous of!
I love him!"
Jed smoothed her hair from her face, "I know you do... And I think he
knows too. But he's a man with an ego, Jenn. And when he saw you and Lindsey,
after these past two months, he jumped to the wrong conclusions..."
Jennifer sighed, "Stupid man..."
Jed laughed, "No more stupid than your father..."
"Once, a long time ago... when your Mom and I were dating, I jumped to
the wrong conclusion about someone in her life and we fought." Jed began.
"We broke up... she told me she hated me and that she never wanted to see
my chauvinistic ass again."
"Yeah... it took me a long time to regain her trust again." Jed
confided. "I almost lost her to my own bruised ego..."
"You were a dumbass, Dad."
"Well, you were."
"Yeah... but you don't call me names."
"You said it first."
"I did not."
"Yes, you did."
"No, I didn't."
"Yes, you did."
Jed opened his mouth to reply, but he shut it quickly. He tilted his head and
looked at his daughter, "What the hell were we arguing about?"
Jennifer shook her head, "I haven't the faintest idea."
"Me neither," Jed made a dismissive wave. "Anyway Munchkin, my
"Talk to Toby."
Jennifer nodded, "Okay."
"Okay." Jed grinned at her. He looked down at her with a mischievous
glint in his eyes, "You'll never guess what happened between Leo and
"Well, you see...."
picked up the phone once more as the door to her room opened. She looked up
with a smile, "Just one minute Margaret, I'm going to call down and let
Toby know we're leaving. I want him to come shopping with us."
"I don't think he's going to like that very much, ma'am." Margaret
said with wide eyes.
Abbey shrugged, "Yeah, but my granddaughter would be crushed if Toby went
to California and came back without bringing her something." Abbey waited
a moment and then spoke into the phone, "Toby Ziegler please... He should
be sitting at one of the barstools there.... Toby?... Margaret and I are
my room. We'll be down in the lobby in a few minutes... Yes, we're still going
shopping... Because you're going too.... Yes, you are... Because you have to
walk back into the White House and Marrah will probably be waiting on you
and... Fine, we'll meet you in the lobby."
Margaret looked at her expectantly as she hung up the telephone, "Is he
Abbey smiled brightly at her, "Yes, he is." She picked up her purse
and walked to the door, "Come on, let's go."
Margaret followed obediently, "Yes, ma'am."
Abbey glanced at the younger woman as they walked to the elevator, "So,
I'm curious, how did you get to come on this trip?"
Margaret ducked her head, "Leo let me come."
"Yeah," Margaret nodded. "I've never been out here before. Leo
was supposed to go the last time the President came, but at the last minute Leo
didn't. And then I didn't get to come, because Leo needed me. So when Jennifer
and Patrick were no longer coming and Toby needed an assistant, Leo sent
Abbey tilted her head and they walked into the elevator, "That was very
sweet of him."
"Yes, it was..." Margaret replied softly.
Abbey pursed her lips, unable to keep her mischievous side from coming out,
"I hope you thanked him..."
Margaret blushed, "Yes, ma'am."
Abbey kept a smile off her face, "You'll have to get him something nice
while we're shopping."
Margaret nodded, her face almost as red as her hair, "Yes, ma'am."
Toby stood in the lobby, waiting on Abbey and Margaret. He glowered as he
glanced at his watch. He didn't want to go on this shopping trip... Hell, he
didn't want to be in California. But the President had seen fit to make his
life just a little bit more difficult.
He gave a sigh... Shopping with Mrs. Bartlet and Margaret. He shook his head,
sometimes Mrs. Bartlet was as bad as her husband.
After that long flight, if Margaret said one thing about any kind of flooring
he was going to kill her right then and there... no questions asked. He hated
shopping...But, he knew he couldn't walk back into the White House without
something for Marrah... And something for Jennifer.
Toby rocked back and forth on his feet, he was going to have to find a way to
get through to that woman before he killed her.
Toby scratched his head and looked back down at his watch; What the hell was
taking them so long...
At that moment, Toby was knocked off his feet as the ground beneath him began
to shake violently...
Sequel: Under the Fall
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