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Promises Made and Kept

by: Lisa7417 (Send Feedback)
Pat Steiner (Send Feedback)

Series: Bagel Series #9
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 57640
Rating: TEEN
Character(s): Josh Lyman, Donna Moss, Jed Bartlet, Abbey Bartlet, Toby Ziegler, CJ Cregg, Charlie Young, Zoey Bartlet, Mallory O'Brien, Sam Seaborn, Ensemble
Category(ies): Romance
Pairing(s): Josh/Donna, Toby/CJ, Sam/Mallory, Jed/Abbey, Charlie/Zoey
Summary: The ninth installment in the Bagel series

Author Notes: The ninth installment in the Bagel series

Chapters: 1

"I can't believe my daughter is turning sixteen today, my little Chloe," Caroline spoke to Leo while Chloe was still sleeping in

Promises Made and Kept

By: Pat Steiner [SSbpMN@aol.com] and Lisa [LAB7417@aol.com]

 

 

"I can't believe my daughter is turning sixteen today, my little Chloe," Caroline spoke to Leo while Chloe was still sleeping in.  She had a busy day ahead of her.  Donna had promised to take her to the salon and CJ was taking her to have her nails done and then both women were going to help her get dressed before Tucker came to get her at seven.  At the moment though the morning was early and Leo and Caroline were spending time with the twins.

                                                       

Leo poured himself another cup of coffee as they sat at the table by the pool taking advantage of the early morning sun.  "I find it frightening" he smiled. "Bless CJ for suggesting we keep the car there so it will be a total surprise."  The keys were wrapped in a box on the table to be given to her when she came down for breakfast.  "She really has no idea she's getting it does she?"

                                                       

"Clueless," Caroline answered, "she thinks this is just another day.  She's ready to go get her license though. I feel better now that I know you've worked with her." "Daddy," Belle pulled herself up into his lap and snuggled against his chest.

                                                     

                                                     

"Hi baby girl" Leo smiled, reveling in the child's affection.  Brighton took one look at what Belle was doing and turned toward Caroline, “Mommy" and he hurtled himself to her.  "Caroline" Leo warned and she caught him just in time to keep him from crashing into her belly.  "Brighton what did we say about jumping on Mommy."  "No" he answered simply.  "Good man" Leo smiled.  "I have no idea where Tucker is taking her tonight.  Sam said the boy has his gold card so I imagine it's someplace memorable. And of course the party Sunday.  I told Abbey not to go to extremes, just to make it a small family type gathering--considering all our friends as family of course."

                                                    

 Caroline smiled, "That will be enough to thrill Chloe without a doubt." Caroline cuddled Brighton, "you're protective of this baby aren't you?" she teased Leo with a smile laying her hand on the tiny bulge momentarily. "Morning Mom, morning Dad," Chloe's voice suddenly greeted as she came down the stairs and passed through the living room out onto the pool surround. She dropped a kiss on Caroline's cheek and then hugged Leo and kissed him.

                                                   

"Happy Birthday Daughter" Leo smiled, pleased to be able to say that.  "I know you're looking forward to tonight.  From your mother and I, Happy Birthday and we love you."  He handed her the small square box, the keys rattling inside.

                                                  

Chloe looked puzzled and unwrapped the box slowly. "Oh my goodness!" she yelped holding up the keys.  She went racing frantically for the front door. Belle and Brighton hopped down and went racing after their older sister.

"Not here dear" Leo called after her.  "CJ has been keeping it in her garage for you.  Come on, we'll go pick it up.  And next week maybe Tucker would like to take you over for your license.  If I walk into a DMV office I get so angry I want to propose legislation to do away with them."

                                                

Chloe laughed and then after hugging Leo and Caroline several times each she raced back up the stairs and dressed.  The twins were waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs and she scooped them up placing one on each hip. They went over to Toby and CJ's but found a note telling them to go to the West Wing.  When they arrived CJ was just finishing up things in her office. "I don't have another press conference until six...Mandy said she could take it if I wasn't here," CJ said cautiously to Leo, "you of course have my pager." CJ and Leo were walking back towards the parking lot and CJ handed Chloe a pair of sunglasses that matched hers.  Then they stopped in front of a silver firebird with a big red bow on the hood and even t-tops. "Oh my...oh my..." Chloe gasped looking from the adults to the car over and over questioningly, not quite believing what she was seeing.

                                                

"I trust it's what you wanted" Leo smiled.  "That's a lot of car" CJ observed.  "Yeah but I think she can handle it" Leo nodded.  Josh and Donna joined them and a moment later Jed walked outside, much to the irritation of his detail.  "Is that beautiful or what" he enthused with them.  "Chloe you're a lucky young woman.  Tucker hasn't seen it yet I'm guessing."  "She doesn't want Tucker to see her before tonight" Leo explained and Jed nodded.  "Chloe are you going to drive you and Donna for your hair appointment then?" Leo asked, "because I'm going to work."

                                              

"We've got nails first," CJ spoke up. "I'm coming too."  "Sure I'll drive...I promise I'll be really, really careful," Chloe said as Donna and CJ removed the T-tops. Chloe readjusted the seat from CJ's height and the women looked sleek in the car. "Tell me again why I can't have one of these?" CJ asked, "I think I want one for a play toy." "You have our beeper numbers," Donna said.

                                             

Toby joined them just before they pulled away and looked to Josh.  "We're going to let them do this?"  "Of course they'll be fine" Leo spoke up, "it's a Friday, a beautiful day and let them enjoy.  The rest of us have work to do however."  Josh leaned in and kissed Donna.  "I love you" and Toby was doing the same.  "Be careful," both men chorused.

                                            

Chloe very carefully backed the new car out and soon the three women were off. They headed down to a very fancy DC salon and soon all three were having facials, sipping juice and getting their nails done. "Chloe, do you think we could do this every weekend?" CJ asked. "Oh sure," Chloe replied playfully. The women were served lunch and afterward they would have their make-up done before they had their hair done.

                                           

 "CJ this is dumb to spend the afternoon getting this good looking and then just go home" Donna pointed out.  "One of us should call Josh and Toby and tell them we're going to be taken to dinner and a movie don't you think?"

                                          

 "Actually I was thinking dinner and the opera tonight," CJ answered, "they're doing La Boheme.  On the other hand we could go see the play, they're doing Beauty and the Beast." "Sounds like fun," Chloe smiled as she finished her sandwich.  Afterwards a stylist began the complicated task of getting all of Chloe's long hair up into an incredibly beautiful updo. It had rolls and pinned curls and the entire style was something out of the eighteenth century, leaving Chloe nothing short of breath-taking. Donna decided to have something just as decadent done with her hair but CJ, having her hair short, kept her style simple. "We look beautiful," Chloe commented happily as their make-up was begun at four in the afternoon.

                                         

"Opera" Donna said suddenly, having been debating all afternoon.  "I think the opera would be wonderful.  I know the president isn't using his box and we're always welcome when he's not. Besides it gives Josh a chance to show how much he loves me, to sit through two hours of opera, which he actually doesn't hate, but it's not the same as watching soccer on ESPN while drinking a beer in his underwear."

                                        

CJ and Chloe both looked at Donna with raised brows. "I'm not sure I wanted to know that," CJ commented. "I know I didn't," Chloe laughed, "wow I know you four will have fun at the opera. I'm going to have fun with Tucker I'm sure.  I wonder where he's taking me." "I just can't wait to see what you're wearing...after I have the twins I think I'm going to borrow from your wardrobe!" Donna laughed.

                                       

"Donna when are you going to have that sonogram confirming your twins?" CJ spoke up.  "We keep thinking of you as having them, so if we're gong to be disappointed we need to know and Chloe you make Tucker bring you by the house before we all get going tonight so we can see your dress and you can see ours."

                                      

Chloe smiled and giggled lightly, "of course CJ, I promise."  "My sonogram appointment is tomorrow at ten, the doctor made special arrangements for me," Donna replied.

                                     

"Excited or scared?" Chloe asked, her hand lightly rubbing her own stomach.  "Chloe I see that" CJ pointed.  "You are way too young to be thinking of a baby.  You and Tucker have a lot to do yet, especially with education, before you have a baby.  No one doubts that what you and he share is real, and very special, but ready to be parents you're not."

                                    

"Oh I know," Chloe sighed, "but one can dream after all.  I mean please, am I supposed to dream of attending another year of school?  Of pounding away at books and making more A's only to be ridiculed by some and ignored by others and unappreciated even by my mother because she's grown to expect that from me." Chloe sighed, "I think not.  I'd much rather think of something that might bring me a little happiness."

                                   

"All mothers are like that" CJ smiled tolerantly.  "If you need a diversion from school, while still having plenty of time for Tucker, you should look into modeling.  My room mate from college is a talent coordinator at the Harris Agency.  Have you heard of them?  They do catalogue and TV shoots, plus runway work for some of the fashion houses in New York, specializing in teen modeling."

                                  

                                   "Oh really?  That'd be wonderful CJ.  Do you really think she would talk to me?  I'd love to do some modeling.  It would be a welcome distraction. I'm sure I could learn to be good at it."

                                 

                                  "With your face and figure and poise I don't see that there would be much to learn." CJ smiled.  "Maybe patience under lights?" Donna laughed, "more than I'd have I'm afraid.  But Chloe, if you do get it, do it for fun.  If it gets to be more like work, then it's time to walk away.  You know we all care a lot about you, and Tucker too.  You're like the junior members of our group and we're all watching out for you.  In fact we're probably smothering you."

                                

                                 "Not at all...I love the company and the advice that you give, your wisdom and experience are very helpful," Chloe answered with a smile. "Please, as soon as you can I'd love a meeting with this friend of yours CJ."  Once their hair and make-up were finished Chloe drove them to her house in her new car.  She parked it in the empty space in the three car garage and the women went inside. Chloe slipped into all of her undergarments and then CJ and Donna helped her with her dress. "Oh my gosh," Donna gasped when they were finished. Chloe had on a cinderella style ballgown of white complete with a sparkling, shimmering skirt.  The bodice was strapless white silk and she wore the pearl empire jacket open over it. "This feels like a dream," she said, looking at herself in the mirror.

                               

                                "And you look like Cinderella" Donna approved, "and on that note CJ and I will get home so that we can take care of ourselves before our men arrive.  I told Josh we were going to dinner.  The opera will be a post dessert surprise."  CJ leaned down and kissed her cheek as Caroline joined them.  "Caroline this child is beautiful" CJ smiled.  "Chloe we'll see you and Tucker at the house soon but don't expect that Donna and I will be quite that dressed up."  

                              

                               Chloe smiled, "you're only young once.  I like to live the life of a princess every chance I get.  Thank-you for making my birthday memorable.  We'll see you later." Chloe bid farewell to her guests and sat to wait the remaining two and a half hours until her date with Tucker.

-------------------------------

Meanwhile Sam arrived home and found Tucker on the couch. "So what do you have planned tonight for Chloe?" he asked.  "Anything you need any help with?  She's a nice girl Tucker, you have your brother's good taste."

                              

                              "And his credit card" Tucker grinned, "not to mention his name.  Amazing what saying Sam Seaborn gets you.  I'm taking her to the Willard Room in the Willard Hotel for dinner, followed by patio dancing and then...."  He stopped and held his breath.  "We have a room for after so we can have brunch tomorrow morning and use their pool.  Help--well you can keep Leo from killing me when he finds out I'm not bringing her home later--but look at it this way, we're avoiding all the drunks on the road."  

                            

                             Sam looked momentarily shocked, "there's not anything else I'm going to need to keep Leo from killing you for is there?  You're not intending to seduce her...I think you should wait a couple of years at least for that."

                           

                            "Sam you know better.  Funny as it sounds, we're waiting for our wedding night.  But you might as well know this" Tucker sighed and reached into his pocket.  "Speaking of wedding nights" and he handed Sam the small square box for him to see the contents.  "I'm going to pay you back every cent I promise."

                          

                           Sam opened it, "Good God, you're planning to propose? Tonight? It is a beauty...nice choice little brother. It definitely says I love you." Sam was getting over the shock and beginning to get into the idea. "So how are you going to ask her?  It should be somehow very romantic, Chloe's that type."

                        

                          "I'm going to play the asking by ear, sometime during the evening or maybe when we're in the room" Tucker said thoughtfully.  "But yes, I'm going to ask her to marry me two years from today on her eighteenth birthday.  It is beautiful isn't it?  I traced a ring she had on once to get the size and the woman at the jewelry store helped me to pick it.  She said the same thing, that it says I love you.  And I guess I'm being a little territorial too--I want the world to know she's spoken for."

                        

                         "Well it couldn't be more obvious if you'd put a big flashing red sign on her head.  She's going to love it, I know she will. I don't know why I'm asking this, but I feel the need to.  You are serious about this and you know exactly what you're doing? I just want to make sure you're ready for this kind of commitment. Chloe's a beauty though and I think you two are very much in love.  I just want you to realize that a diamond is forever."

                       

                        "Yeah" Tucker said softly, Chloe's face swimming into view.  "Sam I love her, like you love Mallory.  And on her eighteenth birthday she's going to walk down the aisle to me and we're going to declare our love before God and our family.  And this is not some teenage fantasy.  And she's not just one in a long line of girls.  I had never been with a girl until she and I made love at....." He clapped his hand over his mouth, too late realizing this was a secret shared only heretofore by Leo.  "Oops" he said quietly.

                      

                       "Oops is right," Sam gasped, "You and Chloe made love? Oh geez Leo's really going to kill me.  Tucker she's only sixteen...neither of you are ready for that..." Sam sighed heavily and ran a hand through his hair.

                     

                      "Yes I know--and Leo does too by the way" Tucker sighed.  "Chloe felt like she wanted to tell him and then we all three kind of talked, mainly about protection.  I said I would, at least after the first time where I didn't, and then Chloe decided she wasn't quite ready--so we've started this waiting for our wedding night thing and it's kind of cool to think about.  I dream about it sometimes, her in a white nightgown thing, me in some kind of silk pajamas, a room with music and candles.  I guess I sound pretty crazy sometimes, talking about this, talking about wanting to be a trauma doctor and so forth."

                     

                     Sam smiled at him, "no, you sound like a Seaborn, you sound like me when I was your age. I think you're headed the right direction Tucker.  I'm glad you and Chloe decided to wait. You wait until your wedding night to make love to her, excluding what's already happened, and I'll make it worth your while." Sam patted Tucker on the back. "I'm really glad you met Chloe.  She's turned you in the right direction and I'm happy for the both of you, couldn't be happier...jeez look at the time.  The limo I called for you two should be here any minute."

                   

                    Tucker's mouth fell open.  "You're kidding.  I thought about that and then figured it was over the top.  Wow Sam thanks" he stood up and gave his brother a quick hug.  "You're the best" he said softly.  "Be the best man at my wedding will you?"

                  

                   "She hasn't said yes yet," Sam teased and then he drew Tucker in for a hug, "I'd be honored.  You two have a wonderful evening tonight." He opened the door and they saw the limo waiting outside.  Tell the driver to make the block and then you can get Chloe.  Oh and tell the driver you're going to need pick up in the morning and to add it to the same bill.  Chloe deserves to have the dream live on. Oh and here...in case you need it," Sam gave Tucker the gold card again.

                 

                  "Thanks Sam, you're the best" Tucker repeated and hurried out, nearly colliding with Mallory coming in.  "Did you know you're about to marry the best brother in the world" he screeched as he pushed past her and made for the car.  Once inside, he settled into the seat and then dialed Chloe's private number.  "Just me" he said softly, "if you look out your window you'll see me pulling up right about now.  What I wanted to tell you though was to throw some things in an over night bag.  It's part of the surprise.  I love you."  He hung up before she could respond.

---------------------------                 

                  "Leo there's a limo pulling up out front" Caroline yelled.  "You shouldn't have.  Where are we going?"

                

                 Leo looked at her, "I don't think we're going anywhere. I didn't send for a limo.  I think it's the carriage and six white horses for Cinderella up there."

                

                 Chloe packed her large purse hoping that she wouldn't wrinkle her choices too badly and then she reached for the handle of her bedroom door just as the doorbell rang.  Leo admitted Tucker and they all stood in the living room as he called for Chloe.  She opened the door, walked down the hallway which was open to the living room below it and then descended the stairs like a princess, her gown swishing, her neck and ears sparkling and her hair immaculate. Caroline gasped and grabbed Leo's arm lightly. 

               

                Leo smiled and patted her arm.  "Picture her in a wedding gown coming down those same stairs" he whispered.

             

             

               Caroline began to cry happy tears and she smiled at Leo, happy with the thought now that she was beginning to get used to the idea of the future.

               

                "I am" Tucker breathed, having over heard Leo.   He stood at the bottom of the steps and watched her descend into his arms.  "Beautiful" he sighed, "totally beautiful."  He kissed her lightly and looked to Leo and Caroline, taking a breath for courage.  "I'll be bringing her back sometime tomorrow afternoon if there's no objections.  Sam knows where we are if anything comes up."

              

              

               "Tomorrow afternoon?" Caroline asked wide-eyed.  With a gentle squeeze of her arm from Leo she put on a smile, "okay, you two be careful and thanks for informing us Tucker.  You two have the time of your lives." "It's going to be magical I can tell," Chloe smiled as they walked outside and she gasped when she saw the limo and driver. "Oh Tucker!" she gasped and then she kissed him quickly.

             

              "Sam's idea" Tucker smiled.  "I had actually thought of it, but then I thought it was too much with everything else he had done.  He's great to me, a better dad than ours is to me for sure.  But never mind.  I'm glad Leo and Caroline were OK with the overnight.  I just want us to have that time and I hope they know I'll take good care of you."  Chloe leaned back in his arms and then suddenly remembered she wanted to stop and see CJ and Donna, asking Tucker to tell the driver.  Five minutes later they pulled up in front of the duplex.  "Hey I haven't been here since they moved in.  Would you look at these gardens and.....ahhh I almost forgot."  He reached on the floor of the limo and withdrew a small corsage box.  "The florist promised me a white orchid was appropriate with anything."

            

             "Oh!" Chloe exclaimed in awe and lent him her delicate wrist and hand to slide the corsage on. "It's so beautiful, no one's ever done anything like this for me." She kissed him and they walked up to the doors, pushing both bells at the same time. Chloe's dress was sparkling in the lights. "It's already like a dream..." she said softly.

           

            "The opera's not bad enough, we're having company too" Josh muttered from the dresser where he was wrestling with the tie to his tux.

           

            In the house next door CJ and Toby were engaging in a long kiss after he had told her how beautiful she looked in her long dress.  "We could let the maid get that--if we had one" he sighed.

          

           "I imagine that's Tucker and Chloe," CJ said pulling from Toby and checking her appearance again before going to the door. "They promised to come by before going to dinner." She opened the door. "Chloe, Tucker, wow come on in," CJ greeted.

          

           Meanwhile Donna had hurried from the room and as she was headed down the stairs called back, "It's Tucker and Chloe, come on Josh, hurry!" she opened her door just in time to see CJ and Toby's close and she went over to ring the bell and join in the fun. "Bet that's Donna and Josh," Chloe smiled while Toby and CJ examined her from all angles to get the full effect.

         

          Josh hurried after Donna, leaving his tie dangling.  "She does look beautiful doesn't she" Tucker could not resist the comment, "but then you ladies look awfully nice yourselves.  Donna smiled and smoothed her dress, lightly feeling where it passed over the baby mound and Josh's hand joined hers.  "Tomorrow we know for sure" he grinned happily.

        

         "Yes good luck on that," CJ spoke again and everyone added their well-wishes. CJ smoothed her dress over her small bulge and soon found the spot protected by Toby's hands.

        

         "Well we just wanted to stop in and show off our attire.  You four have fun at the opera and we're headed off to wherever Tucker is taking me this evening.  It's a surprise."

       

        "Yes it is" Tucker added quickly.  "Sam knows where I am if anything comes up.  You guys have a great time."  He laughed and looked at Josh.  "Would you like me to tie that for you?  We wore them when I was in Chorus and I got pretty expert."  "He can't make the ends even" Donna giggled.  Tucker pushed him down into the nearest chair and stood behind him, making short work of the offending tie.  "That could look really funny in the Post tomorrow" CJ laughed, rocking back against Toby as his hands pressed her small belly.

 

"So could some pictures of you doing the Jackal," Josh returned quickly all in tease but nevertheless it had its effect. They all locked up the house and the foursome watched as Tucker helped Chloe into the limousine.  Then they headed off to make dinner and then the opera. "I'm so excited," Chloe said as she looked the inside of the limo over with greatest interest.

 

Chloe pushed one button and a fully stocked bar shelf opened up.  "Well we won't be needing that" Tucker grinned and closed it quickly.  "Sir would you like me to drive by the White House?" the driver asked.  Both Tucker and Chloe burst into laughter, suddenly realizing they counted the president and first lady among their friends.  "No we've seen it thanks" Tucker laughed, speaking into the microphone.  The driver continued on to the Willard and stopped.  "We're here" Tucker said softly.  "We have dinner and dancing reservations in the Willard Room, followed by a large room for the night, with breakfast and swimming, health club and so forth tomorrow.  I hope that's OK."

 

Chloe looked at him wide-eyed and then throwing her arms around him she kissed him passionately. "Oh I love you!  I can't believe this, it's incredible!" The driver stopped the Limo and the doorman opened her door and helped Chloe out. She walked in on Tucker's arm and everyone took notice.

   

    They walked through the elegant lobby, and took the glass elevator to the Willard Room, all the while earning the stares of passersby.  "Reservation for Seaborn" Tucker smiled to the maitre D.  "Window table yes sir" he smiled back, "always glad to entertain members of the White House Staff."  "See what a name gets you" Tucker whispered as he pulled out her chair.  "Of course when Leo adopts you, you'll be a McGarry, And that name is second only to the President's in respect."

 

   Chloe flushed softly, "It will be an honor.  I love Leo, more than I ever loved the man who helped make me.  I want to be as much his daughter as I can be and to make him proud of me." She ordered her first course.

 

  "Leo is wonderful" Tucker agreed readily.  "A truly fine man.  Sam thinks he could have been elected himself if he wanted it."  They were brought the sparkling cider Tucker ordered and he gave a long sigh.  "Now's as good of a time as any" he said to her softly, and reached for the now wrapped tiny box.  "Happy Birthday Chloe.  I love you very much."

 

 Chloe smiled at the little box, "I wonder what comes in so small a package?  It's not keys, I got those already...in fact I can't wait to show you my car.  She's beautiful. Oh I know...it's that charm that I wanted, mother must have told you."  Chloe unwrapped the box and opened it up and then just froze.  Finally her wide eyes met his. "Tucker," she prompted gently, softly, as though anything louder might bring her out of what she now thought was a dream.

 

Tucker's large hands closed over her small ones and he lifted the ring from the box, very gently putting it on the third finger of her left hand.  "Chloe Kathleen Murphy, two years from today, on your eighteenth birthday, will you be my bride?"

 

Chloe watched the moment as if in a trance.  Then finally, eyes sparkling, she barely managed to get out, "yes Tucker. I'll marry you." She dabbled at her cheeks to try and minimize the amount by which her tears were running her make-up.  She looked down at the ring, "It's...it's beautiful.  It's the most amazing thing I've ever seen.  I'm hardly believing this is happening."

                                                 

"You better because it's very much real" he smiled.  "I love you and waiting to ask you isn't going to change that."  He picked up his napkin and dabbed at her eyes, then used it on his own for a second.  "The matching band for this and mine are safely in the jeweler's safe by the way, to be brought out in two years.  Our wedding cake will be your birthday cake as well."

 

Chloe smiled, "And every year I'll share my wedding anniversary with my birthday?  That means I either get two presents or better presents." she laughed lightly, "my goodness...engaged, we're engaged.  That makes me feel grown-up.  The adults!  Oh geez what are mom and Dad going to think and Sam and Mallory and...wow."

 

"We are officially engaged" Tucker confirmed with a big smile just as the waiter brought their food.  "Well congratulations" he smiled.  "Let me bring you a split of champagne on the house."

 

"No thank-you, we don't drink," Chloe replied, "but a bottle of this wonderful sparkling champagne stuff would be wonderful..." she offered with a smile.

                                             

"Yes ma'am" the waiter assured them.  "And I'm guessing you're going to dance later.  Be sure and tell the orchestra you're celebrating so they may play something just for you."  Tucker nodded and closed his hand around hers, feeling her tremble slightly.  "I want to remember every second of this night" he said softly, "so we can share with our children.  Our wedding night also, though I don't think it's going to be something we share with them."

 

Chloe blushed softly, "no I don't either. I can't believe it...sixteen and engaged." She smiled and her eyes sparkled even if she was trembling with the greatness of it.

-----------------------------      

"Caroline you're a little quiet there" Leo smiled, seeing her sitting at the window seat in the dining room as the twins were content with a Rugrats video for the moment.  "Tucker will take good care of her."  He closed his arms around her from behind, pressing their own baby growing within her.  "And it's not like we're going to have empty nest syndrome any time soon."

      

"Thank goodness," Caroline sniffled, "but it will never be the same without her here. My little girl is growing up so fast."

    

 "I don't think she's going far" Leo smiled.  "Looks to me like she and Tucker are pretty much a sure thing.  I don't see that ending.  He's a fine young man, a Seaborn like his brother.  And they're going to give us wonderful grandchildren, probably sooner than we expect."  He laughed quickly at her horrified look.  "I don't mean in the next few months--when they're married in a few years."

     

      "I have to watch you," Caroline countered, "nowadays you seem to know more about my oldest daughter than I do.  I'm glad she talks to you, at least she's talking to one of us and you might actually give better advice." She laughed and kissed Leo.

    

     "Do you know why she talks to me?" Leo asked her, his tone serious.  "It's because she loves you so much, and wants to be perfect in your eyes.  Me she doesn't mind admitting to that she has flaws and problems so she brings them to me.  Right now I see nothing but happiness for her and Tucker.  She obviously makes him very happy as well.  Really Caroline, you did an amazing job raising her.  I'm sure no credit belongs to Stephen."

  

    "He wasn't hardly there," Caroline agreed, "she's wonderful.  I'm always very proud of her and I'm glad that she can talk to you.  I know she loves you very much Leo and she seeks your approval and support just as much as she does mine. She was telling me a couple of days ago how she couldn't wait until she could be as much your daughter as possible and put Stephen behind her all together."

 

  "I've already had the papers drawn up for her adoption" Leo assured her, "just waiting for our marriage so that the matter can be approached from my position as her stepfather."  He grinned broadly, "the twins of course are already McGarry's--that's just a matter of paper work to get the name changed."

 

 Caroline smiled, "Oh Leo, you've made me so very happy.  I never realized how wonderful marriage could be with the right man."

 

"I would have taken you away from that bastard a long time ago had I known" Leo sighed, "but that's all past now and I love you.  And these next years I'm going to watch our children grow and our grandchildren being born.  We already have a grandchild named Seaborn on the way in fact.  Sam is so thrilled; and Mal is...well I hope she's getting used to the idea."

 

"She'll come around," Caroline said with a soft smile, "I didn't think I wanted Chloe when I was first pregnant, but the first time I felt that hard spot on my stomach and knew that I wasn't going to be alone again I was thrilled.  The thought of having someone to teach and watch grow and learn every day was thrilling.  I began to love being pregnant.  I'm sure Mallory will get adjusted as well."

                                                  

                           "I hope so" Leo nodded.  "I know she was surprised, and then had that spell of not feeling well.  One thing's for sure, Sam is deeply in love with her, and she'll have the support and help she needs from him."

 

Caroline smiled, "that's the greatest gift any pregnant woman could ask for, love and support." Caroline suddenly began to cry and she buried herself against Leo, thinking of the baby that had been taken from her.

 

"I've got you sweetheart" Leo said softly, rubbing her back soothingly as he always did.  "But we have only happy times to look forward to.  I'm going to be the oldest dad in the delivery room, but I'm sure going to be there."

--------------------------                                                  

 

 "Oh my god" Josh gasped suddenly, looking up from his dinner to three tables across the floor.  "Hey now let's not all turn around here, but that's Senator McBride behind you CJ, which would be OK, but that is in no way Mrs. McBride--unless she lost twenty years and fifty pounds and died her hair blonde."

                                                

"Oh dear..." CJ said softly, "let's hope it's a business dinner." "It sure as hell doesn't look like it," Toby said as he watched the pair kiss. "Well what now?" Donna asked.

                                               

"We simply make a note that we witnessed it if it comes up" Josh sighed, steeling a look out of the corner of his eye at the cozy pair.  He reached for Donna's hand suddenly thinking of all the temptation in D.C.  "You know women outnumber men in this city by 10 to 1, available men that is and we've all been offered it before."  He stopped and laughed.  "Even Toby."

                                                

CJ raised an eyebrow and looked at her husband. "Yes well only Sam got hooked," she sighed and commented softly. She then found her food to be of the upmost fascination.

 

"Yes he did" Josh smiled softly, "and I can proudly say that I've never been tempted".  Toby immediately began to choke on a shrimp.  "OK tempted but never given in" Josh laughed and then turned serious, looking to Donna.  "I've never wanted anyone in my time in D.C. but you love."

                                             

Donna smiled, "flattery will get you everywhere Mr. Lyman.  I hope the next thing on your agenda though is to flag down a waiter and get us some food. I'm very hungry and I'm sure CJ can sympathize...well when she finishes her third glass of water over there." CJ was at the moment draining the bottom of her third glass since they'd entered the restaurant. "Yes, food would be nice, I'll have whatever you're having Toby."

                                           

"I thought I'd start off with the escargot in the half shell, followed by sweetbreads in the béchamel sauce" Toby teased and even Josh turned green.

                                           

"Oh Toby!" CJ and Donna both exclaimed and both took off for the ladies room, hands over their mouths.

 

"Way to go Toby" Josh laughed and shook his head, realizing there was no need to scold his friend, who was already berating himself.  "I guess I'd better have a good apology ready" he sighed.  "Actually since we got married, saying sorry is something I'm becoming expert at."

                                        

"False alarm," CJ replied with a smile as she came back, "I only thought about being ill.  Donna on the other hand...wasn't so lucky."  Donna returned a few minutes later. "Sorry about that gentlemen, now are we ready for dinner?" Donna asked.

 

Josh gave her his usual look of concern, rubbing the back of her neck as she sat down.  "What does my baby--babies--feel like allowing your tummy to eat?"

 

 "Mmm...soup?" Donna hesitated, "maybe some pasta with marinara sauce would be good please sweetie." "I'd like some steak or maybe some veal," CJ suggested to Toby, "what was on your mind, maybe I like your idea better."

                                     

"I was looking at the veal marinara" Toby said thoughtfully, “with the Caesar salad and then some of that bruschetta bread with the little pieces of tomato and mozzarella cheese bits."  "I'm going with the lobster ravioli" Josh decided, "the shrimp cocktail got my mouth all set for more seafood."

                                    

"I could eat them both," CJ said licking her lips barely at the possibilities. "I'll have what you're having," Donna said looking to Josh. "Ditto," CJ said, looking to Toby. They ordered and the waiter was pleased that they were so efficient and didn't complicate things too much.

                                    

"OK CJ, give me some pointers on this opera" Josh sighed.  "Like is there anyone nude--you know something to keep me awake other than Donna pinching me and climbing over me to go to the bathroom."

 

"The opera is La Boheme.  It's a beautiful love story set in Paris.  The music will take your breath away with the emotion in it.  There are some good pranks and jokes amongst the men if you watch closely." CJ ran through all she knew about one of her favorite operas.

 

"Senator McBride and his lady friend are going out to dance" Toby whispered.  "Wonder if he and Mrs. McBride are divorcing?  He's certainly not casual about hiding his affection for this woman, who could be his daughter I might add."  "And they say women gossip" Donna giggled.  A few minutes later a disturbance at the door got their attention.  "That would be Mrs. McBride" Josh smiled slightly.  "I only know because she latched on to me at a fund raiser last year and I'd remember that face anywhere."

                              

"How dare you make a spectacle of yourself in front of all these people," she yelled drawing as much attention as possible.  "How could you lie to me and then come out in public with this gold-digging whore!  After all that I've done for you!  Let me tell you people are going to know about this you alcoholic, wife-beating, low-life.  As for you missy where did you come from and how much is he paying you an hour because that's my money. I work harder for it than you do!" She slapped the woman and then punched her husband. CJ and Donna were both frozen, horrified and mesmerized.

                             

"We've got $40 opera tickets and this entertainment is free" Josh declared with a small laugh, at the same time taking Donna's hand in reassurance.  "Toby should we intervene, though at the moment I can't think of a thing that man has done for the Bartlet administration."

                            

Mrs. McBride turned on her elegant heels and stormed out.  When it was finally safe, and Mr. McBride and the young woman had been helped off the dance floor the waiter brought the two couples their food. "I feel sorry for Mrs. McBride myself." Donna remarked, "I mean I could be wrong but it seemed like she actually kind of cared for him. I think she still loves him and that would really hurt."

                           

"I think I've been warned" Josh smiled, "but of course there's no way in hell I'd ever look at another woman when I have you to hold every night.  I think you're right though--she did look upset."  "In any case the opera is going to look tame after this" Toby smiled, digging into his food at once.

 

"Come then, to the opera," Donna instructed as soon as they had finished their meal.

 

--------------------------

"Engaged to me, the man who adores you" Tucker added.  "From the moment I saw you in the exercise room, to the first time we made love, to all the other times we've been together--I knew we belonged together.  What scared me was that you might not have known it."

 

"I didn't dare hope that it would really happen, that I could really get lucky enough to have you, but here we are. Oh Tucker I love you so very, very much." Chloe squeezed his hand.  "I was afraid after I told you I didn't want to make love that things would be over between us.  I'm so thankful they're not."

                                         

"No not at all" Tucker assured her quickly, "that has actually only made things better between us - the anticipation and all that.  Our wedding night is going to be something to behold.  I even confessed to Sam that I dream about it sometimes, dream of holding you and showing you how much I love you and how glad I am to have married you."

                                         

Chloe smiled, "It's going to be nice just the two of us tonight too...Oh Tucker, there's something we need to talk seriously about. It's nothing bad, at least I don't think it is..." Chloe took a few breaths to prepare herself, "Tucker I was talking with CJ today and she thinks I should go into modeling for the fun of it.  She says she has a friend who could represent me and get me big jobs. However, since you're my-well my fiancée now, I think it's something I want your opinion on at least.

                                       

"As long as you're not going to be the centerfold of some sleazy magazine I think it's great" Tucker smiled and then quickly sobered.  "You weren't were you...no I didn't mean that, but I meant you weren't going to do like...well you know what do they call it, lingerie modeling for Victoria's secret or something are you?  I'm suddenly not comfortable with other men staring at parts only I'm supposed to see."

                                        

"Well I can't say I won't do lingerie Tucker," Chloe began, "that's a big business and I could make a lot of money doing that.  Swimsuits also...I'm young and I have the body for it.  I could make us a real little nest egg.  I'd never do anything nude or anything showing but..."

                                      

Tucker nodded thoughtfully.  "I understand.  I know you wouldn't do anything cheap or demeaning, and some of the Victoria's Secret stuff is beautiful in their catalogs....uh....so I've heard....I mean well Sam has them and I've looked at a few...and I'm shutting up now."

 

Chloe laughed softly, "I don't care if you look at the Victoria's Secret catalogues.  If you were really glued to them you wouldn't have wanted me in the first place." "You're saying you think I should model as well.  I mean that you like the idea? I would like you to come to some of the shoots if you want and you can inspire me."

                                 

"I would consider it an honor to join you" Tucker smiled.  "And I promise not to run and cover you if you come out in something skimpy.  Who knows, if you're good at it you may be supporting us for a time.  I'm going to graduate with student loans out the rear, and residents and interns make next to nothing.  I'd make more at McDonalds those first few years."

                                

Chloe laughed softly, "We can do it Tucker, besides I imagine we'll live with my family or your family one for the first couple of years, get our feet solidly beneath us and it would allow us to continue to concentrate on our education.  I think this could be a wonderful opportunity for us.  If it works...I mean I may not even make it that far.  I may not get any big jobs at all...but here's hoping." Chloe raised her glass and again was mesmerized by her ring. "It's so beautiful," she choked out again as new tears sprang to her eyes, "I'm never taking it off."

                               

"It's going to be hard for me to slip the wedding band on then" Tucker grinned, taking his thumbs and wiping her cheeks gently.  "You may actually become famous as...well OK I can't think of anyone since I'm not into clothes, but I would be nothing but proud of you if you did."

                               

Chloe and Tucker finished their meal by ordering a chocolate volcano with two spoons.  "Open" he said softly, popping the cherry into her mouth.  "I hope we're not going to be too full to dance."

                          

"Oh no, I've been waiting all week to dance with you again." Chloe answered with a smile.  Once they had finished dessert, true to her word, Chloe drug Tucker out onto the patio to dance. "I love being in your arms...it's my favorite place to be."

 

"It's where you belong and where you'll sleep tonight" Tucker smiled.  "I love you Chloe."

--------------------------                          

Toby pulled the car around and jumped out to help CJ in while Josh was carefully installing Donna in the back seat.  "One thing about using the presidential box is that no one is going to take our seats if we're a little late" he laughed.

 

CJ smiled and adjusted her red dress, the same one that she had worn to LA, although there was now a little pouch in the front where her stomach wasn't quite as flat as it used to be. They arrived at the opera and proceeded to the Presidential box. "This is so like Pretty Woman," Donna enthused, "I've never been to an opera before."  "You're going to love it," CJ returned with equal enthusiasm.

 

Josh and Toby took one look at the chair arrangement; four chairs in the front row spread a foot apart, and then looked at each other.  "No" they said in unison and quickly made two groups of two chairs touching, the groups now three feet apart for easy egress to the bathrooms.  "Now" Toby grinned and took CJ's hand to help her to sit, with Josh doing the same with Donna.  "Beats being home watching sports" he said softly as she settled against him.  "I hope there are subtitles."

 

"On the screen right up there," CJ responded, "I think you might actually enjoy yourself if you give it a chance." The lights dimmed momentarily to tell everyone to get into their seats.  Around them many whispers could be heard about who was in the Presidential box. Soon though the stage was lit and the opening Act began.

                     

The music swelled and Josh's and Toby's arms tightened about their wives as the colorfully costumed performers showed in the lighting.

 

Donna was crying she was enjoying the show so much.

                   

Josh looked down on her lovingly as she curled against him, resting her head on his shoulder and transfixed by the performance.  "It is wonderful" he whispered, kissing her forehead.

 

 

----------------------                        

"I love you Tucker," Chloe answered and they danced to the delight of many a couple watching them while they ate.  One song after another they twirled around the patio.  Chloe's dress was shimmering and sparkling almost as much as her eyes.

                       

"There are thirty year old men here envious of me" Tucker grinned as he finally called a halt to the dancing and led her to the fountain where fruit punches were served on the smaller balcony.  The lights of the city spread out below them and he ran his hand across the bare part of her back as they leaned on the rail.  "I don't think I have to ask if you're having a good time" he said quietly and picked up her hand, which bore his ring to kiss the finger.

                       

"No but if you did I'd tell you this is one of the most amazing nights of my whole life and I will remember it forever." she looked out at the lights. "You know it kind of scared me for a minute when you proposed.  I had to stop and think if I was old enough to accept, old enough to really know what I was doing.  Obviously you know my answer. Sam, Mallory, Mom and Dad are going to freak." she laughed lightly, "I'm sure they'll be happy for us though."

                      

"Sam already knows" Tucker confessed.  "We had a good talk earlier and I showed him the ring."  He leaned down and kissed her cheek.  "I was scared too--scared you wouldn't accept; and also scared that we were too young.  We've a lot of growing up to do in the next two years, and this ring is the start of it.  You and I aren't going to do anything stupid--we have too much life to look forward to."

                    

"Yes, together," Chloe replied with a smile, "and I'm glad that we're engaged.  It makes me more determined and this way we know we have nothing to worry about.  I'm not going anywhere and neither are you. I love you Tucker."  She kissed him lovingly.

                    

"And this ring is our symbol of belonging together" Tucker sighed.  "I'm fine with everyone knowing, but maybe we should tell Leo and Caroline first."

 

Chloe nodded, "Oh definitely. Mom and Dad are going to freak." she laughed lightly. "I don't think mom expected me to come back tomorrow engaged." They continued to dance on. "Do you know I could dance all night in your arms like this?"

 

"I want you in my arms for the rest of my life whenever we can" Tucker sighed.  "Have you noticed how exactly your body fits to mine like we were born to be together."  They swayed to the music, rocking back and forth slowly.  "You know someday there will be a baby pressed between us right about here" he said softly, putting his hand on her belly.  "A child we will have made from love."

 

"I can't wait," Chloe replied with a smile, "that will be one of the most exciting days of my life, to tell you I'm carrying your child. I just hope it doesn't happen this time. After we're married though, anytime after that it will be wonderful."

               

"This time?" Tucker frowned.  "But we haven't--oh you mean from the first time.  God Chloe I never thought about it until now.  I know the one other time we used....is it possible you could be?  I mean I...obviously I don't know much about this, but I would have thought you'd know by now."  He ran his hand through his hair nervously.

 

"I'm two days late but with me that doesn't mean anything," Chloe answered, "I'm still a little unpredictable..."

 

Tucker looked at her closely for a long minute and finally nodded.  "I'm guessing it's not panic time then.  But even if you were, I love you and I'm going no where regardless of anything, especially that."

 

Chloe smiled, "Thank-you, but I wouldn't worry about it if I were you." "Oh my goodness it's after ten thirty," Chloe commented after some time. "Shall we go to our room now and enjoy ourselves there.  I'm sure we can find something to do or we can go swimming or something."

           

"I would love to do a few laps in the pool and then come up and try out our big private tub" Tucker grinned, " and then we can fall asleep wrapped together watching tv."

 

"Sounds like this dream just keeps getting better," Chloe said and she kissed him then.  The couple finally left the restaurant and made their way upstairs to their room. Chloe unpacked her bag and pulled out a stunning black bikini.  "Tucker love, will you help me out of this dress?  Carefully, I don't want to mess it up.  Isn't it beautiful?  I bought it just to wow you."

 

"It worked" Tucker sighed, undoing the zipper and then holding the dress as she stepped out, leaving her standing in her underwear.  "And that's doing a pretty good job too.  You have excellent taste my future wife, and a great knowledge of how to turn me on.  It's turning myself off that's hard."

 

"Well maybe later we can fool around a little," Chloe replied with a smile.  She removed her underwear and stepped into the black bikini. "I forgot a cover-up," she dismayed but was rescued when she found a large fluffy white hotel robe at her disposal. They made their way down to the pool and found that they were the only ones there. Chloe posed by the side of the pool while Tucker got ready to swim.

       

        Tucker unbuttoned his shirt and tossed it aside, hoping that his body would not embarrass him beneath the dark maroon speedo brief he wore, as he stared at her unashamedly.  Finally he stepped onto the board and executed a perfect jack knife into the water, which was colder than he anticipated.  "Well so much for worrying about being embarrassed" he sputtered.  "Chloe you're next."

 

Chloe who had already braided and coiled her hair took the board and walked out near the edge, what she did next was surprising.  She went up into a handstand on the edge of the board, performed the splits walked the handstand a half turn and came down to stand with her back to the water, from which she did a backflip into the water.  When she came up her nipples were largely visible through the black suit. "Maybe we should have picked the hot tub," she laughed lightly.

     

      "Nah, I'm enjoying the view from here" Tucker said softly swimming to her to catch her in his arms.  "Besides we can save that for the privacy of our room.  Or tomorrow even."  He held her at arm's length for a second and then pulled her to him, his mouth devouring hers in a more serious kiss than they normally shared and he passed his palm over her breast, feeling the nipple react even more.  "Sorry" he whispered when he forced himself away from her.

    

"Mmm....don't be," Chloe smiled and she brushed against him.  She played with his nipples softly then. "We can do anything so long as we don't go all the way," Chloe whispered.

   

"I like your rules" Tucker grinned, swimming with her into a more darkened corner of the pool where his mouth again sought hers, their tongues now probing and his hands gently kneaded her breasts through her suit as hers were doing to his.  "I'm going to take the rest of my life and get to know this body millimeter by millimeter" he whispered.

 

"I hope you do...but I'd prefer you didn't do it in the pool.  I mean what if someone walks in? Let's not take anything off down here," she whispered.

 

"Well some of that exploration is to wait until after we're married" Tucker grinned, "but you're right.  We don't need that Leo McGarry's almost daughter and Sam Seaborn's brother are arrested for public indecency or something."  His lips touched hers again, very lightly until the kiss deepened fully and he crushed her to his chest, feeling her nipples bore into his skin and when he held to her hand, the prongs of her ring pressed his flesh.

 

They did a little more swimming and a lot more kissing and soon decided to adjourn to their room.  "Tucker I don't even know how to begin to thank you.  I don't think I even have dreams this good.  Tonight has been so incredible.  I never imagined I could feel love like this. Now that I have it I'm never going to let it go."

                                                           

"You better not ever" Tucker said firmly, giving her a little shake and then a kiss.  "And the best thing is we're dressed for our own private hot tub.  Wait here a second."  He disappeared into the Jacuzzi room, with its picture floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the city, and after starting the tub filling, lit the numerous candles provided and turned off the remainder of the lighting and turned on the stereo.  "OK now" he called and when she reached the doorway he took her hand to bring her inside.

----------------------------                   

The twins were finally in bed and Leo and Caroline ready for Sam and Mallory's arrival.  They had called earlier and offered to bring a pizza and cards for a gin fest.

                    

Sam and Mallory appeared at the back door and Caroline admitted them. "Hey you two, glad you could make it." They immediately opened the pizza and delved in. "I figured since Chloe and Tucker were out this evening that we should all get together and have some fun too."

                 

"Sam she was so thrilled" Leo smiled.  "Tucker said you rented the limo for them.  That was incredible of you.  You want a beer with your pizza?"

                  

"Sure if that's all the thanks I get," Sam teased. "Mallory how are you doing sweetie?" Caroline asked, "what can I get you to drink?"

 

"Caroline, sit" Leo ordered.  "I'm tending bar here.  What do you ladies want?"

              

"Umm...sprite please," Caroline replied, taken aback. "Ginger ale," Mallory requested, "with a twist of lime."

             

Leo delivered their drinks and Sam dealt the first hand.  "Pot's light" he commanded and Leo sheepishly tossed in his chip.  "Straight draw, jacks or better, deuces wild."

             

Caroline looked over her cards, exchanged three and studied them again.  Mallory looked at her cards exchanged one and looked even more dismal. "I'm out," Leo said after he'd exchanged his cards.

            

"My fiancée the poker face" Sam sighed.  "Caroline I'm going to see your two and bump you two."

          

"Okay, you've got yourself a deal," Caroline replied adding her money. "Raise two more, pot's not good enough yet," Mallory added the extra money. "I can handle that," Caroline replied coolly adding her extra chips.

         

"Last round of raises" Sam reminded as he bumped two more, effectively scaring off Mallory.  "OK future Mrs. McGarry, in or out.  And ask your fiancé, I'm one of the world's best bluffers."

 

"Okay world's best bluffer, I'll raise five and I'm in," Caroline replied. Once Sam had called her they dropped their cards.  She had three queens and a pair of twos effectively giving her five of a kind. "Ouch," Mallory said impressed. Leo was likewise also impressed.

        

"My full house humbly bows" Sam grinned, "aces over eights, dead man's hand."

        

"One eyed Jacks wild, two pair to open" Leo declared, "and Diamond Jim Murphy here has the first say."

  

"I'll say three to start," Caroline offered.

  

"Three for the lady" Leo said and looked to Sam.  "I'm good" Sam nodded.  "Right" Leo shook his head.  "And for my daughter?"

 

"Some olives, two more slices of pizza and I'll raise one," Mallory answered right before her stomach growled.

                                                            

"I can take care of the food request" Sam sighed, "because I wouldn't play these cards with a five year old."  He tossed his into the center and stood up, stretching as he did so.  "Anyone else?"

 

"I'll take two more pieces of the black olive pizza please," Caroline said.  "Oh and sweetie, is there some salsa somewhere?" Mallory asked.

 

"Of course there is honey" Sam assured her, "should I get the oreos too?"

 

Mallory just looked at him. She thanked him once the oreos were given to her and began dipping them in salsa.

 

"Dumb question Seaborn" he sighed.  "Well by now Tucker has probably given Chloe the ring and they're happily.....uh..." he was stopped by the sharp looks of Caroline and Leo.  "Whoa look at the time.  Let's go Mallory."

 

"What? What were you just babbling?" Caroline demanded.

 

"Babbling exactly" Sam grinned, "too many beers.  Mallory take me home please."

 

"Okay, but it's going to cost you oreos and salsa," Mallory laughed, "really you two.  I think he's gone.  I'd better get him home."  "Okay Sam, take some aspirin in the morning or something," Caroline said concerned. They made it into their house next door and Mallory released him.  "Okay Seaborn, spill the beans, why did I just make an idiot of myself in front of Caroline and my father?"

                                                   

"This is why I don't drink at lunch" Sam sighed.  "I'd probably give away state secrets all afternoon.  Tucker bought a beautiful engagement ring for Chloe, and he's going to ask her to marry him tonight, the wedding to be on her birthday in two years."

 

"Oh my goodness!" Mallory exclaimed excited, "Oh Sam that's incredible.  Hey do you think we could call them and see how it's going?  Or at least get them to come over here tomorrow first?  Oh Chloe's got to be thrilled.  I'm so happy for her!"

 

"We can leave a message at the desk to call us" Sam said quietly, "They're at the Willard and they're staying over until checkout time tomorrow afternoon.  I trust the boy to take care of her--I hope I'm not wrong."

 

"No, Tucker's very responsible, but then so is Chloe. Yes please leave a message," she eagerly handed the phone to him, "I can't wait to see them!"

 

Sam picked up the phone after checking the number and left word at the desk for them to come by their place first tomorrow.  "OK that's done" he grinned, taking Mallory into his arms.  "Now I would very much like to take my fiancée up to our bed, despite oreo-salsa breath."

 

Mallory smiled, "Well I think that can be arranged," she smiled and kissed him passionately before walking with him upstairs.

---------------------------

                                                         

"Oh a Jacuzzi," Chloe enthused.  She slinked over to the Jacuzzi and slipped in.  Then she tossed her black top to him and then her bottoms.

                                                          

"I like how you think" Tucker enthused at once, dropping his own suit to the floor with hers and sliding in next to her, lying on his side to face her as she lounged back.  "Maybe the bubbling oil wasn't such a good idea" he grinned, "spoils the view."  "Though not the feel" he added as his hand slid across her stomach and up to her breasts.  "I think this is what's called copping a feel."

                                                         

"Yes and I love it...I want you to," Chloe moaned with a smile, "I need you to touch me Tucker.  I miss that."

                                                         

Tucker gladly obliged, sliding his hands across her breasts, pressing his palm lightly to her nipples as he gave his mouth to hers.  "I've missed this too" he sighed, "very, very much, but doing it only some times makes it so special too."

                                                       

"Yes, oh yes," Chloe moaned softly.  She rubbed his nipples and then licked it with her lips.

                                                     

"God Chloe" he gasped and lifted her easily from the bubbles, to press his lips to her nearest nipple, drawing the breast into his mouth as far as possible, now able to twirl his tongue around it.  His other hand slipped down between her legs, his fingers touching into the hairs.

                                                      

"Oh Tucker yes.  Oh I love you so much," Chloe panted before another moan plunged her further into incoherency with what he was doing to her. Chloe reached down taking him into her hands to caress as well.

                                                     

Tucker slid his hand more firmly between her legs and tickled the outside with his thumb as his face buried between her breasts, his tongue licking in the valley there."

                                                    

"Oh Tucker this is so great," Chloe enjoyed his ministrations and continued hers on him.

                                                 

"Nothing compared to what you're doing to me" Tucker gasped, involuntarily moving back and forth as her hand encircled him.  He kissed her firmly, his tongue sweeping her mouth and his thumb slid inside her, vibrating rapidly within her.

                                                 

After a few minutes Chloe felt her body tense and then she poured forth her heat onto Tucker's fingers.

                                                

"Chloe--CHLOE" Tucker yelped and her hand brought forth his own release, swirled into the warm water beneath them.  "I love you Chloe" he sighed, still keeping his fingers where she was firmly clamped around him.

                                              

Chloe sighed and smiled softly. "Now that's what I've needed," Chloe smiled, "I love you, so much my fiancée."  She kissed him lovingly. They finally abandoned the hot tub a while later and dressed in their satin pajamas.  "Hey Tucker, the message light is flashing.  Will you get it please? Then maybe you wouldn't mind calling for some oreos and milk?"

                                             

"It's from Sam and Mallory" Tucker told her when he hung up.  "They want us to stop by tomorrow when we get back.  My guess is Sam told Mallory.  He also said earlier they were going to play cards with your folks.  Hopefully he didn't tell them."  He walked up behind her and lifted her in his arms.  Despite her height he handled her easily and dropped her gently onto the large bed.  "And your oreos and milk, and a fudge sundae for me, are on the way."  He buried his face in her stomach, rubbing against the silky pajama top.  "I love you future Mrs. Seaborn."

                                            

"That seems so weird to hear, but I love it and I love you too," Chloe smiled, "its okay to show off the ring and announce the good news to them then hmm?"

                                            

"We can hire a plane and write it in the sky" Tucker laughed and then ran to the window, yelling "Hey Washington, Chloe Murphy is going to be the bride of Tucker Seaborn in exactly two years."  Then laughing hard he collapsed back onto the bed, hugging and tickling her, bouncing her on the mattress until they were both laughing.

                                            

Finally after their laughing episode was over there was a knock at the door and Chloe's cookies and milk arrived.  "I want the whole world to know that I'm engaged to the sexiest, most-loving, caring, understanding man there is and I couldn't be happier about it."

                                         

"We can take out an ad in the Post" Tucker laughed, and then said thoughtfully, "seriously now, don't people announce their engagements in the paper all the time.  It doesn't matter that it's not for two years yet."  He jumped off the bed to bring in the food, signing a large tip for the server.  "Of course we'll announce it at the party Sunday."

 

Chloe smiled brightly, "Wonderful...won't everyone be surprised. Except for Sam and Mallory let's keep it hush, hush 'til then okay?" She turned on an old 'I love Lucy' show and they cuddled together on the bed, eating and enjoying one another's company.  "I wish this night never had to end.  I hope our honeymoon is just like this, a dream come true."

                                         

"I don't know what we'll do for that, but since about the time we come back we'll both be starting college, I want it to be something really special" Tucker smiled.  "Yeah we'll only show Sam and Mallory the ring for now, but that begs the question about your folks.  We should talk to them as soon as we get back don't you think?"  His fingers idly moved some hair from her face as he kissed her temple.  Meanwhile Lucy dressed in a Superman cape and crawled out her window.

                                      

Chloe laughed wildly at the show, "Yes...yes I suppose we should talk to Mom and Dad when we get back.  You think you're up to it?  Realize you're the one they're going to be firing most of the questions at I imagine." Chloe kissed him lovingly, "but I love you and surely they can't have missed seeing that."

                                      

"There's not much they can ask me that I can answer" he sighed.  "Like about the future as to where we'll be and all.  I just know we'll be married and in college and working part time and making love and being in love and....."  He stopped and laughed.  "I think we can talk together about it.  They have to know how much we love each other--seems to me everyone does.  Even the President."

 

Chloe smiled, "Yes we can.  It's going to be great!" She kissed him and lay on his chest. It wasn't long before she fell asleep.

-----------------------------

"Caroline you're not worried about Chloe are you?" Leo asked gently as they got ready for bed.  He ran his hand down her spine and she shivered.  "Tucker is taking good care of her, you know that.  The boy adores her.  He'd die himself before he'd hurt her. I really do believe that."

                                    

Caroline smiled, "I know.  I'm not worried about it. I guess I just wonder what got into Sam earlier.  It was kind of strange...oh well they'll be home soon enough.  All I really hope is that Chloe had a wonderful time. After all you're only sixteen once."

                                   

"Sweetheart I spend half of every day wondering what's gotten into Samuel Joseph Seaborn" Leo laughed.  "Now come to bed.  I'm glad you're not fretting over her.  She's right in the area and Sam knows exactly where.  She is only sixteen once for sure, and Tucker is making it memorable for her."  Leo fluffed up her pillows as he dropped onto the bed, pulling her down beside him.  "Now why don't we make tonight memorable for us" he suggested, nuzzling her neck.

                                  

"Oh Leo...nice to know you never tire of this pregnant woman," Caroline laughed and then she pulled the sheets up over them as they began to make love.

 

---------------------------------                                 

"Dream, it was only a dream" Tucker sighed, attempting to wake up more fully about 3AM.  Chloe lay against him, stirring now, disturbed by his movements.  "Sorry angel" he whispered.  "Nature call" and he rolled from the bed, heading for the bathroom.  Once inside he turned on the light and took care of his business, and then poured a full glass of water, drinking that down and finally took a washcloth and put a cold water compress across his face, sitting back on the commode seat.

                                

Chloe knocked softly on the door.  "What is it Tucker?" she asked concerned.

                               

"Go back to bed angel I'm OK" Tucker assured her, "just had a bad dream that's all--and actually that's not right.  I had a dream and I'm not so sure I'm glad it was only that.  Actually I'm very confused at the moment, which I'm sure is pretty obvious to you."

                               

"What was your dream about angel, please share with me," Chloe said coming in and sitting on the counter.

                             

"It's pretty simple" he said softly, putting his hand over in her lap and letting her close her fingers around it.  "I was dreaming you were pregnant, and then I woke up and then I was relieved and then I was disappointed all at the same time."  He gave a quick short laugh.  "Maybe that's my psyche telling me I'm supposed to accept whatever God sends us.  My mind knows we're in no way ready for a baby; but my heart doesn't always listen.  Of course that same mind told that same heart not to fall in love so young and that didn't work."

                            

"What about me being pregnant?" Chloe asked enthusiastically, "please tell me!"

                           

He smiled at her excitement and pressed his hand to her belly.  "We were at the doctors, seeing a sonogram, and there was a baby growing in there" he grinned further.  "And we could see it, all little and fluttering and its heart was beating super fast.  And I told you I loved you and I would take care of you and that I had no regrets or problems.  And then I woke up, and I was all sweaty and had to...uh use the bathroom and at first I was relieved that it was a dream; and then suddenly I was disappointed."  He shook himself and laughed.  "Dreams don't usually bother me, except the nightmares I have about County sometimes--I'm sure I'll be subjecting you to those at some point--but this was real odd.  It was so real."

                          

Chloe smiled, "but what would I do about this year of school? I mean...wow Tucker that sounds wonderful and the idea that it could be a very real possibility...Oh to know that I was carrying your baby...but then again...school."

                         

"School exactly" Tucker reminded her firmly, "and your parents and Sam and so on and so on.  A baby is just not something that would be good right now--only I have to agree, the idea of you carrying my baby is so...well so loving and wonderful.  I guess it's a dream we need to put on hold for two years until we're better able to handle it.  You know what, being mature sucks."

                        

Chloe moved and hugged him. "I love you Tucker and I promise once we're married I'll give us both the child we want."

                       

"I know angel" he sighed.  "It was just a dream, but it was God telling us our life together will be full of children."  He felt her shiver in her light gown with the chill of the air conditioning and moving quickly walked her back to bed, pulling the warm blanket over her and wrapping his arms around her tightly.  "Sleep angel, and dream about the family we'll have someday."

                      

Chloe smiled and whispered softly, "It won't be long before I'll carry our child my love." Then she fell back to sleep. The next morning when she woke she called room service and ordered them croissants for breakfast as well as a fruit platter. Then she sat in bed watching him sleep and she thought back to his dream last night.  For the sake of curiosity she took a pillow of just the right size and stuffed it in her pajamas and drifted off into a dream world herself.

                      ////////////////////

                        "Chloe you OK?" Tucker's call echoed through the small apartment when he came in from school.  Three times he had tried to call her from campus and gotten no answer.  Finally frantic with worry, knowing she was nearly nine months along, he dumped his last class and sprinted across the campus to married student housing.  "Chloe" he screamed again.

                    

                     "I'm here," Chloe finally answered with a sigh.  He found her in the tub, rubbing her huge baby mound while it undulated. "I got stuck here. I'm sorry."

                   

                    "So am I, after the stroke I just had" Tucker's knees went weak with relief and he sank onto the commode seat.  "From now on let's limit these soaks to when I'm in attendance."  After a few deep breaths he took off his shirt and knelt by the tub, pouring a bit of the oil onto his hand and massaging her breasts and the huge mound of baby.  "I missed you today" he said softly.  "European history is not fun without you to stand up before the class and announce your husband is an idiot."

Chloe laughed delightedly, "See I told you you'd miss me when I was gone." The baby within her was highly active at the moment. "You daughter has gotten so large it's made it impossible though.  I hardly fit into my maternity clothes as it is! Don't you just love it?"

                 

Tucker pressed his oil slick hands to her belly and felt their daughter rise to meet him.  She was head down now and her feet could be felt easily at the top, little legs constantly working along with fists poking at each side.  He took a long breath before speaking again.  "Listen I know we're supposed to go to the campaign barbeque tomorrow in Philadelphia but I'm questioning whether that's.......a.....good......"  Her look stopped his words. "Let me guess, we're going no matter what."  The President was bringing his re-election campaign to Philadelphia for a huge barbecue on the grounds of the governor's mansion there and all senior staff had been invited including Chloe and Tucker.

                

"I wouldn't miss it for anything, besides CJ and Donna are going!" Chloe responded.  "I don't want to miss out, besides I love showing off your accomplishment."

             

"Well I didn't do it alone" Tucker grinned, "but be prepared for a day of following you around asking if you're OK."  Another look.  "OK I promise to lighten up----some.  Sam said it's a real family thing, so they're bringing Jarrod, and Josh the twins and CJ and Toby with Courtney Jennifer, and...OK I'm out of fingers.  Who am I forgetting?  Zoey of course and Gina?"

              

"Well I'm sure Zoey and Charlie will be there with little Charles Josiah and Gina might be there you know she's about as bad off as I am but she wouldn't want to be anywhere other than at Lucas' side." Chloe answered, "now do you think you can get us out of here.  I believe your daughter is finished with her soak."

             

"Frank bring in the engine lift" Tucker yelled teasingly, and then reached down behind her, gently lifting her to her feet, holding her especially tightly from the slick oil.  His one hand never left her as he took the giant bath towel and began to dry her.  "Hey baby girl" he whispered to the baby mound.  "Mommy and daddy love you lots and I promise we'll have a name for you by the time you get here."

            

"Yeah Saraphine," Chloe put forth again, "I like the name Saraphine...it's all your fault for showing me 'An American Werewolf in Paris'. Besides it's a beautiful name and not ordinary...I know a lot of people with run of the mill names who complain about them."

           

"At least I was the only Tucker in my classes" he smiled, "and I'll bet you were the only Chloe."  He firmly placed her hands on his shoulders so that he could help her on with her underwear and then her robe.  "I guess Sara would be OK if she didn't want to be called the whole thing.  But then I'm going to insist on Kathleen for her middle, unless you like Chloe better.  I could agree to one of your mom's names too I guess.  Caroline or Catherine."  

           //////////////////////////////

"Saraphine Kathleen Seaborn," Chloe spoke aloud even though Tucker was still sleeping next to her.  She smiled brightly, "perfect...absolutely perfect."

         

"Wha....wha's perfect" Tucker mumbled, trying to fumble for her in the deep sleep to which he had just returned.  "Are you OK?" he mumbled again, bringing his mouth to hers to kiss, needing the comfort just at that moment.

        

"I'm more than okay," Chloe smiled rubbing the satin-covered, pillow-stuffed version of herself, "I'm looking at the future..."

       

"Whoa when did this happen?" Tucker smiled, now more fully awake.  He ran his hand up the pillow to encircle her neck with his long fingers and bring her to him for a lasting kiss.  "You're beautiful future Mrs. Seaborn" he whispered, and he lay her down next to him, putting his head on the pillow.  "Someday I'll be doing this and my baby girl or boy's heart will be beating in my ear."

      

"Mmhhmm...and we're going to name our first daughter Saraphine Kathleen Seaborn," Chloe added, "Oh Tucker I can't wait.  I want it all, marriage to you and your child inside me.  This is going to be a long two years."

     

      "We are going to spend it getting to know each other" Tucker promised, ''actually no that's not quite right.  We're going to spend it falling more and more deeply in love so that when we do finally marry it's the culmination of a two year courtship.  And on our wedding night I'm going to put the start of our Seraphine Kathleen inside you unless of course it's a Joseph Tucker."  He ran his fingers through her long hair.  "You shall have it all my love.  Everything you deserve and then some."

    

     Chloe smiled and kissed him.  She laughed and then removed the pillow.  About that time there was a knock at the door.  "That would be breakfast.  I took the liberty of ordering..." She looked around, "your robe's closer."

   

    "Lord knows I don't want to give anyone a thrill this early in the morning" Tucker grinned, rolling from the bed and sliding into his robe all in one motion.  He looked back to be sure she had covered herself before opening the door.  "And I especially don't want anyone getting a gander at what's mine alone" he grinned, his gaze falling to her engagement ring.  "Good Morning" he greeted the server who quickly rolled in a tray filled with dome covered plates.  "You know at some point it's back to the real world" he sighed, filling out the slip and leaving a nice tip on it.  "Breakfast smells wonderful" he laughed and leaped onto the bed, pinning her down and kissing her passionately.  "And breakfast with the one I adore is even better."

  

   Chloe laughed happily. Then she brought breakfast to them. A huge plate of croissants and a bowl of fruit. She couldn't stop looking at her engagement ring. "We'll go to Sam and Mallory's and then to Mom and Dad's after breakfast hmm?" She was savoring her croissants.

 

  "We do not have to be out of here until noon, so if we want to swim some or use the work out stuff we can.  Of course if you're anxious to show them, that's good too.  We've certainly gotten Sam's money's worth.  I expect to get him paid back about the same time I start med school."

 

Chloe laughed, "Oh but it's been worth every penny of it.  I've never ever been so happy before. I'm sure I can chip in to help pay Sam."  She fed him a piece of croissant and then kissed him. Once breakfast was finished she dressed in a silver suit and heels and looked absolutely stunning. "Care to go window-shopping downstairs?  We only have an hour and a half anyhow.  We slept late..."

 

"I would love to, future Mrs. Seaborn" Tucker smiled.  "You're not going to get tired of me addressing you as such are you?"

 

"Not a chance in the world!" Chloe replied.  She was very much a beauty, dressed as she was.  She waited for him to dress as well and walked with him to the promenade.

 

"You are beautiful" Tucker smiled as they walked, "and I have to say my ring completes the outfit."  They walked to the end and came to the big indoor ice rink.  "I'll bet you're great at that" he grinned, "coming from the north and all."

 

"I can stay up," Chloe replied.  Once they entered the rink and had on their shoes they took to the ice.  Chloe certainly had no trouble staying up, even skating backwards and in circles.

                                                 

Tucker concentrated on his footing, and watching her closely.  Five years of pee wee hockey had not prepared him for this kind of skating, but she was beautiful and graceful.  "I'm sorry there won't be a bon fire and hot chocolate after" he grinned as she skated into his arms and he kissed her.  The music changed and it was couples only, almost a waltz.  "May I?" he whispered.

 

Chloe smiled, "Of course.  She twirled around with him on the ice and it was about mid dance that he discovered she could jump.  "I've done some couples skating. Only came in third at nationals though."

 

"Only" Tucker sneered.  "My skating is pee wee hockey type which has no finesse to it.  I'm sure you've seen Mighty Ducks.  Brawling on blades.  You are the height of beauty and grace my fiancée."

 

Chloe moved in and kissed him as they danced on ice.  It was like soaring.

                                             

"I feel like some buzzard while you fly like a dove above me" Tucker smiled, "you are amazing."  He carefully lifted her up, but their similar heights prevented him from getting her much off the ice.  "You know the White house needs one of these" he decided.  "I could get real used to doing this, especially the part of you in my arms."

 

"I want to be in your arms as often as possible," Chloe smiled.  She checked her watch then, "wow we only have a half hour left..."

 

"I feel like a male Cinderella" Tucker sighed.  "But it's not like we're never going to see each other again.  After we talk to the folks I thought we might rent a couple horses over at Rock Creek and see what their trails were.  We still want to think about bringing yours down don't we?"

 

"Oh yes...I miss Sonata already," Chloe answered. They vacated the ice after a minute and then made sure their things were removed from their room and made it to the limo. "I feel so wealthy," Chloe smiled, "thank-you Tucker for making my sixteenth birthday an unforgettable dream." The limo took them towards Sam and Mallory's.

------------------------------ 

  "Donnatella" Josh groaned and gave her rear a shove to wake her.  "Are we doing that sonogram this morning or not.  Because one 'not' out of you and I'm back to sleep."  He added teasingly, "in fact I'm in the middle of the best dream about Lucy Markham, remember her--she had short red hair and was the lobbyist for the beef....."

 

Donna curled up her feet and gave Josh a good hard shove right out of bed. "Lucy Markham!" she exclaimed sourly, "come on, you'd better get ready to take me to my sonogram and you can fantasize about her in the waiting room while you're not sharing the experience with me!  Lucy Markham!" she grunted again as she closed the door to the bathroom and began to get ready to go.

 

"Obviously you don't remember her well" Josh shouted, wrinkling his nose at the memory of the strident woman a few years his senior and who took an entire morning ranting about grants for cattlemen.  "In my dream I was kicking her butt back to Montana where she belonged" he shouted again.

 

"Well it certainly didn't sound like it," Donna countered.  She appeared a moment later looking beautiful as always.

                                                    

"Hey you know I dated a little before we got together, as did you" Josh said softly, lifting her hair to put a kiss on each side of her neck, "but there was no one, and I mean no one who I took home or whom I went home with.  It would have seemed like....well like cheating on you."

                                                   

Donna smiled and kissed him.  They left the house and drove to the doctor's.  They were the only ones there besides the doctor and a couple of nurses. "Thank-you for agreeing to see us today," Donna said with a smile, "I'm very concerned..." she remembered to tell him about her swollen feet while she was dressing for the sonogram. "Let's see if our little boy and little girl are in here Josh."

                                                   

"Swollen feet are a concern" the doctor nodded, probing gently, "and these are very swollen.  I'm going to give you something that will decrease the amount of work your kidneys do.  You may need to move your desk closer to the ladies room.  I want you to put your feet up for as much of the day as you can manage, and no more salty foods like chips and nuts.  Kidney failure in pregnancy is not funny."

                                                

Donna looked panicked, "Kidney failure.  my goodness! I'll do anything..." She lay back on the bed and jumped when the gel was applied. "Woah, chilly." She was mesmerized as the doctor began to move the wand around on her stomach. "well?" she asked after a while.

                                                

"Well what?" the doctor teased.  "Maybe I'll give the scoop to CNN first" he teased, “wife of Deputy Chief of Staff of the White House to give birth to twins in seven months.  How's that for a bulletin?"

                                                

"Yes!  Oh yes!" Donna exclaimed gleefully, "it's our twins, it's really twins Josh!" she said elatedly. "Oh thank-you doctor, thank-you SO much!"

                                              

"Yes it is" the doctor smiled, "which would account for some of the swelling, and to remind that you be even more careful.  Twins are an extra strain on kidneys already rebelling from the pregnancy.  Do you care to know the sex?"

                                            

"Yes please," Donna said a little paler in tone. She was getting less enthusiastic.

                                           

"One of each" he smiled.  "So that means two of all the clothes."  The doctor patted her hand.  "Hey what I told you was meant to scare you into taking care of yourself, not to make you worry through your pregnancy.  Between the medicine and the precautions you're going to take, you'll be fine and we have other options if we need them.  You're going to be fine."

                                            

"I'm going to lose my babies," Donna sobbed, "what if I can't do this? I'm so scared."

                                          

"No not at all" the doctor assured her and Josh held her.  "That's a very remote possibility.  Worst case scenario would be that you'd be on dialysis a few times a week to give your kidneys a helping hand.  Give the medicine, the salt restriction, and the relaxation a chance before we start looking at that."  The doctor turned the screen so she could better see.  "Your son and your daughter.  Each in their own sacs, but soon very much aware of each other.  See the hearts beating."  "Sweetheart God didn't grant our desire for a baby, by giving us two, only to be planning to take them back" Josh said firmly, trailing his finger in the gel on her belly.

 

"It's just, I want these babies so much..." Donna gasped out.  "That's the most amazing thing I've ever seen in my life. I'm going to try so hard to keep them as healthy as possible."

 

"Of course you are, and you're going to be fine.  I'm going to see you in two weeks.  In the mean time, no potato chips." the doctor smiled.  "She's more the cashew type" Josh supplied, still playing in the gel.  "You know this stuff is fun.  Can we get a tube for home use?"

 

Donna looked at him, "no Josh."  She got cleaned up and they made it to the car. "Twins Josh," Donna deadpanned but she tried to smile brightly to cover it up.

                                     

"That's what the man said" Josh grinned, walking her to the car.  "How about some food?  What would taste good to you?  We can sit and talk about it all then."

 

"Umm...something with little or no salt I guess...whatever that is," Donna sighed, "I'd really like some mexican..."

 

"Mexican, Tio Pepe's" Josh grinned.  "I wouldn't mind a couple of their super bean burritos myself."  He swung the car in that direction and shortly they were seated at a window table.  "Two non-alcohol strawberry Margaritas, no salt" he ordered their drinks and then took one of her hands while she was studying the menu.

---------------------------                                         

The driver honked as Tucker had instructed when he pulled up in front and both Sam and Mallory came out.  "Welcome back" Mallory smiled as the driver opened the rear door.  "So little sister, how was it?"

                                        

"Oh Mal it was a dream.  I'd no idea he had the hotel and all planned and I spent the whole evening dancing on the balcony and we had room service and we went swimming and we ate this unbelievable meal...and of course in the middle of it Tucker just proposes to me!" She showed Mallory the ring and it was easy to see how much she was glowing.

                                       

Mallory took her hand and admired the ring.  "Tucker you have exquisite taste" she smiled.  "Actually a lot of help from the sales woman" Tucker admitted, "but thanks."  "So when?" Mallory asked, taking Chloe's hands.  "When and am I going to be your matron of honor?"

                                        

"You'd better be my matron of honor.  I'm going to be counting on you to get me through the wedding preparation stuff.  Anyhow, we're going to be married on June the 17th in two years, my eighteenth birthday. Oh Mallory I'm so happy and so excited!" Chloe jumped up and down and then hugged Mallory and then Sam.

                                      

"Welcome to the family Seaborn" Sam grinned, hugging Chloe and then giving his brother a quick hug.  "Two years from today, marking the calendar.  "Of course by then little Seaborn will be giving everyone fits I'm sure.  In fact by then there will be a whole crop of small ones running around and some of you women might have another started."  Mallory's hand automatically went to her middle as he spoke.  "Maybe we should worry about getting this one here first" she sighed.

                                    

"I'm so excited that you're having a baby Mallory," Chloe enthused, "you're so lucky."  Sam wrapped his arms around Mallory from behind, "It's all going to be okay dear. Everyone's here to help you." Chloe meanwhile was still studying her ring and beaming brightly.

                                   

"You'd think I was the only pregnant woman on the face of the planet" Mallory sighed, frustrated with herself and she wiped two tears from her face.  "I guess I sometimes feel bad that I was so ambivalent about this baby, like it doesn't bode well or something."

                                  

"Nonsense," Sam said softly caressing her. "It's all going to be okay baby."

                                

"Thank you" Mallory sighed and kissed his cheek.  "OK, you two can give us a ride to Dad's in that limo there and we can see him and Mom get the good news."

 

Chloe smiled, "of course."  They all took the limo right next door and soon found themselves in the living room.  Chloe kept her ring carefully hidden.

 

Conversation was interrupted by the hurtling bodies of the twins as they determined who they wanted to jump on first.  Sam got Belle, and Chloe Brighton.  Tucker quickly stood behind Chloe to help her remain upright and she sank to the floor, Belle joining her at once.   "What's in your hand?" the child demanded, seeing where Chloe had closed one hand over the other.  "Want to see" Belle demanded attempting to pry Chloe's two hands apart.

 

"There's nothing there," Chloe laughed opening her hands. "Woah what's that?" Caroline asked.  Chloe smiled and presented her hand to Leo and Caroline. "Tucker proposed and I accepted. I'm engaged mother!  We're going to be married in two years on my birthday."

                             

"Whoa look at the time" Tucker spoke up teasingly.  "I've got a hundred things I should be doing."  "It's a beautiful ring son" Leo smiled, holding on to Caroline while she recovered.  "Congratulations.  Now let me go into my father mode here.  Chloe are you pregnant, or is this something that we're looking at way down the road?"

 

"No I don't believe I'm pregnant," Chloe replied with a soft smile. "Tucker just kind of sprang this on me and I think it's nice.  It will be a long two year engagement but we'll be able to learn a lot during that time.  I don't see any reason not to be." Chloe cuddled against Tucker.

                           

"Tucker you're a fine man, brother of a man I respect greatly" Leo smiled, holding out his hand to Tucker.  "Congratulations."  "We'll be married on her eighteenth birthday" Tucker smiled as he shook Leo's hand, "and thank you for that."  He looked to Caroline.  "Are you OK with this?  I know it's sudden, but my feelings aren't going to change.  I love your daughter, and we're going to be married while we go to college here."

                          

Caroline smiled, "I knew this was coming.  I didn't think it would be so soon but I knew it was coming. I'm very happy for you both.  Chloe could not have fallen in love with a better man.  Welcome to the family Tucker.  Now you know I expect to see you over here plenty." Caroline laughed lightly since they had long ago taken up setting a place for Tucker at the dinner table each night. "Oh thank-you Mom!" Chloe exclaimed and she flung her arms about Caroline and then Leo before curling back up against Tucker. "That's one very beautiful ring," Caroline commented again. 

                         

"I liked it when the woman first showed it to me" Tucker sighed, "and I've been in a panic all week as to whether Chloe would.  Hey you guys if you don't mind, can you not mention this to anyone else.  We want to announce it at her birthday party tomorrow."

                        

"Not a word," Caroline smiled. "Pretty," Belle declared and Chloe beamed and looked as if she just might float away in her delirium of happiness. "Now what shall we do the rest of the day Tucker?" Chloe asked.

                       

"We talked about taking advantage of this beautiful day and riding at the stables" Tucker replied.  "We could even take the little guys here and let them ride in front of us.  We're not going to do any jumping."

                      

"We could put them in carriers and they'd be quite strapped on," Chloe thought further. Caroline looked to Leo, not quite sure allowing her small children to ride was such a good idea.

                     

"Hey don't look at me--I've hardly ever petted a horse so I don't know about how safe they'd be.  Jed tries to get me to ride up at Camp David and I tell him that ship has sailed."  He put his hand on Caroline's shoulder.  "If your mother has concerns, maybe they'd better stay here.  I don't want her fretting all afternoon.  You can take them out for ice cream or something like that when you get back instead maybe."

                      

                    

"Maybe that's best," Chloe agreed and then she kissed her mother and darted off to her room, changing into a pair of jeans and a white shirt which she tied at the waist. "We're off to the stables mom," Chloe kissed and hugged everyone good-bye.  "We'll have to take your car because you haven't been driving long enough to supervise me," she sighed.

                    

"It's beautiful though" Tucker sighed, admiring the gleaming paint in the sun and that the T tops perfectly completed the dream.  "My car is a lowly used Toyota remember?" he pointed out.  "But it gets me--and us--around.  Are you going to get your license Monday?  Because if you are and want to, I can go with you and drive you in this, and then you can drive us home.  I'm not so macho that I'm threatened by a woman driving me, especially if I can work the radio."

                  

"That sounds perfect!" Chloe enthused.  They took Tucker's car out to the stables since he knew where they were going.  "It's beautiful here," she admired when they reached the stables and checked in.  She found a palomino that she wanted to ride and once she had been saddled Chloe mounted the horse easily.

                 

"You disappointed the stable hand" Tucker muttered.  "He wanted to give you a leg up and probably cop a feel at the same time on that adorable backside of yours."  He mounted the brown quarter horse he had been given and edged next to her, taking her left hand.  "It's a ring mister, an engagement ring" he yelled in the direction of the stable before trotting off with her close behind. 

                

"You like laying claim to me don't you?" Chloe smiled at him.  "I kind of like the power of this ring too."

"I kind of like it too" he grinned, "in that macho sort of way yes."  He slowed his horse until hers was even and he caught her hand, feeling the ring as he did so.  "This ring means more than just you belong to me though.  It's our love now, and our marriage in the future.  And yes I treasure that.  So kill me."

              

Chloe leaned over and kissed him, "how about I kiss you instead?" They rode along the trail slowly neither in the mood to trot just at the moment. "I like the way you said that, our love now and our marriage in the future. It means I'm devoted only to you and when you're around me my eyes sparkle like the gem on my hand that reminds me of just how much you love me even when I can't see you to hear the words from your lips. I love you Tucker."

             

"Chloe" Tucker whispered her name, feeling hot tears come behind his eyes.  "And this fall during the day when we're not together because of school, whenever you look at the ring, I want you to hear my voice in your head telling you how much I love, not just now, but forever."

------------------------------------

"I'm scared to death," Donna barely breathed as she studied the menu.

                              

"Sweetheart it's going to be all right" Josh assured her, brushing her cheek with his knuckles.  "Our twins are fine.  A baby boy and a baby girl.  And once you start on the pills, and lay off the chips and cashews, and keep your feet up as much as you can, you're going to be fine too.  I love you, and I'm not going to let anything happen to you or our babies."

                                

Donna smiled softly, "I hope so Josh.  I hope this will be easy...easier than it sounds."

                                

Josh kissed her cheek.  "Have I ever been wrong before.  Don't answer that.  What are you having?"

                               

"A super bean burrito," Donna smiled, "make that two." She smiled at Josh and squeezed his hand.

---------------------------                              

CJ and Toby were cuddled together on the porch swing on their side of the house when Donna and Josh returned.  "Toby have you no work to do" Josh teased as he helped Donna up the steps.  "Of course but I'm too busy ignoring it" Toby responded, nuzzling CJ closer.  "Much more preferable things going on right here."  "Pour yourselves some lemonade and tell me about the doctor" CJ urged, gesturing to the pitcher on the table.

 

Donna poured two glasses of lemonade and they joined their friends, "well the good news is its twins, a boy and a girl," Donna began. "Oh wow! That's so amazing! I'm so excited for you! Good news? ...What's the bad news?" "The bad news I've got to be really, really careful or I could be looking at kidney failure during this pregnancy." "Oh Donna!" CJ gasped.

 

"She's on medicine" Josh added, "in fact..."  He took out the bottle and handed one of the small white pills to his wife.  "And she's off salt and she's keeping her feet up in the afternoon and evenings as much as she can, oh and drinking."  "Sounds like my kind of prescription" Toby grinned.  "Water" Josh growled, "or this lemonade.  And I've promised not to mother her too badly."  "Right" Toby groaned, "about like I wouldn't CJ."  "About that way" Josh nodded.  "Oh but Donna, twins--a boy and a girl even.  That's so wonderful" CJ enthused.  "It's too late to change our order" Toby reminded her.

 

CJ laughed lightly, "Yeah well this is a trial run for you Toby Ziegler, maybe we'll get twins next time. Donna I'm so happy for you.  That's going to be so neat, two of everything and you don't have to worry whether you wanted a boy or a girl.  You're going to get one of each."

 

"Thank you" Josh smiled and squeezed Donna's hand.  "The doctor scared her--but he meant to.  He wants her to be careful, but he also said losing the babies was only a very small remote possibility and there were many treatment options if the no salt and medication don't work.  I'm focusing on the fact that there's two little Moss-Lymans in there and we're going to spend the next seven months getting the nursery ready, thinking of names and so forth."  His arm went around Donna's shoulders and he kissed her cheek, rubbing his nose to her ear.  "Love you."

 

Donna smiled, "Love you too, I have a thought for the next couple of months Josh," she suddenly suggested, "why don't we ask Tucker and Chloe to come and assist me with research and filing so I can try and be on my feet less and they can be farmed out to assist anyone on the senior staff who needs them."  "That sounds great, I don't know of any of us that couldn't use a little help, especially when our aides are off, plus it would give them something to do," CJ agreed, "what do you think?" she looked to Toby.

 

"Oh god" Toby groaned.  "Do you see those two--they can't keep their hands off each other when they're in the same vicinity."  "And we're any better?" Josh laughed, looking to where his arm was, and then to Toby's which had encircled CJ's waist and was resting on the baby.  "I think they'd be fine.  One of the interns could pick them up after school.  Not to mention it will help keep them out of trouble."

 

       "Well you forget they're on summer vacation right now but yes, we could keep them during the school year if they'd like to stay.  I think they could be a valuable asset and they'd enjoy it also, especially getting to work together."

     

      "I did forget it was that late in June" Josh nodded.  "OK good with me.  We can talk to Leo, and see if they're interested of course."

 

      "Your mom has had an awful lot going on" Tucker nodded sympathetically.  "Not the least of which is her baby girl is hooked up with some guy she just met a few weeks ago, and now she's wearing his ring."

    

Chloe smiled, "Yeah, I'm sure it's all daunting but she's going to learn we're right and this is for keeps and she'll settle down. Besides she's already practically taken you into the family."

   

    "Yeah she should be fine with it once it all sinks in" Tucker nodded.  "Why don't we take the twins off their hands for the evening.  They're having a little circus thing out at Montogomery Mall, just some clowns and animals but they'd like it; and we did say we'd take them for ice cream.  Besides I haven't been to a circus in years."

 

----------------------------            

             "Always," Chloe replied.  Then with a smile she took her horse into a trot and when they reached open meadow she was at an all out run, enjoying the wind in her hair and laughing as she raced over the countryside.

            

"Oh Chloe be careful" Tucker moaned, seeing her horse flying across the ground and hurrying to catch up to her.

          

Chloe trotted her horse and drew it to a stop.  "I'm being careful.  Where to now?"

         

"Top of the hill--should be a good view" Tucker pointed and spurred his horse ahead to take the lead, all the while keeping an eye on Chloe, which did seem ridiculous since she rode as well, if not better, than he.

 

They reached the top of the hill easily and then Chloe reared up her horse for show, which she of course then had to apologize to Tucker for scaring him out of his wits. "The view is beautiful," Chloe commented smiling to Tucker and then she leaned forward to better pet her horse, "wouldn't you agree Andromeda?"

 

"You named a rental horse?" Tucker marveled when he had recovered from the mental vision of seeing her fly off the back of the big Palomino.  "We really do have to see about getting yours down here.  In another year or so Brighton and Belle will be old enough to learn to ride too--ponies of course.  Teaching them will be fun."

 

Chloe smiled, "Yes it will be.  Mother let me ride when I was three.  She rides herself you know.  She just has been nervous and uptight lately I guess... I do hope we can get Moonlight Sonata down here.  I miss her so much."

 

Chloe smiled, "Thanks Tucker that's really nice of you.  I'm sure the twins will love it! We might had better head back so we can get a shower and get everyone ready.  We can give Mom and Dad a chance to go out to dinner if they want to."

  

Tucker and Chloe cantered back to the stables.  "This was wonderful" Tucker grinned, catching Chloe in his arms as she dismounted.  "I can't wait to see your horse.  I have spare clothes in my bag that's still at your place where I dropped it so we can leave right from there--well after we shower off horse smell that is."

 

"Mallory usually takes pity on me and throws my laundry in with theirs" Tucker grinned.  He drove them carefully back to the house and they were greeted by two exuberant bodies of motion.  "Leo, Caroline.  We're going to shower and then the twins are ours for the night" Tucker announced.  "Go have some quiet dinner somewhere."

-----------------------         

"Charlie wake up--too much napping" Zoey poked him firmly.  "Listen, I want to do something totally normal tonight. I mean like a normal couple in love, married and having a baby."  Charlie forced his eyes open and attempted to focus.  "I want to drive out of the city to one of the malls, eat some food in one of the restaurants, walk around, window shop, people watch.  And I mean without the National Guard following us.  You think we can get Gina and Lucas to help us fix it?"

        

"Oh Zoey I don't know," Charlie began, "that's pretty risky, I mean not taking much guard... Okay, okay, I'll talk to Lucas about it.  Are you sure you're up to walking around a mall?  Hey remember it's my job to worry about you."

       

"And I love you for it" Zoey smiled.  "Yes I do feel like some exercise and a change of scene.  I promise I'll tell you if I'm getting tired.  Please.  This place is turning into a white prison."

       

Charlie smiled and ruffled her hair affectionately, "Okay, Okay...I'll go talk to Lucas." He kissed her and then left the room finding Lucas and Gina, where else but, in the hall.  "Hey you two, I have a little problem and I need you two to tell me the solution.  Zoey wants to go out to the mall and a restaurant but she doesn't want to take a full detail, just you two."

      

"I don't think so" Lucas choked on the coffee he was downing.  "My partner is not known for his subtlety" Gina smiled and covered his hand.  "Hey if we go just us, the four of us will look like any other group on a Saturday night at the mall.  We get some food and walk a little."  "Two other agents, following us but not in sight" Lucas counter proposed.  "OK that doesn't sound unreasonable" Gina nodded.  "Charlie, think Zoey can live with that?"

 

"She's going to have to," Charlie answered, "I think Lucas has a good idea. Thanks you two." Charlie returned in to Zoey, kissing her again before he sat beside her on the edge of the bed.  "Lucas and Gina agreed to go with us but they're taking two extra agents who will keep out of sight. That's the best you're going to get."

 

"I'll take it" Zoey agreed readily.  "Montgomery Mall please--the place with the Gifford's Ice Cream Heaven with the forty five flavors and those big waffle cones."

 

Charlie laughed and shook his head, "Whatever the little mother-to-be wants."  He helped Zoey get ready and then they joined Gina and Lucas and the two extra agents to get headed out to the mall."

 

  "Lucas thank you" Zoey sighed as they got on the road.  "For doing this of course, and especially for just getting us this great unmarked plain car and making the other agents follow us.  "Hey thank Gina" Lucas grinned and squeezed her hand.  "She could have vetoed me if she wanted.  And this gives us a chance to just be out with you guys like friends do."  He looked into the rear mirror to see Charlie and Zoey kissing.  "OK Charlie, you drive on the way back."

 

"But think how great it will be to dress in the spring" Gina reminded her, "all the new clothes in the new colors will be out, and you'll have your figure well back by then."  As Lucas had predicted, no one took any notice of the four casually dressed young people as they made their way through the crowd.  "On to Nordstrom" Gina pointed.  Charlie moved with Zoey and accidently bumped Lucas, feeling his weapon, which he wore on his belt.  "You know I hate violence" he said softly, "but knowing you carry that makes me feel safe.  You could use it if you had to right?  I mean shooting someone in our protection?"

 

"Of course I could," Lucas replied and he looked over to Gina, "I'm prepared and sworn to protect, you and Zoey."

                                                     

"But if someone were threatening all of us you'd want to protect Gina.  I mean that would be your natural instinct" Charlie pointed out, "and I understand that fully.  "I'm afraid I could never allow someone I loved to be hurt in the name of protecting a friend."    "Lucas and I hold the oath we swore pretty highly" Gina added quietly.  "And remember we've had this talk.  We decided that loving each other was worth the risk.  No agent knows what they'll do until they're actually under fire.  I know what I'm capable of doing, and that's taking out anyone who would threaten either of you, or Lucas, or myself."

 

Zoey smiled softly a minute, "Okay then, enough of this depressing talk.  Let's shop."  They wandered through the stores and Zoey occasionally examined one outfit or another. "I hope we never have to prove that personally," Gina whispered to Lucas as she threaded her fingers with his.

 

"It's my worst nightmare" Lucas confessed, "and one I put out of my mind as much as I can.  The thought of choosing Zoey and Charlie over you terrifies me, but so does the thought of not carrying out the duty I swore under God that I would."

                                                    

"Gina" Zoey called sharply, "you and Lucas are being way too serious there--whatever you're whispering about.  I think you and I should buy something new for Chloe's party tomorrow night.  Look at the beautiful things, and I would love something soft and filmy like this before I start wearing the garment bag instead."

 

Gina laughed lightly, "Alright, okay we'll pick out something beautiful to wear tomorrow.  What did you have in mind? skirt and blouse? casual dress? gown?" She looked at Lucas, "Okay I read your vote.  You like the last idea." she laughed again.

                                                 

"Mom said it was just casual, so one of these light summer dresses I think" Zoey sighed, absently rubbing her stomach.  "Look suddenly I'm so craving ice cream I can't think.  Giffords is just a few stores down.  Would it be OK if we get something and sit for a little bit and then come back."  She turned to Charlie and put her hand to his face.  "Hey I'm sorry.  I'm sure following me around stores isn't your idea of a good time."

-------------------------     

"Are you sure?" Caroline asked Chloe. "We'd love to mom, you and Dad go and enjoy yourselves, it may be your last unmarried dinner alone together." Chloe laughed.  She and Tucker took off upstairs and showered in their usual time.  Then Chloe put on a jean skort and a red and white gingham top.  She helped Caroline dress the twins and took note of all the necessities. She strapped both leashes on securely and then placed Belle on her hip. "Out, out!" Belle cheered liking the idea herself.

                                                       

"Let's move out big guy" Tucker grinned at Brighton and swung the little boy up on his back.  "Get some ice cream and see the circus maybe?"  He shouldered their bag as well with emergency supplies in case of a potty accident.  "I guess we're outta here" he told Leo and Caroline.  "You have a good time and don't worry about them. By the time we're through with them they'll be glad for us to bring them home to bed.  So if you want to stay late, go ahead.  We'll be fine."

                                                       

Caroline smiled, "Thank-you, that is too kind of you. You four have a wonderful time.  This is so great of you to do this.  I really appreciate it. See you later." Caroline had dressed up and she and Leo would soon be off as well.  Chloe helped Tucker put the baby seats in his car and they strapped the twins in. After listening to Burt and Ernie sing along on the way Chloe was laughing profusely and quite ready to be out of the car. "Circus!" Brighton called out, holding out his arms to ensure he wouldn't be left.

                                                      

"I've got you big guy" Tucker grinned, lifting out the squirming toddler and fastening the blue coil leash firmly around his own wrist before clearing the car.   "Let's go see what time is the next performance."  He set Brighton down, and helped Chloe with Belle, then took her hand to walk inside.  "You think people think they're ours and we had them when we were thirteen?" he laughed."

                                                    

Chloe looked around, "Could be...I never thought about that..." Chloe laughed lightly. "Thank goodness we didn't."

                                                   

"I can't even imagine" Tucker shuddered and then laughed.  He tightened his hold of Brighton and also of Chloe's hand as they walked inside the big mall.  At the information desk they learned they had almost two hours until the evening performance.  "Plenty of time to wander and then get some ice cream" he grinned.

                                                   

Chloe took the twins into a baby store and looked at clothes for them.  She then treated them to the toy store and watched as they drug herself and Tucker around through the store. "About that ice cream?" she asked when they had finally drug the kids out.

                                                  

"Giffords is right down this corridor" Tucker pointed and swung Belle up onto his back.

 ----------------------------                                               

"Hey I'm cool with it.  You wanted to do this and you haven't been out in a long time so this is what we're doing." Charlie replied and he took her hand and walked with her to Giffords. They were just walking to the entrance when they noticed Tucker, Chloe and the twins doing the same thing. "Zoey, Charlie!" Chloe exclaimed happily.  "It's so cool to see you here!"

                                                

"And Lucas and Gina" Lucas mimicked her tone.  "Of course we're here too. And this is a very unofficial, incognito visit and..." he lowered his voice "we're not here with full protection, just four of us, so we're trying to keep it low key."  Belle meantime was begging Gina to be picked up, having remembered her from Camp David.  Gina quickly obliged and from her vantage point Belle could see beneath Gina's jacket.  "What you got?" she asked, her hand on the handle of Gina's weapon.

                                              

"Woah baby," Chloe gasped grabbing Belle from Gina quickly. "No, no sweetie that is not a toy.  That's for grown-ups only.  Never ever touch that. It's bad, bad for children." Chloe exhaled loudly and returned Belle to Gina. "Sorry I panicked," Chloe apologized.

                                             

"No problem" Gina smiled.  "It's got a heavy leather cover that has to be unsnapped before it can be lifted out and the safety is on besides.  Not that her little hand could even lift it I don't think.  When they get older I hope you'll teach them about guns, and how to handle and respect them for what they can do."  Lucas nodded and got out his credit card.  "On me guys.  What's it going to be?"  "Scoops of raspberry truffle and strawberry cheesecake with vanilla sauce" Tucker spoke up at once and everyone looked at him.  "What?  I'm secure enough in my manhood to order something like that," he said haughtily.

                                             

"Chocolate almond and a scoop of chocolate in a cup," Chloe ordered for herself and the twins. "Lucas I'd like strawberry cheesecake please," Gina smiled at him. "Definitely lime and orange sherbert," Charlie said. 

                                            

Lucas paid the bill and looked around for their shadow agents who could be seen lounging in the mall outside the store.  "Should we invite them to have a cone--on them of course."    Before Gina could answer an older woman approached their table.  "It's Zoey and Charlie," she screeched so loudly both Belle and Brighton looked frightened.  Zoey and Charlie froze and looked to Gina and Lucas.  "No ma'am" Lucas said smoothly.  "But that's not the first time our friends have been accused of that.  We actually got into a sold out movie that way a week ago."

                                          

Zoey feigned a blush, "I can't believe everyone really thinks I look like Zoey Bartlet." "Charlie," Brighton called out extending his hands.

                                         

"And the dumb thing is" Lucas continued, thankful he had been a drama participant in college, "his real name is Charlie."  Charlie quickly lifted Brighton high into the air.  "Not Charlie, Michael" he grinned at the child, hoping Brighton would accept the teasing without being upset."  "And Susan you don't look that much like Zoey I don't think." Gina contributed.

                                        

"Oh well I think you could pass, forgive me for intruding," the old woman said patting Zoey's shoulder and then moving along. Everyone gave a sigh of relief. "That was close," Zoey sighed. "Yeah too close," Charlie added, "maybe we should finish this ice cream, get the dresses and get out of here."

                                        

"We're going to take the kids over to the circus in the parking lot" Tucker said quickly, "starts in about an hour.  You guys should come.  It's not a big thing but it's supposed to be funny with the clowns."  Lucas nodded and looked to Gina.  "I think we can do the shopping OK.  It's pretty secluded back in that corner of Nordstrom's. You guys want to try the circus?  Gina, Charlie?"

                                      

"Yeah we can handle a small circus. Zoey can wear a ball cap or sunglasses," Gina replied, "It'll be safe." The group of eight went to the Nordstrom's dress section and Chloe watched as Zoey and Gina picked out dresses. Zoey picked out a beautiful sage green dress in a 40's style with a ruffle at the skirt and a gathered bodice to the empire waist. She added slingback heels. "Wow, beautiful yes?" Zoey asked with a smile. Chloe had wandered off letting Belle do a little walking, but not too far from the group. Gina appeared in a black and white polkadot dress with a circular skirt and large ruffles at the hem of the sleeveless gown.

                                     

"You two are beautiful" Lucas approved, giving Gina's cheek a quick kiss.  "Prettiest agent on the detail."  "Only woman" Charlie grinned.  "Zoey it's gorgeous."    Brighton was now crawling under the clothes rack, tugging at his leash and Tucker dove under after him.  "Come on Bri" he called gently, "we need to pay for these and get to the circus, and where are your sisters?"

                                     

Brighton pointed in the direction of Belle.

                                    

"Oh really thank-you," Zoey smiled and hugged Charlie tightly.

                                    

"Mmm thank-you," Gina smiled. "I think that's that, now on to the circus?"

                                   

Gina spoke into her sleeve mic to remind the shadow agents of the plan, and then they paid for their purchases and walked across the parking lot.  "I can't wait for your party tomorrow" Tucker smiled, hugging Chloe to him briefly as they walked.  "I know your dress is going to be great.  You know, before you I never noticed women's clothes before."

                                  

Chloe laughed, "Of course Tucker I'm so sure." she laughed some more and then hugged him quickly. "Thank-you...for saying that."

                                 

Once at the ticket window Charlie bought the tickets and they walked in.  "Ooohhh" Gina sighed, seeing the crowd and the large open area.  "Let's uh...let's move to the side here where we can sit near the front."  With a quick wave of her hand she motioned the other two agents to sit several rows behind them and their group took up the whole row.  Belle and Brighton were bouncing with excitement.  "Zoey, Charlie take middle seats please," she requested. "Tucker you're on the outside on that aisle OK, and Lucas and I will take the center aisle here."  She and Lucas stood as the rest of the crowd filed in, their eyes scanning as they did so.  "Do you get tired of this?" Chloe asked Zoey, frowning at the idea of being accompanied everywhere she went.  "If Leo ever ran, you'd have to also" Tucker reminded her, "not to mention me, and our children."

                                

Chloe sighed, "I know...and if it happens we will get used to it I suppose. I just can't see how it could be a pleasant thing to suddenly be like a bird in a cage." "Shhh it's starting," Zoey said playfully and they were quiet as the lights dimmed and the show began.

                                

Belle and Brighton watched in total awe and fascination as the acts paraded before them.  The clowns enthralled them, as did the trained horses and dogs.  Then they wheeled out the big cage and suddenly five white tigers were on their perches, clawing and growling at the trainer.  Despite her military and all her other training, Gina sidled closer to Lucas.  "Sorry" she whispered.  "I didn't know they were going to have this.  When I was ten I saw a man killed by a tiger in a local circus."  She shuddered hard.  "It ripped his throat out.  We were on the first row and I've never forgotten that.  And then the police killed the tiger right in front of everyone."

                              

"Oh that had to have been awful," Lucas said comfortingly, wrapping a protective arm about her. "Geez Gina, I'm sorry to hear that.  The things you go through," Zoey said looking horrified herself.  These tigers however, performed without fault and everyone, except the twins were thankful when that act was over after Gina's story.

                             

"Thank you" Gina smiled at Lucas.  "With you holding me, I was almost able to enjoy that."  Their attention turned to the high wire act, which as the performers were climbing the ladder, the obvious leader shouted below to roll the net away.  This time it was Chloe's turn to be nervous.  "I don't think I want to watch someone plunge to their death" she whispered.

                            

"They're trained performers, they can do this," Charlie assured her.  "I hope you're right," Chloe answered.  "Since when have I ever steered you wrong?" Charlie teased back.  Chloe smiled but snuggled closer to Tucker nonetheless.  The twins’ faces were lit with delight. "I love the circus," Zoey enthused.

                           

"This is great" Charlie grinned.  "When I suggested this I didn't know it was going to be this good" Tucker grinned as well, looking down at the twins who were staring in awe.  "Oh my god now he's going to carry the woman across" Chloe gasped, squeezing tightly to Tucker's hand.  "They know what they're doing just like Gina and Lucas do" he reassured her quietly, "now me I couldn't walk across a line that narrow on solid ground without falling on my ass."

                           

The tight-rope walkers were successful and afterwards were followed by the contortionists and then the clowns which everyone loved.  Finally all three rings were filled with acts and the animals were paraded around outside the rings. Everyone clapped. "'gin!" Brighton enthused when the circus finally ended.  He looked to Tucker hoping he would produce another show on que.

                         

"Big boy I think the entertainment is over" Tucker grinned.  "Best I might be able to do is a McDonalds or a Burger King with a playground so we can get some real food into Zoey for one thing and I'm ready for a burger.  Anyone else with an opinion?"

 

“Yes, I'm thinking chicken nuggets," Chloe nodded. The twins looked placated. The group loaded up and headed for McDonalds.  They found a nearly vacant one and the service cleared it out and then allowed the group in. "What do you know, our own restaurant," Chloe smiled.

---------------------------                         

Meanwhile Leo and Caroline were finished with dinner and the strains of the waltz reached them.  "Dance with an old fat pregnant about to be married woman?" she asked gently.

                        

"Old and fat I just can't live with but pregnant and about to be married I believe that fits you.  My beautiful pregnant fiancée and I would love to dance with you," Leo smiled and held his hand to her taking her out onto the dance floor.

                       

"Leo you are so sweet" Caroline smiled, settling into his arms as the music grew louder.  "Stephen never even spoke civilly to me let alone sweetly and I love you for it."

                       

"Stephen was a fool to treat you the way he did," Leo said and then was at once contrite, "I'm sorry Caroline. That was uncalled for."

 

"It's OK" Caroline said softly.  "I blame myself for letting him; for staying with him and for not standing up to him.  But then maybe I didn't really know what love was--I mean we were just out of school and I knew no other guys really.  Now with you, I know exactly how it's supposed to be."

 

Leo smiled and held her close, "Have I got it right or do I need improving?" he asked with a smile before placing a gentle kiss on her forehead.

                   

"No you're absolutely perfect" Caroline smiled.  "My life began when I walked back into your arms, where I should have been all along; but then you were married yourself part of that time."

 

Leo smiled, "but we're here now and soon we'll be married." He continued to dance slowly with her.

---------------------------

"Merry Go Round" Belle squealed and pointed.  "Balls" Brighton added.  "Hey I like playing in those too" Tucker grinned, "come on buddy.  Chloe I'll take them.  Get me two Big Macs and a large fries please."

 

Chloe smiled, "Okay then...eating for two?" she teased him. She hurried to make the purchase and then watched as he played with the twins.  "Come on out and eat everyone and then afterwards we'll spend plenty of time playing."

                     

Twins with Happy Meals, Tucker with his Big Mac, and Chloe sharing McNuggets with Gina and Lucas.  "This is great" Gina enthused.  "Of course I'm never totally comfortable with you out in public, but it's been great to get out, and it's wrong to keep you locked in the house anyway.  And I know it's been especially hard since you've been sick."  "She still tires out real easy" Charlie put in.

                     

"Charlie," Zoey fussed, "look I'm sitting down but I'm having a good time tonight and it's not going to hurt for me to watch the twins play for a while. Gina's right, I get tired of being locked in the White prison and even more since I've been sick. I'm pretty much better now though so I'm going to start going out now and then."

                    

"And we'll support you doing that as much as we can" Lucas assured her.  "We believe it's good for you, and us too for that matter."    "Potty" Belle screeched, flying down the slide into Tucker's arms.  "Me too" Brighton hollered.  "Guess we'll be right back" Tucker grinned.  He walked them to the back of the deserted McDonalds and opened the door of the girl's room for Belle while he knelt to help Brighton with his jeans snap.  A minute later Belle was screaming for all she was worth.  Before any of the others could react, they heard Tucker shout, "Let her go Mister, while you're still able to."

----------------------------                  

                  

"Belle!" Chloe screamed and raced towards the back to see what was going on.  Gina left the rest of the detail to go and see if she could help. "No, I know who this is and she's worth a pretty penny," the man said.

                 

"Please be careful Gina" Lucas whispered as he spoke into his sleeve, alerting the two agents outside there was trouble, and ordering them not to call for help just yet with the children so close to the danger.  He motioned to Zoey and Charlie to keep their places, at the same time opening his jacket and removing the holster covering of his weapon.

                 

Tucker caught Chloe and pushed her behind him.  "Just who do you think she is?" he demanded.

                

"Belle McGarry," the man replied holding the frightened toddler. "I might be willing to make an exchange...I let Belle go if her sister, Chloe there, comes with me. I do know the president's daughter is here so let's make things easy."  "I'll go," Chloe said, “just let her go.  She's a baby."

               

"No one is going anywhere," Gina said forcefully but calmly, pulling her coat back to reveal her weapon.  Tucker tightened his grip on Chloe.  "You're not going anywhere near this guy.  He's crazy," he hissed.  "Mister there's no way this can end good, but you can do a lot by letting that baby go" Gina spoke again, still quiet and calm.

              

The man turned slightly to expose a gun poked into Belle's back. Chloe gasped and pulling from Tucker she walked over to the man and true to his word he put Belle down and grabbed Chloe.  She stood perfectly still and calm. Belle looked to Tucker and wandered towards him.

              

"Tucker take Belle and Brighton out to Zoey and Charlie, and remind Lucas not to leave them no matter what" Gina ordered.  "I won't leave her," Tucker wailed.  "We'll be fine, I promise" Gina promised.  "Believe me, it's going to be easier if the kids are away from here."  

            

Chloe blew Tucker a kiss and then watched him take the kids away. Chloe looked bravely to Gina.

           

"Mister you better know that one word--a single code word, spoken into the mic in my sleeve and I'll have enough people outside here to invade a third world country.  And I can guarantee if you hurt anyone here, you won't leave here standing.  OK now what do you want?"

           

"Tucker?" Lucas questioned anxiously.  "Gina's OK?"

          

"I want ten thousand dollars for the girl, I can shoot her before you shoot me," the man said.

          

"Gina's fine," Tucker said nervously, "but he has Chloe."

         

"Gina's the best" Lucas sighed.  "She'll get Chloe out."  He grimaced when he added, "I just hope it's not at the cost of her life."

         

 "Let's call her dad" Gina said softly.  "You got a cell phone or want to use mine?"

        

The man opened his cell and dialed the number never giving Gina the advantage.  He dialed Leo. "Mr. McGarry, I have your oldest daughter and I'm holding her for 10,000 dollars.  Now either you pay or I shoot her right here in this McDonalds, in front of the President's daughter's agent."

       

Leo stopped in his tracks, frozen in place in the restaurant where he still was with Caroline.  "Call me back in five minutes please" Leo said softly, holding his breath as he clicked off the phone.  "Sweetheart I'm sorry but I have to take this call.  Let me walk you back to the table and I won't be any longer than I have to.  I'll just step out on to the balcony or something."

       

"This is maddening" Zoey whispered, burying herself in Charlie's chest.  "Bad man" Belle piped up.  "I'm going to get our shadow agents in to stay with you two" Lucas said quietly "and then I'm going to work my way outside and around.  With any luck I can create some kind of diversion.  Chloe might be able to break from him and then I can take him."  

      

"No, Gina wouldn't go for it," Zoey replied, "I mean, don't you think she'd want you to stay here doing your job. Okay, okay, what if Gina gets shot because he sees you?"

      

The man waited tensely watching Gina.  All the while Chloe remained calm and perfectly still. Finally the man called back. "Mr. McGarry, you had better not hang up this time. Your daughter's life depends on it. Now about that 10,000 dollars..."

     

"Listen to me" Leo forced calm into his voice.  "That kind of money is impossible to raise in cash at this hour and I know you're smart enough to know that.  Now I can come there, and we can get comfortable for the next twelve hours until the bank opens; or I can bring you what I have on hand which is about.....?"  He paused and did some quick calculation, blessing the fact that he didn't use credit cards except for travel, "about two thousand."

     

Lucas drew his breath in sharply, knowing that Gina had reminded him to stay with Charlie and Zoey.  "And what if she gets shot because I've done nothing?" he moaned.

    

"Bring it now," the man gruffed back.  Then he prompted Chloe to speak. "I'm sorry Daddy, I love you." "If you want to hear her voice again you'd better get here!"

    

"She's not going to get shot, she has too much to live for," Zoey assured Lucas.  Then she nodded to the parking lot where more of the service had appeared.

   

"I hope so" Lucas sighed, following her gaze to where a team was assembling.  "I guess our shadow agents felt we were outnumbered.  With the babies and you guys I was hoping we could handle this a little more quietly because if..."  He stopped, touching his earpiece so he could listen.  "They want to know if I can safely bring you out.  We have to cross the guy's line of sight to the door.  I'm not sure it's a good idea.  You might be safer right here.  At least this way we're around the corner from him."

   

"Give me an hour and tell me where you are," Leo hissed.

  

"Tell them to bring a ladder," Zoey responded, "We can climb over the playland fence."

  

The man gave his orders as to where they were. "You have an hour and ten minutes to appear Mr. McGarry." then he hung up.

 

"Sweetheart I'm going to take you home and then I have to run out for a little while" Leo said quietly, taking her hand and helping her to her feet.  "Nothing that can't be solved quickly" he added in response to her questioning look.

 

"Oh I don't think so," Charlie objected at once.  "Zoey listen to yourself, that fence has to be eight feet high out there.  What if you fell?"    Lucas held up his hand, "no it's a good idea.  There will be plenty of hands to hold on to her."  He spoke into his mic again.  "Yeah they like the idea.  It's having you two in here that's not setting well."

 

Gina forced herself to lean back casually against the wall.  "Why don't you tell me how you managed to escape detection when we checked the building?"

 

"I hid in the roof panels," the man replied, "I don't want to hurt anyone, that was never my intention. I have children too, the difference is my children are starving and this one has on designer clothing."

                                                       

A ladder was brought to the fence and Zoey had Charlie climb up first and when he was at the top Lucas handed one twin at a time to him.  They went very reluctantly to Tucker who was already over.  Charlie followed and then Zoey with Lucas behind her.  Everyone was now safely out save Gina and Chloe.

                                                     

"And your going to prison is going to help your kids?" Gina shook her head.  "What might help would be to hand me the gun now while you haven't done anything more than scare a bunch of people to death.  A good lawyer could get you off with a few months and some psychiatric help."

                                                     

The agents swarmed around Charlie and Zoey, hustling them into a car, and Lucas helped escort Tucker and the twins.  "I'm going back in," Lucas said quietly.  "Our charges are out, but my partner and a young girl I care about are still back there."  "I'm going with you" Tucker said firmly.  "That young girl is the woman I love.  We just might get close enough to distract him some."

"What? So I could go home and watch my family starve to death?!" the man replied somewhat angrily though his anger didn't seem directed towards Gina, "I have a three year old, a one year old and one on the way in five months.  My wife is becoming malnourished and we can't even afford prenatal care for her." He sighed, "I didn't want to do this but I feel like I'm out of options."

                                                     

Lucas nodded understandingly and the two men made their way back in. Chloe was still standing frozen, a pawn between two guns. "Tucker I love you," she said urgently when she saw him.

                                                    

"Oh my god" Gina gasped, her free hand automatically covering her stomach as she imagined what it would be like for her to be pregnant and not be able to care for the baby.    "I love you angel" Tucker smiled and looked pointedly to Gina.  "Everyone's out" he told her, confirming what her earpiece was telling her.  Then he stepped forward and took Chloe's hands.  "Mister I love this woman, and I am begging you not to hurt her" he said softly.  "We have our whole lives ahead of us, to marry and have children.  Please don't take that away from us.  Don't let this end badly.  We can help your family, but not if you hurt anyone."

                                                  

"How can you help my family?" the man asked, his eyes watering, "I'm never going to see them again.  I'll never see my child born. What can you do to help that!" The man thrust Chloe into Tucker's arms and she held tightly to him but refused to take any steps.  She stood there, still frozen in the middle of the conflict.

                                                 

"Hand me the gun now" Gina said calmly,  "Like I said, all you've done so far is scare a few people and put my colleagues through a drill that we all can use the training."  She held out her hand, taking a step forward and Lucas clicked off the safety of his own weapon, standing ready.  "Tucker take Chloe back behind us" he ordered, seeing her feet firmly planted and hoping she would allow him to move her.

                                                   

                                                

"No, I want to make sure this man and his family are okay," Chloe said firmly, "please sir." Chloe held out her hand to the man and he shakily gave her the gun. She re-engaged the safety and then looked to Gina.  It was at just that moment that Leo arrived.

                                               

Hearing the commotion Leo's arrival was causing, Gina quickly spoke into her mic that the situation was in control and the suspect in her custody.  "And I'll have the badge of anyone who tries to interfere with that" she spoke again.  Leo forced his way inside.  "Leo we're here" Tucker called softly, still holding tightly to Chloe, taking the gun from her and passing it to Lucas.  "Everything's OK, no one's hurt."  Leo reached them and immediately wrapped his long arms around both Chloe and Tucker, not being able to get to her without including him.  "I was so worried about you child," Leo whispered.  

                                              

"I love you daddy, so much," Chloe cried from having been so afraid. "Daddy I want to help this man.  He only did it because his family's starving and his wife can't even get care for the baby she's having."

                                             

Leo rubbed his daughter's back softly, releasing them as he looked to the man he was prepared to hate and finding only a defeated human being before him.  Chloe's eyes were begging him as well.  Before he could answer, the doors opened again and Zoey and Charlie, with the twins, were joining them.  "Bad man" Belle said at once, remembering her experience and then when she looked closely at him she smiled.  "He's sad daddy."  Lucas turned around to the agents who were crowding close.  "Guys it's all under control here."  "We're here to take the suspect," one informed him.  "That's not been determined" Lucas said sharply.  "So far the only crime that's been committed is against Chloe and if she doesn't want to press charges, I'm not going allow something to be trumped up," Gina added.  "Space, now."  The agents backed off to go outside at her sharp tone.  "Chloe what do you want to happen?" Leo asked gently.

                                            

"What this man did was out of desperation," Chloe said, "I want us to meet his family, to see if we can help.  I don't want to press charges," she looked to the man, "on one condition.  That you never try to do anything like this again.  Violence isn't the answer.  Sometimes a weak plea for help receives much more positive attention than a strong show of force."

                                           

"Well said" Leo smiled.  "OK, on Monday you come see me at my office."  Leo fished for his wallet and gave the man a card.  "I'll tell my secretary to expect you to call and that she's to make an appointment for you.  Bring the family.  We'll see what we can get set up for you in the way of assistance."  He then took a hundred dollar bill from his wallet.  "In the meantime why don't you get some good food into the house."

                                          

The man looked at the money and smiled tearily, "Thank-you. Thank-you very much Mr. McGarry. Chloe, I'm sorry I scared you.  Thank-you very much, all of you.  I need to get home to my family now.  My wife is probably exhausted." the man said.  Chloe smiled and everyone grouped together.

                                         

"Lucas let's walk this gentleman out" Gina suggested, "and then I think we've had enough excitement for the night.  Zoey, Charlie--you ready to head back?"

                                        

"Yes," both chorused.  The man was escorted safely out and all parted company.  Tucker, Chloe and the twins rode home with Leo. "Thank-you Dad," Chloe said from where she was curled against Tucker.

                                        

"Okay, I'm glad that's over," Zoey sighed squeezing Charlie's hand as she was cuddled against him.

                                       

"I am too" Lucas sighed, pulling the car out onto the road with Leo following, and their shadow agents behind them.  It was a tired group that splintered off to head for bed. 

----------------------------                                       

Once Charlie and Zoey were in safely, Lucas turned to Gina.  "Evans and George have the night duty.  You want to come back with me for some coffee?  Which I don't need but I'm pretty wired at the moment, and I was pretty scared for you."

 

"Of course we can go for some coffee and maybe some dessert," Gina smiled and then she hugged him and kissed him. "I love you Lucas. I love you so much and thank-you for following instructions tonight. I knew I could depend on you to do as you were told."

 

"I love you too, and I was torn between riding in my white horse to save you and staying, I have to admit" Lucas sighed.  "We said this wasn't going to be easy with us loving and working together, and tonight proved that.  I feel bad for that guy, and I'm glad we didn't have to...well take him out.  I'm glad he wasn't threatening Zoey and Charlie because we might not have had a choice."  Lucas put his hands on her cheeks, holding her still, while he brought his lips to hers.  "I love you Gina Toscano."

 

"I love you Lucas, now and always," Gina kissed him passionately. "Now about that coffee and dessert.  We can do this, our love is strong enough."

                                  

"We either have to do it, or give it up" Lucas replied "and that's not something I can live with."  He drove her to a 24-hour diner and they slid into a booth.  He felt his weapon at his side and he quickly moved it for comfort.  "You know I've never killed a man--never had to fire except on the range" he sighed.  "But tonight I thought I was going to."

 

"I was prepared to, I could have, but that was just it.  I quickly realized this man wasn't too serious and he certainly wasn't experienced.  Then we got him talking and...he just touched me too much to do that. I'm lucky that it ended well I know but... I kept thinking about myself being pregnant and..." she sighed and looked down as though she expected to see the answers in her coffee cup.

 

"Thinking about yourself pregnant and in danger?" Lucas asked gently, rubbing her belly, "or pregnant and not being able to afford food and medicine?  

                                 

"Pregnant and not being able to afford food and medicine.  I'm know it won't happen but I feel like I could put myself in that woman's shoes now that I want a baby so badly." Gina answered.

 

"It would be more my problem anyway" Lucas smiled, "I'm the one who's sworn to take care of you, and my child."  He held her again, rubbing her belly.  "It's going to happen for us Gina Toscano.  I will give you a baby."

Gina smiled, "I can't wait Lucas, I can't wait." She leaned in and kissed him.

-----------------------------                                       

"Chloe I didn't tell your mom what happened" Leo advised when they got inside, "and it looks like she's gone to bed, so let's maybe not upset her right yet with it.  Will you two help me put the twins down please."

                                      

"Of course," Chloe smiled.  She took Belle and Leo had Brighton.  Both of the twins were practically asleep anyhow. It was easy to change them and lay them down. As soon as that was finished Chloe was in Tucker's arms.  "Dad, can Tucker stay over tonight?  I'm so scared I may not sleep otherwise."

                                     

"Did he ask his mom?" Leo teased.  "Tucker is welcome here any time.  Just call Sam and Mallory, Tucker, and tell them where you are please so they don't worry."  "Yes sir, good night" Tucker smiled, clinging tightly to Chloe.  "I was afraid I was going to lose you tonight" he whispered, his voice quavering.

                                     

"I was afraid I was going to lose you but I had to save Belle," Chloe returned, "I'm so thankful everything turned out alright." She got ready for bed.  "You know, I could really do with some coffee."

                                    

"I was thinking that too" Tucker sighed, stripping to his boxers and tee shirt as he hung up the phone from Sam and then he grinned.  "I think I interrupted something.  Anyway, shall we see what wonders your kitchen holds.  Belle and Brighton went out didn't they?  Poor things were so scared.  Wonder how much they'll remember tomorrow."  

                                  

"I hope only the circus, the ice cream and the McDonalds," Chloe replied before sighing.  She then put on a smile and crept with Tucker downstairs and they began a raid on the kitchen.  "Oh look bavarian cream donuts!" Chloe exclaimed where she was leaning in the refrigerator.

                                 

"Well serve them little suckers right up" Tucker grinned.  "Coffee's going good too."  As they waited for the coffee, Tucker pulled her into a tight embrace.  "You were awfully good to that guy" he whispered.  "I was so proud of you, and proud of you for keeping your cool as well.  Getting him excited might have made him do something we all would have been sorry for."

                                 

"I know, that's why I stood very, very still," Chloe returned.  "That ring on my finger, you and my family and all my friends reminded me that I have so very, very much to live for and to be thankful for each day.  I have to take really good care of myself now.  I'm not just a girl or a daughter or a sister anymore, now I'm a fiancée.  I have a bright and beautiful future ahead of me and I'm going to keep it that way."

                               

"You better believe it" Tucker smiled, fingering her ring finger and then kissing her hand.  "You're the most important thing in my life--hell you are my life, and we have a long and happy future together to look forward to."

                               

"Thank goodness!" Chloe smiled and kissed him.  "You know I used to always worry about finding the perfect guy.  It's nice that I don't have to anymore."

                             

"Who is he?  I'll rip his heart out" Tucker teased, laughing and hugging her before pouring the coffee.  "It's so easy to laugh now--but I was so terrified earlier.  I don't know how Gina and Lucas manage to stay so calm and collected.  Some of that's training I guess but surely some of it simple make up.  One of the things they look for when they pick agent candidates maybe."

 

"I guess so.  All I know is I wouldn't want their jobs.  I'm very happy just being ordinary and being able to come and go as I please.  I mean look at how little freedom they have." she sighed and bit into her donut. "You know, marrying you has all kinds of advantages.  For instance we'll be able to get married housing on campus, or even commute if we want to, which is what I would rather do.  We can live here in the comfort of this spacious home and commute to class when necessary..."

                           

"I think living here is a good idea" Tucker said slowly, thinking.  "As long as Leo and Caroline want us that is.  The twins will be even more of a handful, and there will be the new baby, and maybe even another by then who knows. We can help out with the kids and the upkeep of the place as part of our earning our keep."  He gave a short laugh, "And when we say it like that, I can't help but wonder why we're not married now and doing that same thing."

 

"Well other than 'I do' what's keeping us from being married?  I mean you already practically live here.  What more could I do to improve things for us."

 

"If we were married, you'd be Chloe Seaborn" Tucker grinned, "and you'd have another ring, and I would have mine on."  He lifted her hand and kissed it again.  "But a ring on your finger, or my name in your signature, wouldn't make me love you any more."

 

Chloe smiled, "Well we promised we'd wait two years and we can do it." She kissed him, "it won't make me love you anymore either. We're going to be just as happy these next two years."

                       

"Oh yeah" Tucker smiled.  "This will be like prelims or something, leading up to the real thing.  Well legal thing.  Real we've already got."

 

Chloe smiled and moved into Tucker's arms and they began to dance there in the kitchen, slow circles as they held one another tightly. "I love you Tucker Seaborn," Chloe said softly.

 

"I love you, future Mrs. Seaborn" Tucker sighed, burying his face in her always-fragrant hair as they danced, "and after tonight I count myself very lucky to still have you to say that to."

 

"I'm really sorry Tucker, sorry that I frightened you," Chloe said softly, "I was frightened too and I know it may have seemed very stupid to you but I love Belle so much and I couldn't standing seeing her so frightened.  My family is very important to me, family and friends.  I would have done the same for you in a heartbeat."

                   

"You did, but your spirit and your loyalty is one of the things I admire about you--love about you in other words" Tucker grinned happily, drawing her to him again.  He felt her lean into him and knew she was exhausted.  "Bed I think huh?"

 

Chloe yawned, "Yeah...not even sure I'll make it up the stairs."  she laughed lightly and they walked up to her room like a pair of Siamese twins. Then they pulled down the covers and snuggled into bed.

 

"I would like to spend the rest of my life sleeping every night like this" Tucker murmured sleepily.  "When I don't have you in my arms, I hug my other pillow, which is lightly sprayed with your cologne and I must be so tired I'm delirious to confess that to you.  It makes me sound like some kind of pervert."

 

"Yours has your cologne on it," Chloe replied with a soft smile, "I do the same thing." She smiled and then with a sigh she went to sleep.

--------------------------                             

Lucas and Gina finished their food and walked out to the car.  "I'd really like it if you would come back to my place and sleep in my arms tonight" he whispered, ruffling her hair as he helped her inside.   "I'm not sure either of us is ready to be alone yet."

                              

"Okay, you have yourself a deal," Gina replied with a smile before she leaned in and kissed him.  "I'd rather sleep in your arms than by myself any night."

                            

"And we're not on until 10" Lucas grinned, "plenty of time to sleep and buy you breakfast in the morning."  They made the short drive to his apartment, a small one room place above a shop in Georgetown.  "I uh maybe should have warned you I live in a small studio" he said softly as he helped her out.  My mom thinks it's charming.  My dad says it's cramped.  But for as little as I'm home it works for me."

                          

Gina smiled, "It's way smaller than my place but I think it's cute." She dropped her bag down on the floor. "Shall I change now or..."

                         

"Shower is all yours" Lucas gestured, "unless of course you'd like your hair and back washed by a handsome secret service agent.  If you hold on a second I'll see if I can call one."

                         

"No time to wait.  I'm taking you instead," Gina laughed and drug him to the bathroom.  "Make me feel like a princess."

                        

"I'd love to" Lucas grinned, "but this is a first for me so you'll have to show me how.  But I'm guessing undressing would be a good start."  He reached for the hem of her tee shirt and began to pull it over her head.  "Stop me if I'm screwing up."

                        

Gina smiled, "You're doing fine so far. I'm sure you'll get the hang of it but I'll be sure and give you pointers if you make any mistakes." She laughed and kissed him once he'd removed her shirt and while she kissed him she removed his as well.

                     

"Pants next" Lucas grinned, sliding her jeans down and then raising his arms for her to do his.  For a moment they stood looking at each other.  "OK no need to be shy about this" he said softly, "we've seen each other before" and with that he gently slid her underwear to the floor.  "You have a beautiful body" he smiled, running his hands down her sides lightly.

                     

"Thank-you," Gina replied. It was when she turned around that he noticed her tattoo for the first time.  It was a red rose at the small of her back and just to the left, somewhat on her buttock.

                    

"I would ask if this is some kind of service initiation but I don't have one" Lucas grinned.  "And it's beautiful."  Shyly he reached out a fingertip and touched the center, then outlined its edges.  "Beautiful" he repeated.  "I have this terrific urge to kiss you right on that spot."

                  

"I've been told it's very sensual...if someone kisses you on a tattoo," Gina replied.  "That's not the only thing you don't know about me."  She turned back to show him her front. "This band-aid isn't really doing anything all that medically useful..." she removed it to reveal a silver belly ring.  "Okay, so I'm a little wild."

                 

"And I thought the tattoo was a turn on.  Wild and beautiful" Lucas grinned, dropping onto his one knee for a closer look, then reaching out to touch the ring, moving it back and forth experimentally, his other hand covering the tattoo, his palm flattened against it.  "You are full of surprises Beautiful" he whispered, and he brought his head forward to kiss the ring, tugging on it gently with his teeth.

                 

She elicited an incredible moan of pleasure, "Oh Lucas..." she sighed headily, "that's incredible..."

                

"There's something totally mesmerizing about it" Lucas sighed, playing with it with his tongue, slipping it through the circle and resting it against her belly button.  At the same time his hands wandered upward, finding her breasts by feel and cupping them so that the nipples rested in the hollow of his palm.  The warm water blasted over them and his mouth made kissing motions around the ring before he rose slowly, trailing kisses every inch until he had reached her mouth.  "I love you Gina" he sighed, letting his mouth take hers.

              

"I love you," Gina replied.  She took out the bath gel and shampoo and began to wash him. "Thank-you for tonight Lucas..."

             

"It could have turned out so much different" Lucas shuddered, "but you knew exactly what to do, and you kept everyone calm, even me--not an easy feat."  He filled his palm with the shampoo and began running it through her dark hair, letting his fingers spread the strands and massaging her scalp.  "We're good together honey, both professionally and personally, and I don't want that to ever end."

            

"I don't think it's going to," she replied, "by the way...to give you fair warning tonight is one of the nights where I could conceive.  It's in my window."

           

Lucas accepted her news soberly, resting his arms on her shoulders and his hands sunk deeply into her wet hair.  "OK" he said softly, "I am more than ready to make the commitment to you for life, which would include raising a child, and any more that would follow.  All I can do is to promise to be at your side for every minute of it all, conception to college.  But it has to be your choice.  It's your life that will change, your body that will change."  He pulled her to him.  "If you're sure that's what you want, then let's get dried off and go make a baby.  If not, then we can think it over for a while.  Just know that I love you very much, and that's not going to change."

          

"I guess we should let whatever happens, happen," Gina replied, "I mean if you feel that way..." She leaned up and kissed him. "I love you Lucas." She dried off with him and they made their way to his bed.

------------------------           

"I think everything's ready," CJ said as she smoothed the last table cloth.  She had on a blue dress and it was actually visible for the first time that she was pregnant.

         

Toby came up behind her and wrapped his arm around her middle, all but carrying her to a chair nearby.  "An hour ago when I went down to the office to check on the Dobson email, you promised me you were done and just about to sit" he scolded, "now have you?  Sat once I mean."  "Of course not" Josh put in quickly, "I have Donna tied--well not literally-up in the lounge with her feet up."

        

"Yes, yes I'm going to sit now," CJ sighed, "Toby I'm not as helpless as Donna, at least not yet anyhow.  Maybe you should save some of that worry for later, when I'm going to be so useless that you'll be tired of me." She sat down. "Anyhow doesn't it look nice?"

       

"That was going to be my next comment, as soon as you were seated" Toby grinned, leaning down to kiss her.  "It's beautiful.  And the clown and the pony should be here right on time."    "Great" Josh squealed teasingly.  "And I thought it was just going to be lunch with cake and ice cream."   Lucas and Gina arrived, exchanging glances as they walked, and went to see if Zoey and Charlie were ready. 

      

Zoey had on the green dress she had bought at Nordstrom’s and she too was beginning to show. Donna made her way in to sit next to CJ. Donna had on a teal sleeveless dress of the same style as CJ's and she too was showing. "What a society we are," Donna laughed as the three women sat together on the couch. "It'll be even cuter in about four months," CJ replied. The others laughed lightly.  Mallory arrived in a pristine white outfit ensconced on Sam's arm gleefully and obviously not planning on releasing him anytime soon.

     

Sam walked Mallory over to the others and guided her to sit before joining her.  Leo and Caroline arrived, with the twins properly subdued and on their leashes.  "I kept thinking priceless vases" Leo sighed, keeping a close eye on the two active children already.  Zoey and Gina shortly joined hm, with Charlie and Lucas trailing behind.  "Charlie how did a couple of bums like us get this lucky?" Lucas grinned.

    

"In the right place at the right time?" Charlie parried back. "When's the birthday girl going to get here?  Should we hide and jump out to yell surprise?" he asked, "you know I always wanted people to throw me a surprise party and they never did. Mother was working on it when..." Charlie left the thought.

   

    "I hope they find the bastard that did that to her" Lucas said quietly as they joined the others.  "Where is the guest of honor?" Gina asked Leo.  "She's actually here" Leo smiled.  "She and Tucker are downstairs.  She's getting dressed and he's waiting for her.  I think it's called making an entrance.  Anyway she didn't want to dress at home and wrinkle."

   

    "Yes I'm still here in case you were wondering" Tucker yelled through the closed door of the women's lounge.  "And yes I know, perfection does not come in five minutes."

  

   Chloe smiled, "well it depends on what you're wearing." She appeared finally a few moments later she had on a full length beaded gown that had roses all over it in beads.  The beadwork was exquisite.  It had a very low v-neckline and then from the shoulders, flowing down the back was two cream pieces of chiffon that barely made the floor.  Her hair was a huge mass of curls, since she'd been wearing rollers all morning. "Well?" she asked.  The most prominent thing to her though was the reappearance of Tucker's engagement ring, now that they were going to make the announcement.

 

  "Perfection" he whispered, "and it only took twenty four minutes.  You are beautiful future Mrs. Seaborn."  He lifted her hand that bore his ring.  "And today we tell the world that will soon come to pass."

 

  "Good Afternoon" Jed greeted everyone, Abbey on his arm, and naturally everyone rose, the pregnant women more slowly.  "Sit" Jed ordered.  "In fact when it's just us, since there are these new mothers to be now--let's not jump up like that.  "Jed what time did you get in?" Leo asked, at the same time wondering if he had heard about the events of the night before in the McDonalds.  

 

 "In time to hear about your crisis last night," Jed replied, "that's a very brave and unselfish daughter you have Leo. What she did was amazing." "What?  What's all this about?" Caroline asked. "Shh everyone I hear them coming up the stairs," Gina quickly announced, "everyone hide and someone get the lights!"

 

 Chloe smiled at Tucker as she walked along on his arm and then they opened the doors. "Surprise!" everyone yelled and Chloe's face broke into a brilliant smile. "Oh wow thank-you, a surprise party!" Chloe smiled.  She remained on Tucker's arm as they entered the room.

 

"Yeah big surprise" Tucker grinned, holding the hand which was draped over his arm.  He stopped and turned her to face him.  "Happy birthday angel" he said softly, drawing her into a passionate kiss for the benefit of their observers.  Everyone stood and clapped and then Jed led the singing of Happy Birthday while the kiss went on.  "He's going to swallow her tonsils" Sam groaned to Mallory.

 

"Well you could swallow my tonsils," she whispered back, "besides, they're engaged. They're supposed to do that," she whispered.

                                                            

"Shall we tell them now or wait for them to discover it?" Chloe whispered to Tucker.

                                                           

"And what are we, brother and sister?!" Sam demanded, and then hearing the challenge in her voice, turned them slightly and then kissed her as Tucker had done Chloe.

                                                           

"Now I think while we have their attention" Tucker told her, and then saw Sam and Mallory,  "Well we've lost two for the moment."

                                                          

Mallory not only enjoyed the kiss but gave back every bit as much as she was getting. "Mmm, thank-you," she sighed softly when at last they parted.

                                                          

"Ahem," Chloe spoke up, "Ahem, could I have everyone's attention?"  Soon all eyes were on them. "Okay Tucker...you're on." Chloe smiled, the glittering ring still hidden.

                                                          

"Oh--me" Tucker grinned.  "Of course."  "People, Chloe and I have something we need to share with you all" he began.  "Not very long ago a very scared, very shy young man with a big what they used to call chip on his shoulder was sent to DC to live with his brother who was kind enough to take him in when his parents didn't want to be bothered.  And then something else wonderful happened.  He met a beautiful wonderful woman, who saw right through that act.  And today as we celebrate her birthday, I'm going to ask her again in front of you all, Chloe Kathleen Murphy, will you be my wife?"

                                                        

"Yes Tucker," Chloe answered with a smile, "as I said before, yes." Chloe then showed off the ring that was ensconced on her left ring finger. "Wow," CJ gasped, amazed at it all.

                                                       

"Sam your brother talks as well as you write" Jed smiled.  "I think I'm going to get him on staff here to draw up some of my speeches.  He and Chloe are helping out around here for the summer anyway aren't they?  Sam, Toby, next time you're stuck, ask the boy to help out."  "Congratulations Chloe, Tucker" Jed went on, stepping over to kiss Chloe's forehead and shake Tucker's hand.  "Don't you ever hurt her," he warned Tucker.  "No sir, never" Tucker grinned.

                                                      

Chloe smiled, "Thank-you sir.  We're still going to wait the two years to keep our promise to you.  We're going to be married on my eighteenth birthday." "Oh how sweet," Donna romanticized.  

                                                   

"And by then there will be a slew of babies who will be able to toddle down the aisle and lose the rings in the process" Toby grinned, rubbing CJ's belly.  "I'm getting them all 're-elect Uncle Jed for President' shirts" Jed grinned.  "Come on let's see what the taxpayers give the big bucks to the catering staff for."  

                                                   

Chloe walked over and cut the cake and then everyone began pouring the champagne flutes full of sprite. "This place is beautiful, Aunt CJ, Aunt Donna, Aunt Abby." Chloe hugged each in turn tightly. "Thanks for helping make my sixteenth birthday the best of my life."

                                                 

"Funny, I thought Tucker had already taken care of that for you" Abbey smiled, taking her hand to admire her ring.  "Jed got my first ring at Walmart--he had it on layaway for six months.  I still have it too, wrapped in velvet in the corner of the jewelry box."

                                                 

With some effort Donna lifted her feet down from the footstool and Josh helped her up.  "Donna are you all right with your pregnancy?" Leo asked gently, offering her his hand as well.

                                                

"Oh that' so beautiful," Chloe remarked of the story, suddenly sniffling at the sentiment. "I'm just so shocked, really Aunt Abby, that Tucker cares so much for me that he got me this beautiful ring and...I really keep waiting to wake up.  It's got to be too good to be true I tell myself."

                                                

"I don't know," Donna answered honestly, "It's really very frightening sir and I find myself wondering, most of the time if I can really do this.  It wasn't supposed to be this way.  It was supposed to be normal and somewhat easy, like CJ's or Mallory's or even Zoey's aside from the appendicitis, but no... I'm sitting here wondering if my kidneys are going to go out or if I'm even going to have these babies at all."

                                               

"Donna God didn't put two babies inside you to take them away before you get a chance to hold them" Leo assured her.  "Thank you" Josh said forcefully.  "Actually Leo she's better since the medicine, and she's doing exactly what the doctor said.  She's going to be fine, and so are our babies."  When Josh lifted her he put his hand so that her dress outlined the babies,  "You can even see them now."

                                               

"Child that young man loves you" Abbey smiled, "you are going to live long and happily together."

                                               

Donna flushed softly and smiled. "Not as though you can't see CJ, or Zoey just as well.  Soon Caroline and Mallory will join us too."

                                              

Chloe smiled, "I certainly hope so because I love him so very, very much." She continued eating her cake, "this cake is fabulous, all the food is fabulous.  You've really put on a wonderful party."

                                             

"Lots of little mothers to be walking around" Josh teased.  "You guys will all go into labor during the first winter storm we have."

                                             

"Well we wanted to" CJ smiled.  "You only turn sixteen once, and we've all kind of adopted you and Tucker I guess.  You two are pretty special to all of us."

                                            

"You men would have to declare a state of emergency," CJ said as she overhead Josh, "I'm sure you couldn't handle one of us going into labor, much less all of us."

                                             

Chloe smiled brightly and hugged CJ again. "Thanks Aunt CJ.  That means so much to me.  You know I really want to work for you and Toby if I can..."

                                           

"She's right" Josh said soberly.  "When the time comes I'm going to make Ricky Ricardo and Rob Petrie look like rational Supreme Court justices."

                                           

"Hey guys I think it's time" CJ smiled and motioned for everyone to gather close.  "Stay with us now.  Chloe, Tucker you're behind me."  She led the large gathering down the hall into the West Wing to her office, stopping just short of the door.  There was a small alcove there, previously containing a small sitting area, now filled with large objects covered with cloths.  "Some of you men please" she directed.  Toby and Sam lifted the cloths, to reveal two side by side desks, each with a name plate.  Tucker Seaborn on one, Chloe Murphy on the other.  "Welcome aboard to our newest interns" Jed announced.  "You mean our newest coffee makers and xerox operators don't you?" Sam teased.

                                          

"Oh wow!" Chloe smiled with enthusiasm, "Hey I'm a very good coffee maker and xerox worker and a collate-r to boot so don't knock it!  Besides it means I get to work in the West Wing of the White House with all of my favorite people."  "This is so awesome and the furniture is beautiful!" This time Chloe hugged Jed, Sam, Josh, Toby and finally Leo. "Thank-you everyone, for believing in us."

                                          

"We'll do you proud" Tucker smiled as Chloe then folded herself into his arms.  "And we'll try to limit the amount of times we both disappear into the supply closet at the same time."  "Good plan" Josh grinned, "and just knock first OK.  That little room gets busy at times."  "Chloe you and Tucker help yourselves to anything in supply you want to fix up this area now, and bring in pictures for the desk and all" CJ pointed out.  "Can we put honeymoon eight by ten's on the wall?" Tucker teased.

                                        

Chloe playfully nudged him, "Tucker Seaborn you're impossible!" She shook her head and passed him by, going into the supply room and grabbing lots of items for her desk. She got an electric stapler, three hole punch, tape dispenser, a pen set as well as several other things.  "And a pack of White House seal paper," Chloe said, setting it all on her desk and looking like she had just died and gone to heaven as she arranged it all and then she sat down in her chair.  "This is where I'll be tomorrow morning, whenever Leo brings me.  Oh no! I have to take time off my first day!" she suddenly fretted, "my driving test!"

                                       

"Just do it first and come in when you're finished" Leo smiled.  "Tucker you're taking her?"  "Yes sir" Tucker nodded, looking up from where he was storing his own supplies.  "I'm driving her in the Firebird so she can drive it back here when she aces the test.  We shouldn't be in real late unless they're slow---or she gets arrested during the test."

                                      

"Oh don't even say it!" Chloe exclaimed already trembling. "I'm nervous enough as it is!" 

                                     

"Hey sorreeeee" Tucker gasped and his arms went around her at once.  "You are an excellent driver and no one knows that better than I do.  I wish I was half that good in fact.  You'll be fine."  

                                    

"I hope you're right.  I'm just so nervous.  I really need my license so I can get to work and back every day and all.  I mean I intend on working here after school during the school year as well. It's too good of a privilege to pass up," Chloe smiled.  "Seconds on the cake!" she called after a minute and went back to the room where the food and decorations were.

                                   

The party continued through most of the evening with the staff enjoying the food and managing to also get some work done at the same time.  Finally by 9PM the mothers to be were wilting and everyone was ready to go.  Chloe and Tucker stood together to say good bye and to thank everyone until finally they were alone in the deserted corridor where their new desks were installed.  "Let's go my love" Tucker smiled, "they'll be here tomorrow when you drive us to work.  Your first official duty can be to obtain a permanent White House Parking Permit."

                                  

Chloe smiled and then snuggled close to Tucker they left the building.

------------------------------

 

 The next morning she was standing in her driveway by her car waiting for him.  She had on a beautiful navy suit with matching heels and she looked at least twenty-five. "Morning love," she greeted him with a kiss.

                                  

"Good morning Miss Murphy, and if I was the examiner I'd pass you without even testing you" he smiled, returning her kiss.  "And I do have a tie for later, but I can't get the stupid thing tied.  Have to yell for Sam I guess when we get there."  He opened the door for her, helping her in and with her seatbelt.  "Very important cargo" he whispered, kissing her again as he backed out.  Very carefully he drove to the examining station, pulling into line.  "I don't think they're going to let me stay in the car while you take the test" he realized.

                                

Chloe sighed, "I know...you'll have to be waiting right here for me and the verdict, when we get back."  She leaned over and while they waited she tied his tie. "It's something I learned."

                               

"And you'll have to teach me" Tucker grinned, "thank you.  Yes I'll be right here, with a cold can of Mt. Dew to celebrate, and then we'll get some quick McDonalds or Burger King and then go to work.  Hey, do you believe we work at the white house, and we're friends with the President and..."  "Yeah right kid" the examiner's voice interrupted him.  "If you're Chloe Murphy you're next."  The examiner's demeanor sent a chill through Tucker as he watched the man look her over and he debated whether to get out of the car.  "Be careful" he mouthed when he finally did so.

                              

"I'll be fine," Chloe answered with a smile and then she showed her true nervousness as she left with the instructor. "It was a pleasure ma'am," he smiled as he shook her hand and then handed her, her license. "I passed with a perfect score!" Chloe squealed as she ran into Tucker's arms.

                             

"I knew you would" Tucker greeted her, kissing her softly and giving a long sigh of relief at the same time.  "That guy just kind of weirded me out I guess, the way he was looking at you."  He put a close arm around her shoulders.  "OK we have to go in and get your picture done for the final step.  Mine looks like I'm about to be booked in the drunk tank so hopefully yours will be an improvement on that."

                            

Chloe's photo came out looking nice and she clutched her license to her proudly as they left. "Do you want to drive or shall I?" she asked happily.

                           

"Of course I want you to drive angel" Tucker smiled.  "This is your car and now you're fully legal.  I'll just sit here and work the radio.  Should we have the T tops out now that it's not so chilly?"

                          

"Oh yeah," Chloe enthused and they carefully removed the T tops, tucking them in their special compartment in the trunk. Chloe drove them directly to the White House and they displayed their badges and were granted entrance.  They found a temporary parking spot and as they were replacing the T's Chloe explained, "I figured we should go ahead and get here and we can grab some breakfast in the cafeteria.  I don't want to look like a slacker the first day out." She walked hand in hand with him towards the entrance.

                         

"I can live with that" Tucker grinned.  "You start not slacking and I'll get us some breakfast.  Just tell them I'm in the men's room.  What would taste good to you?"

                          

"Sam I'm going to kill you" Toby's voice could be heard as soon as they opened the doors.  Another Monday was in full swing.

                        

The week went superbly, Chloe and Tucker were more than helpful and they very quickly proved invaluable to the staff.

                        

It was now Friday afternoon, Sam was once again in the hot seat with Toby, Josh couldn't figure out how to solve a problem just the way he wanted it.  CJ was waiting on some papers for her press briefing.  Chloe rushed them in with a smile. "Your papers ma'am. Oh and here's a file the president sent over and he requested to speak with you after the briefing ma'am." Chloe smiled.

                       

"Chloe I don't remember how I operated around here without you" CJ smiled.  "You are unbelievably helpful.  Only a week and you're already indispensible.  Don't you dare get pregnant and married and leave me now. In fact when I'm on my maternity leave I think I'm going to tell the president you're to read the prepared statements and then Mandy can take the questions."

 

"You've gotta be kidding me?" Chloe looked at her wide-eyed, "do you really mean it?  I'd gladly do it. I mean if I can.  Wow, to stand on your podium..."

 

"I don't say things I don't mean" CJ smiled and lowered her voice, "besides maybe you could keep Mandy out of trouble.  In any case, I think it would be good experience for you.  I know Tucker is planning a career in medicine, but if you're undecided yet, maybe you might like to do something with journalism.  I majored in that, and took a minor in public relations and then lucked into this job.  Tell you a secret though; when the baby is born I'm not coming back full time, at least not to twelve hour days."

 

"Oh CJ!" Chloe fretted, "you can't leave us.  What will we all do without you?  I mean Toby and... we need you." The young girl sighed. "Sorry I was out of line. What can I do for you now ma'am?"

 

CJ patted Chloe's hand and then taking hold of it, pressed it to her slight baby bulge.  "When this child is born, I want him raised by me and Toby, not his nanny" she said firmly, "but I'm not going to leave by any means.  I'm simply going to make myself keep sensible hours except during emergencies--real emergencies, not the every day crisis's that pass for them now."  She smiled softly, "in a couple years you'll be carrying Tucker's child, and you'll understand completely."

 

Chloe flushed softly and glanced at the floor a moment. "I can understand that. I just got worried that you were going to leave.  You and Mandy can't both go. Oops...I wasn't supposed to talk to anyone about that.  Oh CJ you won't say anything will you?!" Chloe suddenly panicked.

                 

"You'll find that it's hard to keep anything quiet around here" CJ smiled, patting her hand again, "Mandy's not happy here, that's no secret.  In any case I'll be here everyday once I'm back from maternity leave.  You know if we had on-site daycare here, we mothers wouldn't have to be so concerned about leaving our babies.  Considering all the staff, I bet there's plenty of infants and pre-schoolers who would make use of such a thing."

 

"Well maybe you should propose it," Chloe suggested.  She looked around to make sure she wasn't being needed or interrupting anything and then, noticing it was only ten minutes before the start of CJ's mandatory rest hour, she took a seat. "You know it’s going to be neat to get to watch you and Donna go through pregnancy.  I'll get to live vicariously through you.  Sometimes it's all I think about, wanting a baby with Tucker.  I know we have to wait and we should wait...but sometimes it's hard to turn off dreams and desires."

 

"Of course it is" CJ nodded.  "I was there once.  About ten years or so ago.  And you're also watching your mother get ready to give birth.  Yes you and Tucker should wait and I hope you will; but remember if the unthinkable does happen, Tucker would be at your side every second, and you've got more family around you than you can need I'm sure.  We'd all be there for you--what I'm saying is if it does, don't do anything foolish.  Your family will stand with you."

 

Chloe smiled half nervously. "Aunt CJ...you know don't you.  That I'm late..." she said softly.

------------------------------                       

"Donna, have you any idea what I did with the Wilson memo and the Cheatham file?" Josh asked with exaggerated patience, trying to hide from Sam who was looking for him because Toby was looking for HIM.

                      

"The Chetham memo and the Wilson file?" Donna asked, "I believe you requested that Tucker do something with them.  Oh and Joey Lucas is on line three," Donna smiled softly, "she said something about deciding to take the president's advice."

                     

"Tell her I died" Josh muttered, "and please ask Tucker if he's seen that information if you see him, and why aren't you sitting anyway?"  Josh said that last without remembering that a few minutes ago he had called for her.

                    

"I'm not sitting because you called for me and I do have a job to do Josh Lyman!" Donna spat out unusually flustered. "You have a call on line three." she repeated and turned on her heels storming out of the room.  "Tucker?" she said trying to calm down and not take her frustrations out on him.  "Josh needs the Chetham memo and the Wilson file that he asked you to do whatever with earlier." she sighed.

                   

"Josh it's on your desk" Tucker answered, "here let me."  Quickly he lifted two piles of miscellaneous papers and the folder containing both appeared.  "Sorry" Josh said softly.  "I owe my wife a big apology too" he sighed.  "Some cappuccino and a pastry might help" Tucker suggested, "I could run and get them for you."  "Yes please" Josh leaped at the idea. "You're wonderful; now let me see what Joey wants."  He punched the phone button, "Joey hello" he greeted her, keeping his voice civil, "Haven't heard from you in forever.  What can I do for you."

                   

"I decided to follow the president's advice," Joey said with great effort, "I'm going to run for the senate.  I was hoping I could use that help that you all offered me. I am here in DC of course and was hoping I could meet with you so we could talk about this."

                  

"Joey I think that's great" Josh enthused.  "And you know the President would support your candidacy, as will I.  Meeting would be...."  he stopped and glanced out to where Donna was now sitting quietly, "let me call you back."  He wrote down her number and was starting toward Donna when Tucker handed him the warm drink and the pastry.  "Honey I'm sorry for being cross" Josh said to Donna, holding out his peace offering.

                

Donna looked up and smiled, "Oh Josh, you didn't have to...I didn't mean to explode like that. It just happened all of the sudden.  Pregnancy I guess...I just hope it doesn't get me in trouble." Donna smiled again and took the pastry and hot chocolate. "Do you need anything?" she asked, "if you've got a moment you're welcome to join me."

                

"I'm sorry all the same" Josh smiled, "we used to do that all the time, that give and take and we've kind of gotten out of the habit because we're married; but that doesn't mean you should sit and take my crap."  He broke off a piece of the Danish and chewed thoughtfully.  "Joey has decided to run for the senate and wants me to meet with her" he said quietly, "you know there was never anything serious with us, but I’m still not sure it's a good idea."

               

"Oh Josh," Donna frowned, "It's business and she needs your help.  Besides I think we need Joey in the senate. I always kind of liked her, even if I had my jealous moments. Why don't you invite her over to the house for drinks and dinner?" Donna suggested.

              

"Sure?" Josh questioned.  "Kenny's with her too I imagine, but we could cook some steaks and use the pool some.  Ask CJ and Toby to join us?"

            

"Sounds like a great idea if you want to and of course she'll bring Kenny with her.  We'd have a hard time conversing as well as we need to otherwise," Donna answered with a smile. "I mean it's not going to bother me that she comes.  Like I said, I kind of like her."

           

"OK, let me go give her a call back then" Josh nodded and kissed her quickly, "but you're not going to run around playing super hostess either.  We'll stop at the market; get some steaks to grill, and a few of those good side dishes they have to go with.  Maybe a chocolate cake."

          

"Pound cake," Donna corrected, "and you've got yourself a deal. Tell her six-thirty...that'll be a good time. Oh and advise her to dress casual and bring a swimsuit. We want her to feel comfortable."

         

"Sounds like a plan" Josh smiled gratefully, "and I have the most wonderful wife in the world, thank you."  He kissed her again.  "I'm going to call her back and then I'm going up on the Hill to talk to Molders.  If I'm not in jail for murder by noon, I'll be back to have lunch with you.  I can trust you to behave while I'm gone now right?"

 

  "Yes I promise to be good and continue resting while you're gone.  Don't be surprised if I'm doing it in someone else's room though," Donna smiled, "maybe I'll even take dictation."

 

"Yeah well don't get near Sam" Josh muttered "or the only thing he'll be dictating is how Toby's upset with him and he blames me.  Me--and I'm totally innocent."  He retreated to his office, making his call and came out to kiss her good bye.  "All set.  You behave."

 

Donna smiled.  She propped her feet up, took care of the little bit Josh had left her at her desk and then waited for something to happen.

------------------------------

CJ's eyes opened wide and she looked around to be sure no one was over hearing them.  "No I don't" she finally got out after a hard swallow.  "Who else have you mentioned that little bombshell to?  Does Tucker know?"

            

"Yeah I told him Friday night when we were at the hotel," Chloe said, "no one else knows." she said softly.

 

"Then not even Leo and Caroline" CJ nodded.  "I'm flattered that you trust me with the information.  Are you scared?"

 

"A little...I mean I figure I'm just late but since Tucker and I...well there's the possibility that...yeah okay, I'm a little scared," Chloe replied.

 

CJ nodded soberly.  "I'm glad you told me.  If you want me to do anything, or help you get a test or something, you let me know."  She patted the girl's hand again.

        

"Maybe I had better," Chloe said, "take one, you know...to make sure." Chloe trembled. "We only did it once.  I know that once is all it takes but...I mean could you believe my odds if..." Chloe sighed, "Aunt CJ help please."

       

CJ nodded and keyed her speaker phone.  "Carol I'm going to run an errand with Chloe.  Please tell Mandy to start working on the one o'clock briefing, but I intend to be back to handle it myself.  Also tell Tucker and Toby that we've gone out so we don't have any freaking out men on our hands."  She took Chloe's hand then.  "Come on, there's an extra test in my medicine cabinet at the house.  I had bought two and only used one."

       

"Thank-you so much," Chloe smiled and taking her suit jacket she put it back on and walked professionally with CJ out to her car. They rode quietly to CJ's house.

      

CJ walked quietly with Chloe to the bathroom and handed her the small box.  "I'll be right out here" she smiled.  "And at least you'll know."

 

Chloe went into the bathroom and cautiously took the test.  Then she left it to dry and rejoined CJ. "Coffee or hot chocolate while we wait?" she suggested. "Oh CJ this is so scary."

   

"Come on to the kitchen" CJ said softly, and even though the day was warm, put on milk for hot chocolate and got out a plate of oatmeal cookies; then began to tell an amusing Mrs. Landingham story while the milk warmed.

 

"Wow, you know I always thought work was going to stink but even when you all are working you have fun here.  This place is cool, but then it's only the people in there that really make it great." Chloe commented when CJ had finished.

 

  "We do have a good group," CJ nodded, "Best people I've ever worked with.  We fight, we make up, and live to fight another day.  And I'm really glad you and Tucker are aboard.  Don't let anyone belittle your ideas either just because of your age."

 

"I won't," Chloe smiled.  She gratefully took the cup of hot chocolate she was handed and sipped it. "What were you thinking and whatever when you suspected you might be pregnant and when you took the test?"

                                                       

"Not the same thing" CJ began and then stopped.  "No that's not right.  I was going to say that Toby and I were very much in love but so are you and Tucker so that's not a good comparison.  I will tell you I was as scared as you probably are.  I didn't know if he wanted a child.  It wasn't something we talked about.  I guess I was letting go and letting God.  If you are what do you think Tucker's reaction will be?"

                                                      

"He'll be shocked but thrilled," Chloe responded honestly, "he'll stand by me and take care of me. He'll love me and he'll love the baby."

                                                     

"Yes I believe you're right" CJ nodded sincerely.  "And shocked but thrilled about describes Toby too.  But if he's protective now, wait till he goes into you're the expectant mother of my baby mode."

                                                    

Chloe laughed lightly, "well we don't even know if it's positive yet.  I just don't know if I can go look." she sighed.

                                                    

"I can go get it for you" CJ offered gently, "but you've come this far so don't back down now.  You're a beautiful smart mature young woman, and you can deal with it if it's positive, and if it's not, then you can stop worrying about it."

 

Chloe nodded and CJ walked back to get the test.  She returned and handed it to Chloe. "Woah...it's...it's..." Chloe showed the test to CJ the plus sign blaring at her.

-------------------------    

"Donna where is that no account husband of yours" Sam growled, "and wherever it is, he can't hide from me very long."    "Seaborn" Toby's voice echoed down the corridor.  "Never mind" Sam screeched, making a hasty retreat.

    

Donna appeared at Toby's door, "what is the problem here.  Anything I can do to help?"

    

"No there's nothing you can do" Toby sighed, "but thanks anyway.  It's not even Sam or Josh's fault.  But it's the trickle down effect, I get it from Leo, and I pass it along.  As soon as a certain senator from Georgia loses the election, life will get easier."

  

"Oh," Donna sighed, "It could be a rough few weeks..." she headed for the door and then paused and turned. "CJ and Chloe went out, Carol told me to pass it along so you wouldn't worry."

  

"Well I always worry" Toby smiled, "but thanks.  And speaking of worry..." he gestured down the hall where Tucker was obviously looking for Chloe.  "Out with CJ Tucker" Toby called, "must be running a errand."  Tucker frowned and waved.  "CJ and Chloe are getting pretty close" Toby said thoughtfully, "like the little sister she always wanted."

 

"Donna I hear Joey is back in town" Sam smiled as he breezed past her desk looking for Josh.  "Oh right the Hill meeting.  Anyway, she was looking for Josh this morning.  Did she find him?"

                                                  

"Yes...she's joining us for dinner," Donna replied, "she's going to run for Senate and wanted to meet with Josh."

                                                 

"Well you keep an eye on that" Sam advised, "or next thing she'll be offering Josh the position as campaign manager and you won't see him for the next six months as he traipses around the state with her."

 

"I don't think that's going to happen," Donna contradicted and then she rubbed her stomach, "I have insurance."

 

"That you do" Sam nodded.  "And don't tell him I said so, but this place would go further to hell in a handcart if he wasn't around."

 

Donna smiled, "Okay, I'll keep your secret safe. Has Toby found you yet by the way?"

 

"Oh yeah" Sam grinned.  "We have a temporary truce.  We've agreed to avoid each other the rest of the day."

 

Donna laughed, "Well I'm just waiting for Josh to get back.  You're welcome to stay and keep things interesting for me since I swore I wouldn't go anywhere.  Okay Sam yes I'm actually begging you, please stay and keep me company ‘til Josh gets back.

 

-----------------------------                                                 

"OK sweetie" CJ said softly, guiding her to a chair lest she fall.  "Let's have a couple of slow deep breaths now.  You're going to be all right.  Would you like me to call Tucker over here?  Or maybe you need some time to get used to the idea?"

                                                

"I...I..." Chloe started and then she sat there wordlessly for a while before she began to cry. 

                                               

CJ watched her for a moment, rubbing her back and then quietly withdrew her cell phone from her purse.  After going through several connections, she said quietly, "Tucker, CJ.  Chloe and I are at my place.  She needs you.  No no, she's not hurt, not like you mean.  But she does need you.  Don't you speed getting here now--she's fine."

                                               

"Oh geez, I thought for sure it was going to come out negative.  What am I going to do about school?" Chloe thought aloud.  She heard a car stop a while later. "Tucker," she said, knowing that must be who it was. She was holding to CJ, her eyes mostly closed as she concentrated on the feeling of CJ rubbing her back.

                                             

"Chloe" Tucker's voice screamed from the front porch, making CJ laugh.  "Get used to it."  She gave her back another firm rub and went to let Tucker in.  "Kitchen Tucker" she pointed, and then grabbed his arm.  "She's upset, and you're going to need to be calm OK.  I'll be in here if you need me."  Tucker nodded and went at once to her, seeing her bending over the table, her head in her hands.  "Sweetheart I'm here" he said softly, pulling up the chair next to her as close as he could, and then taking her hands from her head.  "What is it baby?  What happened?"

                                            

Chloe looked at him, searched his eyes for a long time. Finally she took his hands and spoke very slowly, trembling, "Tucker, I'm not just late...I'm pregnant sweetie. CJ gave me a test and it came back pretty darn positive."

-------------------------                                           

Tucker's hands closed tightly on hers and his face showed a mixture of awe and shock and surprise.  "My dream at the hotel" he gasped out, and then pulled her to him, cradling her on his lap as best he could on the small kitchen chairs given her height.  She buried her head in his neck and he stroked her long hair as she sniffled and sobbed softly, and her whole body trembled.  His body was shaking lightly as well, from excitement more than distress.  "Do you want this baby?" he asked gently as her sobs lessened.  "Do you want us to have a baby now?"  He tilted her face up to look at him.  "We can do this.  We can love each other, love this baby, and still have our schooling, but it has to be your call.  It's your body."

                                           

"Oh jeez Tucker, I don't know.  I mean I've been wanting a baby so bad.  Now I have one and I'm scared to death.  I mean my schooling and everything. This is so hard..." Chloe held to him.

                                         

"I know baby I know" Tucker said softly, rubbing her back and smoothing her hair.  "It's going to take some thought, but I love you, and a tiny baby isn't going to change that.  We have a lot of family and people who care about us too."  He ran his hand along her belly.  "Think about it, a tiny Murphy-Seaborn is floating in there right now though.  It's nothing short of amazing."

                                        

Chloe smiled, "No it's not...it's absolutely amazing." Her face contorted then. "Something's not right...I don't think this is supposed to be happening..." She griped her stomach then. "No...I'm cramping...I don't understand..." she began to cry and tried to reach out for Tucker but the cramps were apparently severe.

                                        

"Honey what is it?" he looked at her in total confusion as her face contorted with pain.  "Cramping?"  He took a deep breath and screamed for CJ as her suit showed a dark stain on the lower half.  "CJ" he screamed again, now terrified.

                                       

CJ came as quickly as she safely could and then threw a hand over her mouth at the sight, "Oh God," she gasped out.  "Oh Chloe sweetie.  I'm so sorry..."  "Can't you do something?" Chloe begged tearily. "No sweetie I'm sorry, at this point the baby is already gone.  I'm sorry," CJ said rubbing Chloe's back as the young woman burst into tears. CJ shook her head, "If I'd never given you that test you never would have known..." Chloe continued to cry against Tucker, her whole body shaking.

                                     

Tucker looked helplessly at CJ, tears in his eyes as he held to the woman he loved.  "We've lost our baby" he finally spoke, letting the reality of that hit him full.   "Yes" CJ nodded, crying softly herself.  "Just hold her Tucker.  I'm going to make a phone call."  Chloe was still clinging to Tucker when she returned.  "OK, my best friend from college, Andrea Lynch, is an OB here and she's going to see her this afternoon after normal hours so no one else sees her.  In the meantime let's get her upstairs and into a warm tub.  I'll go start it and you bring her in a minute."   Tucker nodded numbly and held even tighter to Chloe.  "Baby I'm so sorry, so sorry" he moaned over and over, adding "I love you" now and then.

Chloe merely cried and took Tucker's comfort. "I'm sorry," she finally said, "I can't believe... I mean if I hadn't taken that test I never would have known I miscarried. Oh Tucker we can't tell anyone about this.  I don't even want to begin explaining it all."

                                   

"OK" he nodded, "but right now the most important thing is that you're OK.  Right now I'm terrified that I'm going to lose you."  "Tucker that's not going to happen" CJ assured him calmly, "she's scared and hurting but she'll be OK.  A lot of women lose a first pregnancy and then go on to have a dozen if they want.  You get her upstairs now and into that tub."    "Yes ma'am" Tucker nodded, swallowing his fear for the moment.  CJ helped steady her as Tucker lifted her into his arms.  "Hold on now" he said softly, urging her to wrap her arms around his neck and put her head on his shoulder.  CJ followed them up.  "I've turned the jets on low in the tub" she called, "it will help relax you, and there's some Tylenol there for the pain."

                                  

Chloe sighed in response.  She moaned softly at the warmth and comfort the bath brought her and wordlessly took the Tylenols. "Tucker you don't know how sorry I am. I'm sorry I did this to you, sorry you ever knew...I'm so sorry."

                                 

"I do know honey I know" Tucker moaned with her, taking the bath pouf and washing away the last evidence that there had ever been a Murphy-Seaborn baby inside her.  "I would have gladly taken being a father even though it would have been much sooner than we thought.  I love you and I would have loved our baby.  Hell I do and I only knew about it for a few minutes.  But that you're OK is what's most important.  We're still going to be married and we're going to have a house filled with kids just like CJ said.  I love you angel, and nothing can change that."

                                

Chloe began to cry again, "No...we're never going to have any babies, not if they're just going to die like that. Besides why should you want to marry me...I just killed your child!" She began to cry gut-wrenching sobs, tears so hard they shook her entire small frame. They were mournful, bitter tears.

                               

Tucker quickly straddled her in the tub, ignoring that he was now soaking himself, and he grabbed her upper arms, shaking her slightly to be sure he had her attention.  "Don't you say that not now--not ever" he ordered harshly.  "I don't know what happened here but I know it can't in any way be your fault.  And that doctor this afternoon is going to tell you the same thing."  He grabbed her to him, pressing her naked body to him and further soaking his shirt.  "I am going to make you my wife Chloe Murphy, and you are going to have my babies, and you better understand that right now because I'm not accepting anything else."

                              

Chloe clung to him and cried.  She cried all afternoon and CJ left the press announcements to Mandy so that she could stay with Tucker and Chloe. She had washed out Chloe's suit and kept away from the young lovers, mourning on her own for Chloe's baby. "Time to see the doctor," she said solemnly much later.  Chloe redressed and rode quietly, curled against Tucker.

                              

Tucker had hardly released her for a moment and now dressed in some dry clothes of Toby's they were silent as they crossed the city.  "Chloe" he finally asked gently, "you said you didn't want anyone to know.  Are you not even going to tell your mother?  I was wondering because your mom is so easy to talk to and it might help you to do that, though you can always talk to me, and I'm sure CJ."

                            

"If I tell my mother she's going to be disappointed that I made love in the first place.  She’ll probably tell me I got my just desserts.  Anyhow, what if I tell her and she grounds me and forbids you from coming over?" Chloe trembled, "I'm just not sure how she'd take the news...maybe if we told her together..."

                            

"I'm not afraid to do that" Tucker said staunchly, "and I don't think Leo would allow her to do that anyway--nor do I think she would.  But as much as I don't like keeping secrets, I don't want you and your mom to lose the wonderful relationship you have now.  You guys are more friends than mother-daughter and I think that's great.  Anyway, maybe it would be better for her not to know, for her sake as well as yours.  I just don't know.  You know I'll back you either way.  I have to say though, that she can't forbid us to be together.  I'd find a way.  I love you way too much for that."  Chloe shrugged and trembled again, shaking in his arms.  "CJ you and Caroline are close" Tucker appealed to the older woman, "should we talk to her and Leo?"

                          

"I think it would be a very good idea," CJ replied softly.  "It will help them to know what Chloe's going through so they can be more understanding.  You know they're going to want to help both of you. Caroline especially will." CJ sighed as they arrived at the doctor's and they helped Chloe in.  The young woman looked absolutely defeated.

                         

"Come on Angel" Tucker urged and Chloe's hand clamped to his.  "Chloe they're going to need to check you inside I'm sure," CJ said gently.  "Do you want me to make an ugly face so they allow Tucker to stay, or I can stay if you want."

 

"Would you stay please Aunt CJ.  I don't want to put Tucker through having to see me in pain twice in one day," Chloe replied.

 

"Of course" CJ assured her.  She helped her into her gown and then called to Tucker.  "Son this is something a woman doesn't want the man in her life to watch and Chloe wants you to wait outside.  I know you want her to be comfortable so if you'll just say good-bye, I'll bring her out as soon as we're done."  Tucker started to object and then leaned down to kiss her.  "I'll be right outside then.  I love you and I promise this is going to be all right."

                      

Chloe offered him as much of a smile as she could manage and then watched him go.  She tried not to cry out too much for Tucker's sake but the pain was obvious. She clutched to CJ's hands, thankful that she had enlisted her help.

------------------------                         

"OK that's it" Toby banged his fist in frustration.  "It's mid afternoon, my wife and our two interns have disappeared, and all I've got is a voice mail from her saying she's running an errand."  He stared straight at Donna.  "Now what the hell is going on around here?"

                        

Donna closed the door to Toby's office and then moved close to whisper.  "Well I'm sorry I overheard this, but I did. "Chloe thinks she might be pregnant and CJ took her to get a test."

                       

"OH god" Toby gasped, sinking into the chair.  "And I'm guessing Leo and Caroline don't know.  Poor child, she must be terrified.  But Tucker is so in love with her, and she has to know she has all of us too.  Thank you for telling me, and it won't go any further."

---------------------                       

"Try to relax Chloe I'm almost done" Andrea said softly, withdrawing her hand then and motioning for the ultra sound.  "I don't feel anything wrong in there at all and now we're going to be sure the uterus has emptied completely and...."  She paused while the tech turned on the machine.  "OK looking good in there" she said finally.  "Nothing left to cause infection."  She motioned for CJ to help Chloe sit up.  "Why don't you get dressed, and bring your fiancé, and we'll talk in my office.  I want you to take a course of antibiotics just to be sure for one thing."

                    

Chloe sniffled and sat up.  She redressed and met with Tucker, cuddling against him as they went to the doctor's office and sat in the chairs, CJ behind them. "You okay?" Chloe asked Tucker softly.

                   

"I should be asking that of you" Tucker said softly, letting her lean fully on him.  "But I'm going to be OK--that is as long as you are.  You see my love; my life is wrapped up in yours--totally one hundred percent wrapped in yours.  I love you that much.  I believe we can deal with this, and we can somehow find the strength to start again, but we have to do it together.  Right now all I want is for you to be OK, and for us--for what we have--to come out of this undamaged."

                   

 "Chloe is fine" Andrea interrupted his speech.  "Chloe you're very lucky.  The miscarriage, what is technically a spontaneous abortion, was complete.  I'm giving you antibiotics to be sure, but there's no reason on earth your next pregnancy won't have the same odds as any other woman's of being totally normal.  All pregnancies have about a ten percent failure rate - most of the time we have no idea why.  Could be your age, could have been a genetic problem with the embryo, or with the implantation.  We don't know.  In any case, when you're ready next time, don't let fear deprive you of the experience.  It can be a wonderful time in life.  Now for today, you're home in bed.  Tomorrow light activity.  You can be up and around, no lifting, no running, no getting overtired for the next few days.  Let this young man who obviously cherishes you, take care of you.  Questions?"

                  

"No, I think that takes care of it," Chloe smiled softly.  She thanked Andrea and CJ for their help and trouble. The ride home was quiet. "My car..." Chloe thought aloud. Caroline was most surprised to find CJ bringing them home. "My god what's happened?  Chloe are you alright? what's happened? where's your car? Have you been in an accident?!" "No mom," Chloe answered wearily, "my car is at the White House.  Now if you'll come with CJ and Tucker and I upstairs we'll tell you what's wrong." The group of four made it upstairs and Chloe changed and crawled into bed while a confused Caroline sat on her settee. Once Chloe was safely in Tucker's embrace, with CJ sitting on her bed nearby she spoke, "Mom what I'm going to tell you is going to come as quite a shock to you and I'm sorry. I discovered I was pregnant and miscarried all in the same day." 

                 

Caroline's hand flew to her own baby mound as she heard those words, and for a long several seconds could only stare at her daughter in Tucker's arms.  "And you're OK?" she finally stammered out.  "I mean you saw the doctor and..."  she turned to CJ helplessly, and looked so alarmed that CJ became concerned for her, reaching out an arm to steady her.  "CJ?" Caroline begged, accepting her arm.

                

"Physically she's fine," CJ said evenly, "she's on antibiotics to make sure that any future pregnancies she has will be normal.  The doctor said there was no damage and she should have the same chance as anyone else when next she conceives."

               

Caroline nodded numbly and then turned to Chloe and Tucker.  "I was not aware the two of you were sexually active," she said, trying to keep her voice calm.  "Leo assured me that letting you spend time together was harmless and that you were in love anyway."    "Yes ma'am" Tucker spoke up.  "We are very much in love, and nothing is going to change that.  Now we had unprotected sex only once, obviously this was the result.  Then once more after that with protection, and now we're waiting until marriage.  And that's the truth.  I love your daughter with all my heart and we're going to be married in one year plus three hundred sixty whatever days.  And I am going to see her through this."

              

"He's telling the truth mother," Chloe said softly, "we're not having sex anymore.  We're waiting ‘til marriage. But he does like to sleep with me and I like sleeping in his arms, but we don't do anything."

             

"Oddly I believe you" Caroline sighed, "because I don't think you'd lie to my face, either of you."  She moved forward and took Chloe's hands, kissing them softly.  "Sweetheart I'm so sorry, but I'm so glad you're OK.  You know I lost a baby before this one.  That was caused, but it does go to prove that a normal pregnancy is possible.  You'll be giving Leo and me lots of grandkids."  Caroline still seemed numb by it all and CJ took her arm.  "Caroline let's go get some tea and bring them up a tray."

            

Caroline nodded and left the room with CJ.  Immediately Chloe buried herself against Tucker's chest and cried.

 

"OK baby I'm here" Tucker whispered, "and I'm not leaving you, not for a minute unless you ask to be alone."

 

Chloe just nodded and continued to cry against him.  After a few minutes her crying ceased and she just clung to him. "I love you and I didn't mean what I said earlier.  I do want to marry you, very much, with all my heart, if you'll have me."

 

"I want to marry you more right this minute than I did yesterday if that's possible" Tucker vowed.  "I love you Chloe Kathleen Murphy and you're going to have to use more than words to get me out of your life.  I'm afraid only dynamite will do that."

 

Chloe smiled and then actually laughed lightly before wincing and falling silent. "I'm a little sore," she admitted, "feels a little like when you laugh too much."

       

"It's good to see that beautiful smile" Tucker grinned just slightly.  He reached over and turned the music on to their favorite station, which they had often fallen asleep to.  "You just rest real easy now," he told her softly.  "My arms will hold you."  He put his hand on her belly at the place were for a few short weeks, the life made from their love had resided, and he rubbed gently over the area, willing relief from his touch.

 

 

--------------------

"My little girl..." Caroline gasped out, putting a hand to her mouth and tearing at her eyes.

           

"Caroline, how well she handles this is going to depend in large part on how well the rest of us do" CJ advised quietly.  "We need to be glad she's OK.  So much could have gone wrong, and we need to be glad for Tucker.  Their love is going to pull her through this.  And speaking of that, this would not be time to try to part them.  You may even want to ask him to stay here until she's back up and able to manage."

 

Caroline was quiet a moment and then nodded. "I think that's a very good idea CJ.  Thank-you dear friend for all that you've done for them today."

 

"My pleasure--well not really" CJ sighed, "but I was glad I could help.  I'm glad they weren't off somewhere alone, where she might have bled badly before they realized they needed help.  And now I'm going back to work before Mandy decides she wants my job.  Do you want me to send Leo home?"

 

Caroline shook her head, "No, Thanks CJ.  I've got it under control for the few hours that he'll be at work still. Please ask him to be home for dinner though. Tell him tonight is not a good night to stay late at the office."

 

"Yes I will" CJ promised and hugged Caroline.  "Let Tucker take care of her.  The boy is one in a thousand, a male nurturer.  I think he can bring them both through his.  And you, you tell Leo and lean on him.  This is not something to know alone."

 

Caroline smiled at CJ and then drew her into a large hug.  Finally, she saw her out. CJ drove back to the West Wing and went straight to Leo's office. "Caroline says to be home by dinner.  I wouldn't advise working late tonight." "Don't worry," she quickly amended, "Caroline's perfectly fine. She just could use you, that's all." CJ sighed.

 

"OK" Leo looked up thoughtfully; about to reach for the phone and then deciding if it was a big crisis, Caroline would have called him.  "But since when does my wife to be pass messages through you?"

    

"Since I was there," CJ returned with a shrug, "go home for lunch if you want.  I'm sure we can hold down the fort here.  It looks like Sam is handling everything!" CJ laughed lightly having seen Sam's bedraggled appearance more than once.

   

"I think that might be a good idea" Leo frowned.  "I can be home, check on her, and be back in ninety minutes, and otherwise I'm just going to fret all afternoon."         

--------------------------           

"What's going on?"  Josh frowned.  "You and Toby planning a secret rendezvous?"  Donna and Toby were still talking quietly when Josh came back from his meeting on the Hill. 

          

"No!" both quickly answered. "Come on Josh, let's go to lunch," Donna said evenly.

         

"Knockwurst and sauerkraut at Schmidts?" Josh offered, taking a stab at what might sound good to her today. 

         

"Oh Josh!" Donna looked like she might be ill.  "No I was thinking more vegetable soup at that little French bistro we like."

        

"This from the same person who last week ordered a diablo burrito with the green chili sauce at The Ranchero Grill" Josh moaned to Toby.  "Let's go Ma'dam.  Wish I could remember more of my French from college than thirty-two obscenities."

 

"Non parle Francais?" Donna got out in perfect French, "Je parle Francais." She continued a string of French out of Toby's office and down the hall.

     

"I think she's telling me I bite wind," Josh moaned to Sam as they passed him.  "Bring me food" Sam yelled, "I don't have a prayer in hell of escaping today."

     

Donna laughed, "Okay, we'll bring you the three alarm chili fajitas with the green sauce!" she teased. "Just kidding Sam.  I'll grab you some enchiladas." Donna walked happily with Josh to the car and they were soon on their way to the restaurant, once he had made sure she was buckled in properly.

-----------------------

CJ nodded and smiled and then left Leo's office as she watched him gather his things and leave.

 

"There you are" Toby grabbed onto CJ in relief.  "You know I'm not comfortable when you disappear.  Does this have to do with Chloe's...."  He took CJ into his office and closed the door.  "Is Chloe OK?"

   

CJ sighed and dropped her head. "I'm assuming there's a leak in the office." she paused a moment, "Chloe was pregnant...but she miscarried later this afternoon while Tucker was with her.  She's home in bed with Tucker," CJ sat down defeated.

 

"Oh God" Toby gasped and put his arms around her.  "And you were with her?  That must have been so hard."  His hand went to where their baby could be seen and felt now.  "Donna over heard you and Chloe talking" he went on after a moment, "and she told me because she knew how worried I was about you.  It won't go any further.  I doubt she'll even tell Josh."

 

CJ barely smiled, "Thanks...poor Chloe.  I felt so bad for them.  They were very happy and ready to accept the baby and then, just like that, it was taken from her. It would have gone unnoticed if I hadn't made her take that test." CJ held Toby tightly.

 

"Yeah it's entirely your fault" Toby scoffed.  "Just be glad you were there to help them through it…  I think they would have been fine with a baby as much in love as they are, but it just wasn't the time.  They are so very young and they'll have plenty.  What is going to be hard for her though is now over the next few months as she's grieving her loss, she's going to see you women getting larger."

 

CJ dropped her head, "I know...don't think it will be any easier for me.  I've come to really like and respect Chloe.  I don't think of her as a teenager.  I think of her as another woman and..." CJ began to wipe at her eyes, "this is really going to be hard."

 

"And in a few minutes you're going to be in there giving the press hell" Toby smiled gently and hugged her close.  "I know honey.  She's not much like a child, neither her nor Tucker and we are their friends.  And we'll give them all the help we can.  The wedding is in just a few days too.  That's going to be also hard."

-----------------------------  

"I'm kind of nervous about meeting Joey" Josh confessed as they sat down and ordered iced tea.  "I'm not sure she even knows about you and I--you think?"

  

"I doubt it but I'm sure she'll get the picture soon enough," Donna smiled. She reached over and squeezed Josh's hand.  "We're married Josh.  It's all going to be okay."

 

  "OK" Josh smiled and relaxed.  "Don't let me forget we have to tell CJ and Toby about tonight and then pick up the stuff on the way home.  No, I just get concerned about how she'll react.  And the last thing I want is to be trapped into doing any work for her campaign, but then the President will be solidly behind her.  Maybe I can make a few phone calls--a few light threats--and that will keep everyone happy. "

 

"Right, I'll remember that," Donna smiled.  She ordered a big bowl of tomato basil soup and some French pastry.

 

------------------------                                                       

Caroline peeked in the door and saw them snuggled together, listening to their music.  "Leo is coming for lunch.  He just called me and he's bringing some soup from George's."  She walked in and took the bedside chair.  "Thank goodness the twins are at play group today.  Best thing I ever did enrolling them in that twice a week.  Anyway, we need to tell him.  And then if you want no one else to know, that's OK.  Also we have the wedding this weekend.  Chloe, do you want Leo and me to postpone?"

                                                      

"Oh no way," Chloe shook her head adamantly, "not much in this world would make me happier than to see the two of you married.  Besides, you have your baby to think about too..." Chloe reached out a hand to Caroline and squeezed hers, offering a teary smile.

 

"Right now you are my baby" Caroline smiled, "this one won't know or care if his parents wait a week or so.  But I just don't want you feeling bad.  And I won't marry without you being my maid of honor.  It's going to be good practice for yours."    Tucker smiled broadly at that and gave her middle a light squeeze, mindful of her soreness.

 

Chloe smiled, "well then we'd better get me recuperated because I want to be your maid of honor on Saturday and you know how happy weddings make me. Besides I love the bridesmaid’s gowns! We've got five days...Tucker can hopefully stay close and help me rest and by Saturday I promise to be all smiles."

                                                   

"As far as I'm concerned, if it helps you, Tucker is where he belongs" Caroline smiled.  "Tucker you can move in here if that's what you want, subject to Leo's approval of course.  I'm glad you want to go ahead with the wedding though.  I think it's a good thing, something else to focus on.  But sweetie I do know.  I was devastated when I lost mine.  And I still mourn that little life."

 

"If I hadn't taken the test I never would have known to mourn it.  Why did I have to take that test..." Chloe shook her head and buried herself against Tucker to cry again.  Her sobs sounded tired now she had cried so much her voice was going.

 

"Sweetie that was a little life inside you" Caroline said softly, "and it deserved to be mourned--deserved to know that its mom and dad loved it, even for such a short time.  Of course it was just bits of tissue joined together right now; but even so I believe our souls are present at conception.  This one is in heaven now."  Tucker gathered Chloe even closer, and Caroline's words brought on his own tears.

 

"Oh great, that makes me feel worse," Chloe sobbed.

-------------------                                                     

"Toby I..." Josh began as he and Donna stopped by having come back from their meal.  "Oh sorry" he gasped, backing out.  "I'll talk to you later about tonight."

                                                     

"No, no," CJ quickly called out, "go ahead.  We're finished here. Do you need me to leave?"

                                                    

"No we just wanted to tell you two" Josh said.  "Joey and Kenny are in town and she wants to talk to me about a senate run.  We've invited them over for steaks and we want you two to come too.  She can benefit from all of us, and besides I...."    "You don't want to deal with her alone" Toby finished and Donna giggled.

                                                  

"She's not going to eat you," CJ teased. She shook her head and laughed. "Donna is this bothering you? I mean if it's not bothering you then what is he so worried about?"

                                                 

"I think he's having my pregnancy symptoms, anxiety for one" Donna laughed, "no it's not going to bother me at all.  In fact I'm looking forward to the evening.  It's going to be beautiful out, and the smell of steak cooking along with good conversation.  What's not to like.  Unless Mr. Stick here can't relax."  With that she reached out and tickled his side.  "And next time I'm going for something else" she warned, and finally received the smile she was looking for.

 

"So you guys are coming right?" Josh asked anxiously.  "And I wonder if I should tell the president she's requested to meet with me about this?  Maybe she wants to tell him herself only after she decides."

---------------------------------                                                 

"Caroline" Leo's voice echoed up the steps.  "I'm home, with soup.  Now somebody tell me why I'm home with soup.  Is there someone sick?"

                                                

"No," Caroline said as Leo reached Chloe's room. "I took a test today Dad, and found out I was pregnant," Chloe sniffled, "and then I lost the baby."

                                                

Leo took a breath and let it out again, then collapsed into the nearest chair.  "New rule in this house" he gasped, "before I hear something like that from now on, someone tells me to sit down."   "It's my fault anyway sir" Tucker spoke up, "I mean we did it that one time without..." Leo held up his hand.  "I don't think it's a matter of blame."  He rose up enough to kiss Chloe's forehead, and to brush at her tears.  "I'm so sorry sweetheart.  Are you OK?  You saw a doctor?"

                                               

"Yeah, CJ took me to a doctor.  I'm going to be okay." Chloe said glumly.

                                            

"OK" Leo nodded, "and for right now that's what's important."   "Sir you and I will probably want to talk later" Tucker said bravely.  "I know we talked about all this once, how it was my responsibility and so forth, and I'm fully ready to accept that.  But with your permission, and Caroline's, I'm staying here with Chloe--like tonight--until she's more able to be alone."  Leo looked to Caroline for confirmation of the plan.

 

"I think he'd be good for her," Caroline said softly, "this is hard for both of them, Tucker as well as Chloe and they should be allowed to lean on each other."

 

"I'm OK with that" Leo nodded and reached for Chloe's hand.  "You want to tell me what happened?  You must have been scared to death."    "Actually sir she's held up very well" Tucker spoke up.  "In fact I've been leaning on her some too, like Caroline said."

                                            

"Well we went to CJ's house and I took the test and it came back positive and I was scared but happy at the same time.  I was ready to accept responsibility for the baby. Aunt CJ called Tucker and he came over and I told him and we were just sitting there talking about it and..." Chloe began to break down, "and all of the sudden I started getting these cramps and....and then..." she buried herself against Tucker once more and Caroline sighed.

                                          

"OK sweetie" Leo smiled softly and squeezed her hand.  "I wanted to know the whole story and I know that was hard for you to tell me.  I'm just glad you're OK.  Then no one at the White House knows?  And what about the wedding is that still on or should we hold off a week?"

                                        

"No," Chloe replied in a now raspy voice, "what I want most is for you and mom to be married, this weekend.  I'll have the wedding to look forward to and try to get better for.  I am going to walk down that aisle as my mother's maid of honor."

                                       

"Good Girl" Leo approved heartily, "now why don't I serve that soup.  Then I have to go back for a while, but afterwards I'll pick the twins up.  Caroline why don't you and I descend on Sam and Mal for the evening with the twins?  We can take them to the big playground and wear them out; and Chloe and Tucker can have the house for a little quiet."

 

Chloe smiled, "thanks Dad, you're really the best." Chloe kept her spirits up over lunch and was sad to see Leo go as always.  She passed the afternoon sleeping in Tucker's arms and true to their word when Leo returned home he and Caroline went to Sam and Mallory's.

----------------------                                        

"I have cleared my desk and we are out of here," Josh announced.  "This way we can stop at the store, and still get home in time to relax a little before they come over."  He extended his hand to Donna, helping her up.

                                       

Donna smiled her thanks and they left the West Wing. They stopped at the store and Donna sat and waited for Josh to finish with the shopping, giving him help when he needed it.  They went home and had only changed and just sat down to relax when Josh went back upstairs to do something.  The doorbell rang and when Josh made it back downstairs a few minutes later he found his wife sitting and chatting merrily with Joey's interpreter and a very pregnant Joey Lucas.

                                       

Joey rose slowly as much as her girth would allow and held her arms to Josh who quickly hugged her in return and then shook Kenny's hand.  "Joey you look wonderful" Josh said sincerely.  "When and who?"

 

Kenny signed Josh's words to Joey though she didn't need them.  She signed quickly back in a long spiel. "You met him once.  It was a one night stand in LA.  The father wants nothing to do with the baby.  I hope this will not hurt my running too much." She eased herself back down. "I very much want this baby though and I want to name him Joshua Brighton if you don't mind."

 

"No of course I don't mind" Josh grinned, helping her back into her chair and then also taking Donna's arm and guiding her to a chair.  "I have to confess I at first thought maybe you and Kenny here...."  He blushed at looked away.  "Sorry, uncalled for."

                                  

"Kenny takes care of me," Joey spoke for herself as best she could. "How are both of you?  Or would you rather skip straight to business?"

 

Kenny smiled at her words and reached out and squeezed her hand.  "Always" he signed quickly.

                                 

"We're both fine" Josh smiled, "and Donna is healthily pregnant with twins after a small health scare so we're glad about that.   And you knew we were married, or no?"

                                

"No I had no idea, congratulations," Joey smiled, "it's about time for you two. Congratulations to you Donna.  Twins is amazing." She looked to Kenny a moment. "Kenny is going to adopt my child. We were married last week.  He wants to take care of the baby and I."

                               

"Whoa wow" Josh smiled.  "I had no idea.  Congratulations, both of you.  I'm thrilled for you.  When is the baby due?"

 

"A little over two months," Joey signed.

--------------------                                     

Sam was in the yard of the guesthouse turning the grill on.  "Mallory said it was too warm to turn on anything inside that generated heat so it was either bologna sandwiches or grill some burgers" he announced as both Brighton and Belle ran for him.  "She's down at the deli getting some beans and slaw and stuff which I didn't want her doing alone but I got the over protective husband glare.  Leo your daughter is stubborn."

                                    

"All of my daughters are stubborn," Leo replied, "but their strong wills and opinions are some of the things I admire most about them, even little Belle there. How is Mallory doing?"

                                    

"Well depending on what time of the day, it's her back, her bladder, her feet, or me" Sam grinned, "and I admire her too for that--her tenacity you know.  One thing is for sure we're never dull around here."

----------------------                                    

As darkness filled the room Tucker stirred and helped Chloe to sit up, rubbing her back as he lifted her hair out of the way.  "Hi" he said softly.  "You're beautiful and I love you.  Do you feel like a walk or a swim, or maybe some tea and cookies.  Tell me what I can do for you."

                              

"A little walk and then maybe a swim sounds good," Chloe answered softly.  She let Tucker help her dress and she left a note before they went out. "It's beautiful out tonight," she commented where she was leaned against him.

                             

"And so are you" Tucker responded.  "It was great of your parents to let me stay with you.  You know I could easily get used to that.  We go to school and our jobs and all, and then in the evenings we do our homework and then you sleep in my arms--if you wouldn't get sick of me that is."

 

Chloe smiled, "I wouldn't get sick of you and it would be good practice for marriage. I mean we'd learn how to live together and which habits of ours had to go, like underwear on the floor or leaving the seat up or something..." she laughed lightly.

 

"Why Miss Murphy are you asking me to move in here with you?" Tucker grinned, happy at the thought.  "Think of the gas I'd save not driving over here all the time."  He took her even more firmly into his arms, ruffling her hair as he rubbed her back.  "I don't want to sleep without you again in this lifetime" he added quietly, "we need to talk to Sam and Leo and your mom."

 

Chloe laughed at his comment, "Tucker you walk through the side gate!  There's no gas involved!" she continued laughing, "of course it would be nice if we could carpool to the White House and such."

 

"I know" Tucker grinned, letting her know he was teasing, "I was hoping I could slip that one past Leo and wanted to try it out first with you."

 

"He's not going to buy it," Chloe laughed. They continued to walk along for a short distance before turning back.  Then Chloe decided she wanted to swim.  "I want to eat something really good for dinner tonight..."

 

Tucker led her back to the secluded pool.  "Two questions" he whispered, "what do you want for dinner, and are suits optional?"

                      

Chloe stripped out of her clothes right before him and dove elegantly into the pool which looked very blue due to the lighting. "I don't know," she replied when she surfaced, "what I want for dinner.  I don't know."

                     

 "Well I have a lot of talents" Tucker sighed as he dropped his own clothes to the cement deck, "but mind reading isn't one of them."  He mimicked her dive and came up next to her, laying back in an invitation for her to join him.  "Remember you're supposed to be taking it real easy now" he reminded her.

                   

"I know, I know," Chloe sighed, "I'm supposed to be in bed still."  she clung to the side of the pool and lay her head down on her arms.

                   

Gently Tucker dislodged her hands from the pool ledge and moved her to lay on him, encouraging her to wrap her arms around his chest and rest.  "I've got you angel" he said softly, letting the warm water lap across her bare back, trailing out between his fingers.  "In a little while we'll go back upstairs and call in whatever you feel like eating."

                   

"Thanks," Chloe said softly.  She was quiet for a long time and then she barely said, "I could have done it you know.  I would have gladly done it."

                 

"Had my baby?" Tucker asked gently, "of course you could have.  And you would have been a wonderful mother.  I wanted the baby too.  I only knew about it for a few minutes, but I wanted it too.  It would have been a very wanted, much loved baby.  And the next one will be too, just as much.  This one will always have a special place in our hearts though.  We'll always love the first baby our love made."

                

"If I think of it like that I think I'll always be sad," Chloe sniffled, "because I mean then we'll never have a first baby..."

               

"We will have two first babies" Tucker said thoughtfully, "one in heaven and one that we will bring home and love as much.  For whatever reason, this one was not meant to be, but I believe like CJ that in heaven he's whole and alive, and knows he was loved and wanted."

 

Chloe smiled faintly. "Thank God for sending you to love me, for sending me a man like you who makes my world alright...I love you Tucker." she leaned in and kissed him.  They floated for a while more before they went inside then Chloe decided she wanted some more soup for dinner as she crawled back into bed.

-----------------------                             

"And I can't wait" Kenny grinned, running his hand over Joey's swollen stomach.  "And then I'm going to be the nanny while she works on the campaign, and when she's elected I'm going to do consulting out of our place here in DC and we'll go home on weekends to take care of business back there."    "Sounds like you've got it all planned" Josh approved, "but Joey a campaign is going to be exhausting.  You're sure this is something you want to do after giving birth?"

                            

Joey nodded, "I want to speak for the people.  Being deaf has made me a good listener.  The people's needs aren't being met and I want the opportunity to get some things done for education and housing and things that are really needed, not funding for another golf course."

                           

"I love golf" Toby spoke up as he and CJ joined them.  Joey stood up slowly and both CJ and Toby gasped.  "Surprise" Josh grinned.  CJ spotted the ring on Joey's finger, that both Josh and Donna had missed earlier, and noticed how quickly Kenny moved to help Joey up.  "You and Kenny?"

                           

"Yes," Joey answered verbally before shaking both CJ and Toby's hands.  She smiled and then Kenny helped her to sit back down. She frowned a moment then and everyone got to see a little foot poking out on one side.

                          

Kenny gently covered the foot with his palm and shortly it withdrew.  "My son is very anxious" he smiled, "baby Joshua."    "Josh do you have something to tell us?" Toby asked.

                        

"Other than that they intend on naming the baby after Josh, no," Donna answered.

                       

"You mean we're not going to have to weather a White House scandal" Toby teased again, "I was so hoping.  Joshua let's put this meat on before CJ tells me the baby is hungry again."

                       

-------------------------                       

Tucker warmed the soup and brought it up along with some cheese and crackers, and some pound cake and strawberries for dessert.   He set the tray down on the night table and crawled in next to her, feeding her a mouth full of soup.  "Yes I know you can do this yourself, but I like it" he grinned.  "I like taking care of you.  It's part of loving you."

 

Chloe smiled and opened her mouth for another bite.  She continued to let him feed her. "I love it when you take care of me.  I don't know what I'd do without you anymore."

 

"You're never going to find out" Tucker vowed.  "You are stuck with me for life future Mrs. Seaborn.”  He smiled tenderly and wiped her mouth with a finger covered napkin then kissed each corner.

 

Chloe smiled.  Once they'd finished dinner and dessert she curled up against him. "What shall we do now?  I'm not sleepy..."

 

"I could bring up the Nintendo and wax your butt at Mario, or do the same with Uno or Risk" Tucker grinned evilly. 

 

"Mario so we can laugh a lot please..." Chloe smiled. She was soon running into all kinds of things with her Mario on purpose just to see how much she could make herself laugh.

 

"It's good to see you laugh" Tucker smiled, feeling himself relax really for the first time since he had heard about the baby.  "Of course if I do this you can laugh even more."  With that he ran his fingertips up the inside of her thigh to the back of her knee, tickling the one spot where he knew she was super sensitive.

      

Chloe began to thrash around laughing and then she suddenly curled up into a ball whimpering from the pain of doing too much. "I love you," she said as he held her. "You need to make sure you can stay.  I need you to stay."

     

"I don't plan on going anywhere" Tucker assured her, ''unless Leo drop kicks me out the back door.  Otherwise you can plan on me sleeping right here tonight and every other night as far as that goes, pending Leo's kicking me out of course."

----------------------------             

"OK Leo give" Sam told his future father in law as they sat with coffee and pie.  "Something was going on this afternoon.  Tucker, Chloe, and CJ disappeared.  CJ came back, Tucker and Chloe didn't.  Now you two are here, Chloe and Tucker are not.  What's up?"

            

"It seems Chloe and Tucker got themselves in a bit of a mess," Caroline spoke up. "Chloe found out she was pregnant today.  She lost the baby in the same day."

           

Mallory gave a small cry of alarm and put her hands to her belly, covering her baby and then burst into tears. 

           

"Oh Mallory of goodness I wasn't even thinking," Caroline was immediately regretful. "Sam, Leo I didn't mean to..."

          

Mallory stifled her sobbing and went into Sam's arms.  "Of course you didn't" she assured Caroline, "I mean you're in the same boat as me.  It's just that it doesn't take much these days to turn on the water works.  Last night Sam complained we were out of toothpaste and that was all it took.  But Chloe's my sister, well step sister, practically and I love her.  What about the wedding?"

        

"We're going to continue with the wedding as planned at her request," Caroline replied, "she's a brave girl your sister."

       

"Yeah" Mallory nodded and wiped her tears.  "I'm glad.  I'm sure Tucker is taking care of her."    "Glued to her side" Leo smiled.

----------------       

"We're home guys" Leo's voice echoed up the stairs and a moment later he was in the doorway, a sleeping Belle on his shoulder.  "You guys need anything before we say goodnight?"

    

Chloe smiled at him, "a tall glass of milk?" she asked. "I love you Dad, thank-you"

   

Leo put Belle into bed, and took Brighton from Caroline, then brought them each a milk and some butterscotch chip cookies.  "In case you get hungry" he explained with a small smile and leaned down to kiss Chloe's forehead.  "Good night child, I love you too."  He turned to go and then turned back, laying a hand on Tucker's shoulder.  "Good night son.  Chloe you're a lucky young woman--in fact both of you are.  What you've found some people wait an entire lifetime for."

  

"I know," Chloe smiled softly, "and I'm so thankful, not only that I recognize it but that everyone else does.  Having Tucker in my life makes me feel totally complete. I love him very much Dad." Chloe snuggled against Tucker, "but then you already knew that."

 

"Yes I did and I'm glad.  Everyone should have someone like that.  It took me a lot of years to find my someone though.  You two are very fortunate."    Caroline joined them to say good night as well and Tucker took a quick breath for courage.  "Chloe and I talked about me--well me staying here--at night all the time," he gasped out in a rush.  "I don't know how you'd feel about that."

 

 "I don't know..." Caroline said hesitantly, "Leo?" she consulted her husband.

 

"My first temptation would be to say no, just for the sake of appearance" Leo frowned, "but that's not fair."  He sat on the bed and patted Chloe's hand.  "Tell me why it would be better if you and Tucker shared a bed each night."

 

“Because I love him and I need him and we’re already together all the time anyhow and,” Chloe rumbled on hoping he’d believe her argument a good one.

 

"Child I don't think you have a career in law staring you in the face" Leo smiled.  "For the time being it's fine, as you recover.  And then we'll see how it goes.  As long as it's working--and it's OK with your mother--then I don't have a problem with it."

                                            

"Thank-you!" Chloe smiled brightly.  She held her arms out to Leo for a hug and then bid her mother goodnight as well.  Once they had gone she snuggled down with Tucker. "I didn't know what to say..." she whispered softly, “I wanted to make sure I didn't blow it...and the only reason I could think of was because I love you and we're engaged.  I don't know how much water that would have held."

                                           

"There really isn't a good reason except our desire" Tucker sighed, "and that I can't stand it being away from you - especially now."  He slipped his hand inside her gown and rubbed gently on her belly where it was tender.  "There will be a time when my baby is large and well inside there.  I promise you that my love."

                                          

"I hope so," Chloe smiled, "I want it even worse now.  In fact I want us to begin trying for a baby as soon as we're married." She yawned and was soon asleep.

                                         

"On our wedding night I will give you a baby" he whispered into her ear, adjusting her over his chest and closing his own eyes.  The next morning they awoke in the same way and he kissed her softly.  "I love waking up like this with you" he said at once.  "And that's how it's going to be, for the next sixty or seventy years at least."

 

"Give or take a few hundred nights where you're working nights at the hospital or pulling double shifts or you get hung up." Chloe kissed him, "morning...so do we get ready for work or are you relegating me to bed for the day?" she kissed him again.

 

"We are going to work" Tucker assured her.  "But you are going to not be climbing step ladders or chasing Josh down the hall to give him a file.  Now what does my fiancée feel like for breakfast.  Chez McGarry, White House dining room, Mcdonalds, or something a little more elegant?"

 

"I'll just grab a bagel here...first dibs on the shower," she called and went to the bathroom quickly.  She was in the shower about three minutes when she called, "Okay Tucker...you can join me now."

                                      

"Yes ma'am" Tucker sang out happily, dropping his robe and boxers and sliding in behind her, closing the shower door.  The warm water washed over them and he draped his arms over her shoulders parting her hair at the same time, tangling his fingers in the long strands.

 

"Come on, can we just get this over with and get breakfast and get to work," Chloe almost bit when he'd been playing with her hair too long.

 

"Sorry" Tucker dropped his hands at once as if he had been burned, and stepped back from her, handing her the bottle of shampoo.

                                  

Chloe turned and looked at him the hurt rushing to her face and especially her eyes and she trembled suddenly bursting into tears. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry I didn't mean it...please don't leave me." She thrust the shampoo at him and then herself against his chest.

 

Those words surprised Tucker even more than her comment about hurrying.  "Hey angel no" he whispered, taking the shampoo from her, "it's OK.  You have every right to be a little impatient after what happened.  Leave you?  Not in this lifetime.  I love you and I'm not going anywhere out of your sight--not unless you order me away."

 

Chloe smiled and kissed Tucker softly, allowing him to finish their shower routine.  They had just finished drying her hair and dressing when the phone rang. "McGarry Residence," Chloe answered. "Chloe we need you and Tucker here as soon as you can be.  Things are really swamped here and pretty hectic.  Your help would be beyond appreciated," CJ said. "That was CJ, something big's happening and we need to get in as soon as we can and help."

                               

"Then we'd better get the firebird in gear lady" Tucker grinned, giving her hair another stroke of the brush and kissing her firmly.  "I love you angel."

--------------------                                        

"Toby, time to be up," CJ kissed him awake.  She was already dressed. "Toby I'm going to need the VISA this afternoon," she announced.  Then she showed him the safety pin holding the top inch of her skirt about a half-inch apart.

                                       

"Good grief.  My wife is getting fat" Toby teased, hooking his arm around her waist and drawing her to him in a giant hug.  "Where are you going and tell me you're taking someone with you please."

                                       

"Well I would take you if I thought you could tolerate it and it wouldn't bore you to death," CJ began looking slightly pouty after the fat remark, "otherwise I'm taking Donna."

                                      

"Either I or Josh, or both of us if we can get away, will accompany you ladies this afternoon" Toby said decisively, reading her tone and realizing the 'fat' remark stung.  "Maybe we can make a lunch thing out of it as well."  He patted her belly, feeling the baby easily.  "Beautiful" he whispered, "this is beautiful on you."

 

"You haven't erased the fat remark yet," CJ replied before kissing him again and going down to get their mugs of coffee they always took in the car.

 

"I'll work on it" Toby called after her, making a mental note to watch the fat remarks.

 

---------------------                                    

"Morning Charlie," Zoey greeted him with a smile in their bedroom of the White House. "It's a beautiful June day out there and I have a doctor's appointment this morning." She had on a pink baby doll dress, which hid all of her figure, solving the problem of whether or not the baby was showing.

                                    

"Bookbag has a doctor's appointment this morning," Gina advised Lucas on her mic as they were coming in opposite directions to relieve Donnovan and Henderson who were near the Young's suite door.

                                   

"Doctor, got it" Lucas answered her into his sleeve.  "I'll make sure the car is ready.  Is Mr. Bookbag going as well?"

                                   

"Good morning and I love you" Charlie responded, "and you look beautiful today.  I hope I'm going to be able to go with you.  Your dad has a luncheon speech at...well someplace."

                                   

"I'm sure he is," Gina replied and then she smiled at Lucas as they met in the hall. "we meet again," she mouthed, reminding him of their night at the flat.

                                   

"I got you the morning off," Zoey smiled, "I just have to have you back by 11, which I will because the appointment's at eight-in forty minutes." she kissed him again, "hurry up.  You know we're not allowed to be late."

 

"Does that mean fooling around is out this morning" Charlie grinned, teasingly grabbing her around her waist and hauling her to him.  "Seems a shame to waste a morning off."

 

"I love you" Lucas mouthed and formed a kiss.  "The car will be out front.  Maybe we can make it take all morning.  Things are insane around here this morning--people running everywhere."

 

"Maybe after the doctor's appointment," Zoey smiled. "Right now I'm all dressed and ready to go and you're holding things up." she laughed lightly.

                                 

"Yeah I noticed, the Wing looked like a hurricane had hit it," Gina remarked, "I wonder what's got everyone so busy."

 

"That's me, but then I have a beautiful woman to look at" Charlie grinned and kissed her once more before launching himself into the bathroom.  "Ten minutes, promise."

 

"With any luck it will have blown over by the time we get back.  But these things always seem to ratchet up the security level" Lucas moaned and knocked on the suite door.  "You people decent in there.  We should get going before we have to use an armored car instead of the limo."

 

Zoey tended to the bed-making and then sat on it to wait for Charlie. She pressed her dress down to see the now visible roundness where her baby lie.  She smiled. Lucas' knock interrupted her thoughts.  "Charlie's running a little behind," she called out. "I'm ready to go but he's not."  Then for lack of anything better to do Zoey slipped out their suite door into the hall to speak with Gina and Lucas.

 

"Good Morning Ma'am" Lucas greeted her, touching the tip of an imaginary cap.  "Actually I'm practicing in case I ever do First Lady detail.  "And may I say you look lovely this morning.  A true vision."  By this time both were giggling at him.  "Gina this man will keep you entertained" Zoey laughed.  "You must love him."

 

"I think that might be a safe assumption," Gina replied with a smile.  "You feeling alright this morning?" "I'm feeling fine," Zoey replied with a smile.

 

"I'm glad" Gina smiled, "can't tell you're pregnant in that dress.  Something I'll need to look into."  Lucas looked up alarmed.  "Not yet" Gina shook her head.  "Men, sheesh."  "Lucas we're being dissed again" Charlie laughed as he came through the door, dressed in his suit pants and jacket but with a sports shirt.  "I didn't think the doctor called for a tie" he explained.

 

Zoey smiled and shook her head.  They took the familiar formation they had become so accustomed to. "You know...I hardly notice the service anymore."

 

"I wish it could be just me and Lucas with you" Gina said softly, "and sometimes that's OK, but practically speaking, if there was ever an emergency, two wouldn't be enough.  Of course one code word into the mic and I can make this place look like D Day, but let's not go there."

 

Donnovan and Henderson suddenly reappeared. "Get Zoey and Charlie out the back way now.  There's a problem." They were quickly joined by several very familiar secret service members.

                       

Lucas's hand automatically went to check for his weapon though he would no more leave without that than his wallet.  At the same time he looked to Gina, feeling a pang for her safety as he pushed gently on Charlie and Zoey to keep them moving.  Questions would have to wait.  Charlie's arm went around Zoey and he looked to Lucas and Gina, seeing their reassurance that nothing would happen.

----------------------                                  

CJ was taking her turn battling the morning commute and as usual with CJ they arrived without fussing or horn blowing. They ate breakfast in the White House cafeteria and then were ambushed as they set foot in the Wing. "Eleven Toby," CJ managed to get out before she was drug off.

                                 

"Another day at the asylum" Toby muttered.  "In fact I swear the lunatics are running it."

-----------------------                                 

"I love you Tucker," Chloe responded, rising up to give him a kiss before she had him put her hair into an updo. They made sure everything was as it should be at the house, set the alarm and then took off in Chloe's firebird.  She was very careful about driving to work.  Once their ID's had been checked, they parked and then hurried in to the west wing. Everyone was hurrying one direction or another in the hallways and the commotion looked almost frightening. "What's going on?" Chloe asked Sam when they met up with him.

                              

Sam just shook his head.  "No information is being released yet."    Tucker took Chloe's hand and led her toward the oval office.  "Maybe we can find out by overhearing something."

                            

Chloe nodded and they walked towards the oval office but got stopped and eventually wound up at their desks. "Chloe, Tucker thank goodness you're here," CJ said when they arrived. "Chloe I need 2500 copies of this. I'm sure I can count on you not to read it." Chloe nodded and hurried off with the document. "Tucker, I believe Josh requested to see you as soon as you arrived." CJ said before the phone in her office rang and she hurried off to answer it.

                           

"Yes ma'am" Tucker nodded, blowing a quick kiss at Chloe's back, and wishing he could remind her to take it slow.  Then he hurried into Josh's office, colliding with Donna as she was hurrying out.  "Donna oh Donna I'm sorry, did I hurt you?" he gasped, taking her arms and bringing Josh running from his office, phone in hand.

                           

"I'm fine, I'm fine," Donna said quickly and flashed Tucker a quick smile and a longer one to Josh before quickly hurrying off on whatever mission Josh had sent her on. She looked as though she had been crying a little.

                          

"OK good she wasn't hurt" Tucker breathed a long sigh of relief, "But she does look upset.  Now what's going on--and what can I do for you?  CJ said you had been looking for me."

                         

Josh closed his door, "Tucker you have to act like nothing has happened but there has been a serious breech in security.  Someone broke the firewall last night and has gotten into all of the White House systems.  There's also someone in this building today that's not supposed to be here and we don't yet know who it is." Josh sighed, "anyhow, since we're all on manual paperwork today I need you to type all of the information in these folders up on a typewriter and then hand them to Donna to file when you're finished."

                        

"Sure OK" Tucker nodded, pleased that he had been trusted, and yet still nervous as he looked around.   People had brought in a bank of typewriters and he made use of one, starting to work quickly, and forcing his mind from Chloe.

---------------------------                       

 A short while later a visibly shaken Mallory arrived in search of Sam.  Tears were on her cheeks and she wiped them away impatiently until a wave of dizziness and nausea overcame her and she collapsed weakly in the nearest chair.

                      

"Mal!" Sam called out alarmed. "Are you okay? What's wrong?" the words rushed from his mouth as he rushed to her side.

 

"I was just scared pretty bad" Mallory admitted.  "Sam we have the OB appointment this morning--remember I told you and asked if you wanted to come.  You said meet you here like I've done a hundred times.  Well as I walked in I was stopped, and not just questioned--" she lifted her sleeve to show him her arm where a hand print was rapidly forming.  "I guess if I hadn't just brazenly been walking in, but I'm used to doing that.  The guard grabbed me--one I don't know apparently, pushed me against the wall and searched me.  I finally was allowed to show my ID and my admittance pass."  She sobbed softly, "anyway it's OK.  Thank god you're here."

                    

"Oh Mal," Sam hugged her. "It's okay."

-----------------------------                      

 Chloe returned and smiled at Tucker as she passed by him balancing two stacks of paper. Carol was following with two more and another intern had two more large stacks. They left them in CJ's office and Chloe took her desk next to Tucker's. "This place looks like a warzone," she whispered. "Everyone's on edge and the service is doubled I'd swear."

 

"I know" Tucker nodded, "it's a security problem.  Josh asked me not to say anything more.  I'm glad you're back though.  I wasn't liking not knowing where you were."

 

 

-------------------------                      

Zoey and Charlie were safely escorted into the limo and Lucas and Gina with them. "What is going on?!" Zoey finally demanded.

                     

"No one's telling us" Lucas sighed, "but there's a lot of extra security on today.  It's called--this week at least---Condition Buzzard Bait--and no I don't know who makes these things up.  Anyway, something is wrong in the West Wing, but I'm sure they'll figure it out and fix it whatever it is."  Charlie's hand tightened on hers, and he knew she was thinking about her father's safety.

------------------------                     

"Well CJ will probably ask me to do something else in just a minute I'm sure. Let's hope this blows over."

                    

CJ however, left her office a moment later headed towards the press room. She saw a man she'd never seen before in a restricted area. "Excuse me sir.  Could I see your pass?" she asked. The man did not turn around.  She repeated her request.  It was at that moment that Danny appeared behind her. Meanwhile the unidentified man in front of her turned around with a gun. "Oh God I found him," CJ barely breathed. "Shut the door," the man ordered.  CJ stood frozen but heard the door close.  She turned slowly around. "Danny," she gasped. Danny moved quickly to stand in front of her. "We can get through this CJ," Danny said firmly, "I swear on my life I won't let anything happen to you. Just stay calm."

                    

Meanwhile Sam got the news in a whisper from his aide who had seen the incident.  He burst into the office while Jed, Leo, Toby and Josh were together. "We found the man.  He's holding CJ hostage in the press file room," Sam blurted, "Danny Concannon slipped in there with her."

                   

"I'm calling security," Toby gasped, rocking back on his heels in shock.  "Toby no" Josh grabbed his arm.  "You know what will happen--it will look like Iwo Jima in here.  We don't need weapons firing, tear gas and whatever else those ex-Marines want to use.  We've got pregnant women in here."  "So is CJ" Toby whispered, "Danny's with her?"    "Yeah, and he'll take care of her" Josh answered, "now what can we do that's going to prevent a lot of grief?"

                  

"Do we know who this guy is or what he wants?" Jed asked.

------------------------                  

                  

Meanwhile CJ whispered to Danny. "What are you doing in here?" "Protecting you," Danny answered. "No I mean how did you get in here in the first place," CJ whispered again. "I heard you ask the question twice and remember I seem to manage to stay in the loop," Danny replied. "Well it was a stupid move Danny," CJ replied. "Not from where I'm standing," Danny returned. "I want to see the president," the man demanded in a hispanic accent. "Not with an AK47 you're not!" CJ replied. The man turned the gun and fired several shots into the ceiling and CJ screamed, hitting the floor with Danny to take cover.

                  

"One thing I can't wait to find out is how he got in here with that weapon" Danny muttered, holding CJ down to the floor.  There was no mistaking the noise and Jed, Josh, Toby and Leo froze when they heard it.  Sam grabbed onto Mallory, as Tucker did to Chloe and evacuation orders were issued.  "I'm only leaving here in a straight jacket," Toby declared.  "Now let's get a hostage negotiator down there and find out what that man wants.  And I better not hear any mention of teargas being used."

                

"Danny, this is totally off the record," CJ managed to get out.  The two looked at each other as though both asking why such a thing should matter at a time like this and under the door they could see the scurrying of feet and the muffled voices as they evacuated.

                 

The secret service was surrounding the president at once and Josh and Toby left the room to go and see what could be done. Security was standing outside the door strategizing when they arrived.

                

"Danny I think I'm going to be ill," CJ replied a few moments later. "I really don't feel so great."

               

"I think that's understandable.  I don't either" Danny sighed, watching the gunman pace back and forth.  He had just enough time to grab the trashcan before CJ lost her breakfast. 

               

"This is my home, CJ is my friend and I'm still in charge here," Jed roared in that voice that sent under staff running.  "Now I want to talk to this man.  Obviously he came here to see me.  If a few words with him will get CJ out, then I can bloody well give him that time."

              

"Sir he's armed," Sam felt the need to point out.

              

CJ clung to Danny while she was being ill. "I'm sorry..." she apologized afterwards.

             

"Worry about it after we get out" Danny told her, watching the man at the same time.  "And I haven't a clue as to how we're going to accomplish that frankly.  I just know if they storm this room, he's going to take out a lot of men before they do him."     Tucker approached the group, he and Chloe having avoided the evacuation sweep.    "Sir" Tucker pushed his way through.  "I'm a lot skinnier than these guys especially with all that vest and all on.  I think I can climb the tree outside the window that's near the big desk, and push my way in."

              

"Are you crazy?!  He'll shoot you!" Chloe exclaimed. "There's no way it would work.  I mean you get in there and then what...he has another hostage." "I want to speak to the President of the United States and no one else," the man called out from behind the door. "She's fine Toby," Danny added. 

           

"She better be" Toby swore under his breath, "or it won't be one of these guys that shoots him.  That pleasure will belong to me."    "I'm not talking to anyone holding a gun and a hostage," Jed returned quickly.  "You open the door and let CJ out, giving her the gun, and I come in and we talk about anything you want.  Mr. Concannon is a reporter, so if it's publicity you need for your cause, you'll have more of it than you'll ever want I guarantee you.  Right now I'm the only thing that's standing between you and a well armed security force.  You'd do well to listen."

          

The man looked at CJ and at Danny and then grabbed CJ from him.  CJ's eyes were full of fear a moment as she looked at Danny and then she masked her expression. The man thrust the gun into CJ's arms and opened the door, pushing her out and closing it again.  CJ could only stand frozen and looking at the door in shock.

         

"Oh my God" Toby gasped and pushed his way to her, taking the gun and then her into his arms.  "I love you Mrs. Ziegler, are you all right?"  Without waiting for an answer, he pulled her back from the door.  "Mr. President just because she has that gun doesn't mean he doesn't have others," the service head warned.  "I know" Jed nodded, "but he acted in good faith and now I'm going to as well."  Jed opened the door and the intruder was standing on the other side, Danny at his side.  The guards raised their guns.  "Let me see your hands" the chief demanded.  The man complied at once.   "The door stays open and your hands stay in sight," the chief ordered.     Jed looked back at them and stepped inside the room.  "Sir, keep your hands where these men can see them please" he pleaded.  "I don't want anyone hurt here, not even you.  Now you've got my full attention.  In fact if you'll submit to be searched, we can make this meeting private."

        

The man nodded and agreed to the search.  The service took his spare bullets but found no other weapons. "My people are starving because of your government.  We come here seeking asylum from tyranny, ready to work, but your police they say no. They put us in tents, leaky tents with barbwire fences for walls.  That is not a home it's a concentration camp." The man said in his frustrated South American accent. "My wife and my daughter are deaf and they can communicate with no one there.  My youngest son fell ill last month and we could not be helped because our paperwork was incomplete. I have a baby girl Mr. President, a little tiny baby girl who is only two months old.  She's already sick from lack of nutrition because my wife who is feeding her is unhealthy herself."

       

Jed listened closely and then turned to Danny who was making notes and recording the conversation.  "I knew conditions in those camps were not the best" he sighed, "but I had no idea.  Keep your seat.  I'm going to get some coffee and some food and my deputy chief of staff in here who not only eats but knows how to get things done.  If the conditions are as you say, I want them changed.  If I have to I'll mobilize a reserve unit and get some emergency shelter and food and medical care sent in there."  He quickly walked to the door and hollered for Josh, then added, "Toby, CJ if you're feeling up to it, I want you to hear what this man has to say.  Josh I want his allegations looked into and I want a personal report by you in forty eight hours.  That means you're taking a short trip."

      

"I want to come with you," Donna said immediately.  CJ and Toby joined the president and listened over lunch as the man once more told his story. CJ seemed absolutely pained. "I wish there was a way I could help."

      

Toby took her hand and squeezed it gently.  "I think we can afford a healthy contribution toward some food and medical supplies.  Why don't we give Josh a check so he can buy what he sees they need when he gets there?"

 

CJ nodded, "Yes please...let's do that."

     

Tucker had heard the story and now turned to Chloe.  "I want to ask if I can go with Josh and Donna.  I'm not afraid to work and I think I can help."

 

"Not without me!" Chloe objected her eyes pleading.

     

"Donna would it do any good for me to ask you not to want to come?" Josh sighed as he began to clear his desk.  "I'm concerned about you and the babies and the heat and maybe disease and..."  Her look told him he was wasting his breath.

    

"I don't want to be without you," Donna replied.

   

"Nor I you" Josh admitted, drawing her into a quick hug.  "Let's go pack."  He walked out of his office, his hand joined to hers, and found Chloe and Tucker.  "Josh we're coming too" Tucker said quietly.  "I can work, and Chloe can help with the women and the kids and be seeing what's needed and taking care of...."  "Hey you don't need to convince me" Josh held up his hand.  "I'm glad to have you.  Go pack.  We've got a chopper taking us to Andrews and then a transport the rest of the way.  Dress cool.  You think it's hot here.  Mississippi is steam city."

  

   Chloe and Tucker rushed off to pack. "We'll be careful we promise mom and we won't go too far away from Josh and Donna. It's going to be okay."  They got to the base and their shot records were looked over. "Mrs. Lyman you'll want to stay out of any area that's quarantined and all medical facilities." Donna nodded her understanding. "This is going to be great!" Chloe enthused as they boarded the plane.

 

Tucker smiled at her enthusiasm, totally happy to see that something was taking her mind off the baby they had lost.  The intruder who had captured national attention now was being returned to his family after Jed firmly refused to allow any charges to be pressed.  Josh and Donna boarded last, her hand firmly wrapped in his.  "You know you guys Leo and Caroline, and Sam and Mallory, are very proud of you two," he said softly to Chloe and Tucker.  "It's just something I feel compelled to do" Tucker shrugged.  "I have so much in my life, including a woman I adore.  I can spend a few days giving back.  And besides we'll be home for the wedding."  The flight took off, climbing smoothly into the late morning sky and three hours later was on the tarmac at Keesler AFB.  Another chopper ride and they were set down on a pad just outside a stark compound.  "You're not serious" Tucker gasped.  "My God" Josh looked aghast just at what he could see.  "If it's this bad out here, think what it's like inside."

 

 The Americans were swarmed by the stench of cramped people, sick and dirty and by their pleas for help. The man took them to his family. He tapped the woman on the shoulder and then signed to her. She looked so thankful and happy to see him, tears even came to her eyes.  The woman had not had a good bath in quite some time, nor had the rest of the family.  The baby she held in her arms was so tiny and obviously malnourished. A girl appeared and she signed to her mother who replied.  The boy lie still on the palate they had on the floor. "That is where my whole family lives," the man gestured to the palate. Chloe's eyes were locked on the tiny baby.   

 

"I can't believe that what they left is worse than what we've given them" Tucker sighed, dropping to the floor where the mother was weeping now in her husband's arms.  He lifted the baby from her and handed her to Chloe.  "What the hell is going on in here?" a very irate voice broke through.  Josh wheeled at the sound, instinctively stepping in front of Donna.  "Just who are you people?" the tall man demanded, staring at the visitors.  “How did you get in here?"   Josh drew himself up to his full height.  "Joshua Lyman, Deputy Chief of Staff, White House, and you are sir?"    "Fred Hampton, in charge."     "OK Mr. Hampton, I'm going to tour these facilities.  I'm also going to recommend to the president that the Army reserve be brought in here to provide food and medical and sanitary care for these people."   "It's going to take some pretty important initials on those kind of orders" Hampton sneered.  "Yeah well try JB" Josh told him, pushing him aside and taking Donna's hand.  "We'll stay here a bit," Tucker told him, seeing that Chloe wasn't going to give up the baby.

                                                              

Chloe cuddled the tiny infant while Josh and Donna began to tour the facility. It was as the man had described and worse.  There was filth in open canals and the women, children and men all looked hungry. They were terribly crowded as well and they all reached out to Josh and Donna begging for help. "Josh this is terrible.  The president really needs to do something about this.  There's got to be somewhere else we can house these people for one thing."

                                                             

"Oh yeah" Josh nodded.  "The army reserve is going to come in here and earn their pay for starters.  And we're going to get FEMA down here, have them bring some of those trailers they haul in to flood areas for temporary housing.  And we're going to get decent toilet and bathing facilities up real quick too.  Then I'm going to call Danny and invite him and some of his friends in here to expose what's been done here.  We'll take a hit for allowing it to go on, but it won't ever happen again and that's what's important."

                                                              

"We're going to get you some help" Tucker assured the baby's mother as she reached for the infant, now crying again from hunger.  "Come on honey" he said to Chloe, "let’s walk a little."  He helped her up and they walked down a long row seeing the same thing Josh had seen, Chloe near tears.  "Not easy is it..."Tucker mused when suddenly a piercing scream ripped through the fetid air.  He grabbed her hand and they ran for the source.  A young girl was lying on a filthy blanket, obviously about to give birth, herself no more than maybe thirteen.  Blood was everywhere, massive amounts pouring from her as the baby's head emerged.  The only person attending her was another young girl.  "This is a nightmare," Tucker gasped, knowing he was watching a child bleeding to death in the throes of giving birth.

                                                            

"Amen to that," Donna said with a decisive nod. "I can't imagine what these people have been through and yet they still keep coming to America."

                                                            

"Oh geez what can we do?  There's got to be a doctor around here or a midwife.  We should call 911?" Chloe suggested seeing the fear and pain on the young girl's face. She herself got down on her knees to help with the baby.

                                                           

"Stay with her honey, I'm going to find her some help--see if you can find out if she has family or what's going on with her from this girl."  Tucker kissed her cheek and ran, in search of someone in charge or anyone who could help.  "Parents dead" the girl said, pointing to the girl giving birth when Tucker had left them.  "Maria.  No family."  The baby was half way out, and Maria barely conscious from the blood loss.

                                                          

"Oh great, now what are we supposed to do," Chloe sighed.  She had her hands on the tiny infant assisting as best she could but she didn't know anything to do for the young mother other than speak to her comfortingly. "It's going to be okay, just breathe and push." Chloe watched as the young girl gave another push and she brought the baby further. "One more push should do it," Chloe said.

                                                          

The girl obviously spoke little English, and her pain and delirium too great for her to manage anyway; nonetheless she gave a game push and the baby was in Chloe's hands, a perfectly formed baby boy.  Another rush of blood followed him and Maria weakly lifted her hands to hold her son.  "Yours" she gasped and was still, her eyes staring vacantly in death.

                                                        

"Oh God no," Chloe gasped, "No!" she called out and began to cry.  She was fairly smudged in blood all over and the infant lay squirming and crying in her arms. The sight of the girl dead before her was making Chloe frightened and ill.  She had never seen death so close before and the finality and suddenness of it terrified her.

                                                        

"Chloe --- Chloe" Tucker heard the baby first and then her soft whimpering.  He was followed by Josh and Donna, and a medic who quickly checked the girl.  "This is the fourth one I've seen like this in the three weeks I've been here" he sighed, pressing the child's eyes closed.  "These are babies having babies and their bodies can't manage it.  Most likely she was raped and her parents killed."  He took his medical kit and made short work of the cord as Tucker gathered Chloe and the baby in his arms.  "He's beautiful," he breathed into her ear.  "And you must be scared to death to see this.  Can I get you away from here?"

                                                      

"She, just before she died she looked at me and said 'yours'.  She gave her baby to me Tucker.  What am I supposed to do now?" Chloe looked almost as confused as she felt. She curled against Tucker seeking comfort.

                                                     

"Ma'am likely you saved the baby's life helping him to be born and keeping his mom calm enough to insure his safe arrival" the medic nodded. "He needs to be checked at the hospital and then I guess he's a ward of the state--he's certainly an American citizen.  Probably be put in a foster home and then adopted out."  Tucker's arms tightened around her.  "You did a good thing my love" he smiled.

                                                    

Chloe smiled back and then she looked down at the young baby. "Foster homes and adoptions...that doesn't sound very good. I want to know this baby has the best life possible. I feel bad just walking out on him like this, just giving him up."

                                                   

"You want to put him in your suitcase and take him home?" Josh smiled, patting her arm.  "We want him taken care of" Tucker spoke up, picking up Chloe's chain of thought.  "This is a Hispanic baby, of no traceable parenthood.  Now most white couples--the kind that adopt--are looking for blonde blue eyed cherubs.  That's not him."

                                                  

"What if we did take him home, not in our suitcase, in our arms, as a sign of goodwill and to set an example, a precedent..." Chloe cuddled the baby to her and he was seeming more and more like a dream.

                                                 

"You two take this baby?" Josh frowned.  "Yeah is that so outrageous?" Tucker demanded.  "We were almost parents already this week remember.  Maybe God took that baby from us and He's giving us this one.  I don't know."  Josh shrugged helplessly and turned to Donna.  "This is no time for you to be uncharacteristically quiet" he yelped.

                                                

"How, how did you almost have a-Chloe!" Donna exclaimed in shock.  Chloe hid against Tucker.  Donna hadn't known previously. "Well geez Josh I don't know what to tell them.  I mean I don't think they should raise the baby but if they want to see him put in a good home then why not take him back with them..." Donna shrugged.

                                               

"Right now the baby is going to the hospital" Josh decided.  "From there we can see what's best. "  Josh turned to the medic.  "Are you taking him in?"  "Yes sir" the medic nodded.  "Should we go along?" Tucker directed his question to Chloe, seeing as she had the most invested here.

                                              

"I'd like to.  I don't think I can stomach doing much more here for a while," Chloe said, "I need a little break from this place."

                                             

"Let's do it" Tucker took her hand and pulled her up, helping her to support the baby.  "Be careful with them" Josh called.  "I'm supposed to be keeping an eye on them."  The medic waved his hand.  "I'll have them back here ASAP sir."  He led Chloe and Tucker to a jeep just outside the compound and within twenty minutes they had reached the hospital.  "Let me guess, you're going to tell Leo and your mom that he followed you home can you keep him" Tucker teased, keeping his arm around her shoulders as they walked in.

                                            

Chloe sighed, "I don't know Tucker.  I mean I really don't think they're going to let me adopt a baby at my age.  I mean..." she began to choke up, "having your baby would have been one thing.  This is another all-together."

                                         

"No we're not going to be able to adopt this teeny thing" Tucker smiled, "but that he's here at all is due to you.  Now if your mom and Leo were here that would be something else.  Not that they don't already have their hands full with the twins and a baby coming.  I guess we have to trust the state to find a good home for him.  After all people are adopting Chinese babies all the time, this is a Hispanic baby so maybe it won't be any different."

                                          

"Watching her have this baby ate me up inside," Chloe said bitterly, "I wanted one so badly.  Now it is going to be forever before I get to be a mother. Do you know how long two years is going to be?" She burst into tears again. "It's not fair!  Here's a baby, given to me, mine for the taking and again ripped away from me.  Maybe I'm not meant to ever have a baby to love!" She raced down the hallway of the hospital, upset.

                                         

Tucker smiled at the nurse who was reaching for the baby.  "Please take good care of him."  With that he caught up to Chloe, catching her arms and turning her to him.  "I'm going to tell you what I think" he said gently.  "I think we need to get Josh and Donna to sign for responsibility for this baby, and we need to take him back with us.  Chloe, his mother bonded with you for that brief time.  She wanted you to have her son because you were the last person in this life to show her any kindness.  She died bringing him into the world, and I think we should carry out her wish."

                                        

Chloe looked happy a moment and then her face fell again, "but he's not yours, don't you want your first son to be born of me?"

                                       

"I don't know that I'm hung up on that" Tucker shook his head.  "Besides the first baby boy that we both contribute genetics to will be ours.  Look, bottom line--take some time and think what you want.  I think it should be your decision.  The baby's fate was given to you; and I'll be behind you all the way you know that.  At the very least you should give him his name."

                                       

"Raphael for his heritage," Chloe responded. She smiled down at the tiny infant. "As for what to do, I don't know...what do you think, honestly?"

                                     

"Raphael is a great name" Tucker smiled.  "I suppose the ideal thing would be to make sure some of his own people took him, but just from the little I've seen it looks like they're all at capacity with kids now.  I think the state will find a good couple to adopt him, and I think we should stipulate that we want to be part of his growing up, visits, letters, pictures.  At the same time, if you want to take him back with us, and let us raise him with help from the whole of our families, then I'm right behind you."

                                     

The nurse interrupted them then, returning with Raphael at the insistence of the medic. Chloe took the tiny, blanket-wrapped infant into her arms.  She smiled down at the beautiful baby boy that she held. "The Sanchez family!" Chloe suddenly exclaimed, "our neighbors three houses down.  They've been looking at adoption because she can't have any. That's what I want to do, give Raphael to them. They'd love him with all their hearts and he'd never want for anything.  "In the meantime, for the four days before we get him home, I'll care for him."

                                   

"Sounds like a real plan to me" Tucker grinned and hugged her to him, resting his finger on the baby's tiny chin.  They were told the infant would need to stay in the hospital over night to be sure he was totally healthy.  They spent a long part of the evening with him and then returned to the camp.  Josh had used all the authority of the President and already major changes were taking place in terms of temporary housing going up, real sanitary facilities, a hot mess tent etc. 

                                   

Donna immediately corralled Chloe.  "How's the little one?"  She put a sisterly arm around her shoulders.  "Honey you didn't say anything before about a baby" she added gently, "were you pregnant?  And it's OK if you don't want to talk about it."

                                  

"I was...CJ gave me a test on Monday and I told Tucker about it, about my being pregnant and then...I lost the baby, right there with him watching.  It was terrible." Chloe barely managed to get out.

                                 

Donna's hand immediately dropped to her stomach and she hugged Chloe with her other hand, all the while wishing for Josh at that moment.  "I'm so sorry sweetie" she sobbed softly.  "That must have been so horrible for you.  I know you and Tucker are young, but you're so in love, and I know that baby would have been very much wanted."    Josh appeared at that moment.  "Ok we have a VIP tent up and running" he smiled "and hot food is....OK what's wrong?  Hey it's not the baby is it?"

                                

Donna smiled and gently shook her head. "No...the baby is fine.  I was just sympathizing with Chloe. I hadn't heard about it before now." 

                                

"Chloe yes" Josh said softly, "I'm so sorry.  Tucker you too.  It was your loss as well."  "Yes it was" Tucker nodded.   "We only had him a few minutes that we both knew of, but he was loved."  Donna's hand was firmly planted on her belly and Josh's hand went around her, pressing over hers.  "Our babies are fine" he whispered.  "And how's the baby you delivered Chloe?"

                              

"He's doing wonderful.  They're going to keep him over night just to make sure he's healthy but then we'll be in charge of him for the rest of our stay down here. We're going to take him back to the Sanchez family.  They've been looking for a baby to adopt and Raphael will be a blessing to them.  They'll love him forever and he'll never want for anything."

                             

 Josh smiled at the young girl, impressed with her maturity.  "Then let's go get some food.  The army reserve knows what to do.  Do you realize in D.C. my title barely gets me a cup of coffee, and down here I can actually give orders and expect them to be obeyed?  Now if that just worked with Donna in the areas of getting her to rest more."  He laughed and pulled her close, resting his hand on where the babies could easily be felt with slight pressure.  "My children treating you good?"

                            

"Fine, wonderful," Donna smiled. "They're treating me fine today. So now what is it you're wanting me to do now oh great master?" she teased.

                           

"Right now just come share a meal with me and then we'll walk around and see how the work is progressing" Josh told her, kissing her cheek lovingly and then resting his hand against the back of her neck.  "I miss your hair down" he added.

"Josh I've been sweating the last three nights we've been sleeping together.  I'm incubating your babies remember.  The hair is either staying up or getting cut off and I've decided I like up the best." Donna replied.

                          

"Is it bad to want two years of my life to pass quickly?" Chloe asked Tucker as she leaned against him.

                         

"Not at all" Tucker assured her, holding her tightly.  "But it will fly.  Two years from now we'll be married, and working on a baby and in the middle of a re-election campaign all at the same time.  In the meantime we just need to enjoy being together.  I love you angel"

                         

"I know" Josh nodded sympathetically, "but it frames your face.  It was one of the first things I noticed about you--pretty blonde hair, natural of course, that framed a beautiful face."

                        

Donna smiled, "Thank-you," she squeezed his hand as they walked.  "I could really go for some ice cream about now."

                        

"Yeah," Chloe smiled, "I have a meeting with CJ and that modeling agent friend of hers on Monday."

                       

Tucker stopped and looked at her closely.  "I had almost forgotten about that.  Of course you don't look like a model at the moment, but the dirt on your nose is cute and you're beautiful to me, always.  Just don't meet some handsome male model and bail on me OK."

                       

"We'll go into town later and get some" Josh promised her, "soon as things settle down here.  Might even could see a late movie, assuming they don't roll up the sidewalks at nine."

                      

"You're coming to all of my shoots that you can.  If I get some shoots," Chloe replied quickly, as though it were a matter of life or death.  "I mean I want you there. I bet you'd like the one on Monday.  They're going to start making me a portfolio."

                      

Donna shrugged, "Okay, well can I have a hotdog then..." she began to sink and grabbed hold of Josh tightly.”Josh I'm not kidding, I'm starving..."

                     

"I want to be at every one" Tucker declared, "if for no other reason than to make sure greasy photographer's assistants don't hit on you.  Plus if they want you to be kissing anyone, I'm going to be that man."

                     

"Hey easy" Josh yelped in alarm.  "I've got you.  Hot food is just straight ahead."  He held her tightly and called ahead to Tucker, "make a path for me will you.  Starving and weak expectant mother here."

                    

Chloe smiled, "You've got yourself a deal."

                    

"Hey you all can we please make room here," Chloe called getting people to move aside, "this pregnant woman needs to eat bad."

Most of the people in line looked no better off themselves but nevertheless parted the ranks to let Josh bring Donna along, and Tucker took down a tray for her.  The food dished up was hot and looked filling.  "Later tonight we'll have your ice cream, and a hot dog first if you want, not to mention popcorn if we get to that movie" Josh promised.  "We want to see Raphael as well" Tucker reminded them.  Carefully Josh helped Donna to a table, and held the glass of milk to her lips, then gave her a few spoonfuls of chicken and rice.  "Can you manage now" he asked anxiously.

                  

Donna smiled and nodded as she got her fork from Josh and began to eat. She quickly cleaned her plate.  "I can't wait to see Raphael again," Chloe said wistfully.  "I have a feeling Chloe's going to get too attached to that baby," Donna whispered to Josh.

                  

"The baby was given to her as his mom's dying wish" Josh shrugged.  "I'm very willing to put the authority of my position behind Chloe to see that she gets what she wants with regard to him.  If she wants this Sanchez couple to adopt him that's fine, or if she and Tucker want to have a major hand in raising him, with him signed over to Leo for the formality that's fine too.  I have full faith in their maturity.  You'd be willing to help them wouldn't you?"

                

Donna smiled, "Of course I would. I think they'll be great with kids. I wish Chloe hadn't miscarried in the first place even though I know they're very young and most people would say far too young to have children."

               

"It's not about age" Josh sighed, "but about love and desire and maturity.  I just know I'm prepared to back whatever their final decision is.  In fact in my report to the governor this afternoon I gave him a heads up that he may need to sign an executive order releasing the baby to my custody.  I don't think there's going to be a problem."

               

"So you're wanting to see our....I mean the....little one?" Tucker asked tenderly, rubbing her back.  "He's a beautiful baby."

              

"He's a beautiful baby," Chloe echoed. "Yes, let's go see him.  I can't wait to have him in my arms again."

             

"You got it" Tucker smiled.  "Josh we'll take a lift to the hospital when you go, and then don't worry about us.  We'll get a taxi when we're ready to leave." 

             

"OK, but you be sure you have your cell and my number in case.  I'm responsible for you two, and I don't plan to have Leo crawling up my butt because something happened" Josh told him sternly.

            

"We promise Josh.  We both have our cell phones and we'll call if we need anything," Chloe hugged Josh tightly. "Thank-you.  You take good care of Aunt Donna for me please."  

           

"I have devoted my life to that" Josh grinned.  "Tucker I'm putting this woman in your hands.  And Leo is bigger than you."   "Yes sir" Tucker grinned.  Tucker and Chloe were dropped at the hospital and Josh and Donna continued on down town in search of a theater or other diversion.

           

"We're here for Raphael" Tucker told the nursery attendant.  "Of course" she smiled and returned a moment later with the wide awake squirming infant, dressed in a blue stretchy suit and reaching his arms out all around him.  She held him out and Tucker motioned for her to give him to Chloe.

          

Chloe carefully settled the infant in her arms and was immediately met with delighted cooing and some drool. Chloe smiled, "there's my perfect little boy.  Did you miss us?" she cooed to the infant as she took the proffered diaper bag. "I missed you," she added as they walked down the hallway.

         

"Of course he missed us" Tucker smiled, guiding her into the lounge.  "Don't they come to bond with the first person to show them love or something--or is that puppies?  Anyway, he's great.  In may have been conceived in an act of violence, but he's going to be raised in love.  We can make sure of it."

         

Josh bought their movie tickets and took Donna across the street to the park to sit in the cool evening air while they awaited show time.  "Danny and the press corps will be here in the morning and they can report on what the Army is accomplishing.  A couple days of supervising to be sure no one drops the ball and we're home to Leo and Caroline's wedding."  He tightened his arm around her shoulders.  "I have never seen such human misery."

        

Chloe smiled, "that he is.  I love him already.  Look at how precious he is.  Those tiny hands and feet, those pretty eyes..."

        

"Me either," Donna shivered involuntarily, "watching Chloe with that girl today and seeing all the other children that were pregnant. The mothers and fathers starving so their children wouldn't have to.  The filth everywhere and everyone so sick." she sighed.

       

Josh hugged her close.  "I don't suppose I could talk you into going back?"

       

"Chloe you're getting very attached here" Tucker warned gently.  "I know I promised I'd stand behind whatever decision you make about him, and I meant it; but be careful not to let your heart rule your head."  He lifted the small bundle from her arms for a snuggle of his own with the baby boy.  "And that would be very easy to do" he sighed, his heart melting.

      

"Sure," Donna replied, "I'm here to help you help those people."

      

"I know Tucker, I know," Chloe sighed, "but..."

     

"But what angel?" Tucker asked softly, looking down into the little face of the child whom in just over a year he could legally adopt.  "Listen, we have to do what's right for this baby, and for us at the same time, and I'm not sure I know what that is.  I know what my heart is saying.  My head is trying very hard not to agree."

     

 "And there's still a lot to do" Josh sighed, "just getting them all identified and medically checked is going to take some doing.  But at least they'll all have some decent food in them very soon.  Listen, since it's just us here now, what do you think about that baby boy?  I'm afraid Chloe wants him badly and I know it was his mother's dying wish, but at the same time Chloe and Tucker have a future to get ready for.  I don't know that a newborn should be part of that right now."

    

"I know," Chloe sighed, "I just don't know what to do about him." she sighed, "Yes I do. I have to give him to the Sanchez family and in two years I'll have the blessing of telling you I'm going to have your baby."

    

"I don't think they should have that baby, simply because it's not theirs and I think that will make a difference eventually.  If they want a baby and they are mature enough for it then they should just go ahead and have one of their own.  I mean I'd like to see them wait for marriage but I don't think Chloe's going to be able to do it."

   

"Fortunately that's their decision" Josh sighed, "but I do feel responsible for that baby, if only because I brought Chloe to him.  If she takes him back to DC and that family adopts him, she can stipulate that she and Tucker be allowed to share in his growing up."

   

"Sometimes doing the right thing sucks" Tucker smiled softly.  "Now we have to call the Sanchez family and tell them the good news.  You better believe, two years from now this is going to happen for us.  On our wedding night I'm going to give you my baby."

------------------------   

   

And back in D.C. Danny was in his office, preparing to leave in the morning when his half opened door slid back fully.   He looked up at the young woman standing before him, a ghost from his past, before he was White House correspondent, when he worked out of the AP bureau in Paris, and the next office belonged to a journalism student, Brittany Phillips.  They had shared a few lunches, seen a few shows, and about the time he thought he might want to see what else there was, she was gone, transferred out of his life. 

    

"Bonjour Danny, comment allez vous?" Brittany greeted him in the same manner as she had when she had popped into his office in Paris. Her hair was a light brown, pulled back in an elegant French twist with many blonde highlights from the sun.  She was tall, 5'11" easily.  Her olive skin not only gave her a warm model-like glow and tone but was also flawless. She stood, leaned against the doorway, a siren of beauty in her light emerald green suit, watching him.

 

  "Brittany you know I can just about ask where the men's room is and order a beer" Danny frowned when he could speak after getting over his shock.  This was no nineteen year old girl standing before him, but a beautiful woman five years later, and the years had been extremely kind to her.  "What are you doing here?  Tell me you've come to DC with one of the news organizations and you're doing the White House beat please."

 

 "Actually, Mr. Senior-White House Correspondent, I am. I'm working for the Journal." She walked around the desk and leaned against it, grabbing his tie and playing with it.  "It's been a long time Danny. Tell me you're successful but single..."

 

"Very and very" Danny smiled, and snapped off his computer.  "Now if you're the same, why don't we go for a drink and catch each other up on the past five years of our lives."  He covered her hand with his, playing with her fingers, noting there was no ring.

 

"I'd like that, maybe somewhere with coffee and croissants?" Brittany suggested.  Then she laughed lightly, "I keep forgetting I'm not in Paris.  I mean here you are, here we are again.  It feels a little like Paris. Maybe it's just the weather," she finally laughed it off to belie the quiet that had come into the room as she had spoken.

                                                                            

Danny shook himself from his thoughts, still trying to reconcile the nineteen year old girl with the woman who now stood before him.  "There's a French all night coffee house on the next block" he smiled.  "And I am totally through here for the night.  What say we order something with a lot of caffeine and catch up?  Who needs to sleep?  I can do that on the plane for Mississippi in the morning.  By the way, I'm taking some of the press corps to tour the refugee camp down there where the intruder came from.  You interested?"

                                                                            

"To take a trip on my new newspaper and spend a little time with you and maybe help some suffering people out?  Sounds like a good deal to me.  Come on, we can grab some coffee and croissants and you can give me all the details."  She looped her arm in his casually, as though it were nothing and walked with him to the coffee house.

                                                                          

By the time they reached the coffee house he had quietly covered her hand with his, and her touch was feeling very warm and familiar.  They ordered and took a secluded back table.  "Brittany I missed you" he said softly, "I know we called and wrote a couple times, but that was back before email and so it wasn't very easy to stay in touch.  I figured our lives went separate ways I guess.  Mine simply came to the White House about six months after you were transferred.  I've been here ever since.  I have a little apartment on Capital Hill, which I only use for sleeping.  I'm either in my office, such as it is at AP, or prowling the White House looking for the latest and usually getting kicked out."  He reached across the table and took her hand.  "OK, that's me.  Now tell me how you model on the side for one thing and how your significant other got you this job in D.C."

                                                                         

"My ex-significant other got me this job so that he could replace me with his 19 year old almost jailbait new secretary and screw her brains out on breaks.  It was just as well, I was ready to be back here.  I just got here yesterday and everywhere I've been your name seemed to keep popping up so, after gathering my facts I had to come look you up." Brittany smiled and took a sip of her coffee. "As for my modeling it's going wonderful.  I'm currently working on a deal with Victoria's Secret for a shoot and I'm going to be in the next sports Illustrated swimsuit edition."

                                                                         

Danny sat back in shock.  "I thought I was teasing you" he gasped, "about the modeling and about the other.  The modeling is great and I'm not surprised.  You are one beautiful woman.  But Brittany, I'm so sorry about the jerk you were with.  Are you divorced, or were you two just together and not married?"

                                                                       

"We were just dating.  There wasn't anything scandalous going on if that's what you're implying Concannon. Now tell me about your millions you made on the stock market and the long string of women who have swooned over you." Brittany teased in kind. 

                                                                      

"I buy a US Bond with each paycheck and the rest goes to make my rent, car insurance and god knows what else" he laughed.  "There was a woman at the White House whom I thought could be special but we never gave it a chance and there's no one else.  So I'm very much into my work now but certainly not above having a social life.  You said you just got here.  Where are you staying?"

                                                                     

"The Georgetown Hyatt," Brittany said hesitantly, "It's the Hyatt in Georgetown anyhow. First rate establishment." she smiled, "why, planning to have dinner with me and come up to my suite to visit and see the place?"

                                                                    

"Is that an invitation?" Danny parried back “If it is, you name the time and I'll be there.  Did you take an apartment there or are you looking?  There's not a whole lot in DC that's affordable and safe both.  My building is going to have a vacancy on the first.  I only know because Mr. Keefer told me he was moving."

                                                                   

"Wow, well I was thinking of keeping this apartment because it's big and spacious but I might have to look your building over..." Brittany answered. "How does seven sound?"

                                                                   

"Believe me, if you can afford the Hyatt you wouldn't like my building" Danny sighed, "plus it's not in the best neighborhood so on second thought maybe you should go with what you've got.  Seven is perfect.  Need I bring anything?"

                                                                 

"Anything you want to amuse me with," Brittany returned.  She smiled, "It's been too long Danny.  It's good to be back."

                                                                 

"I do have a suitcase of sex toys" he joked again.  "What I meant was something we can share for dinner. "  He toyed with her fingers more.  "It has been too long" he agreed softly.  "We had started to....you and I were.....OK, why don't we save that discussion for tonight" he finished lamely, deciding the coffee shop was not the place to go into anything deeply.

                                                               

 Brittany smiled, "Actually how about you cook me one of your fabulous meals like you used to do for the group in Paris and I'll get the wine and the dessert.  Oh and remember I have nothing and I do mean nothing in my kitchen." She walked around the table, dropped an address in front of him and then kissed him on the cheek before she walked off.

                                                              

"I can handle that" Danny called after her, watching through the cafe window as she left and shaking his head.  This woman returned to D.C. and actually sought him out.  "Must be living right" he muttered.  He left the cafe and went to the Italian Market for ingredients for anti pasto, and Osso Bucco and then returned to his apartment to get ready.

                                                              

When he arrived at her apartment at the Hilton the door was cracked slightly and she had distinctly Parisian music playing.  She was standing out on the balcony in a peach 1940's style cocktail dress with the ruffle at the hem of the skirt and the sleeveless straps. She looked nothing less than model prefect as she turned around at the sound of the door opening.

                                                            

Danny nervously adjusted his tie when he saw her, balancing the grocery bags in his arms.  "You were a cute nineteen year old" he whispered, "but you are a beautiful woman.  I'm surprised you don't model full time and leave the reporting to the ugly old men like me."  He set the bags on the floor as he closed the door and then took hold of her upper arms, bending close to her face.  "For old times?" he questioned, seeking her permission to kiss her lightly.

                                                           

"Because," she replied and moved to kiss him though instead of the clumsy nineteen year old Danny suddenly found himself engaged in a fiery kiss with a woman. She looked at him through half-lidded eyes a moment, before whatever she was hiding went away and she smiled at him as she always did. "So what are you going to cook us?" she asked lightly as she escorted him into a beautiful kitchen.

                                                          

"Osso Bucco" he smiled, "with some of the best bread you've ever tasted and anti pasto to start with while it's cooking.  Wow this is quite a place."  He began assembling his ingredients and then turned around to look seriously at her.  "Brittany I don't want you moving to my building.  The neighborhood is bad, and the building isn't secure.  You're much better off here."

                                                         

Brittany nodded solemnly a moment.  Then she noticed him looking at all of the photos all over the walls, some of her in exotic places, some of her in Paris and some of just Paris. "I took up photography and found that not only did the camera love me, but I loved the camera.  So when I had free time I would photograph anything that interested me.  Some of these even hung in a small gallery for a while." she said in her idle Parisian accent that had as much sophistication and refinement as she did.

                                                         

Danny looked in amazement at this woman who had grown so much in the five years they were apart.  "Is there no end to your talents?" he smiled.  "In the mean time there's just dull me, working at the White House, asking questions no one wants to answer."

                                                      

"Dull," Brittany drawled with a smile, "now that's not the Danny Concannon I remember.  I don't think you were ever dull.  Remember that time we were in the plaza and the water fountains were being scattered by the breeze and getting everyone wet.  What was it you asked that old woman we were reporting on?" Brittany laughed, "and then you got into the fountain and everyone followed you and we made the news more than the woman we were interviewing!"

                                                     

Danny smiled.  "I guess I was a lot younger and freer then."  He was still smiling as he wandered back to the kitchen and began to arrange the cheese and meat on the antipasto tray.  "Truth is I don't really do much at all these days.  I sometimes have a drink with the press people and then I go home and collapse in front of the TV, where I don't usually make it till news time.  I've thought about a relationship a few times and nothing came of it.  I've also thought of you, and more than a few times Brittany Jean."

                                                    

Brittany smiled, "And here I was wondering if you'd even remember me.  I was after all only a nineteen year old apprentice, a pest most of the reporters thought of me at first but you took me under your wing and made me fly and soon I was one of the group. I've never thanked you enough for that."  She stole a piece of cheese from the tray.

                                                   

"I saw your potential and your eagerness right away" Danny smiled, "and yet you weren't aggressive either.  You seemed to know instinctively that you had a lot of dues to pay before the president would be calling on you."  He sighed and looked down at the plate.  "And you were without a doubt the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, and what was even more amazing, you actually wanted to spend time with me."

                                                  

"I liked you Danny.  Everyone liked you," Brittany smiled and poured her third glass of wine. "so when's dinner going to be ready? I can show you my portfolio in the meantime if you'd like or the photographs I took of Paris or you can tell me about being in the White House or..."

                                                 

"Why don't we save the wine for dinner" Danny smiled, remembering a few weeks ago when an excess of drinking almost cost him his job.  He took the glass from her to the counter and put an easy arm around her shoulders.  "My life at the White House will take up all of five minutes.  Please show me your portfolio and your photos while the veal cooks.  We have about forty minutes."

                                                

"Sure," Brittany smiled and walked with him out to the living room.  Sitting on the white leather sofa she brought out a large book probably 18x22" in size. She opened it up and filling the pages were pictures of her in exotic locations, some of her in swimsuits, clothing, evening gowns, bridal gowns and even some lingerie shots.  She was incredible captured in photographs.  "You told me I could do anything so one day when I was feeling really positive I marched into a modeling office and now, here I am."

                                               

"I did tell you that" Danny recalled, "and then one day you did.  You told me you had accepted a promotion transfer and like a fool I stood there and said good luck it's been great to know you."  He dared not look into her eyes at that moment and instead pointed to a picture of her in a tasteful black teddy.  "I wouldn't mind having a personal copy of that."

                                                 

Brittany opened the side pocket and brought out a 12x14" copy of the picture and handed it to him. "Enjoy..."she smiled.”Why that picture?" she asked, "was it my eyes or my hair or did you just really go for the background?"

                                              

"It's the ‘you’ I wanted to know and didn't allow myself to" Danny sighed, surprising himself with his honesty.  "But yes, the picture itself is beautiful, everything about it."  He paused a minute and then went on.  "It's also to remind myself we don't often get second chances.  I hope you'll let me be a part of your life now that we're back living in the same city."

                                            

"What do you want from me Danny Concannon?" Brittany asked as she pushed her dress skirt up and straddled his lap to sit there. "Do you know how many times Danny I would have died and gone to heaven if you would have taken my hand and made love to me..." 

                                           

Danny looked into her eyes for a long minute before answering, though his body was already speaking for him.  "I want back the five years that Fate and Stupidity on my part took from us" he admitted.  "You've never been out of my thoughts very far Brittany Brianna Phillips."  He put his hand to the back of her head and brought her forward, touching his lips to hers to emphasize his words.

                                          

Brittany looked at him after they parted. "I can't take away five years, but I can guarantee you the chance to pick back up." She kissed him again. "Danny..." she barely breathed and then the timer went off and she laughed nervously and got off his lap and headed for the kitchen.

                                         

Danny sank back onto the sofa his arms splayed at his sides as he contemplated her and her words.  Finally he stood and walked behind her, dropping a kiss on the back of her neck.  "That's all I can ask" he sighed.  "Just another chance to find out what I let get away."  He rested his hands on her shoulders for a minute.  "Food's ready.  We can catch up more over the veal."

                                        

Brittany was quiet as they served up the veal and took their seats out on the balcony. She began to eat her dinner quietly. 

                                       

For the first part of the meal he simply let her have her quiet and then when she stopped eating and put her fork down, he took her hand.  "OK, time for a little honesty here.  What's wrong?  What's on your mind--or more importantly, what did I say that's bothering you?  If I made you uncomfortable by anything I said I'm so sorry"

                                      

"I want you Danny.  I want you now.  I want to screw your brains out all night long," Brittany panted.

                                     

"God Brittany is that all?" Danny gasped in relief.  "I thought something was wrong.  I was waiting for you to say coming here was a mistake and you thought I'd better go."  He swallowed hard and looked her straight in her beautiful eyes.  "I want you too honey.  I want to stay here tonight.  That's all I've thought about since you walked in.  How I want these past five years to be gone, and for us to go back to where we almost were when I fell in love with you and then I was too afraid to act."  He rose and turned up the volume on the stereo, filling the apartment with soft music, and then he opened the balcony doors to the wide cement area.  "Dance with me?"

                                     

  Brittany walked into his arms. "Danny..." she sighed as she laid her head against his chest and they danced.

                                   

"Remember the night before you left, at your party, we danced" Danny said softly, rubbing the bare part of her back.  "In fact we clung together, but neither of us would say 'this is stupid--we belong together'.  He pressed his lips to her forehead, holding them there as they swayed with the music and her form melded to his. 

                                   

"I thought you thought I was too young..." Brittany defended.

                                 

"I know" Danny sighed, "and I certainly didn't do anything to discourage that notion.  What can I say?  I made the mistake of my life when I let you go.  I tried to keep up with you for awhile, but then you had your own life and I got busy with my mine."  He cupped his cheeks with his palms.  "I never stopped loving you Brittany."

                                

Brittany sat frozen and looked at him truly shocked. "Danny..."

                               

"Now you know" Danny said softly.  "And as CJ often tells us, do with the information what you will."  The music changed and he moved again, keeping her close to him.  "I'm sorry" he said after a few minutes.  "I shouldn't have put that on you tonight.  I swore I was going to keep the evening light and just be glad that you and I found each other again."

                              

"No," Brittany shook her head, her beautiful hair swinging as she did so. "I'm glad you told me Danny.  That's what I was dreaming for.  I didn't think it was possible.  I was hoping for a chance to see if you could love me but I wasn't sure that would happen either.  But that's the main reason I came to DC.  The New Yorker offered me a job as well as several other prestigious positions but I had to come see you."

                             

"Thank god" Danny sighed.  "You know how you don't know you really need something until it's in your hands, and once it is, you can't let it go?  Well that's how it is for you now.  To have you leave me again would be twice as hard to bear as it was the first time.  Stay here, take your White House credentials....and let me love you."

                            

"I'll let you make love to me.  I want you to make love to me," Brittany said tracing the neckline of his shirt, whose first button was undone.

                           

Danny gulped and caught her hand, kissing it and then holding it while he touched his lips to hers.  He brushed her lips, and then a millisecond later came down hard on her mouth, pressing their bodies together.  When they stopped for breath his mouth traveled down her neckline kissing the bare skin as far as he could reach.

                           

Brittany moaned and dropped her head back exposing the young, delicate skin of her neck. Her hands moved to his shirt undoing the buttons with trembling, naive hands.

                         

Danny's hands were busy as well, sliding her blouse from her shoulders and exposing her beautiful breasts.  He felt her hands tremble and stopped what he was doing to catch them, bringing them to his lips to kiss.  "Angel you're all cold and shaky here.  Are you OK?  Don't let me talk you into something here.  It's not good unless you want it as much as I."

                        

"I do want it Danny I do," Brittany replied honestly. "It's just that.  I don't know what to do," She dropped her voice then to a shameful almost nothing level, "I'm a virgin Danny."

                       

Danny sucked in his breath and then tilted her chin up to him.  "Brittany I.....I don't know what to say.  Except that I would have thought....didn't you tell me you were in a relationship that didn't work out?"

                       

"That's why it didn't work out. I could not forget you he said and not only that but I would not give him what he wanted so he went looking for someone who knew a good thing when she saw it," Brittany replied, "I told you nothing deep was going on."

                     

"Well I know, but nowadays...." Danny smiled.  "When it seems like most girls are just giving it away."  He set his lips on her forehead for a long minute.  "As long as we're being honest, I haven't had a relationship either.  No one I wanted to be with.  See I was brought up to believe that was something saved for the woman you loved.  I thought you and I had that but I didn't give it a chance.  And then in the past year there was someone else that I might have thought something would work out, but she was very much taken.  Now that brings me to you.  To the first woman I loved, and to the woman I've never stopped loving deep in my heart."

 

He ran his fingertips down her spine and then with a handful of her backside, pressed her to him again.  "Brittany, stay tonight and let me make love to you."

                    

"You stay tonight," she returned in the same tone and then laughed lightly, "this is my apartment." then she returned back to that heady tone he had used with her. "Stay tonight and I'll let you make love to me."

                   

"You have me so crazy I don't know what I'm saying" he smiled.  "I meant stay with me, no matter where we are, and...." At that moment he decided words were totally unneeded and he brought his lips down on hers, lifting her into his arms.  "Where?" he asked simply when they parted.

                  

"Uh..." Brittany had to look around for a minute and laughed.  Then she pointed to the double doors on the left.  "My bedroom suite is that way." She wrapped her arms around his neck and held on as he carried her. "Now this is romantic," she couldn't help but comment as they headed towards the bedroom, elaborately decorated in satins, silks and chenille in shades of cream.

                  

"I've always imagined myself doing this to the one woman in the world I knew I belonged with" Danny sighed, laying her carefully onto the bed and then kneeling bedside.  "I think I've found her again after all these years."  With slightly shaking hands he unbuttoned her blouse, letting his fingers trail down the opening he was making to her breasts.

                

Brittany looked comfortable and only slightly nervous. She smiled softly in anticipation and then moaned lightly as his fingers ran over her skin. "Maybe next time I'll wear that black teddy you like so much..."

               

"I hope you still have it" Danny smiled, finally finishing and laying open her shirt.  He ran his hands across the lacy cream colored bra and brought his face down between her breasts, delicately kissing the space there, his tongue leaving a wet circle before moving up her neck to find her mouth once again.  

              

Brittany moaned softly and automatically arched her back in response, wanting to encourage him to do more.  She finished the rest of the buttons on his shirt and then removed it, her hands roaming his chest.

             

"I'm liking this kneeling before the woman I love" Danny sighed, taking advantage of her back being raised to undo her bra clasp but leaving the bra in place while he kissed more of her upper body.  What she was doing to him was creating a definite response in his lower body and he took her hand, brushing the back against his hardness before kissing it and returning it to his chest.   "I want you" he smiled and now removed her bra, exposing a pair of perfectly formed breasts.  "You are beautiful," he whispered, his fingertips gently gliding over them.

            

Brittany smiled. "That's what they all say," she teased lightly.  Then her hands slid back down his chest and she brushed over his hardness again and again. Seeing a small response she then began to caress him through his pants to see what effect that would have.

           

"Just how many men do you allow to say that to you?" Danny teased back, instinctively pushing himself forward to give her maximum access to himself.  Hoping she would keep her hands in place, he brushed his lips across both nipples, touching the tip of his tongue to each and watched as each peaked and hardened.

          

"Wow..." Brittany gasped, momentarily ceasing her caresses.  She resumed a moment later as she became more accustomed to what he was doing.  Then he felt her stop again and this time her hands moved to his pants button, again shakily.

         

"Let me give you a hand" Danny smiled, taking her small hands in his large ones while she fumbled the button and zipper.  Quickly his pants dropped to puddle at his knees, leaving only his small black stretch briefs standing between her hands and his hardness.  His hands closed over her breasts again and he touched the nipples with his tongue once more, then gently scraped his teeth across.

        

Brittany gasped as he did so and then finally forced her mind to function enough that she could move her hand down and caress him through his briefs. 

       

He felt himself enlarge further at her touch and he again moved forward to allow her to easily reach him.  With a slow smile he carefully slid her dress away from her body, exposing the panties, which matched the bra.  They clung to her flat stomach and he covered them with the flat of his hand, dipping his fingers between her legs to touch there for the first time.

      

Brittany inhaled sharply and clutched the bedspread, "Oh Danny...that feels so...wow..."

     

He pushed his fingers up through the fabric, rubbing firmly against the inside of her hollow, letting the soft material provide the friction that he suspected would arouse her.  At the same time he lowered his face to her belly, kissing the soft skin, his tongue playing in her belly button briefly before he nuzzled against the panties, pressing his face to the soft still-covered curls.

    

Brittany moaned and writhed on the bed with what he was doing to her.  Finally after a couple of minutes at this she moaned, "more please...oh Danny, don't stop...more." Her hand returned to caressing him, hoping to spur him on.

   

"Let's try it this way then" Danny said quietly, slipping his own briefs down to his knees and then sliding hers off.  For a moment they simply looked at each other and then Danny smiled and repeated his action, this time with no panty barrier between them.  His finger slipped inside her as well, free of the fabric and he ran a circle around the hollow there.

  

Brittany shivered and moaned with pleasure.  Then instinctively she pushed herself against him, begging for more.  When she first touched him she gasped, shocked by what she was doing.  She made a few slow exploratory caresses and then she picked her original rhythm back up.

 

"God Brittany having your hands on me like that is wonderful" Danny shuddered with pleasure and ran his mouth up her belly back to her breasts briefly before their lips met once again in a fiery kiss.  "I need you baby" he gasped when he could breathe, and he climbed onto the bed, poised outside her core now.  "I know I've never done this exactly, but I know what..." He slipped partway in before saying anything further as his palm pressed down on the top of her center, further compacting her against him.

              

"Oh Danny," Brittany gasped and then she followed it with a moan. She felt him tight inside her.  It was a wonderful feeling. She kissed him lovingly giving him permission to continue.

              

He could feel how tight she was around him and he moved just slightly, helping her to adjust to his size.  "I've never...." he was able to get out before being rendered speechless by the sensations.  He kissed her again and then again, four times in succession as he moved within her, keeping his stroking gentle and hoping he wasn't hurting her.  "I love you Brittany" he moaned.

             

"Danny oh Danny," Brittany gasped out.  Her body writhed with his motions as she gasped and moaned at the sensations.  It was short lived before her orgasm slammed into her sending her flying to the heavens and she clung to him.

           

As soon as he felt her contract around him his own release came and he pumped firm and long into her, filling her and then some.  "Brittany angel" he yelped in the throes of ecstasy and he flung himself down beside her, rolling her to her side and kept them still joined as they panted hard in relief.  "I love you" he repeated, still marveling at the depth of that emotion.

           

"That was incredible Danny.  I love you so much," Brittany sighed. Then she fell asleep in his arms. That was the only time they made love that night.  They ate breakfast together, lovingly the next morning.  Then Brittany received a phone call, one that sent her back to Paris to finish some work at her modeling agency. She kissed Danny and promised him she'd be back in his arms soon.

------------------------------           

Thursday brought Josh, Donna, Chloe and Tucker back. Chloe reluctantly gave up the baby and spent Friday in bed refusing to do anything but cry against Tucker.  Saturday morning she was up with a smile pasted on, getting ready for her mother's wedding.

          

"Good Morning angel" Tucker greeted her as usual.  "We've got a beautiful day for this wedding.  Hope one of the twins doesn't fall into the fish pond."

          

Toby rolled over and pulled CJ into his arms.  "Let's call in sick to this wedding and spend the day in bed" he growled, nuzzling at her neck.

         

"If they do it's their own fault," Chloe replied bluntly.  She continued yanking angrily at her hair with a brush.  She was dressed in the red and gold silk kimono her mother had decided to use for bridesmaids dresses.

         

"Toby we cannot call in sick.  This is Leo and Caroline we're talking about remember," CJ replied, "besides with their guestroom for the night so right after the wedding we can sneak up and..." CJ finished by sucking on his ear before going to get ready for the wedding.

        

"I'm moving us to a tropical island" Toby muttered and pounded the wall where he knew Josh and Donna's bedroom backed.  "If I'm up they have to be too."  There was an answering pound.

        

"Hey angel, let me" Tucker said softly, taking the brush from her and then spraying on the detangler which she had neglected.  "You want to talk about what's bothering you?  A baby, or the lack thereof maybe?"

       

Chloe burst into tears and turning round she thrust herself against him once more.

       

Soon Donna, Josh, CJ, and Toby were all on their way over, the women in their kimono-type satin gowns, the baby mounds just peeking through. "Their going to have a field day with my wearing maternity clothes on Monday," CJ sighed, "I've avoided it ‘til now...."

      

"You look beautiful" Toby assured her, resting his hand on the baby.  "And I love you."

      

Tucker took a long breath and turned Chloe to him.  "Angel if you think we're ready to have a baby, our own baby, we can do it.  I told you before I'm behind anything you want.  We can elope to a state where sixteen is the marrying age and make a baby if that's what you want to do.  I love you and you know I'd do anything for you."

     

      Chloe finally quelled her tears and managed to reply, "I know you would and I love you for it but we can't do that.  I'll just have to wait, but the day we are married my baby obsession can finally be fixed..." she sighed, "if only I hadn't lost the one chance I had..."

    

     "Are you talking our baby or Raphael?" Tucker asked gently.  "Raphael was a great little guy and you know he's happy now with the Sanchez's, and our little one, well I loved him too.  Just know that when you're ready, I'll be ready to go with you, be it next month or in two years."

   

    Chloe smiled and then kissed him, "Thank-you Tucker...I love you.  Now let's go, we have a wedding to get through and then we have the house to ourselves while the twins stay with Sam and Mallory and Mom and Dad are on their honeymoon."

   

    "I Caroline Constance Murphy take you Leo McGarry to be my lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health for richer and for poorer for all the day of my life," Caroline said as they stood on the bridge before the wedding party, their only witnesses and guests.

  

   "And I Leo Marcus McGarry take you Caroline to be my wife, to have and to hold, from this day forth for all the days of our life together.  When this life is over, we walk together in Eternity.” Jed handed him the ring and he took her hand, slipping it onto her finger.  "All that I am now passes to you with the wearing of this ring."

 

  Caroline placed a ring on Leo's hand as well, "As eternal as this ring is, so shall be my love for you." The priest offered a final prayer and then announced, "Leo and Caroline McGarry.  You may now kiss the bride."

 

 Leo and Caroline's lips met in a long kiss.  Tucker turned Chloe to him, catching her eyes and then wrapping her in his arms, their kiss matching that of her parents'.  "Two years and this is us" he whispered.  "We're standing here before these same people--well there will be a few more after all the babies--and we'll be declaring our love before God."

 

Chloe smiled and kissed Tucker again.  Everyone clapped for the newly married Leo and Caroline.

 

THE END

Chapters: 1

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