Click for Printer Friendly Version

Playing By Ear

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

Series: Lisa and Pat Series 2 #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 45585
Rating: TEEN
Character(s): Josh Lyman, Donna Moss, Jed Bartlet, Abbey Bartlet, Toby Ziegler, CJ Cregg, Charlie Young, Zoey Bartlet, Sam Seaborn, Ainsley Hayes, Ensemble
Category(ies): Romance
Pairing(s): Josh/Donna, Toby/CJ, Sam/Ainsley, Jed/Abbey, Charlie/Zoey
Summary: This is our second West Wing series but it does draw some from the Bagel series.

Author Notes: This is our second West Wing series though it does draw some from the Bagel series.

Chapters: 1

Ainsely smiled as she looked around her

Playing by Ear

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

 

Notes: This is the first episode in our second alternate series.  You’ll find a lot of your favorite characters back but we had to write a new one with the introduction of Ainsley whom we love so much. Also this episode picks up with the end of "It is Surely to Their Credit" everything before this episode is mostly considered fact.  However because this second series takes so much from our first series we recommend that you read it.

 

Feedback: As always write us to let us know if you enjoyed the piece.  If you did not please demonstrate this by your silence.

          ~*~

 

 

 

 

Ainsley smiled as she looked around her.  She couldn't believe that these people, who she thought despised her, had gone to all of this trouble.  She smiled, "Why thank-you this is the loveliest of surprises. You really didn't have to go to all of this trouble. But it is, by me, appreciated"

                                                                               

The group had been merry for a good long while and when they had finished up their merriment Sam and Ainsley had gone to his apartment. "This place is very nice," she commented as she looked around.

 

"I don't get to spend a lot of time here," Sam sighed, "but yeah it suits me. It's small, but I can entertain when I need to.  Which fortunately isn't that often.  Normally I see so many people over the course of a day I just want to come in, turn on music and flop on the sofa to read until I fall asleep.  I have the most unused bed in the city."  He poured her coffee and handed her the steaming mug.  "That's hot now, be careful."  He sat in the chair opposite hers then and smiled, shaking his head.  "A republican in the Bartlet White House.  Never in my wildest dreams.  Yours neither I imagine."

                                                                            

"No, if anyone had told me I'd be working in this White House I wouldn't have believed them," Ainsley replied. "I think you are beginning to change my opinion about you though. CJ, Toby, Josh, you all have been very nice and you seem, to me, to be more dedicated than I had previously thought." She blushed and sipped her coffee, which had by now cooled to the right temperature.

                                                                            

Sam's turn to blush.  "Thank you.  I try not to let it get to me, so sometimes I guess I'm a little cavalier about it all, but really that's just to keep from losing my sanity.  I do care, and I care passionately.  I've even had designs of running on my own.  But right now I'm very content to stay where I am and make a contribution this way."  His last words were punctuated by a huge clap of thunder over head.  "And I guess God is agreeing with me," he smiled.

                                                                          

"A storm," Ainsley said hurrying to the window.  "I'd better get home."  She set down her cup, thanked Sam for the coffee and apologized for her quick departure before hurrying out.  A half hour later there was a knock on his door and when he opened it Ainsley was standing in the hall, soaked to the bone.

+++++++++++++++++

In the dark lab room a figure in black crept around.  There were several vials in a freezer container. One was withdrawn.  It was labeled 'Lyman'.

                                                                         

Another figure came up behind.  "What have you got there, and what the hell are you doing in here at this hour anyway?"

                                                                     

The figure in black ran off with the vial.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

                                                                          

"Whoa you do come and go quickly," Sam smiled and then saw that she was soaked and shivering.  "My god Ainsley get in here.  Are you all right?  What the hell happened?  I figured you were home in bed by now.  And excuse my state of undress."  He was wearing but an undershirt and boxers, having been in bed watching the late news.

                                                                        

"My car was stolen," Ainsley sighed.

                                                                       

"Oh you're not serious?" Sam gasped.  "Let me guess, it took that long for the police to come, they asked five questions and took off, leaving you standing in the rain?  I can take you home, but you need to get warm and dry before we think that far."  Another crash of thunder made them both jump.  "I was hoping you were home safely though.  This storm is getting worse and they're talking tornado watch."

                                                                      

Ainsley jumped into Sam's arms with the next blast of thunder. "Oh I'm so sorry I...storms make me nervous."

                                                                     

"You're in far more danger from pneumonia at this point than that storm outside," Sam told her firmly.  "So before we think about whether I'm taking you home, you're going to take a hot shower and get into some dry clothes.  I have some sweat clothes that I don't think will swallow you too bad.  And even some boxers you can borrow.  Clean I promise."  He felt her tremble within his grasp and he hugged her quickly, pushing her sopping hair back from her face.  "Come on, you're stalling," he chided her.

                                                                    

"Okay, I'm going, I'm going," Ainsley said as she followed Sam to the showers.

                                                                   

"Just drop your wet stuff on the floor and get on in there now," Sam urged.  "I'll bring the dry stuff to you real quick."  When he came back with the dry clothes the shower was still running full force, and he opened the door, assuming she was safely behind the dark curtain.  Not to be.  She was standing in the center of the floor, reaching for a clean washcloth from the folded stack.  "Ainsley I'm sorry," he yelped, backing out quickly, one hand over his face.  "Ainsley I'm sorry," he repeated from the outside of the door, "I figured shower water, you're in the shower."

                                                                  

"Well you figured incorrectly," Ainsley yipped quickly.  She grabbed the washcloth and hopped into the shower. "It's clear now."

                                                                 

"Man incoming," Sam yelled and opened the door, setting the clothes on the commode and picking up her wet things.  "I'm going to throw these in the dryer; but I don't think you should plan on leaving.  The storm is getting worse."

                                                                

"But I couldn't possibly impose on you," Ainsley objected.

                                                                

"Ainsley I wouldn't let the President's campaign opponent leave on a night like this so I'm not taking no for an answer." Sam told her.  "You know when we have storms like this, trees are down, power lines and so forth.  I'm not going to drive across the city and risk it.  We'll sleep here, and in the morning I'll buy you breakfast and then take you by your place to change; but remember you've got to do something about a car too.  So I'll also make sure you get a rental.  Now get warm and come on out.  I'm putting a movie on until we're both sleepy."

                                                              

"I don't know what to say," Ainsley said surprised.  She slipped into the clothes that Sam had leant her and emerged looking rather sexy in his clothes if even a little ridiculous in the largeness of them. "What movie are we watching?"

                                                             

He handed her the remote.  "I've got like fifteen premium channels, or you're welcome to put on Nick at Night or TV land.  And I don't have the TV back in the bedroom for purposes of seduction," he added, looking her over appreciatively.  "If I do any official entertaining I have the stereo on in the front room; and when I come in from work, all I really want is music while I eat and read the paper.  Then later I come in and fall asleep to the TV.  Anyway, to stop babbling, obviously any TV watching is done from my bed, so make yourself comfortable.  Can I get you anything from the kitchen?  I have chocolate ice cream of some sort."

                                                            

Ainsley was softly flushed, "Some chocolate ice cream would be appreciated. Also if I could maybe get some clear sort of soda, not coke or Pepsi but something lighter."  Ainsley wandered back towards the bedroom and hopped onto the large bed.  "This is a rather large bed for one person.  Have a new girlfriend that the White House doesn't know about?"

                                                            

"Different one each weekend," Sam teased as he went to the kitchen for sprite and ice cream.  When he brought the tray in he looked at her intently.  "There is no one in my life right now.  I was seeing Leo's daughter Mallory for a time, but we agreed we weren't right for each other.  Not what the other wanted you know.  She has a very strong personality and she doesn't know when to turn it off.  Some of that is fine with me, but I get overwhelmed easily--like when we were on TV; and clam up--and that's not what makes a good relationship, not one that will carry to the future."

                                                          

"I get really nervous and then I say stupid things," Ainsley smiled, "like 'can I have that muffin' though I really was hungry. My nervous habit manifests itself as this speech pattern wherein I say stupid stuff."

                                                         

"I think you're endearing," Sam told her seriously.  "I know I give you a hard time, but that's just because---well I don't want to wear my heart on my sleeve as the saying goes.  You impressed me from the git go with your smarts and the fact that you weren't at all intimidated by me.  And then after that I noticed how beautiful you are."

                                                        

"Oh please Sam," Ainsley said obviously not believing him, "do you think I'm going to be naive enough to think that you're really being sincere? I'm beautiful? Isn't that something like--" she stopped and flushed, "mm thank-you Sam." She dropped her eyes and looked nervous.

                                                       

"If you know anything about me at all," Sam began, resting his hands against her cheeks and tilting her face up to his, "you know that I don't say things I don't mean, especially not in personal life.  You are a warm, wonderful and beautiful young woman, whom any man could easily fall in love with."  His thumbs stroked her cheekbones and he gently touched his lips to hers.  "Don't ever think otherwise."

                                                      

Ainsley flushed further, "Sam did you just--?  Yes I guess you did. I, umm...thank-you."

                                                      

"You are most welcome, but no need to thank me for something I've been wanting to do," Sam assured her, dropping onto the bed and pulling her down to get comfortable as another enormous clap of thunder sounded.  "I'm not real fond of storms," he admitted suddenly, a small shudder passing through him.  "So for that reason I'm even more glad you're here."

                                                    

"Would you like a glass of scotch?" Ainsley suddenly asked in her nervousness. "Sorry, that's what Leo and I...inside joke I guess." She looked at him a minute and then as another clap of thunder sounded she kissed him lightly again. "I think you'd better put on the movie before I embarrass the both of us which, in my opinion, is very likely to happen."

                                                   

"You're not a bed wetter are you?" Sam teased, turning on the TV and dropping to the bed.  He then held the covers open to her in silent invitation for her to join him.  Sleepy Hollow flashed onto the screen as more thunder rolled.  "Perfect movie for a stormy night," he grinned.  "And I'm on record as volunteering to hold you if you're easily disturbed."

                                                  

As soon as the movie got started good Ainsley plastered herself against him, jumping every time the movie got intense.

                                                 

"I guess I could have just asked if it would be OK if I held you, but this is more fun," Sam laughed, holding her tight against him as she buried her head in his chest frequently.  "And it occurs to me that now might be a good time for you to tell me if you're seeing someone?"

                                                

"I think that's an impertinent question for you to ask.  I think it's impertinent and furthermore I, no I'm not seeing anyone." Ainsley replied, "Is, is what we're doing here okay?"

                                               

"It was impertinent, also important," Sam said quietly.  "What I think we're doing is seeing if we want to explore any feelings that may be arising between us.  But I won't graze another man's pastures.  So if you did have ties to someone, I'd want to respect that.  As it is, since you say no, then I'm very glad.  And what we're doing is very OK.  Having you in my arms feels very right."

                                              

Ainsley smiled, "Sam I believe I'm rethinking you." She leaned in and kissed him more passionately this time.

                                             

He smiled and sighed contentedly and returned her kiss.  "Hey re-thinking me?  What is that? You mean you heard about me before we met?  Whoever told you anything, I'll kill them and I categorically deny any wrong doing Mr. Chairman."

                                             

"No I formed my own, and what I believed to be accurate, opinion when I met you first.  I am rethinking that opinion now." Ainsley said before she kissed him again.  "Are you sure this is appropriate?" she asked in her nervous voice.

                                           

"That we're together?  I have no problem with it.  I certainly don't plan to go and announce at morning briefing that I shared a bed with you, but only because it's not anyone's business.  Certainly not that I'm in any way ashamed," Sam assured her.  "Good grief, we're just a man and a woman who work in the same big white building.  I'm not your boss nor you mine."  He pulled some of her long hair away from her face and kissed her cheek.  "Ssshh, less worry and more movie watching."

                                          

Ainsley was quiet and curled against him jumping through the rest of the movie. "That was good," she said having finished her ice cream and soda. "This is certainly better than being stuck out in the rain.  I had contemplated getting a cab and going back to my place but I really didn't want to be alone. Thank-you for taking such good care of me. It is by me appreciated."

                                         

"This is what friends do," Sam assured her.  "I'm sorry about your car though.  You're not likely to get it back, and if you do it's going to be wrecked.  In the morning we'll make sure you get a rental, and then if you'd like help new car shopping, well I know a broker who can get you what you want for about a hundred over invoice.  For two hundred he can see to it that it's not hot."  She gasped and it took her a second to realize he wasn't serious.  "Bottom line, I like taking care of you," he finished.  "And holding you like this--well like I said, it feels very right.  Like it's something we should do more of."

                                        

"Well if you like..." Ainsley shrugged, "imagine, a republican and a democrat.  Isn't that like an inter-racial marriage," she laughed and then kissed him. "Anyhow thank-you for being such an obviously great friend." She laughed indicating their being in bed together. "Yes I'd like very much if you'd go car shopping with me."

                                       

"I just look at our political differences as a chance to argue and make up," Sam laughed.  "My mom said she and my dad never went to bed angry.  Of course they didn't get a lot of sleep either."  The movie ended and he rolled her over and kissed the back of her neck playfully.  "OK I can move to the sofa and let you get some real sleep now."

                                      

"Oh please not yet," Ainsley pleaded. "Please stay...you could give me a back massage since I'm here..." Ainsley pulled up his sweatshirt to reveal a graceful and shapely back.

                                     

"Whoa," Sam laughed.  "If your back looks that good, I can only imagine the rest of you.  I would be glad to give you a massage.  And I apologize in advance if my hands wander out of bounds."

                                    

Ainsley moaned softly as he rubbed her back. "Oh this feels so nice.... you know you really don't have to do this, that is if you don't want to..." She trembled under him her body beginning to react.

                                    

Sam leaned over her closely and put his mouth to her ear.  "Relax honey.  I wouldn't hurt you for anything, or do anything that we're not ready for.  And I do want to do this thank you, I want to very much.  In fact I want to get to know you a whole lot more.  Both in mind and body if that's OK."  His hands drifted to her sides and he felt the soft curve of the outer portion of her breasts, and his own body reacted.  "I hope you know how beautiful I think you are," he whispered.

                                   

"Sam I'm not a risqué girl," Ainsley said turning over without thinking. "I'm not going to, well you know, have a one night stand. I've never had an any night stand before..."

                                 

"I never thought you did," Sam assured her.  "You would save that for someone whom you felt deeply about, and possibly in whom you saw the future.  And don't ask me how I know that, but I do.  It's just an aura you have maybe.  As for me, I can't say that, in my younger more reckless youth, I didn't play around; but these past few months, well since Mallory and I parted, I realized I didn't want another meaningless relationship.  So I haven't gone out much at all.  Most nights that I'm not working or at something official, I'm right here.  I figured if Fate meant for me to have someone I would.  And now that possibility seems very real to me and I'm not going to do anything to mess it up."

                                

Ainsley opened up her mouth to say something but nothing came out and she shut it again. Then she wrapped her arms around Sam's neck and kissed him passionately.

                               

"Ainsley," he gasped and buried his head in her neck, belatedly remembering she was topless.  "Ainsley something is happening here between us," he gasped again, lifting her onto his chest and resuming rubbing her back, his fingertips making soft circles.  "I've changed my mind about moving to the sofa I think, unless you want me to that is."  The thunder crashed overhead before she could answer and the room was plunged into darkness as the power failed.  "Now I know I don't want to move," he whispered, holding tightly to her in the blackness.  Below them the city of Washington went dark, save the brilliance of the lightning flashes.  "Like the end of the world," he whispered.

                              

Ainsley trembled with his words. "Stay Sam," she practically ordered. Then she kissed down his neck and before Sam truly realized it his shirt was gone and she was caressing his nipples with her tongue.

                             

"I'm not going anywhere," Sam declared when he could express himself, taking her face between his hands and pulling her up to kiss her lips in a fiery expression of what he was feeling.  At the same time he gently fit his leg between her thighs, letting their lower bodies join in the sensations and she knew at once how badly he wanted her.

                            

It took only a moment for him to feel her intense heat as well.  Her mouth returned to showering steaming kisses over his body and her hands caressed his chest daring each time to move closer towards his waistband but never daring reach it.

                           

He moved his head down to her breasts, kissing and tasting her flesh as he went, his tongue passing over each nipple as his hands slid down her sides, and under the soft sweat pants, resting against her backside.

                          

"Oh Sam," Ainsley gasped in her rich South Carolina accent. She moaned at his attentions and he could see her body responding. "Please don't stop...” she panted softly in between moans.

                         

"A freight train wreck couldn't get me to stop," he declared, kneading gently the soft flesh as his mouth returned to hers before traversing down to the skin beneath her neck, his tongue flicking at the hollow there and the friction from her body pressing against his hardness made him all the more eager.

                        

Ainsley's hands finally undid the button and zipper on his pants and she caressed him through his tight briefs. She gasped the first time, "it moved!"

                       

"Of course, it's got a mind of its own," Sam laughed heartily and hugged her, and then looked at her intently struck by her words and began stroking strands of her hair back from her cheek.  "If we.... if we finish what we've started here, it's going to be your first time isn't it?"

                      

"Yes, it would, be my first time, that is," Ainsley said somewhat nervously. "I'm sorry if that bothers you but everyone has to have a first time sometime."

                     

"It doesn't bother me a bit," Sam assured her quickly, kissing her long and lovingly, "I just want you to be sure.  Your first time should be special, with someone you care a lot about.  You're a very special woman Ainsley Anne and you deserve the best."

                    

"Sam, I'm ready," Ainsley gasped as the next clasp of thunder pressed their almost bare bodies together. "Make love to me Sam."

                   

"Please lord," Sam gasped, then slid the sweat pants from her body.  "Wow," he breathed.  "Beautiful and brainy and mi...."  He stopped before the rest of the word 'mine' could escape, instead burying his face between her breasts as he knelt between her spread apart legs and his mouth wandered as his fingers delicately tickled her outer core.

                  

"Wow, that feels really good," Ainsley mused, "you can keep doing this." She raised and pressed against him. Her chest was heaving and she was panting.

                 

"How about this," he whispered and slid two fingers inside her, feeling her immediately begin to quiver at his touch and he pressed his lips to a sharply pointed nipple, teasing and playing with it, before kissing the underside and feathering more kisses across her belly.

                

"Oh Sam, what is that...it feels incredible," Ainsley gasped. She was already beginning to feel an odd tightening.

               

Sam gasped in alarm and puzzlement for a moment and then realized.  "It's OK honey, you're just--well crudely, coming, that's all.  Let it happen--go with it."  To emphasize his words he quickly captured her mouth in a loving kiss.  "I wish I could see your face.  Are you OK?"

               

"Yes, I'm wonderful," Ainsley gasped out and just as she climaxed lightening lit the room so that he could see her face as she experienced more exquisite pleasure then she ever had before. She continued to moan and enjoy his movements.  "This is like nothing I've ever felt before, so unusual."

             

"You're great for the ego," Sam sighed and took her hands, pressing them against the bulge in those tight briefs.  "And now that I've done good by you...well to feel you touching me is wonderful.  And since the lights are out, well we don't have laughter to contend with."

            

"You're rather impressive," Ainsley commented. She pulled his briefs down and skin met skin as she stroked him.

           

"Maybe having nothing to compare to isn't such a bad thing," Sam smiled, keeping his hands covering hers.  "You're so gentle when you do that, like you're doing it with love instead of because it's expected.  I may never let you get away from me you know that?"  He shuddered with pleasure at what she was doing and closed his eyes, wanting for a moment to simply enjoy.

          

Ainsley continued to caress him smiling when she caught a glimpse of his pleasure. "It's expected?" she asked with a smile. He could tell that she was being aroused by his pleasure as well.

         

"A man generally wants his woman to do that," Sam smiled as well, "but it's never felt like this before is what I'm trying to say, and very shortly, like in about thirty seconds, I'm going to need to be inside you or this is going to end very abruptly.  I can feel you're ready too--that was only the beginning for you."

        

Ainsley inhaled sharply. "I'm ready Sam," she said bravely a moment later.

       

"I'm going to be real careful," he promised.  "And you stop me any time."  He brought her to him then, sliding her forward until he was halfway within her.  "Ainsley, Oh god Ainsley," he gasped, already in pleasure beyond coherent thought.

      

"What? Did I do something wrong?" she gasped out in alarm though it was obvious that she was experiencing great pleasure as well. "Are you okay?" she asked with gentle concern.

     

"Oh no baby, oh no," Sam gasped as well, stopping to stroke her cheek.  "You just don't know how wonderful this feels to me.  So tight and wet and warm, not to mention how I feel that you're wanting me to do this."  He pushed a little further inside her, feeling her barrier and he paused again.  "I'm trying to be careful honey," he gasped again, pulling back out, "but all I want to do is make love to you."

    

Ainsley nodded.  It was the only coherent thought she could have at the moment. She dug her nails into him in shock a moment later when she felt the short pain of something ripping inside her.  Then the pain was gone, chased out by her deep moan of pleasure.

   

Sam moaned as well, feeling himself sinking deep inside her and he began to move back and forth, gently and slowly at first and then with more ardor as his excitement increased.  "Ainsley, this is...." was all he managed to get out and his head fell back in a groan of satisfaction.

  

Ainsley kissed him. "Sam, I feel.  I feel amazing," she panted. She began to tremble and soon she could feel her body tightening.

 

"I don't think amazing covers it for me," Sam gasped, feeling the building up inside him and then all at once he shuddered hard before releasing warm liquid inside her, letting her feel his excitement and satisfaction as she tightened around him.

 

Ainsley gasped, having not expected such and she trembled as she climaxed at the same time. "That was amazing..." she gasped out.

 

"Totally," Sam yelped, "totally amazing and loving and... and that covers it all."  He flattened himself onto his back and held her close.  "Ainsley Anne I was serious earlier.  This was not a one-night stand.  You're in my life and my arms now and I'm not likely to let you out."

 

Ainsley gave him a soft smile and said nothing.  Already she had her doubts. The next day, sure enough there had been an incident on the hill and he had refused to let her go.  His protection of her infuriated her and immediately she put distance between them.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

FOUR MONTHS LATER

                                        

Sam and Ainsley had finally only this week gotten their relationship back on track.  There was something slightly out of place though and Sam couldn't figure it out.

                                       

"Hi" Sam hesitantly stopped by her office.  He had been hurt greatly by her pulling back from him, and for a long time had steadfastly kept his distance.  Now he had gathered his courage earlier in the week and asked her to lunch where they had talked some.  He then had purposefully given her more space, and now was trying again.  "I'm free for lunch if you are."

                                       

"Lunch would be, by me, unbelievably appreciated," Ainsley smiled up at him gratefully, "I'm starving and the company doesn't look too bad either." She rose from her chair and then grabbed the desk as she wavered with dizziness, putting the other hand to her head. Her dress caught in just the right form and displayed some of her newly curved figure.

                                     

"Hey slow down," Sam urged.  "You must be in need of food if you're not steady on your feet."  His hands grabbed for her anywhere they could at the same time and happened to land at her lower sides.  Through the loose shirt he could feel her, and knew at once something was different.  He drew his breath in sharply and looked at her piercingly.  "I think we need to talk."

                                    

"And what is it you wish to talk about Sam?" Ainsley asked raising a brow.

                                   

Sam opened and closed his mouth several times before answering, realizing he was walking on quicksand with her.  "Let's save it for lunch," he decided, looking around nervously.  "How about Pete's on F Street.  It's a beautiful day and I think the walk would feel good."

                                  

"I suppose a little walk would be okay.  Just let me get some more juice," Ainsley fumbled past him over to the area's minifridge and found a bottle of juice among others with her name on them.  She grabbed it and her purse. "We'd best go.  I've got some stuff to do before we work on that position paper this afternoon."

                                 

"By all means," Sam nodded, resting a hand against her back as they walked.  They reached the deli, and ordered, Sam amazed to find her ordering the lumberjack special.  "Little hungry there?" he teased and then sobered.  "Were you eventually going to tell me I was going to be a father?"

                                

"When I believe it myself," Ainsley replied, "I only realized it two weeks ago," she said nervously.

                                

"Then it is my baby?" Sam gasped, having thought he was prepared for that, and now suddenly not so sure.

                              

"Well who else's baby did you think it was Sam?" Ainsley asked standing up.  "I did not suddenly go around taking up sleeping with lots of men just because you and I hit a rift in the road!"

                             

Sam swallowed hard and took her hands, bringing her back down to her chair. "Of course I didn't think that," he assured her.  "But remember I'm clueless here.  I don't even know why we parted except for something like I was too protective of you.  OK forgive me for caring about you.  Forgive me for thinking you were the best thing that ever came into my life.  Forgive me for being in love with you."

                            

Ainsley opened her mouth to protest but then simply began to cry. "I'm sorry..."

                           

"I am too," Sam was immediately humbled by her tears.  "I should not have gone off on you like I just did.  Especially with you pregnant.  Forgive me; and know that it wasn't personal.  I'm just frustrated with all that's happened--or rather not happened--that's all.  Not to mention, I owe you one helluva an apology for...for letting this happen.  I don't know where my head was.  I've never had unprotected.... I've always used.... well you know.  But I think it all just happened so fast and I was so much falling for you."  He squeezed both her hands.  "So what I'm saying is that I'm very, very sorry."

                          

"Now, you're sorry that I'm having your baby?!" Ainsley jumped on his words.  "What do you want me to do Sam, get rid of it? Clean up your mess for you? Well it's a little late for that and even if it wasn't I don't believe in abortion Sam.  I'm happy to be having this baby and if you're not then just leave me alone!" She grabbed her purse and marched out of the restaurant and began the short walk back to the West Wing.

                         

"OK this is not going to happen this time," Sam caught up with her and grabbed her arm.  "This time we are going to sit and talk about things like two normal human beings.  Even if it kills me.  Please Ainsley, come back inside.  Let me start by saying I am beyond happy that you're having my baby, but if you weren't--well then I was sorry I had put you in that position that's all.  Please, please come and sit and talk to me."

                        

"I am not going back into that building for a good couple of days after how bad I just looked in there.  If you want to talk we're going to have to find some other place or do it on the walk back." Ainsley said rooted to the spot in which she was standing, clutching her purse tightly over her tiny baby mound as though in defense.

                        

"There's a perfectly good park at the end of this block," Sam sighed.  "I'd settle for there.  Just please calm down before you or the baby are affected and let me help you.  Ainsley I loved you that night.  Our love made this tiny life inside you and we pushed each other away.  That was wrong and I want to make it right.  Please."

                      

Ainsley looked at him a long moment and then began to walk in the direction he had motioned. "Keep talking Sam," she said positively.

                      

He caught up to her and wrapped his arm around her shoulders.  "Look that night was very special to me. And even more so now that I know we made a baby.  My god Ainsley, that night was incredible for me.  I was so much falling in love with you.  And I never stopped, not way down inside.  I never stopped loving you, even though you wanted me to."

                    

"I don't think I wanted you to," Ainsley replied.  "I don't know what I wanted. Two weeks ago it dawned on me that I was late...so I went to my doctor and he was shocked that I hadn't realized before that I was pregnant.  I'm sixteen weeks now of course..." she fidgeted and was thankful when they reached a bench in the park and she could sit down.

                   

"I just don't know why you pulled away from me like that," Sam sighed as he helped her to sit. "And of course once you did, my pride wouldn't let me beg you to come back.  I guess you were surprised to say the least.  Are you OK?  You and the baby?"  His hand fell to her rounding middle and he looked up in awe.  "This is my child in here."

                  

"I hope so either that or I have really put on some weight," Ainsley replied, "The baby and I are both fine.  The doctor put me on extra iron and vitamins and told me the usual spiel I guess about taking it easy.  He gave me a list of recommended books that I might want to read and a calendar that lists the expected times for certain things to be done like sonograms and Lamaze.  It's all rather confusing." Ainsley sighed with minor frustration.

                 

"You shouldn't be doing this alone anyway," Sam told her firmly.  "Let me be with you.  Let me share the baby with you.  I know I have every legal right, but that's not how I want it to be.  I want to be there with your permission, or even your desire would be nice."

                

"You want to share this baby with me?" Ainsley asked skeptically.

              

"YES," Sam yelped emphatically.  "This baby is half mine.  I'm thrilled that you're having my child.  I can't be any plainer than that.  I want to be this baby's father.  And I want to help take care of you. I know we can work something out along those lines.  We're both reasonable people aren't we?"

             

Ainsley smiled, "Okay Sam.  I'll give you a trial run.  Whose apartment should we use, though if I remember yours is twice the size mine is." She smiled at him. "Look, I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier, but at least you know now. Let's see if we can't do this right for all of our sakes."

            

Sam gulped hard.  "You mean you want to come and stay with me?  I think that...that's great.  Yes I want you to.  Your place I haven't seen, but of course I have the extra bedroom that could be a nursery easily.  It's just full of junk now.  But.... but Ainsley, I need to know something.  What made you pull away from me?  I was confused and... Well I'll admit it--hurt too.  What did I do?"

          

"You behaved like just because I slept with you that suddenly gave you the right to control me and my life. I'm not a mouse in a game of cat and mouse Sam.  You made me mad when you did just what I expected you to do.  You suddenly started treating me like a mindless bimbo." Ainsley replied.

         

Sam sat back in shock.  "Ainsley I.... I had no idea," he gasped.  "That was the furthest thing from my mind.  I'm so sorry.  I wish you had called me on it right then though and let me make it right. My god I thought you had regretted the night we were together or even worse that I had done something to really hurt you.  And when you wouldn't take my calls and only would talk business in the Wing...well I was just confused."

        

"I'm sorry but I believe by that point I was being hormonal without knowing it and I stayed upset at you so long I couldn't see my way to being not upset at you." Ainsley replied looking at the sidewalk in front of them a moment. "I'm sorry I misjudged you again."

       

"Let's get past all that," Sam said decisively.  "Let's agree that you're going to come live with me, I'm going to look after you and be a father to our baby.  And beyond that we'll take it as it comes."  His arm went around her shoulder in a tentative hug, afraid she would pull away.

      

Ainsley allowed him to cuddle her. "The doctor said in about a week or two I'll start feeling it move." she felt the need to speak.  "We'd probably better get back and get that paper done or before you can imagine I'll be hungry again and we'll never get any work finished."

     

He stood and helped her up.  "Does anyone know you're pregnant?" He asked gently.  "Actually I think they do and are just too polite to say anything.  You do look it honey, beautifully, gloriously pregnant with my child."

    

Ainsley laid a hand on her baby mound. "Yes I'd imagine they've noticed.  They probably just aren't saying anything because they haven't seen the responsible party or heard me being happy about it."

   

"But you are happy aren't you?"  He asked gently, covering her hand with his, and taking his other hand and pressing it to the other side of the rounding belly.

  

"Yes," Ainsley smiled softly, "I never imagined myself as being a mother so soon but...here I am and, it's one of those special feelings."

 

  "On you it looks beautiful," Sam assured her, kissing her cheek lightly as he held her.  "Now the question is do we tell, and who and how much if so."

 

 "Let's tell them all everything!" Ainsley smiled spontaneously, "after all, they're our friends." She looked at him and smiled, "Sam, you're going to be a father, we're going to have a baby."

 

"I'm for that--at staff briefing in the morning," Sam grinned broadly.  "We always have time for personal mentions.  You will be mine and of course I want you there as we share the news--the great news."

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

"Are you going to eat all of your lunch?" Donna pleaded looking at Josh. "I'm starving here!" For the moment she had managed to keep her secret about being implanted with Josh's baby quiet.  She knew she wouldn't be able to keep the fact that she was pregnant quiet much longer and once that became obvious a bombardment of questions would follow.

                                       

"What?"  He frowned and looked up in distraction from the Jennings bill.  "Lunch no--no I'm not hungry anyway.  Help yourself."  He pushed it towards her and then drew back.  "No wait, what's it worth to you?  I need some figures on Hispanic kids in these Texas county schools.  Could you manage to fit that into your busy schedule, in exchange for a whole half of corn beef sandwich, with kraut, untouched by my mouth?"

                                      

"Anything," Donna replied.  She leaned over to reach for the food and her dress wedged against the desk, tightly displaying her extra poundage.

                                      

"Let me move out of your way a little," Josh muttered and then for the first time in a long time, got a really good look at her.  "Donna?"  He pushed everything from his mind for the moment and came around the desk, shoving the door closed on his way by, and bodily sat her in the nearest chair, retrieving the sandwich at the same time.  "I think you have something to share with me don't you?" he asked gently, leaning over her closely.

                                    

"Well it's not going to be this sandwich," Donna replied as she grabbed it and began to scarf it down. She looked at him and then she made her sad puppy face. "Okay I was waiting to tell but…  I'm pregnant Josh."

                                   

"Thank you for being that honest without making me beg," Josh told her sincerely, pulling a chair up close to hers.  "No one else knows I'm guessing.  And I don't see a ring.  Is it someone I know?  I mean I haven't even heard you mention that you were dating anyone."

                                  

"I'm not dating anyone and yes it is someone you know," Donna answered matter-of-factly.  There was a knock on the door then and Margaret appeared.  "The lab brought over another subpoena for another sperm sample for your records," she said waving the paper in front of her as though just touching it disturbed her.  "Why anyone would steal sperm..." she grimaced.

                                 

"It's a world gone mad," Josh sighed and looked back to Donna apologetically.  "I haven't told you about this.  I had...uh...made a deposit at the Georgetown sperm bank--well that part you knew about since you listen to my phone calls--and a vial of it disappeared about four months ago; which I'm just now this week being informed of.  Thanks Margaret.  Did you bring a cup?"  Margaret's eyes grew wide and she hastily retreated.  "I like teasing her," Josh grinned, "now we were talking about your...uh.... little blessing on the way here."

                                

Donna had turned visibly paler and she sat there just staring at him and actually sweating. "It disappeared hmm?  Well I'm sure whoever took it must've really wanted or needed it...."

                               

"But it's just one of thousands there," Josh protested, "Frankly I'm not sure I believe it was stolen.  I think someone was messing with it and lost it or broke it or something and they don't want to admit it.  I mean don't they have to take them out to dust or something.  Maybe it was dropped.  I only was doing it on the advice of my doctor anyway in case I meet someone who wants to have my child since I may not be able to father children if my prostate problem...OK this is insane.  I've got Jennings crawling up my butt about this bill, you're obviously pregnant and I'm talking about my medical condition here.  I'm in the twilight zone--that's the only answer."

                              

"They can't break it's plastic," Donna said without thinking. Then she rose.  "I'm going to handle that thing about the Texas County schools." She exited his office.

                             

"Of course they're plastic," Josh, mumbled, shaking his head in puzzlement, "How do you know that?" he yelled to her retreating back.  "And we still didn't discuss her pregnancy," he mumbled again, making a mental note to ask her to dinner.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

"Mr. Ziegler, this gentlemen is looking for Ms. Cregg," the security guard hailed Toby in the hallway.  "He's on her admittance list, but I can't find her or anyone who will escort him.  Can you give a hand?"

                                   

"Jonathan Owens, Mr. Ziegler, my pleasure."  The tall good-looking forty-ish gentlemen put his hand out to Toby.  "CJ and I have lunch plans and she promised me a tour first, and now she seems to have disappeared.  I'm sure that happens often."  "Thanks Mark, I'll take him," Toby assured the guard and eyed Jonathan uneasily.  "She's in a meeting, but you can come wait in my office."

                                   

Jonathan smiled uneasily and then followed Toby to his office. "Thank-you I appreciate it.  How much longer do you think she'll be?"

                                 

"As long as the president keeps her," Toby replied, not bothering to keep the irritation from his voice.  "Now you sit right there by the door and you're bound to see her as she comes by, and I'll get back to work."  Toby however only pretended to work, keeping an eye on this man, and his eyes opened even wider when CJ appeared in the doorway and Jonathan enveloped her in a warm hug and kissed her cheek.  "Shall we?"  "CJ you're welcome for the babysitting," Toby growled.

                                

CJ smiled and transferred that smile to Toby. "Thank-you Toby." She turned back to Jonathan, "Sorry I'm late.  I'm glad Toby rescued you though." CJ looped her arm in his and they left.

                               

Toby glowered after them and was still scowling when Leo walked in.  "Leo who is that man with CJ?" he demanded darkly, "just waltzing in here and taking her to lunch like he owns her or something."

                              

"I don't know but he's been in here a few times recently," Leo said and then he looked at Toby amused, "you have an objection?"

                              

"No....yes.... I mean no of course not.  I mean CJ can do what she wants with her own time.  But.... but she never goes to lunch with me," Toby whined.

                            

Leo looked amused, "Well you know, maybe if you asked her she might."

                           

Toby's mouth opened and closed several times before he could answer.  "I just might have to do that.  You think she and this guy are.... Leo you don't think they're serious do you?"

                          

Leo shrugged, "Since when has CJ's personal life been much of my business?  Though judging from what I just saw..."

                         

Toby held to the desk as he looked closely at Leo.  "OK what did you just see?  Please Leo, it's important to me."

                        

"The way CJ looked at you and how she dropped Jonathan's arm as soon as they were out of your view.  What's going on here?" Leo asked. Suddenly it dawned on him, "you're jealous? You're jealous and CJ's trying to make you that way."

                       

"I am...." Toby got out before he stopped.  "You are so right my friend.  I am jealous.  I want to ask her out, and I'm afraid she'll say no, plus I'm afraid she'll say yes and then...I'm really ranting here aren't I."

                       

"Yes..." Leo answered, "and you know what Toby.  I think you should do it.  I think you should ask her out."

                     

"I do not believe the White House Communications director is seeking dating advice from the White House Chief of Staff like we're in the high school locker room," Toby sighed.  "But yes, that's exactly what I'm going to do.  ASAP."

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Josh finally slammed his fist down on his desk, closing the file and then plopping himself down next to Donna at her desk.  "Could I interest you in dinner Donnatella?  There's a new German place opened near my apartment.  I'd love to try it, but not alone."

                      

"Do they have jalapeno peppers?" Donna asked without looking up from her typing.

                     

"German, not Mexican," Josh returned, his gaze falling to her belly.  "However I can change to Mexican if you're craving jalapeno's.  Pablo's works good too.  Donna, I just want to spend some.... for us to talk OK.  I'm concerned about you dammit."

                    

Donna looked at him, "Woah okay, let's not make me have to sit you in the corner for ten minutes. I'll go to dinner with you.  In fact we can go right now and I don't care where we go." Donna rose carefully.

                    

Josh immediately reached out a hand to steady her.  "Uh before we go out on this quaisi-date here, let me be sure that I'm not treading on anyone's territory.  The baby's father isn't going to mind that we're doing this is he?"

                   

"No... I don't think the baby's father will mind one bit," Donna answered trying hard not to smile. "Now, is that settled and we can go eat?"

                 

"You bet," he smiled, "though where you're going to put it on top of that huge sandwich piece I'm not sure."  He drove them to Pablo's and helped her from the car and into a booth.   "Donna when was I going to hear about this baby?  When you went into labor at your desk?" he growled as he began to look over the menu.  "You know, I thought we were friends.  I didn't even know you were seeing someone, much less that seriously.  Just because I'm not one of the girls you hang out with and talk about this stuff with doesn't mean I don't want to know what's going on in your life."

                 

"I'm not seeing anyone seriously," Donna said, "this is my baby...I got it the artificial way and I'm sure you would have realized I was pregnant before I went into labor at my desk.  I already look fat. In fact you're actually the first person to know about this baby."

              

"Honestly I didn't notice that you were putting on weight," Josh told her, "and if anyone else has, it's not been mentioned around me.  Artificial?  Ick.  No I take that back.  It's just not what I would have expected.  Good grief Donna if you wanted a baby that bad, why didn't you ask me?"

             

Donna lost the sip of water she'd been taking, "What?!  You mean you would have...you'd like to... Josh!"

            

"I would have, yes of course.  Don't be so surprised," Josh grinned.  "You know we men think about passing our genes along and someone to carry on the family and all.  I made that deposit for just that reason.  In case I can't after my... Never mind that.  I would have been honored to father your child."

           

"After your what?" Donna suddenly frowned, "Josh you're not telling me something.  Were there complications from the shooting?  Josh are you sick?" Donna suddenly went white with worry.

         

"No, not directly from the shooting," Josh squirmed uncomfortably.  "But I had a thorough exam several times while I was there.  I'm having my.... well OK, prostate gland removed.  It's swollen and they think it's.... they don't think it's serious, like anything to worry about thankfully, but it's not going to get any better and causing me discomfort.  Trouble is, the surgery leaves a man pretty much sterile--hence the sperm bank."  He took her face between his gentle hands.  "Hey you've got more than enough to worry about with what you're carrying.  I don't want you to be concerned about me.  I'll only be there a couple days, and home for a couple, and then I'm back to terrorizing everyone at work."

        

"You really want to have a baby huh?" Donna asked gently. "Are you going to be mad if you ever find out who took the vial?  When is this surgery Josh?  Don't think you're getting away without me taking care of you."

       

"I'm the only one of my family left," Josh sighed.  "And I wanted to insure that my lineage had a possibility of being carried on.  Yes I want a baby, and to be perfectly honest here, you are the one woman I wanted to have it with.  My surgery is next week, in five days to be exact.  And I'll be fine. You need to be taking care of yourself.  But you can come visit me please.  Like you did before after the shooting.  I have some fond memories of that time.  We were kind of especially close back then.  Plus if you could put up with my whining, you must be someone special."

    

Donna sat there, staring at him, stock-still.  Then she began to tremble slightly her eyes locked with his.  In her nervousness she knocked over her purse and out rolled the missing plastic vial much to her horror.

     

"Sit still I'll get that," he ordered, concerned for her pregnancy, and leaned down to retrieve the purse, catching the vial in his palm without looking at it.  "I think this was the only thing that got away," he said as he reached it toward her, freezing just as her hand closed over it as he saw the label.  "I...I don't understand...where?" he stammered, gripping it tightly.  "Donna where did this come from?"

    

"I stole it from the lab," Donna said softly.

   

Josh sat back weakly in his chair, fingering the vial now.  "You stole my sperm from the lab?  You personally broke into.....?"  He looked as though he might faint.  "Donna you could have been caught and sent to jail.  My god what were you thinking?  Why would you do such a thing?"

  

"So I could have a baby," Donna said flatly.

 

"That much I understand," Josh gasped, the image of her being imprisoned still very much on his mind.  "But Donna you risked everything here for that.  And you could have been caught or hurt.  Did you want a baby that bad.... you could have gone about it like a normal.... no you wanted my baby didn't you?"

 

"Yes Josh, I wanted your baby," Donna said firmly, "and I got it.  It worked.  You're not.  You're not going to say anything are you?  You can just drop charges and everything will be fine."

 

"I never filed charges of any kind," Josh reminded her, taking her hands.  "My god no I'm not going to say anything.  I couldn't bear it if you were taken away from me.  At the very least you'd lose your job even if you just got probation.  I'm sorry you didn't trust me enough to just come to me.  But OK, let's get past that.  You're having my baby...."  He choked hard on his last words.  "Donnatella, the baby you're carrying, it's my baby?  I'm the father?"

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

"Bless you," Toby sighed into the phone and hung up, seeking out CJ, whom he found in her office and was grateful to note she had not been at lunch for an undue amount of time.  "Hey," he greeted her casually, thankful she was alone.  "You got a minute?"

                

"Sure, what do you need?" CJ asked looking up from her laptop.

              

"Company," he replied.  "I've got tickets for the Kennedy Center--New York Philharmonic tomorrow night.  I'm thinking dinner and a concert here.  Would you be interested in joining me?"

             

CJ raised a brow and then reached for her planner. "Carol do I have anything penciled in for tomorrow night?" she called a moment later.  "No," Carol replied.  "It looks like I'm free," CJ replied with a smile.

            

"I'll take that as a yes," Toby grinned happily.  "You know they're wonderful and I had to call in a couple favors to get these tickets so I think it's going to be well worth it.  Dinner at the Mayflower Room first?"

           

CJ smiled, "Sounds wonderful.  I'll pull out something nice from my formals end of the closet."  Just then Carol stuck her head in the door. "Jonathan on line one CJ." CJ thanked Carol and motioned for Toby to wait. "Hello Jonathan. Oh really? The Kennedy Center tomorrow night hmm?  Well no actually I have plans... Yes I know I didn't have plans at lunch.  I have plans now though. I'm sorry, perhaps some other time. Okay good-bye." CJ finished the call. "Okay, we never got around to when all this was going to take place and if this was a..." CJ left the sentence for Toby to finish. "Are we just going to do our usual meet there routine?" she asked thinking back long ago to California.

         

"No I think I'd like to pick you up," Toby said suddenly, frowning at the contents of the call.  "Think we can get away tomorrow at a decent hour and be ready by seven?"

        

"I've got a meeting with Leo at four and that's the end of my day aside from the five o'clock briefing so I should be able to get away in plenty of time.  Seven sounds wonderful.  Apparently the New York Philharmonic is going to be the place to be tomorrow night."

       

"I didn't realize we were making an appearance," Toby grinned.  "Is some of the other staff going?"

    

"Not that I know of," CJ replied, "though Jonathan just called and invited me to the same concert. He didn't promise a dinner and nice conversation though."

   

"Then I'm glad I made a better offer," Toby laughed and then turned serious.  "CJ listen, if you and he have some kind of understanding or arrangement here, then I shouldn't be asking you out, no matter how good of friends we are."

  

"Jonathan and I are just friends.  We're just going out so each of us has a social life," CJ replied, "he hasn't even seen me fall in a pool yet."

 

"That's bad for him," Toby smiled.  "It's such a wonderful view, and you do it so gracefully besides.  OK, I'm taking your word that you're just friends and I'm not treading where I shouldn't be.  And on that note I'm going to go kill Sam and then I have a dinner meeting on the Hill.  See you at staff briefing in the morning."

 

CJ smiled, "Okay, see you then."

++++++++++++++++++++

"I'm for that--at staff briefing in the morning," Sam grinned broadly.  "We always have time for personal mentions.  You will be mine and of course I want you there as we share the news--the great news."

                                              

Ainsley smiled, "Okay then.  Now let's get back to that paper," she rose and began walking slowly back towards the White House waiting for him to catch up.

                                              

Sam paused a moment to watch her and then hurriedly caught up to her, sliding his arm across her waist, prepared for her to pull away but wanting to make the effort.

                                            

Ainsley smiled at him and that is exactly how they arrived at the West Wing.  They separated to make the trek to his office.  Then Ainsley sat down and immediately rose again. "Forgot juice and water.  I am so thirsty."

                                           

"Sit and get started," Sam directed.  "I'll get what you need.  Remember we're doing it that way now.  What's it going to be?"

                                          

"Umm...how about cranberry juice and a bottle of water," Ainsley decided.

                                          

"Bless a fully stocked kitchen," Sam grinned.  "Be right back." 

                                         

He was pulling the cranberry juice bottle from the kitchen when CJ came up behind him, and at once raised an eyebrow at his unusual choice.  "It's for Ainsley," he explained, and now CJ nodded.  "OK I guess you've noticed," he grinned.  "Just call me clueless."

                                        

"Well yeah, I noticed at the last staff meeting," CJ said, "I didn't know she was even seeing anyone that seriously! Do you know who? Is she even happy about it?  It looks like she's hiding to me.  I've been meaning to ask her if she wanted to talk or if she was okay but I just...I don't know how to broach the subject.  I mean do you even think I should?" CJ asked grabbing a diet Coke for herself.

                                       

"She's going to tell everyone at---" Sam began and stopped.  "Tomorrow at staff meeting...well yeah she's been hiding it up to now I think.  And she is OK.  I'm seeing to that.  I suspect you can guess why."

                                      

CJ dropped the Diet Coke, which she fortunately hadn't opened yet. "Sam you're kidding me?  You're not serious?" A smile was expanding on CJ's face. "You're not serious--you and Ainsley? You're--?"

                                     

"Going to be parents," Sam smiled proudly.  "She's pregnant with my child.  We're going to let everyone know in the morning so the rumors don't start.  And before you ask, we were together, then we were apart, and now--well we're coming together to have the baby. I'm not thinking beyond that right now."

                                    

CJ spontaneously hugged him in her happiness. "Congratulations Sam, to both of you.  If there's ever anything I can do... oh jeez look at the time, gotta run." CJ said before she smiled, grabbed her diet Coke and hurried towards her office.

                                   

"Hopefully you've got it all done," Sam smiled when he returned to his office and handed Ainsley a bottle of water and the cranberry juice.  She glowered at him from where she was typing.

                                  

"All done?!  Hardly, but I might have gotten more done if you'd been here instead of photocopying your hand or whatever you were doing." She quipped. Then she followed it with a smile before turning her laptop towards him.  That's what I have so far.  I also went through these printouts and highlighted the supporting facts I think we should use."

                                  

"Hey this is not bad," Sam approved as he scanned her work.  "You are wonderful at this.  Wish they'd let me hire you on to work in communications with me.  Then I could refer Toby to you when he gets that murderous look in his eye.  Which by the way I'm avoiding him now."

                                

"And you have impeccably bad timing," Ainsley smiled looking over Sam's shoulder at Toby standing in the doorway.  "What can I do for you Toby?" Ainsley asked, "I'm afraid I can't relinquish Sam to you right now because what we're doing is well, rather important."

                               

"You're working on that paper Leo needs aren't you?  Well that's OK.  I can kill him later."  His eyes rested on Ainsley for a long moment and he shook his head before moving on.

                               

Sam gave a long sigh of relief.  "With any luck I can get this finished, and fix the Johnson speech problem before we leave tonight.  Which by the way, you're letting me make you dinner right?"

                              

"Well I wasn't going to cook dinner at YOUR apartment.  I figured you could cook tonight.  If it's edible I might let you cook the next night," Ainsley smiled at him.  The first truly bright smile she'd given him all day. They began working diligently and managed to get both Leo's paper and the Johnson speech done in record time.

                             

"OK, we are out of here before they think of something else for us to do," Sam declared.  "And you shouldn't be putting in hugely long hours anyway.  You need to be with your feet up and your head back, and letting the father of your baby take care of you."

                            

"You know I'm actually beginning to like the sound of all this," Ainsley said in her strong Carolinian accent.  "You might be swinging a vote." She put on her coat, which was rather snug and tugging at the buttons and grabbed her laptop briefcase. "Let's go home Sam."

                           

He nodded and walked her out to their cars, keeping his arm across her.  "I'll follow you," he smiled, buckling her in carefully.  "Precious cargo in here."

                          

Ainsley made sure she had the directions right and then drove her rental to her apartment first tossing a bunch of stuff in a suit bag and a duffle and then she led the way to Sam's. She left him to get the luggage.

                         

"What we need is a uhaul," Sam muttered as he pulled up behind her and hurried out to catch up to her, bringing one bag and he would come back for the rest.  "Don't run off now," he urged.  "I have wacky neighbors.  Someone is going to see a beautiful woman in my hallway and think she's available."

+++++++++++++

"I never filed charges of any kind," Josh reminded her, taking her hands.  "My god no I'm not going to say anything.  I couldn't bear it if you were taken away from me.  At the very least you'd lose your job even if you just got probation.  I'm sorry you didn't trust me enough to just come to me.  But OK, let's get past that.  You're having my baby...."  He choked hard on his last words.  "Donnatella, the baby you're carrying, it's my baby?  I'm the father?"

                                              

Donna nodded and smiled, "your baby Josh.  You're going to be a Dad."

                                             

For one of the few times in his life, Josh was struck silent, and had to swallow hard four times before he could form a thought; even then all he could do was reach over to awkwardly hug her.  "Thank you," he sniffled into her ear.  "Thank you from the bottom of my heart."

                                            

"For getting us into serious legal trouble?" Donna asked, "I'm scared Josh.  What if they don't give up? What if they find me?" she trembled in his embrace.

                                           

"If they haven't in four months it's not likely they're going to" Josh said thoughtfully, holding her tightly as she shook.  "I'm not going to let anything happen to you.  Not now of all times.  Maybe I need to go over there and tell them for personal reasons I don't want to worry about the whole thing any more.  Thing is, I need them to keep the sperm.  This baby you're having is not the only one I want you know.  Here relax and eat, and then we can go talk to them."

                                          

Donna nodded, "Right, they can't charge me against your will can they?" Donna suddenly began scarfing down food.

                                         

"I see pregnancy has done wonders for your appetite, not that it needed help," Josh grinned, digging into his own tuna plate.  "Donna we need to talk about you and the baby and me and...well how this is all going to work."

                                        

Donna raised a brow and then looked down and laid a hand on her slightly swollen abdomen. "I'd say it's already worked Josh..." she said as more of a question than a statement.

                                       

"Obviously," he grinned happily, covering the hand that she had set on the baby mound.  "But I'm talking about in the future.  You shouldn't be doing this alone.  You wouldn't not let me be this baby's father would you?"

                                      

"No of course not," Donna said, "I was always raised to believe that children were better having both parents, but Josh I was getting desperate.  Wait, are you trying to tell me there's something here?  I mean don't do it out of desperation because I've read that's actually bad for the baby and that they can sense at a very early age something's wrong and they grow up unhealthy..." she began on another of her tangents about things she had read out of context.

                                     

"Whoa slow down," Josh stopped her with a firm squeeze of her hand. "Of course I'm obligated here.  You're having my child.  No matter how it was conceived--that's totally immaterial any more.  A piece of me is growing inside you.  A tiny baby that needs both of us.  That's what's important right now.  I was serious when I told you I would have had a baby with you the normal way, but that's not mattering any more either.  I want us to be together to raise this child.  Not to mention, have you looked at your place lately?  You couldn't fit a baby bed in there with a shoe horn."

                                    

Donna frowned and then she smiled a minute later, "but there's plenty of room for lots of baby stuff at your place.  You even have spare bedrooms.  Your place is cute. Oh I want to raise this baby with you Josh, I want very much to!" Donna quickly embraced him and that's when they heard the ripping sound, "darn and this was the largest dress I had!" Donna thought aloud.

                                   

"I think we need to take the afternoon off and take you shopping," Josh said decisively.  "There's not a blessed thing they need me for the rest of the day anyway.  And then we need to start packing your things.  You and the baby live with me now."

                                  

Donna smiled.  "You promise you're not going to laugh at my new clothes?  Even though I'm going to look like I'm wearing dresses instead of shirts..." she hugged him again and then finally released him turning around and exposing a large tear near the zipper.

                                  

"Opps," Josh grinned and pointed. "No of course I'm not going to laugh.  Besides I'm not taking you to Wal-Mart.  You're a working woman in the White House.  You need executive maternity clothes or whatever you'd call them.  I was thinking those boutiques in Georgetown would be where to get work clothes; and for just around the house, you can probably get away with sweats for a bit yet.  In any case I can't have my assistant and the mother of my child walking around with torn clothes."

                                 

Donna smiled, "Thank-you Josh.  I'm glad you understand all of this.  I hope you know I'm sorry now that I went behind your back, but I just couldn't have anyone say no this time." Donna put on her coat to cover the tear and looked to Josh expectantly.

                               

"This time?" He frowned quizzically.  "You mean you've wanted to do this before?  I'm just sorry you felt so desperate you had to just about risk your life--and certainly your future.  Honey I thought you knew you could come to me about anything.  I'm sorry I hadn't made that clear.  But before?  This time?"

                              

Donna looked at him confused a minute and then she caught on. "Oh no, that's not what I meant.  No I've never wanted or tried for a baby like this before.  I just meant people telling me no in so many other things in my life. No you can't work for me, no you shouldn't be studying that, no you can't go to school anymore-you should support me; no I don't love you anymore.  No one was going to tell me no you can't have a baby now; you're going to have to go on with the longing for one.  I couldn't stand it anymore, even shopping malls were making me depressed!"

                             

Josh ran his hand down her arm gently.  "It's ok.  That's all over now.  You're with me, and you're having your baby, and what ever else you need or want goes along with that.  You my love are a very important part of my life, both personal and professional, and it's about time I showed you that."

                            

"Good I'm glad that you think that..." her words slowed until they finally stopped, "wait, did you just call me you love back there? Are you trying to tell me something Josh, cause if not you'd better fix it before you have a pregnant woman kissing you."

                           

A small smile came to his lips and he cocked his head in that endearing Josh Lyman manner.  "I'm in love with you.  I have been for a long time."  He laughed lightly and looked around.  "But wait, there's a pregnant woman in here who's wanting to kiss me?  Where?  Is she pretty?"

                          

Donna's lips tightened into a frown and then out came the tongue. When she was finished pretending to be cross with him she wrapped her arms around him and kissed him passionately and he felt for the first time the new sensation of her firm belly being pressed between them, the tight mound which encased his baby.

                         

Josh kissed her back and rested his hands on the baby mound afterward.  "Do you know how right this feels," he sighed, glad that they did not have an audience.  "To be kissing you, to be telling you that I love you, and to feel our baby between us like this.  Tonight when we sleep, she's going to be safe and warm between us."

                        

Donna raised a brow, "She's going to be safe and warm between us hmm?  You must plan on really wooing me if I'm going to share your bed on the first night?" Donna laughed in jest.

                       

"Need I woo?" Josh laughed as well.  "And of course there is the guest room if you'd be more comfortable there.  And at some point the little room that I just keep junk in...well you'll need to decorate for the nursery."

                      

Donna smiled, "I have the loveliest plan for that too.  We're going to have to paint it first of all...." Donna smiled, giddy with the thought.  "No, you don't have to woo me, just feed me something really wonderful and the sooner the better actually.  I'm starving."

                    

"Giovanni's Deli right down the street delivers.  You can have pasta, salad, or any kind of cold cut sandwich you want.  Their menu is under the phone and the number is seven on the speed dial," Josh laughed.  "Food first, decorating options second."

+++++++++++++++

As soon as Ainsley got inside Sam's apartment she gently collapsed onto a sofa with an exhalation of fatigue.

                         

"Long day I know," Sam sighed, "and no one can ever say you don't earn your keep around that place.  You manage to make me look good even, and that's saying something."  He took a pillow from the back of the sofa and put it on the coffee table, then lifted her legs.  At the last minute he changed his mind and took off her shoes, moving her feet to his lap where he began to massage them, starting with the bottoms of the toes.

                        

Ainsley was nervously quiet a moment but soon she began to moan softly, "Oh Sam that feels so good.  My feet were killing me."  She relaxed into the pillows on the sofa then and laid her head back closing her eyes.

                       

He continued the massage until her breathing told him she was sleeping, and then with a small kiss to her forehead, covered her with the afghan his grandmother had sent him, and went to make dinner.  Scallop potatoes were in the oven, carrots steaming with butter and brown sugar, and fish ready for the broiler when she murmured again.  "Ainsley I'm right here," he called quickly.

                      

"You realize we'll be getting a baby for a Christmas present," Ainsley said softly.  "The doctor estimates he or she will be born about December 5th." Ainsley said to make conversation. "I was thinking of doing the nursery in silver and gold, maybe some navy blue in there for accents..." She was quiet a moment, "Sam, there's probably something else I should tell you before the appointment tomorrow morning, which yes is in your schedule.  The doctor...well the doctor thinks we could quite possibly be dealing with more than one baby."

                     

The spatula in Sam's hand hit the floor with a large clatter.  "OK I can handle that," he said, his voice not sounding that confident.  "I don't have any more surprises in store do I?"  His face softened and he hurried to her side.  "Honey I think that's wonderful really.  And I'm glad to be going to the doctor with you.  Hey, did you know you wanted a baby, before you got this one that is?"

                    

"Not really," Ainsley answered honestly, "it was really far off in my plans until the doctor told me I was pregnant.  At first I was well, you know, a little upset about it but since then it's been growing on me, more than just literally."

                   

"I can see that," Sam laughed, sliding the fish under the broiler and coming to sit next to her.  "But you're happy about it now?  This baby is very much wanted by his father you know.  Of course I'm still numb too, but mainly I'm thrilled and happy and I'm going to be nothing but proud when we tell the staff in the morning."

                  

Ainsley smiled, "I'm getting happier about it by the minute. I guess I've been really nervous too...you know imagining what would happen when you found out and all..."

                 

"And I'm sure I didn't give you any reason to trust my reaction," Sam nodded.  "But then we haven't talked about anything that wasn't worked related since that night up until about four days ago.  And even then I couldn't believe when you came in with that pizza.  I was ravenous too.  At the time I thought you were just taking pity on an over worked senior staffer.  But you were feeling me out weren't you?"

                

"A little and then I still couldn't do anything," Ainsley replied, "if you hadn't found out on your own today I probably still wouldn't be telling you until you figured it out." she sighed.

               

"Well at least we had begun getting back.  Bless that pizza.  Obviously I would have found out eventually of course.  But by then you might not have wanted me to know.  I mean you certainly didn't have to admit it to me.  But I'm so glad you did.  I want to be with you, and I want us to raise this baby.  And maybe, if there is a God, we can find our way to love each other at the same time."

              

Ainsley smiled at him. "Maybe Sam..." she was quiet a long moment, "Sam... Are you doing all this because of the baby?"

             

"Yes," he answered honestly, "and you.  Ainsley, I know you're not ready to accept this, and you don't want to believe it maybe, but I was falling in love with you before our night together, I loved you on that night, and ever since.  I never stopped loving you these past weeks we were apart.  When you're ready for it, my love will be there for you.  In the meantime I want you and the baby to be well cared for."

            

Ainsley smiled, "Okay, deal and you know.... I do have feelings for you Sam, deep feelings."

           

"OK" he nodded and smiled.  "And for now that's enough.  The rest can take care of itself as time passes.  And dinner is ready.  May I escort the lady?"

          

Ainsley smiled and took his hand, rising very slowly this time and going with Sam to the table.  She smiled and thanked him when he seated her.  "You know what I think? I think Josh's assistant Donna might be pregnant too..."

         

"Are you serious?"  Sam nearly dropped the bowl of potatoes this time.  "That's going to kill Josh.  His feelings for her run real strong--he's just too big of a coward to ask her out.  Now it's too late I guess.  I wonder who she's seeing.  He says she sees a long line of losers.  I hope it's by someone she cares for."

        

"Me too, I really like Donna...not that I dislike anyone else.  I seem to have taken a liking to everyone on the senior staff except of course sometimes when they're having a bad day and even then--" Ainsley quickly forced herself to a halt. "So do you like Gold and silver with navy accents?"

       

"Hey it's OK.  We all have days where we can't stand the sight of one another; but the great thing about our group is that we come back together, work out whatever was causing the bug up our butts and go on.  Honestly I feel closer to these people than what little family I have left," Sam smiled.  "And I never thought about those colors in lieu of pink and blue; but you have such taste I know you can pull it off."

      

"Why thank-you Sam," Ainsley smiled.  She finished her second helping of dinner. Then she picked out a good movie and again they settled on his bed. She had to get up twice to use the bathroom and return with something more to drink.

     

"It's going out as fast as it's coming in," Sam smiled and held his arm open to her in invitation for her to lay against his chest.  "No one can accuse you of inactive kidneys.  So what are we going to learn at the doctor's tomorrow?"

    

"Well, we're having a sonogram, so we'll probably learn how many babies we're dealing with.  I don't know if they're developed enough at this stage to tell sex or not.  But if they are then we'll find that out too." Ainsley answered, "Also I'll get the results back from my tests to make sure everything's going to be healthy and alright."

   

"That's good," Sam sighed in relief.  "And then I'll take you to lunch after.  We'll be celebrating I'm betting."

  

Ainsley smiled, "Well that depends on what we're looking for..."

 

"Healthy," Sam said firmly, "healthy baby, healthy mom.  Anything else is perfectly able to be dealt with."  The movie ended and he kissed her forehead.  "Are you settled for the night, or would you feel more comfortable in the other room?  Maybe you're feeling the need for your own space."

                                                   

"I'm not moving," Ainsley, moaned softly, "if you'd feel more comfortable without me you can take the other room and complain about it to me tomorrow.  I've had a busy day."

                                                  

"Are you kidding?" Sam pretended to be outraged.  "This is my bed Ms. Hayes, no one kicks me out of my bed.  "Therefore I guess we're sharing for the night.  And if you'd like, you may continue to use the chest as your pillow."

                                                 

Ainsley smiled, "Okay then, I believe I will." She laid her head on his chest and closed her eyes.  Sleep soon came to her.

                                               

Sam watched her for several minutes until his own eyes grew heavy.  "I love you Ainsley," he told the sleeping mother of his child, "now more than ever."

++++++++++++++

Donna found what she wanted to order and got Josh's order as well, placed them and then grabbed some bottled water out of the refrigerator before sitting on the couch with a note pad.  She glanced around and began writing furiously making several long lists.

                 

"How do I get this kind of efficiency at the office?" Josh demanded when he returned from changing to see her busy.  "And what is it we're listing here.  People who want your boss dead for starters?"

                

"No, I'm making a list of things we have to get from the grocery store, things I need to make sure I bring over here and a list of things we'll need to buy..."  Donna said.

               

"List away my love," he grinned, dropping next to her and lifting her feet onto his lap so he could massage the ankles and the balls at the same time.  "Your feet are swollen love.  Bet it's from being up too much."

              

"Probably, I'm not used to all this extra weight.  It's throwing my balance off too," Donna said making a sad face at Josh before continuing on with her lists. "What did you think today...when you...when you saw it..."

             

"That I was surprised I didn't know you were seeing someone," he sighed.  "And hurt that you didn't share that with me.  Mostly I was crushed thinking that was the dooming of any chance I might have with you."

            

"And then when I told you it was yours?" Donna furthered.

           

"Oh then I was totally afraid for you--and afraid for what you'd risked," Josh answered.  "I had to get through that before the thrill of knowing you were having my baby could set in.  Now though I'm one hundred percent in love with the idea, the baby, you."

          

Donna smiled, "and we're all okay.  Those people earlier looked like they were going to drop dead with surprise when you explained everything to them."

         

"Well they're used to strangeness from the Bartlet White House," Josh grinned.  "Anyway that's all behind us.  Now we need to announce it don't you think?  Staff meeting tomorrow?  If people haven't guessed already."

        

"I really don't think they've guessed.  I've been really good about hiding it.  After all you've seen all the loose dresses I've been wearing. Plus the hide-it-all suits," Donna pointed out. "But you're right, we should announce it at the meeting tomorrow."

        

"So did you help Tucker with the 'mission corsage' for the prom?" she asked after a few moments silence.

       

"The boy is a nervous wreck," Josh grinned.  "I offered, we looked, and came away undecided.  They have too much on their plate right now with prom, graduation, exams, work, and this wedding they're looking ahead to.  He's a great guy though.  I would be proud for my daughter to marry a man like that."

      

"Well I do believe Leo grins from ear to ear every time he sees them," Donna smiled, "They're such a huge help. I noticed Toby helping Chloe with her studying the other day.  She can even make him smile!"

     

"She's wonderful," Josh grinned.  "If I was eighteen or twenty myself...."  He laughed and hugged her.  "And if I didn't have a beautiful assistant with whom I'm in love and who's carrying my child...."

    

Donna smiled, "oh it's nice to know there's something keeping you here." She leaned in and kissed him.  "I love you Josh.  I love you and I'm glad this baby is going to have you for his or her father."

   

    "You bet he is," Josh grinned, "but she really.  Blonde and blue eyed like her beautiful mother.  We're going to be very happy together.  And I can't wait to tell everyone tomorrow too.  Oh, no one has to know the circumstance of the conception anyway.  Far as they're concerned, we've been seeing each other all along or something.  None of anyone's business anyway."

  

"Exactly," Donna replied.  Then she looked at Josh with glistening eyes, "you don't think I was wrong for doing it do you?"

 

Josh met her gaze and cupped her cheek.  "You were wrong for not giving me the chance," he said softly.  "But then you had no way of knowing--and I certainly didn't give you any encouragement--that I would have been honored to father your child in the traditional way.  But that's all in the past now.  You and I and this baby growing big inside of you are family.  She's going to be born a Lyman, and hopefully by then that will be her mother's name also."

 

"Oh Josh I'd be happy to marry you tomorrow.  I want this baby to have a mother and a father and a traditional home," Donna smiled.  Then she leaned in and kissed him. "But what's this about surgery?"

                                                   

Josh looked embarrassed.  "I have a growth on my prostate gland," he sighed.  "And sometimes the removal of the gland leaves a man sterile.  So I banked some sperm in case, which I didn't know you even knew about, but that's not really that surprising since you know about everything I do it seems.  Anyway I'm only in for 24 hours, and then I have about 3 days at home bed rest.  It's not a big deal.  I'm reconciled to the sterile part, especially when I consider the alternatives."

                                                  

Donna sighed and after a minute spoke hopefully, "but you could not be right?  I mean you could be fine?"

                                               

"No we won't know until after," he sighed as well.  "But there's plenty of me stored there for a houseful of kids.  I was much more concerned about malignancy than about fathering, but right now it does seem like that's pretty important too."

                                              

"Well you don't have to worry about it for the next few months," Donna smiled. "So when is the surgery scheduled for?" Donna asked as she had finished her glass of water in the kitchen and was climbing the stairs towards the bedroom she would now share with her boss.

                                              

"Monday," he sighed.  "They're going to remove it and biopsy it.  Hopefully it will be negative and that's the end, except of course for the sterility question."  He put his arm around her as she walked, mindful of the steps.  "If it's not, well then I have to have radiation which will no doubt leave me sterile, but alive."

                                            

"Well here's hoping," Donna smiled.  "In the meantime, tomorrow is thankfully Friday and a fairly light day.  It's another of Leo's block of cheese days." Donna stepped into the bathroom and changed in hiding before she stood in the middle of the room.  "Okay, where do you want me?" she asked feeling awkward for not the first time today.

                                            

"Unless you have an objection, in my arms and in my bed," Josh smiled, quickly dropping everything but his undershirt and boxers to the floor.

                                          

Donna smiled and laid down on the bed, waiting for Josh to pull up the covers, her satin nightgown fell differently on her now. She yawned and it was obvious she was tired.

                                         

Josh held the covers and brought his chest to press against her back, curling himself around her.  "I have so long wanted to have you in my bed," he sighed.  "For making love of course, but also just to hold and to tell you that I love you," His hand smoothed over the baby mound outlined in the soft satin, and he kissed the back of her neck.  "My child is inside you and I love you."

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Toby paced the floor waiting impatiently for CJ to answer the phone.  It had taken him a good bit to get up his courage, and now he was afraid it was failing.  Her machine answered, and he requested she pick up.  When she did so, he was at first speechless, then finally managed.  "Hi CJ.  I just called to thank you for saying you'd go with me tomorrow night, and to...well to tell you good night I guess."

  

CJ smiled on the other end of the phone. "Well thank-you Toby.  Did anyone ever tell you that you can be really sweet sometimes?"

 

"And ruin my reputation?  Good Lord no," he sputtered.  "I'm looking forward to our evening and I...well I hope it won't be the last."

                                                   

CJ kicked her covers in childish glee and had to bite her lip to suppress the shrill of glee that was welling up inside her.  "Well perhaps Mr. Ziegler," she rolled his name out lovingly, "it won't be."

                                                  

"Good," he breathed, hearing the tone of her voice.  "Then I'm going to let you get to bed, and I'll see you at staff meeting in the morning.  Sleep well."

                                                  

"You too," CJ smiled, "good night Toby and... Thanks for calling."

                                               

"Good night Claudia Jean," Toby returned. "See you in the morning" and he hung up, hearing her smiling words echo in his head.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Ainsley was up as soon as the alarm went off and she promptly barricaded herself in the bathroom.  Forty-five minutes later she emerged in the first maternity suit she had ever worn, though truly one could not tell that's what it was.  She was dressed in navy and her hair was pulled back as usual. She left the bathroom for Sam and went into the living room to finish her make-up and find something to eat.  Sam found her eating crackers and tuna fish.

                                        

"Well I'm glad my cupboard provided something you needed for sustenance," Sam grinned.  "On the other hand may I be allowed to say, ew--puke.  And to add, I'll have a roll and coffee at the office like I usually do.  Also let me say how great you look in that dress.  Very attractively pregnant, pregnant with my child."

                                      

Ainsley looked down, "I don't look pregnant! ...Well, not that pregnant." She smiled at him. "Actually I'm craving Mexican but I think I'll save that for lunch.  I'll join you for a roll and coffee at the office but I was hungry." Ainsley put up her crackers and tuna fish bowl when she had finished.

                                     

"What you look is beautiful," Sam declared.  "Now let me find a clean shirt and we're out of here.  Mexican after the doctor, promise."

+++++++++++++

Donna smacked the alarm for Josh and shook him with a moan. "Time to get up," she moaned softly. Then she struggled out of bed and grabbing her clothes she went downstairs for some water, having showered last night.

                                       

"I'm not going," he yelled down the steps.  "When you get there, tell them I died and won't be joining them today."

                                       

"I'm not going if you're not and that's not funny!" Donna called back up and then suddenly the house was filled with her tears and then the sound of breaking glass as her water glass dropped to the floor.

                                      

Josh's eyes flew open and he sprung from the bed, taking the steps three at a time to reach her side.  "Stand still honey," he urged, grabbing the broom and quickly pushing the glass out of the way.  A second later he was holding her, pressing her face into his chest.  "Ssshhh OK.  Hey I say things like that all the time.  It wasn't meant to be taken seriously, and of course I'm going--so are you.  We're going to tell everyone our good news.  I'm sorry about what I said; and I won't any more, I promise."

                                    

"It wasn't funny," Donna sniffled again.  Pressed against his chest she finally calmed.  "Hurry up Josh we're going to be late." she said after a while. "We have a staff meeting this morning!"

                                    

"I'm moving," he laughed and lifted her up into his arms, delivering her to the bottom of the steps still laughing.  "OK I don't do steps unless it's an emergency."

                                  

Donna smiled and went back upstairs with him, realizing that he really didn't like doing anything himself.  She dressed in the dress she'd been carrying around, one of the maternity outfits he'd bought her yesterday evening. The gray dress barely hid her pregnancy when she stood and when she sat it was rather identifiable.

                                 

Josh came from the bathroom, drying his hair, and pulled up sharply when he looked at her.  "You look great my love," he grinned.  "And so does my child.  I don't know if it can even wait until personal business comes up in the meeting."

                                

Donna sighed, "I doubt it will, but if you don't hurry along Josh that'll be the only part of the meeting we make!"

                               

"Moving right now, yes ma'am," Josh yelped, grabbing a suit from the closet and a folded shirt from the drawer.  "You know when I leave the White House I'm never having a job where I wear a tie again."  He dressed in record time and soon was walking her out to his car, keeping a firm arm around her shoulders.

                               

That arm was still in place when they walked into the Wing, meeting Leo coming from the opposite direction.  His eyes immediately fell to Donna's middle.  "I think there's an announcement forthcoming, would I be right?"

                              

"Yes sir," Donna answered softly with a mild flush appearing on her cheeks as her eyes swept the floor.

                             

"Then congratulations," Leo smiled and squeezed her arm, giving Josh a dagger look.

+++++++++++++

Toby was the first one in their immediate area, or so he thought, when he heard CJ murmuring on the phone from the open door of her office.  "Hey good morning," he poked his head in and waved.  "Can't wait for tonight."

                                    

CJ smiled, "Good morning.  Are you all lined up for Leo's block of cheese day?"

                                   

"I'm locking myself in my office and working on the Budget address," he declared.  "Taking advantage of the peace and quiet--the supposed peace and quiet anyway.  Well maybe I'll wait until after staff meeting to celebrate, since we often get into trouble at that point."

                                  

CJ smiled and laughed lightly, "Indeed.  By the way, thank-you...for calling last night.  My apartment was eerily lonely about then. It was very good to hear from you.  Seven tonight right?"

                                 

"I shall be there," Toby grinned happily, "and we shall have an evening wherein we pretend we do not work for the White House.  I'm sure we can find other things to talk about.  And now I'm going to get a cinnamon roll.  Anything for you?"

                                

"Thank-you for asking," CJ smiled, "I think I'll take a cream cheese Danish while you're there."

                               

Toby returned with the order, along with two-mocha coffees, and set the items on CJ's desk, making himself at home.  "Well you didn't want to eat alone did you?" he asked innocently, his mouth full of roll.

                              

CJ smiled, "no I've always preferred not to dine alone, so long as the company is good.  In this case I count myself fortunate." She began eating her Danish along with her coffee. "Don't forget you have a staff meeting in a half hour," Carol said as she stuck her head in the door momentarily. CJ nodded and smiled to thank her.

+++++++++++++++

Chloe passed by Sam and Ainsley as they arrived smiling before she left CJ her mail and memos and then went to her desk to await further instructions.

                                  

Ainsley left her things in Sam's office deciding she'd get them for the long trek downstairs after breakfast and the staff meeting. "Shall we grab a quick breakfast? We have about 45 minutes..."

                                 

"Of course.  Crackers and tuna don't stay with you long," Sam grinned and took her arm to head for the small dining room.

                                

Ainsley took a seat and was soon enjoying two croissants while Sam ate his breakfast across from her.

                             

It was then that Donna and Josh walked in and joined them.  Both women looked at each other and began to giggle.  "Good morning Sam" Josh smiled.  "Looks like you and I are sharing a secret.  And I think I should feed mine, lest she be drowning out the president during staff meeting."

                            

Donna elbowed Josh firmly in the side and again both women chuckled.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Everyone hurried into the meeting at about the same time.  In fact it was a rush to make it in the door since they were all about two minutes late.

                           

"Good morning all," Jed greeted them, looking up from his papers. "Be seated and... Donna, Ainsley, good morning and welcome.  I don't often have the pleasure of having two of our lovely staffers with us.  And yes I just committed sexual harassment for the benefit of any microphones that might be planted."  His eyes dropped to the middles of both women.  "And you two look especially glowing this morning."

                          

Ainsley shifted her posture nervously and Donna suddenly had to attempt to recover some files that were trying to slide off her lap. CJ gasped as she suddenly realized what everyone else had apparently already noticed.

                         

"OK, OK," Jed held up his hand.  "In order to have total attention to the business of supervising civilization going to hell in a hand cart, let's deal with the personal first.  Ladies?" 

                         

Sam cleared his throat and stood up, taking Ainsley's hand to lift her to her feet.  "This beautiful woman is having my child.  And I couldn't be more pleased or proud."

                        

Everyone looked up surprised, after all no one had even imagined there was anything between Sam and Ainsley. "Wow, congratulations," CJ was the first to get out followed by Jed. "Yes congratulations to the both of you.  This comes as quite a shock to most of us I see.  It's nice to know I wasn't the only one in the dark."  "This came as quite a shock to Sam as well," Ainsley spoke up, "We're expecting the baby around the fifth of December."

                       

"I wasn't shocked at all," Sam countered.  "I mean once I got up off the floor I was fine.  One glass of water to the face and I was good.  Actually, the truth is we're very happy about it; but I think Donna and Josh want to share too."

                      

Josh stood and grinned, helping Donna up as Sam had done.  "Most definitely," he sighed proudly.  "But I need to ask her first if it's OK to use the term fiancée, or if that's being premature."

                      

Donna just stood there and stared at Josh for what seemed like an eternity to her but was in fact a very short space of time. Finally she just nodded at him in a Donna fashion as everyone else watched on in awe.

                     

Josh gave her a smile in return.  "Then I would like to introduce my fiancée, Donnatella Moss, who has foolishly agreed at some point in the future to become Mrs. Joshua Jacob Lyman, and who is at this moment, carrying my child."  He kissed her cheek lightly and then added, keeping his eyes fixed on her face, "And whom I love and adore, but then I don't think that was any secret to anyone who's ever noticed that I pant in her presence."

                    

"I can't believe you're both pregnant at the same time!" CJ said, flabbergasted. "We didn't plan it that way," Ainsley and Donna said at the same time.

                    

"Yeah it wasn't a group thing," Sam yelped and both women glared at him.

                   

"On another more somber note," Josh spoke up.  "I won't be in, in two weeks.  I'm having some minor surgery on Monday.  I'll be home starting Tue. and by Wed. going crazy so Donna will be bringing me stuff to do; but I'm off for the week."

Everyone sombered immediately. "Josh, this doesn't have anything to do with..." Toby asked concerned.

                 

"The shooting, no but it was found when I was in there because I was whining about it so much.  It's probably benign and once it's gone it's done with," Josh explained, tightening his hold on Donna.  "And for those who are wondering, it's one of the male equivalents of female trouble."

                

"Ewww," all the women grimaced with sympathy pains.  "Well if there's anything we can do," Leo offered.

               

"No I'll be fine," Josh assured them.  "It's not a big deal, though I expect to whine again.  What does upset me is another overnight in that place after the two weeks I spent there earlier."

              

"I'll be with you," Donna spoke up, "just like last time but at least this time I know you'll be coming home..."

             

"I know, and it's just for one night," Josh sighed.  "But as long as you're with me, and I know I'm coming home to our bed.... oh OK, too much information here.  Hey aren't we here for a business meeting?"

            

"That we are," Jed smiled, "and as you know it's another of Leo's block of cheese days..." there were several groans which no one would own up to. Sam was once again appalled, "I'd like it known that I made no negative comments." He felt the need to point out.

           

Ainsley patted his arm and he grinned and sank down with her.

          

"Also I need to know what's going on with the bill and the NRA in the house," Jed said, "I also need to know if everyone's ready to go on the New Orleans trip for that banquet Monday."

         

"Sir I'll be there with my Mardi Gras beads on," Josh spoke up.  "And of course I know they're out of season, but I didn't make Mardi Gras last year.  Must have been some work related crisis or something.  But I'll need a date."

        

"You can't have a date," Sam interrupted, "you have a fiancée.  One's all you get!" Ainsley was too busy drinking another bottle of water to do more than swat Sam.

       

"Let me see if I have this straight.  If one has a fiancée, one doesn't get a date?" Josh pretended to pout.  "OK, a re-think is in order here."

       

Meanwhile Toby had not taken his eyes from CJ, watching Josh and Sam so happily with their new relationships, and he knew Leo had Caroline at home.  "I happen to have a date for tonight," he spoke up finally.  "Ms. Cregg and I are seeing the Philharmonic at the Kennedy Center thank you very much."

      

"Well yes but it's okay for you to have a date you don't have a fian--what?" Sam said and suddenly Toby and CJ had a good deal of the attention. "We're going out for a lovely dinner wherein we're not going to discuss work at all and then we're going to go and enjoy beautiful music together," CJ smiled. "I had heard tonight's concert was going to be wonderful," Ainsley spoke up.

     

"I called in four favors for the tickets," Toby grinned, "seeing as the President had already loaned out his box.  But we have Orchestra seating and it's going to be wonderful."

     

"Actually Abbey loaned out the box," Jed sighed.  "So I'm stuck upstairs for the night, watching TV.  Help me guys, I have to make a disappointed face for Abbey."

    

"Well just imagine that she's just told you, mid-romance, that she has a headache," Sam suggested.  Leo looked amused at all of the candidness being used this morning.

   

"Oh that should be easy.  I made that face about 4AM," Jed teased.  "Now this last thing.  I'm having lunch with the Speaker at noon.  Josh and Sam, please join me.  And yes you may bring a date.  Ladies, it's very informal.  In other words, you look fine.  Abbey will be joining us as well."

   

"As for me, I am going home at noon," Leo announced.  "We're going to see Chloe and Tucker off for their prom, and then we're taking the kids and going to the beach for the weekend."

  

CJ tossed up her hands, "sounds like everyone's going to have a good weekend. Okay I have a meeting to hear about some preventative measure for vending machine injuries.  If you'll excuse me."

 

"I'll walk you," Toby said at once, catching up to her and laying his hand along the small of her back as they walked out.

 

"Wasn't she having lunch just the other day with someone named James or John or something?" Josh shook his head.  "I can't keep up."

 

"Yes and Toby wasn't liking it one bit," Leo replied, "Now if you'll excuse me I've got some things to do before lunch.

 

"OK I guess we're done here," Jed declared as the group broke up.  "Oh Donna, Ainsley, you two look wonderful.  Please if there's anything you need or any accommodation you want, make sure it happens.  Like if you need to add a nap period to your lunch.  I'd rather you did that than be no good all afternoon."  He frowned and shook his head.  "In fact that bundle of energy I'm married to has been for the past two weeks building a 2 hour lunch slash rest into her daily routine.  OK no not at her age..."

 

"Sir it's not beyond the realm of possibility," Ainsley spoke up, "not that it is any of my business of course..."

                                                               

Jed glared at her.  "Well I wouldn't think she would want.... OK I don't really know.  I mean after Zoey we thought maybe a boy might be nice; but it never happened and we eventually just stopped...."  He fiddled nervously with the papers on his desk.  "Sam-Ainsley, Josh-Donna, are you free for dinner?  Maybe seeing you guys might inspire conversation along those lines?  We can just have a quiet dinner in the residence and play cards or something."

                                                              

Ainsley looked to Sam, "Sounds good." she spoke for them both.  "If we're free..." Donna looked to Josh for confirmation.

                                                             

"Yeah sure.  I haven't taken the POTUS in gin in forever," Sam grinned and Josh nodded.  "I've of course turned vegetarian," he grinned.

                                                             

Donna rolled her eyes.  Then she looked at her watch. "Josh you have that meeting with Todd Nugenson!" She said and began hurrying him along.  "Well Sam I'm off to the steam trunk distribution area.  I'll see you for lunch," Ainsley said as she strode towards the door.

                                                           

"Moving--moving out," Josh grinned and taking advantage of the relaxed atmosphere, kissed Donna's cheek before he left her.

                                                            

"Wait up Ainsley, I'll walk with you," Sam urged.  "Might be muggers in the hallway or something."

                                                           

"Out," Jed yelped, dropping back into his chair and contemplating whether he might be a father again at this stage of their lives.  "Naaah," he shook his head in dismissal.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

"Good morning.  Sorry I'm late.  Did anyone notice?"  Tucker's words came out in a long pant as he stopped by Chloe's desk.  "I didn't stick you with too much did I?"

                          

Chloe smiled and kissed him, "Not really.  It's been fairly quiet so far.  You were right behind me leaving the house. Did one of the twins make a mess or something and you stayed to help mom?" Chloe had been doodling '11 hours 'til prom' on a blank sheet of paper.

                         

"No I had an errand," Tucker sighed, "and then the traffic was bad and then I...well never mind it's a long sad story and I come off badly in it.  Anyway I'm glad to be here.  Are you leaving early for your hair for tonight?"  "Not that it needs work," he added hastily.

                        

Chloe smiled, "Yes, I've got to be at the salon at four to get ready for dinner at seven and the prom at eight. I'm about to burst with excitement!" Chloe was in fact beaming.

                       

"I know, me too," he smiled and lifted the hand that bore his ring.  "And this would be our next great adventure after that?"

                       

Chloe smiled, "Yes and if the school teacher's wouldn't have gone on strike for two months we would have had it on my birthday and not on August 17th, but I suppose it works better this way," she smiled again. "In the meantime we do have graduation next Tuesday which you might want to count before you jump to the 17th."

                     

"Just keep me straight and moving in the right direction," Tucker begged, "oh and remember how much I love you."

                    

"I love you Tucker," Chloe smiled, "and it's a good thing you have me to keep you straight."

                   

"And I thank God for you every night when I hit my knees," Tucker declared.

                  

"To think our waiting is almost over," Chloe said cryptically before she rose and kissed him and then made for the printer to get the material Toby had asked for.

                 

"Amen to that," Tucker grinned, and spotted Charlie heading for them.  "My man," he grinned.  "What are you and Zoey doing for lunch?"

                 

"We're going to take JC out for a picnic in the park.  You and Chloe want to join us since you are out from school today?" Charlie invited, his smile brightening as soon as he mentioned his month old son.

               

"I'm game," Tucker grinned and looked to Chloe. "She's waiting for the prom, so I think some air would be a good idea at lunch."

              

"Hmm?" Chloe said as she was just returning and having heard her name was naturally curious.  "Hello Charlie.  How's Zoey doing?  How's our favorite little heir to the throne?" she teased Charlie.

             

"He's incredible," Charlie smiled.  "Best thing that's ever happened in my life, along with Zoey of course,"

             

Tucker dropped an arm across Chloe's shoulders.  "We're going to take a walk with them at lunch if you want," he smiled and squeezed hard.  "Charlie, by the time we get ours, you'll probably have started on number two."

            

"I don't know," Charlie smiled, "If Zoey stays as busy and occupied and tired from this one as she has been well never get another chance to try for another one!"

           

"Ah the no nanny stance," Tucker grinned.  "Maybe she'd let him come out to the house at some point and Chloe and I can play house with him for an evening."

          

"Him and several bodyguards?" Charlie reminded them.  "I think that's one reason Zoey's not letting go."  "Not letting go what?" Zoey asked as she appeared with her son curled neatly in her arms, Gina and Lucas in tow.

         

"Hey he's looking great," Tucker grinned and immediately reached for him, letting him rest comfortably in the crook of his arm.  "I am so ready for this."  At the same time his arm slipped around Chloe.  "We need one.  No Zoey, Charlie was saying you two hadn't had much time alone since the arrival of Josiah Charles here.  Maybe you'd feel comfortable letting us mind him at the house one evening while you and Charlie eat out, and have some alone time."

        

"Oh I don't know..." Zoey hesitated already wanting her son back in her arms. "I mean it might be a little soon and he's terribly attached.  It could be very hard on him."  "He'll sleep right through it.  You're the one it's going to be hard on but you can do it," Chloe smiled. "Sure I guess, sometime," Zoey finally committed.

       

"Just remember the offer is there for when you need a night away," Tucker smiled.  "Not for tonight of course.  We have this little dance to go to."

      

"Oh that's right, prom's tonight!" Zoey smiled, "Oh I bet you two are going to look wonderful and have a perfect time. You're going to take lots of pictures for all of us aren't you?"

     

"I'm sure we'll be boring you to death next week." Tucker grinned.  "Zoey, Charlie you're coming to New Orleans aren't you?  I've never been and I know it's going to be great. Lucas and Gina--we can all kind of hang out can't we?"

    

"Sounds good," Zoey replied with a quick smile, "you won't get to see too much staying with Charlie and I though so we understand if you want to go out with some of the others sometimes.  It'll be our first public appearance with Josiah..." she smiled at the thought and Chloe began to preoccupy herself with work that was far from pressing.

   

Tucker quietly handed JC back to Charlie and slipped over to Chloe's side.  "Our turn is coming," he whispered softly.  "I promise you this will be us just as soon as feasible.  Anything else I might want in the future pales to making you my wife and giving you my child."

  

Chloe smiled and then kissed him quickly making sure there was no one around who would object. "That's what I want," she smiled, "you know we could get married in New Orleans in the St. Louis cathedral...no, not the rose garden.  What's one more week er so? I just can't wait to be married to you."

 

Tucker frowned and looked at her seriously.  "Would you like to do that?  We're all going to be there.  Doesn't seem like any reason why we couldn't.  I'm very much more than ready to be your husband Chloe Catherine Murphy.  I love you very much."

 

"I know and I love you but I think I want to wait.  After all I want the president to do the ceremony and we have already sent out the invitations." She kissed him, "we'll make it."

 

"Of that I have no doubt.  And all these cold showers is good for the energy crisis," he grinned and dropped a quick kiss on her head.  "OK I'm off to help Josh with some research.  See you in a little while for lunch."

 

Chloe smiled, "See you soon!"  Then she went to see what files CJ or Toby needed her to file or pull or sort.  She loved working at the White House.

                                                               

Tucker moved back to Charlie and tickled the baby's double chin.  "You are one lucky SOB Mr. Young."

                                                               

"You'll get one soon, you and Chloe could start one now you know, no one would ever know since you're getting married in two weeks," Charlie remarked smiling down proudly at his son.

                                                             

"That's really tempting, but we're uh...we're sort of waiting until..." Tucker stammered.  "I rushed her before and we were sorry afterward, so now we've been waiting all these months for that night."

                                                             

"Well it's only two weeks.  It will get here," Charlie smiled. "In the meantime just enjoy being with Chloe.  You give her the time of her life tonight.  I never got to go to a prom.  I hope you two have a wonderful time.  Knowing you two, you will."

                                                           

"I'm planning on making it a night she'll remember forever," Tucker grinned.  "I haven't let her know any of the plans.  Told her to worry about her dress and hair and I'd make sure the rest was handled.  Bless Sam for getting me an American Express card.  Now I just owe him my soul for the rest of my life."

                                                          

Charlie laughed and patted Tucker on the back.  "I think seeing you happy and the work you two are doing here covers it. I've got to go and see what the President needs.  I'll see you and Chloe for lunch."

                                                         

"You got it" Tucker gave him a two-finger salute and hurried to Josh.

+++++++++++++++

Meanwhile Abbey was sitting at her desk when she had to get up and be ill again.  This couldn't go on much longer.  She was going to have to tell Jed. She called her secretary in.  "I need a gag gift," she said secretively, "a pair of baby booties."

                                                         

"Yes ma'am, should I start knitting?" Joanie laughed and then looked at her boss, seeing she was serious.  "I can have one of the interns pick up a pair within the hour.  Color?  Wrapped?"

                                                        

"Wrapped please and how about blue," Abbey said pretending to think it over.  "Don't have them wrapped in baby paper either.  I want this to be a total surprise. I think it will make a good gag gift in this instance. Thanks Joanie."

                                                       

"Yes ma'am," the younger woman smiled, shaking her head but then it was by far not the strangest request she had fielded since working on the First Lady's staff.  An hour later a small square box, wrapped in all occasion paper of blue foil was sitting on Abbey's desk.

                                                      

"Thank-you, I had forgotten all about the luncheon party I was going to with some old friends." Abbey fibbed.

                                                     

"No problem," Joanie smiled. 

++++++++++++++++

"Okay Sam," Ainsley turned around from where she'd been walking slightly in front of him.  "You've walked me all the way to my desk.  I appreciate the company but I'm sure you've got things to do, like some of Leo's block of cheese meetings."

                                                     

"Yes ma'am I'm going, Sam laughed and faced her, kicking the door closed.  "You know what, that this place down here has no windows and a door that locks might be a good thing.  Right now though I'll settle for this..."  And with that he drew her into his arms for a loving kiss.  "Later," he whispered.

                                                     

Ainsley was still blinking in pleasant astonishment as he left her.  With a smile she sat down and began her work.

                                                   

Sam was whistling slightly when he came back upstairs, only to encounter Toby in the hall.  "You look like a happy man today." Toby grinned, "might the cause have the initials A-H, and might it be that you're an expectant father?  You and Josh both look like you're the first men on the planet to have fathered a child.  It's been done before you know.  Hell I did it when I was in college and didn't know any better and shut up Toby."

                                                  

"Excuse me?" Sam spoke up astonished.

                                                 

"Just me running on at the mouth," Toby sighed, taking Sam's arm and leading him into Sam's office.  "Typical teenage hormones is all.  I have a son, about Tucker's age in fact.  Maybe that's why I gravitate to the boy sometimes."

                                                 

"And you never see him?  Why doesn't anyone else know this? Does anyone else know this?  What happened?  Whose the mother? Do you see her anymore? Do you see him anymore? And again I'm repeating myself," Sam said finally coming to a close.

                                                

Toby smiled slightly and held up his hand.  "The boy's mother married ages ago.  They live in Southern California.  She was a one-week stand in college back before we knew better.  I only found out about him by accident from his grandmother when I bumped into her a few years later.  His name is Jeremy David Carson and he like I said would be Tucker's age now, turning nineteen next birthday.  We...we stay in touch...but I encouraged his relationship with his step dad.  He has two half brothers.  No one else knows because it's not material to my life, and why do I feel like I'm on the stand here?"

                                              

"Wow," Sam said, "wow...thanks for sharing.  I guess by no one you mean CJ doesn't know either.  Shouldn't she know that since you two are involved? Just some advice." Sam was quiet for a long moment. "Do you want to be a dad Toby?  I never knew how much I wanted to be one until yesterday when I grabbed Ainsley's waist and learned the truth."

                                             

"I have wanted to be a real dad since I learned I was one," Toby sighed.  "But I never found anyone who wanted to make me one--or with whom I wanted to have a baby.  Yes I need to tell CJ I'm sure.  Especially if I have any hope that we might find some mutual ground for the future.  But Sam, involved?  Not quite.  We're simply going to dinner and the theater.  I'm afraid to look any further than that for the moment."  He stopped and looked closely at his younger friend.  "Does it show when I'm around her?"

                                            

"Well what I've heard," Sam began, "Toby she's yours for the taking, just play it nice.  She told Carol and well it's all over the place.  I heard it from Donna before I got into the meeting this morning."

                                           

Toby's mouth dropped open.  "OK, now I'm totally out of the loop on that one.  I mean a couple days ago she was having lunch with this Jonathan guy and I out of desperation asked her to this concert.  Mine for the taking--well I doubt that, but at least I have hope that she's mildly interested.  Thanks my friend.  Hey good luck with your luncheon on the hill.  I did want to mention something, which I didn't think too much about yesterday, but may be material now with you and Ainsley and the way she is, and all.  Representative Sweeney is gunning for her.  I'd hate to see her upset."

                                          

Sam sighed and ran a hand down his face. He sighed. "Thanks Toby.  I'll try to keep an eye on her but there's not too much I can do."

                                         

"Well she can hold her own I know.  She certainly kicked your ass.  I just know sometimes women who are pregnant cry easily, and aren't as thick skinned, as they might have been otherwise.  I'd hate to see her hurt or upset."

                                        

Sam glared a moment.  "Thanks for the heads up Toby," Sam patted him on the back and then finally went to get some work done.

++++++++++++++

Lunch rolled around and Donna was as usual surrounded by paperwork on her desk. Chloe was helping her search fervently for something.

                                       

"Motorcade's about ready," Josh reported, walking in with his nose in a file.  "Donna I need the report on the minority enrollment in..... OK...uh...Mr. President, pardon me for keeping you waiting, but my assistant who happens to be my fiancée and Ms. Murphy are doing god knows what here."

                                      

"We're looking for the file!" Donna and Chloe fussed at the same time.

                                     

"Well thank you for anticipating my needs," Josh smiled.  "Relax now.  Lunch is first.  If we have to, we'll leave without it and someone can run it over to us when it's located and....Donna what do you think you're doing?"  She had lowered her self to the floor to check under her desk.  Josh hurried to her side and lifted her up.  "Baby remember?"

                                     

"Oh wow!  You really are pregnant!" Chloe exclaimed gleefully.  "Oh Donna congratulations! I'm so envious!"

                                    

Donna smiled as she stood with Josh. "I'm fine Josh."  Just then Chloe knocked over half of a stack of files.  Then with a smile Donna picked up the top file of the remaining stack and handed it to Josh. "Found it."

                                   

"Great, we're outta here," Josh sighed and looked at Chloe, not able to resist, "yes she is.  Pregnant with my baby.  Which I'm sure is spreading over the Wing this morning."

                                  

Chloe beamed enviously as she watched them go.

                                 

"Hey sweets," Tucker greeted her as he started to breeze past and then realized her attention was elsewhere.  "What's up?"

                                

"Donna's really pregnant," Chloe smiled and then she swiped the rest of the stack of files onto the floor. She sighed and after a moment she began to gather them up.

                               

"Did we think they were kidding?" he frowned, stilling her hand to help her with them, and then helping her to her feet.  "Josh has been telling everyone he's come in contact with all morning.  Apparently he just found out.  Ainsley is as well, about the same time along apparently."

                              

"Oh great!  Maybe I should just quit while I'm ahead!" Chloe bit out softly. She straightened the files and then grabbed her purse. "Let's go to lunch with oh yes, yet another person with a baby!"

                             

"Well at least she's not pregnant," Tucker said softly, wrapping his arm around her shoulders.  "And we have the prom tonight.  Zoey and Charlie will be home in front of the TV while you and I are.... no I'm not going to tell you.  That's for tonight."

                  

Chloe smiled up at him.  He always knew just what to say to make her feel better.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Sam hurried down the steps to walk Ainsley up, Toby's words bearing heavily on him.  He knew she could stand up to about anyone, but the thought of anyone saying anything hurtful to her made him livid.  "Honey they're ready," he smiled when he poked his head through the door.

                                       

Ainsley was sound asleep in the middle of a file on her desk.

                                     

"Well at least you can't tell me you're not ready," Sam smiled and hurried to her side, leaning down and kissing the back of her neck.  "Honey the motorcade is ready," he whispered, laying his hand in her soft blonde hair and squiggling his fingers to help her to wake up.

                                    

"Oh God I'm glad you found me," Ainsley groaned, "I can't believe I fell asleep at work.  I'm going to get fired for this.  This is very bad."

                                   

"Remember what the president said about building some rest into your schedule," Sam chided her.  "I'm sure you're not going to be fired.  And if you were the worst is you're home doing some freelancing while waiting for the baby.  I'm not going to let either of you starve."  He laughed and kissed her cheek, helping her to her feet.  "Easy now, let's not have you falling."

                                   

Ainsley smiled at him, "Thank-you Sam." She walked with him carefully upstairs. "Those things aren't as easy as they used to be."

                                 

"And won't be for a while and you need to remember help," Sam admonished her, "even when I'm not around.  It doesn't make you weak, just pregnant.  Lord knows us men don't want to carry the babies.  The human race would have died out five thousand years ago if that was the case.''

                                

Ainsley smiled. "Thank-you Sam. Thank-you for being so caring and considerate."

                               

"It's not at all hard.  I love you remember," he grinned, making sure she was steady on her feet as they walked out.

++++++++++++++++++

Sam and Ainsley met up with Josh and Donna as they waited for the President and First Lady.

                             

A few minutes later, Mr. and Mrs. Bartlet arrived and all of them piled into the limo for the short drive to Capital hill.  "Ainsley I don't know about you, but I'm about to starve to death," Donna moaned, clutching to her belly.

                            

"I don't believe I personally am quite to that point yet," Ainsley returned, "but I would agree that I'm hungrier than usual."

                            

Meanwhile Abbey sat quietly fingering the strap of her purse.

                           

Jed finally held up his hand for Sam to stop prompting him about what would be covered and looked at Abbey.  "You're certainly not the life of the limo at the moment.  Are you OK?  You have a bad morning I should know about?"

                          

"Jed we have to talk.  I'm not sure here is where you want it to take place," Abbey said nervously.

                         

Jed nodded, looking around the car.  "Can it wait until tonight or...." Suddenly he remembered the conversation in his office during the staff meeting.  "Abbey, Abbey," he said softly, taking her face between his hands as if no one was in the car.  "You're among friends here, not to mention your husband who adores you.  Are you pregnant?"

                        

Abbey gasped and looked shocked.  Then she reached in her purse and handed Jed the blue foil wrapped package. "Here Jed," Abbey said as though she wasn't giving his question any thought. "Open this." She watched as he opened the package and lifted out the baby booties. Donna's mouth opened slightly.

                       

"They're adorable.  Happy baby Mr. President," Josh grinned.  "Obviously congratulations are in order."

                        

"Abbey, Donna and Ainsley are pregnant also," Jed explained when he could speak, dangling the baby booties in front of him.  "And we were all talking this morning and....well someone suggested after I mentioned your new nap habit...and..."  At that point he gave up words and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close and rocking her.  "I love you Abbey.  Now how did this happen?"

                      

"Jed, you know how this happens," Abbey smiled, "Anyhow, it happened about nine weeks ago..."

                     

"Nine weeks ago--OK, I'm getting a vague picture now.  Chicago right?  The hot tub in the hotel room?"  He looked up and smiled sheepishly.  "Yes I was magnificent that night wasn't I?"

                    

Abbey sighed in jest and then smiled. "Well anyhow, that's what is with all of the naps I've been taking..."

                   

Jed nodded and pressed her upper body to his, urging her head into the crook of his neck.  "Abbey I love you.  And I'm nothing but thrilled at this moment.  Thank you."

                   

Sam and Josh pulled the women in their lives close to them as well, each placing a light kiss on their cheeks.

                  

"Okay, time for lunch on the hill," Abbey said becoming professional again as the limousine came to a stop.

                 

"And we won't be making an announcement today I'm guessing," Jed smiled.  "But soon we will. I want us to announce it together I think, and maybe in a family setting.  Maybe we can make a short statement upstairs from the residence at some point."  

                 

The limo door opened and Josh clamored out first, helping Donna.  "You look beautiful," he whispered as she stepped past him.  He reached his hand in, not taking his eyes off her, only to have Sam take it.  "You're always a gentlemen Mr. Lyman," Sam cooed.  Ainsley fell back onto the seat giggling.

                

"I'll show you a gentleman," Josh teased pretending to lunge towards Sam.  Meanwhile Jed helped Ainsley out and Abbey as well. "I've never had a lunch on the hill," Ainsley said obviously nervous, "is it going to be terribly formal?"

               

"Bean soup from the senate dining room is not formal," Sam told her and Jed smiled.  "No it's a working lunch.  Lots of boring talk, but the best bean soup on the planet. The speaker's wife will be there, and most of the other wives as well though.  Just relax and enjoy yourself.  These things are to form a good relationship for other times when we need to get something done."

               

Donna slipped a cold hand into Josh's and he squeezed hard.  "Hungry honey?"

              

"Praying the beans aren't very spicy," Donna whispered, "I don't know how I'm going to take to spicy foods pregnant.  Everything is different now, some foods I usually like I can't stand right now and others I usually hate I find myself craving and some foods I used to eat I can't keep down very well..." she shrugged to complete the thought.

             

Josh nodded, his brow knit in concern.  "The last thing I want is you to be sick so you just do what you can.  You're pregnant and no need to apologize for that."  His arm hooked across her waist and he noticed both Sam and Jed had done the same as they began the long climb up the official entry steps.  "You holding up OK?" Sam grinned to Ainsley.  "In hindsight heels might not have been the best choice."

            

"Heels are what you're supposed to wear with a suit to work," Ainsley replied. "You should probably start wearing flats," Abbey interjected, "both of you, you're going to lose your balance and heels will be more deadly than beautiful, not to mention swollen ankles and feet..."

           

"Sam and I shall go to our respective homes tonight and burn all heels," Josh declared, only half teasingly, as he tightened his hold of Donna.  Even Jed, who normally would have bounded to the top by now, with the Secret Service in pursuit, held back and walked slowly, matching his pace to Abbey.

           

"Mr. President if you're too considerate of her, the press is going to know something is up," Sam laughed.

          

"I don't care if the press knows something is up," Jed replied, "CJ's going to have to deal with it anyhow."

         

Sam and Josh both broke into broad grins.  "And she doesn't even know it.  I get to tell her," Sam chortled and Ainsley poked him.  "I liked the idea of you two making the announcement from the residence," Josh said, "and then CJ can field questions."

         

"Right now, I just want to have lunch," Jed declared as they reached the door.  "And I want to come away with the four votes I need on the trade bill so let's focus on a nice lunch and securing those votes."

        

"So I'm not actually supposed to secure any votes," Donna asked Josh as they approached the cafeteria.

        

"Doesn't Congressman Clark like you especially?" Josh whispered.  "Seems like the last time he was over to the Wing, he was pretty interested in you.  Almost too interested as I recall more accurately now.  So maybe never mind then."

      

"No please," Donna begged, "tell me what to do and let me help you. Please let me help."

     

Josh regarded her. "OK, well I don't have to tell you how important this bill is to the president.  Clark controls a voting block of maybe fifteen.  Now if we can get his vote--well that's one of the four key ones the President needs.  So maybe in your own way you can talk him into it.  Lord knows, I've agreed with you in the past just because you've worn me down."

    

"Okay," Donna smiled.  They sat down and she was soon obviously smoozing with Clark.  He was laughing and smiling and then he was nodding at her and suddenly things seemed serious.  Meanwhile Ainsley was helping Sam chat up potentials as well.

   

Meanwhile Charlie, Zoey, Lucas, Gina, Tucker and Chloe all went out to the back grass of the White House for their picnic. "It's so beautiful out today," Zoey commented with a bright smile and a deep breath for appreciation.

             

Lucas sat behind Gina, wrapping his legs around her, resting his chin on her shoulder.  "I'm looking vulnerable here to throw any attackers off guard," he teased, "when in reality I'm armed and ready for anything."  Tucker groaned and laughed.  "I'm more ready than you are.  You've got eyes only for Gina my friend."

             

"Well they're practically engaged!" Zoey decided to interject while she cuddled her baby son.

           

Tucker and Chloe both laughed while Lucas kissed Gina's ear.  "All part of my master plan," Lucas smiled and rocked back on the lawn pulling Gina down with him.  "Practically?  Only practically?"

          

Gina flashed her hand before him, "no ring...only practically." she leaned in and kissed him.

         

"Well we may have to fix that soonest," Lucas smiled back.  "On the other hand you are mine, and I am yours, and that's what's most important."

        

Gina smiled and kissed him, "I love you too."  Meanwhile Chloe was playing with baby Josiah where he lay in his mother's arms.

       

Tucker frowned and shook his head, rubbing her back.  "It's hard for her to give him back," he smiled giving her cheek a quick kiss.  "But soon, very soon, we will be starting on our own.  In a way, the prom tonight kind of starts it all.  The prom, our wedding, a baby as quick as possible.

      

Chloe smiled and then turned to kiss him, thrusting them both back on the blanket.  "You do remember you have to act titanic-ish.  I'm going as Rose and you as Jack.  I love this theme of timeless couples and I'm so glad we got dibs on Rose and Jack.  I hope you like the gown of hers that I picked out.  There were so many to choose from."

     

"I expect to have terminal neck strain from the collar," Tucker grinned, "but you're right.  I didn't want to see the movie at all, and then once you sat me in front of the video I couldn't take my eyes off it.  And they are one of the great couples of all time.  He so loved her, and she him."

    

"Just as I love you and you me, heart and soul," Chloe said softly before she kissed him passionately.

 

"I do love you," Tucker sighed.  "With every beat of my heart."  His arms wrapped tightly around her, rocking her back and forth.  "Charlie it must be the greatest feeling in the world to see the woman you love carry your child.  Lucas, you and I have to experience that."

                                                     

"Yes," Lucas smiled, "something I greatly look forward to."

Gina reached back and cupped his cheek.  "Love you," she whispered "and I want that too."

                                                

Lucas raised a brow and then leaned forward and snuck in a kiss. Meanwhile Zoey was finally getting around to unpacking the picnic with Chloe's aid and soon everyone dug in and began to eat.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

Josh attempted to keep an eye on Donna as well as doing his own talking.  Ainsley remained close with Sam, trying to explain how as a republican she was also behind the bill.

                                                  

"I must admit she sold me on it," Clark commented a little later when he was in a circle with Sam, Abbey, Jed and two other senators. "Donna is very persuasive."

                                                  

"Alright Ainsley you've got me, you have our support," Camden commented with a smile to Sam and Ainsley, "Who am I to argue with all that."

                                                 

It was with a big smile that Jed gathered everyone around shortly before they were to move into the dining room.  "Everyone, I believe we have a successful mission.  A little more twisting of arms at lunch should put us easily over the top.  Donna, Ainsley, I'm hearing good things of what you accomplished this morning and you have my profound thanks.  See it never hurts to bring along a couple of beautiful and intelligent women to make a point."

                                                

Donna smiled and Ainsley nodded.  She was still a little taken aback when the President of the United States spoke to her, but as Leo had told her several times she was getting better.  She enjoyed working at the White House now and she found herself admiring the senior staff more and more each day.

                                               

Sam and Josh carefully pulled out chairs for Donna and Ainsley, helping them to sit as the congressmen and the wives who were present joined them.  Salads, mini-loaves of bread, and steaming bowls of the thick creamy bean soup were brought.  Abbey and Jed were at the head of the table, Jed alternating between talking to the Speaker and quietly conversing with Abbey.  As they began to eat, Josh rested a gentle arm across the back of Donna's shoulders and Sam looked to him and smiled.  "Marking your territory Joshua?" he whispered.

                                              

"Most definitely," Josh answered, "I'm not letting her get away again, ever.  You?" He asked noting Sam's attentiveness to Ainsley, as she seemed to be thoroughly enjoying her bean soup already almost to the bottom of her first bowl.

                                              

"This one is going no where no how any time soon," Sam declared, and then blushed at Ainsley's glare.  "Sorry over protective and territorial Seaborn mode here.  I'll back off."  He bit his lip and looked down into his own bowl, adding quietly, ''especially since that's what messed things up for us before."

                                            

Josh and Donna looked interested between Ainsley and Sam as they overheard and Ainsley took her turn looking nervous and sheepish. "I don't handle relationships well.  I'm going to try this time but I'm afraid that Sam, in my opinion, has his hands full."

                                           

Sam grinned at her honesty and squeezed the top of her leg under the tablecloth.  "I've not been that great at it myself.  So I think we could agree to cut each other some slack maybe.  In the meantime Sam is perfectly willing to take his chances."  The cart with the large tureen arrived for soup refills and Sam looked at Ainsley's bowl.  "If you're needing a hit, raise your hand," he smiled.

                                          

Both Donna and Ainsley took a second bowl. "I hate beans usually," Donna marveled. "You do realize, Sam, that this is my first ever adult relationship," Ainsley informed him, "I haven't been involved in romance since my junior year of high school.  Now suddenly I find myself having a man, for whom I have deep feeling's baby."

                                         

"Yes I know," Sam replied softly, "and I'm sure the whole thing upset and frightened you.  I'm just sorry that I didn't present myself in such a way that made you feel you could come to me before.  You should not have had to be alone with it all these past weeks.  And this man, make no mistake--has deep feelings for you too."  He lowered his mouth to her ear to continue, though with the hubbub in the room no one was paying them any attention.  "In fact it could easily be called love."

                                        

Ainsley smiled quickly and then found her soup very interesting obviously nervous as she was.  Meanwhile Abbey found herself stifling a yawn.  She finished her third glass of water hoping maybe that would keep her wide-awake.

                                       

Sam gave her ear a light kiss and before backing off from her whispered, "no pressure here.  I'm quite content to let you take as much or as little as you're comfortable with.  Your health and well being, and the baby's, are all that's important now."  Suddenly his hand went to his head and he gasped, "Doctor's appointment?"

                                      

Ainsley glanced at her watch, "In thirty minutes," she gasped, "I can't be late!"

                                       

Abbey's movement caught Jed's attention and he excused himself from his conversation.  "Would you like to go on back?  The car can run you home and I'll finish up here.  In fact if you wait upstairs I think my afternoon is clear enough I can juggle some things and join you for a bit."

                                       

"I'd really like that," Abbey smiled, "I'm sorry Jed I'm just exhausted."  She kissed him gently and rose taking her contingent of service with her. She made her way back to the White House and went directly to bed in the residence.

                                     

Lunch was completed with the serving of coffee and pound cake and by now both Donna and Ainsley looked wilted as well.  "Unless there's some major crisis, I think we'd best take both these ladies home once we get back to the White House," Josh fretted.  "Sam why don't you guys come over for pizza and cards around 8?"

                                    

"Sam... Doctors in 20 minutes!" Ainsley fretted.

                                   

"Josh call you later," Sam announced.  "We'll get a cab right out front, and I'll pre-tip to get him to move."  He helped Ainsley to her feet and walked her calmly to the head of the table.  "Mr. President, Ainsley has an OB appointment so we're going to take off.  Thank you for a wonderful lunch.  I think we did it."  Jed waved them off with his fork and Sam took firm hold of her hand, walking her to the Capitol's main entrance.  "Tell the man where we're going," he directed, handing him a $10 bill.  "We're in a hurry, but a safe hurry please."

                                  

"George Washington hospital please," Ainsley requested.  The cab driver quickly delivered them to their destination and commented in parting that he hoped everything went well.  Ainsley gripped Sam's hand before they entered the hospital.  She held it as tightly as she could as though if she didn't she would surely be torn away from him. "I'm not quite sure as to the exact location of Dr. Kesler's office," Ainsley said as they rode the elevator to the floor of OB offices.

+++++++++++++++

At the White House Toby was frantically working on last minute preparations for tonight.  "Jonathan whatever my ass," he muttered to Margaret as she set papers on his desk while he was on the phone.

                                     

"What sir?" a very confused Margaret inquired.

                                   

"Thanks Margaret, nothing really.  Just a general people frustration.  Please remind Leo I'm leaving on time tonight.  I don't want to get hung up in anything.  If I were to, I'm sure this Jonathan person could take my place though."

                                  

Margaret frowned and then suddenly the light came on, "Oh you're talking about the guy that CJ was dating out of desperation.  Nah!" Margaret waved her hand without a second thought as to whether she should be saying what she was or not, "she dumped him as soon as you asked her out.  She's crazy about you..." Suddenly Margaret threw her hand over her mouth, trying to stuff the words back in.  She grabbed the files quickly and raced from the room.

                                 

"Then she's got a funny way of showing it," Toby decided as he returned to work; then decided he would go watch CJ's briefing instead.  He slipped into the side door, catching her eye just as she mounted the podium.  "Hey," he mouthed.

                                

CJ smiled brightly and stumbled up onto the podium forcefully grabbing hold of it to steady herself.  She quickly struggled for composure and to calm the red on her cheeks and then she began her briefing.

                               

Toby leaned back against the wall in relaxation, pleased that his presence had made her nervous.  He was happy he could have that effect.  She glanced over to him and he nodded, impressed with her knowledge on the subject of the trade bill and the upcoming state dinner for the president of Venezuela. 

                              

"And no I really don't have the wine list or the shoe list," CJ joked and the reporters laughed.  A couple of questions, which she answered effortlessly and then, she was off the podium. "Toby, what can I do for you?" She said as they met in the restricted part of the hall.

                             

"You just did it," Toby grinned.  "I came to be proud of you, and I was.  You're an amazing woman Claudia Jean.  And I can't wait till tonight."  A quick look around revealed them to be alone, and he leaned down and kissed her cheek.  "I'll be on time to pick you up," he smiled and waved as he hurried down the hall.

                            

CJ stood frozen her mouth open and a hand on her cheek. "He kissed me," she barely whispered aloud.  Then she went to her office and sat down, leaning back in her chair and closing her eyes with a smile.

++++++++++++++++

"When in doubt there's always the board," Sam grinned, spotting the man's name and guiding her down a long hall.  Her fingers were dug into his hand and he finally pried them loose.  "At some point I may need use of this hand," he grinned and kissed her cheek, then felt her tremble.  "Honey why so nervous?  He's just checking you over right?  Come on now, I wasn't scared, but you're making me that way."

                                

"He's just checking me over but after having my tonsils out when I was little I absolutely hate hospitals and I haven't been to a doctor since," Ainsley answered, "maybe I can just come back some other time or get some do-it-yourself books," Ainsley said suddenly turning around.

                               

"And I'll buy a sonogram machine and we'll play with it tonight." Sam grabbed hold of her and propelled her back toward the office.  "Uh wait a minute here...are you going to tell me you haven't seen a doctor for this pregnancy yet?  Or you meant besides this?"

                              

Ainsley was walking ahead of him quicker now.  She stopped just outside the door and sighed. Then she leaned against Sam, "Besides this. I'm sorry for upsetting you with my nervousness."

                             

"Don't be sorry," he told her, "but I am afraid for your well being.  I care about you Ainsley Hayes; and I care about my child."  His arm tightened around her.  "You have a doctor phobia?  You want me to make an ugly face and be sure they don't make me wait in the waiting room?"

                            

"Yes please!" Ainsley practically begged.

                           

"I can handle that," Sam assured her, propelling her into the waiting room.  "Ainsley Hayes, with Sam Seaborn, baby's father, here to see the doctor for...I guess a check up and sonogram."  He looked to Ainsley for confirmation.  "And before we go any further, I'm not letting go of her.  This is her first time, she's nervous, and I don't think it's good for her or the baby to be upset."

                          

The nurse just looked at him and then began making notes.

                         

Finally she motioned them to follow her into a small room, containing a dressing area and the sonogram machine.  "I'm going to draw some blood as soon as you get changed," she smiled, and then the doctor will want to talk to you and we'll see how far along you are."  Sam's hand locked around hers.  "Come on I'll help you dress."

                        

Ainsley undressed in front of Sam for only the second time.  She was thankful for his help getting her into the gown.  "There's a hole in this one..." Ainsley said confused.  "We'd better ring for another."

                       

"Right," Sam frowned and held it up.  "No I don't think so.  It looks like the hole corresponds with..."  He held up the gown to his own body.  "Now see if there was a baby in me, the hole would work."  He laughed and kissed her cheek as he helped her on with it.  "Looks better on you."

                      

Ainsley frowned as the baby mound stuck through the hole. "If you ask me..." she was interrupted by the opening of the door and the arrival of a technician.  Soon she was up on the table and the tech squeezed some weird gel on her abdomen. Ainsley shivered and held Sam's hand smiling up at him.

                     

"You're doing fine Ms. Hayes," the tech smiled.  "Just hold on tight now.  In a moment you'll be seeing your baby."  She made several adjustments and heartbeat filled the room.  "Wow, loud and clear," she smiled.  "How far along do you think you are?"

                    

"Sixteen weeks three days no doubt about it," Ainsley replied. "That sound it's so fast...is, is everything alright?"

                   

"Perfectly normal for a baby that far along," she assured her, "totally healthy and looking good.  Head, arms, legs, and spinal cord."  She touched the screen with her pointer as she spoke.  "And the...uh... privates.  Are we interested in knowing the gender, or planning a delivery room surprise?"

                

"What do you think Sam?" Ainsley asked, "I would greatly appreciate your input."

           

Sam's mouth dropped open.  "OK I confess to being fifty percent each way.  I think being surprised would be pretty cool though.... no on second thought, I've envisioned a girl who has your delicate features and that perfect straight blonde hair.  I think I need to know if I need to change to a blue eyed brown haired boy, unless he's a blonde like you."

          

Ainsley smiled, "Okay then, yes we want to know." She sighed and looked at the jumping screen. "I'm just surprised there's only one...after the doctor I had kind of gotten my hopes up for twins."

         

The tech frowned slightly and adjusted the knobs again.  "You had an indication of twins?  I'd hate to think I'm missing anything here, but once in a while one does hide, especially if he's significantly smaller.  Let me have you turn to one side and we'll try another angle."

        

Ainsley frowned but did as she'd been asked.  Sure enough, one baby was tucked away behind the other. "Sam look that's, if I'm not mistaken, four feet, two sets!"

       

"Yes ma'am," the tech smiled.  "One's a good bit smaller and fitted exactly behind her brother.  Twins people--a boy and a girl.  I'm glad you spoke up Ms. Hayes." 

       

Sam could do nothing but stare at the screen, feeling tears unaccountably blur his vision and his hand convulsed in hers.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The limo returned Jed with Donna and Josh to the West Wing.  "Josh if anyone wants me I'm taking an hour in the residence.  Please tell Mrs. Landingham and Leo."  "Yes sir," Josh nodded and turned to Donna.  "I want you to find someplace you can rest, and your desk doesn't qualify.  You can use the sofa in my office if you want."

                          

"Are you going to stay there with me?" Donna asked with a smile. "I'm kind of liking this new you."

                         

Josh opened and closed his mouth before answering.  "Yeah I do too," he grinned.  "And yes I'll stay with you until someone screams for me.  I've got plenty of paper work to tend to.  That stack you left me this morning is growing mold by now."

                        

Donna smiled and walked with him.  She looked different as she adjusted herself to lay on the couch, baby mound in the air. She was on the couch only a few moments before she closed her eyes.

                       

Josh sat beside her even after she was asleep, one hand holding hers and the other resting on the baby mound.  "I love you Donnatella," he whispered, leaning down to kiss her forehead before reluctantly returning to his desk and his paper work.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Leo breezed into CJ's office.  "CJ, I wanted to touch base with you about the Rogers...OK, I give up, what are you daydreaming about?"

                    

"Toby..." CJ said dreamily before she realized what she was doing. "No um er--excuse me.  What can I do for you?"

                   

"Toby caused this reaction?" Leo smiled in amusement.  "Must be some date you guys are having tonight.  Now if I can interrupt with work, the press briefing on the Rogers amendment will be postponed until Monday."

                  

"Why are we postponing the Rogers amendment?" CJ asked suddenly all business.

                 

"Because Mr. Rogers asked us not to make the announcement until he had left for his trip to Japan," Leo nodded with a bemused expression.  "The president figured it wouldn't hurt anything after we got what we wanted with it."

                

CJ nodded, "very well sir. Anything else?"

               

"Nothing at all," Leo sighed.  "In fact even the President has declared it an early afternoon and gone upstairs though I'm sure he'll be back.  Josh is still here.  If you're going on this thing-whatever with Toby, you probably want to go do your hair or nails or whatever you women do that usually involves keeping us waiting.  Maybe you should go do it now.  Have a great time tonight."  He paused and looked into her eyes.  "CJ, Toby is a great guy.  I've never met a man with so much quiet dignity.  You could do a lot worse."

              

"You don't have to tell me that Leo.  I've known that for a long time," CJ said solemnly, "but thank-you. It's time I stopped having these feelings for him all to myself."  CJ was gathering up her things and preparing to leave even as she spoke.

             

"Have a good weekend CJ.  You deserve it," Leo smiled and patted her hand. "You know, in all my years, I've never been so happy as I am with Caroline and the twins and now the baby.  It's taken twenty years off my life."

            

CJ smiled, "you go enjoy that baby and the twins.  Tell Caroline I said hello please and thanks Leo, I'm out of here.  Be sure and tell Toby if he comes looking for me, which he might." CJ smiled and was quickly down the hall and out of sight.

         

Toby did wander that way about a half hour later, encountering Leo who shook his head and pointed to CJ's office.  "She's gone home to do whatever it is they do to look so good," he grinned.  "You two have a good time tonight.  And Toby, you do realize what a special woman this is don't you?  You'd be pretty unpopular if you hurt her you realize?"

        

Toby made his characterizing move of scratching his head, "Yeah I realize that.  Why do you think it's taken me so long? I'm not even sure I stand a chance but I had to try."

       

"If it fails it won't be because of lack of desire on her part my friend," Leo grinned.  "Now go on get out of here.  You're not good to anyone around here fretting about tonight.  Go home, put on some music and relax.  She'll thank you for it."

      

Toby gave Leo as much of a smile as he gave anyone and then he gathered his things and went home.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Jed dropped his outer clothes to the floor, and crawled in next to Abbey. "Hey little mother," he whispered.  "I love you."

                  

Abbey smiled, "Are you happy about this?" she asked softly.

                 

"I am no less than thrilled," Jed assured her.  "I know it's not something we planned, but that makes it all the more special.  To bring a new baby into this historic house, and then to have a little child to raise when we retire, and it's all going to be perfect.  All I'm concerned about now is that you take care of yourself."

                

"Jed I'm a doctor, I know a little more than the average woman, also I've done this a time or two," Abbey smiled and rolled over to kiss him. "We're going to have a healthy baby and enjoy doing it...at least most of the time."

               

"That makes me feel good," Jed smiled, wrapping his arm around her and nuzzling into her neck.  "But you know they say doctors are the worst patients.  Just promise me you'll be careful and know your limits is all I'm asking."

              

"I'm going to try Jed," Abbey said tenderly, "I want this baby every bit as much as you do, if not more. I've got to take that trip to Russia next week but I'm canceling the tour of Africa.  There's way too much chance of exposure to something life-threatening for the baby there."

             

"Sounds like a plan.  And of course when your due date gets close you're not going anywhere a chopper can't have you back to GW in fifteen minutes."  He laughed and tickled her lightly.  "Angel you don't know how happy I am right at this moment."

            

"Mmm... you could show me," Abbey smiled before she playfully traced his chest with a fingernail.

           

"I thought you were resting," Jed teased, "but then you always rest better after..."  His lips met hers in a hungry kiss.  "Pregnant women turn me on," he whispered.

          

"They always have," Abbey replied back in the same husky whisper, "but I hope it's just me."  She kissed him passionately and then she quickly unbuttoned and removed his shirt.  "It's been too long again," she panted as she began to pick up steam.

         

"I only have eyes for you my love," Jed was panting as well as he returned the shirt favor, stopping a moment to be impressed by the new roundness there.  "Pregnancy becomes you--it always has," he smiled, taking a tentative taste, and remembering to be aware of extra sensitivity there.

        

He was rewarded with a deep throaty moan, "Thank-you Jed.  This isn't college anymore.  I wasn't sure you remembered what I...what I'm like when I'm pregnant.  Nine weeks..." she panted and she finally got his pants undone and discarded them. "I don't have time for foreplay Jed...or rather I don't think I have much patience."

       

"Who needs foreplay," Jed moaned as she encircled his hardness and his hand went to her center, sliding his thumb in and learning she was indeed ready.  "I want you Abbey, as badly as you want me."

      

Abbey moaned and then kissed him again.  She gasped and moaned with delight as she felt him slide inside. "Yes I've definitely missed this.  We need to schedule it more often."

     

"I'll speak to Mrs. Landingham," he moaned before turning his attention to the pleasure he was experiencing.  "This is incredible."  He moved in and out as slow and gently as he could, savoring every moment of the contact.  "I love you--I love you."

    

"I love you Jed," Abbey gasped out between kisses.  As long time partners the pleasure they derived was exquisite and they lasted a good long time.  Finally however Abbey's body was racked with her orgasm and she gripped her husband.  "Oh Jed I love you!"

   

Jed quivered for a long second before he released inside her, wrapping himself around her as much as he could without squashing the baby.  "Abbey you've always known how to please me, from the first night," he panted, his mouth devouring hers for one last kiss before he collapsed to one side, turning her so that she was still within him.

  

Abbey kissed him softly and it wasn't long before she had dropped off into a blissfully peaceful sleep.

 

Jed lay with her for a long time, too stimulated and happy to sleep, before making his way back downstairs for one final walk through before declaring the Wing closed for the weekend.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Leo's next stop was Josh's office and he smiled when he saw Donna spread out on the sofa.  "Something new for the decor," Josh smiled.  "Beautiful isn't she?  And that's my baby making that lump under the blanket."

    

"Nothing short of amazing is it?" Leo commented softly, "She's as beautiful as Caroline was pregnant and they only get more so as it goes on." He watched Donna on Josh for a few moments and then continued, "We're shutting it down early today.  CJ and Toby were useless, Sam and Ainsley took off after the doctor and I'm going home to see my sons and daughter.  Belle and Brighton are probably driving Caroline crazy while she insists on taking care of Leo herself."

   

"Sounds like a Friday plan," Josh grinned.  "We had asked Ainsley and Sam for cards but they were so rushed to get to the doctor I didn't get an answer.  Hope everything is OK with them.  In all ways.  Ainsley is adorable, and so good for Sam.  Now I hear CJ and Toby are making a night of it.  I'm impressed."

  

"To say the least," Leo agreed, "I think Sam and Ainsley may be okay.  I don't imagine it's going to be completely smooth sailing for them," Leo said and inwardly vowed to keep helping the couple along as much as he could. "Now you get your assistant who's also a little mother home to get some real rest."

 

"Thank you," Josh smiled gratefully and wasted no time in stacking up his paperwork.  "Honey, Donna?" he whispered, shaking her shoulder gently.  "We have been dismissed for the weekend.  Sit up slow now, don't make yourself dizzy."

 

"Huh?" Donna said and it took a glance at her swollen abdomen to bring Donna's world all back into reality.  She took Josh's advice and sat up slowly. "Home already...that's great.  Is that where everyone else is?" She looked around at the practically empty bullpen outside Josh's door as she sat up fully.

 

"We're having Friday shut down," Josh grinned.  "Home to a warm apartment, put your feet up, see if we're going to play cards with Ainsley and Sam.  Order some pizza or Mexican food..."  His eyes traveled to her middle, "Or both."

 

Donna scrunched up her nose, "Josh!  Not when I just got up! ...Besides I want some cheesecake right now."

                                                

"Would you like to stop for cheesecake and coffee on the way?" he asked, rubbing his own belly.  "This pregnancy is going to put twenty pounds on me."

                                             

"You're not allowed to gain weight," Donna teased, "I have an excuse."

                                            

"I'd better work out more," Josh laughed.  "Of course I understand sexual intercourse is a good way to burn calories, and that sounds like more fun than watching Toby on the next treadmill with his shirt off."

                                         

Donna raised one brow and made a face.  "Speaking of Toby. Do you know if he likes CJ?  Because I think she really likes him and if he and they and..."

                                        

Josh smiled slowly, guiding Donna out.  "Yeah he does, and a lot more than a little.  I don't think it hit much really hard until he started seeing and hearing about this Jonathan person though.  I guess he realized CJ was looking at getting older and wanting a family and all that.  I know you know how that is, and you're younger than she.  Anyway, he's mentioned a few times about asking her out long before Jonathan, and I told him to go for it; but he never did.  You think she was showing Jonathan off to light a fire under Toby?"

                                                    

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

"So what happens now?" Sam finally stammered.  "Ms. Hayes gets dressed and the doctor will be right in" the tech smiled, "congratulations to you both."

 

Sam leaned over Ainsley, wiping traces of tears from his eyes.  "Twins my love, I gave you twins that night."

 

Ainsley smiled, "It would appear so." she said happily and was grateful for his assistance getting her off the table and quickly redressed.  "That was, I do believe, the most amazing experience I've ever had." She glanced back at the sonogram machine now silent.

 

"Here you go," the tech stopped her, handing her both videotape and several stills.  "For your baby book.  The doctor will be here in just a moment."

 

She smiled, "Thank-you, thank-you very much." She was looking with Sam at the pictures when the doctor appeared. "Please tell me they're going to be alright," Ainsley suddenly blurted out.

                                                 

"Whoa back the baby stroller up," Dr. Jonas grinned.  "They are in fact both healthy.  Your daughter is small, but that's not a concern at this point. Most of the time they catch up and even out.  If as you get close to about thirty six weeks, we find that the little one is not doing as well, we'll induce you and treat her in neo-natal.  But we're not near there yet I assure you.  The best thing you can do for them and yourself is good food, vitamins, rest, the iron pills I'm prescribing, and no stress."  She stopped and laughed, jerking a thumb at Sam.  "And this guy looks like he could cause a good bit of stress.  You want me to put out a contract on him?"

                                               

"No I don't believe that will be necessary.  He's wonderful, just wonderful. If you could possibly make me less independent..." Ainsley sighed.

                                              

"That you'll have to feel your way in," she laughed.  "There is, believe it or not, a happy medium there.  The only thing I would caution is that you don't mistake independence and pride for need.  There are going to be times when for your own health and well being, you yield to his help."

                                             

Ainsley smiled, "Thank-you, thank-you very much.  So what happens now?"

                                            

"Go home, have something good for dinner--preferably that you don't cook--and put your feet up.  I'll want to do two more of these a month apart, and then we'll probably move them closer.  The baby girl is going to be fine--just a matter of monitoring her and if we get to the point where she's better off out than in, we'll do that."

                                           

Ainsley nodded and then smiled, "Thank-you very much for all that you have done. It is by me greatly appreciated." She rose and left with Sam, all the way home she didn't say anything, merely looked silently happy.

                                          

Sam pulled into the parking space.  "You are very welcome my love," he grinned finally.  "Remember what I do is motivated by love pure and simple; and at some point you'll hopefully be ready to say that back."

                                         

Ainsley smiled at him and then wiggled her way out of the car and walked gracefully on her heels towards Sam's townhouse.

                                        

Sam quickly caught up with her and then unlocked the door.  "Note for tomorrow--get you a set of keys to my car and all doors," he grinned.  "What would you like to do?  Hot bath maybe, or just the sofa and your feet rubbed.  Then you can tell me what you feel like ordering for dinner."

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

"Chloe?  Chloe you awake?" Tucker stopped by her desk where she was leaning with her head in her hands.  "Let me guess, you're fantasizing about having an affair with the pool man, which we don't even have.... hey wait a minute.  I'm the pool man.  You go right ahead in that case.  But you might want to head on out.  We have a prom to get ready for.  Isn't Bruce or Maurice or one those guys from the Salon coming over to do your hair or something?"

 

"I'll be right on it," Chloe murmured before she lifted her head, her face clouded in sleep, red imprints from her hands fading away. "What Tucker?"

                                                

"Honey it's time to go home," he said softly.  "Our evening is about to begin,"

                                               

Chloe looked at her watch and then with a start began to quickly gather things up to leave.  She smiled at Tucker when she had finished and kissed him.  She took his hand to leave the building, "let's go get ready for the prom and the start of our future."  She looked down at the beautiful glistening diamond engagement ring.

                                              

"You got it," he grinned, taking her hand and kissing the palm.  "I guess I'll be downstairs playing with the twins while Mr. What's his Face gives you the full treatment.  Hey while you're up there, well you need.... this would be as good a time as any to tell you...as part of the surprise tonight we're not going to be coming back when the dance is done.  Leo and your mom already know about it."

                                              

Chloe smiled, "Oh another hotel venture.  Tucker you spoil me too much. I love you." Chloe kissed him and raced upstairs to get ready.

                                            

Tucker smiled and walked downstairs where Belle and Brighton were watching cartoons and Leo and Caroline nuzzled together on the sofa as the baby nursed.  "Hey guys" he addressed the twins as he flopped onto the floor and he was buried at once.

                                           

Meanwhile Chloe began to get everything ready for that night. She dressed and the stylist came and did her hair and she packed.  Four hours later Rose appeared on the stairs.  She could pass for the character of the movie without flaw in the beautiful clear beaded gown with the angelic blue under layer, just as Kate Winslet had worn on the inside of the CD cover and the back of one of the boxes.  She seemed to glow as she descended the stairs.

                                          

Tucker had readied himself earlier, and had been nervously pacing the front room.  "Oh, oh god," he gasped when he saw her.  "I thought last year was incredible.  Chloe Murphy you are.... I don't even know."  She swept from the stairs and into his arms, her ring shining in the light.  "I love you," he whispered.

                                         

"Woah," Leo gasped. "Chloe as a red head." Chloe smiled and Caroline just looked her over with tears in her eyes.  Soon the camera came out and they had pictures done.  "It's time to get going...I'm sure we have dinner arrangements," Chloe said after a while and a whole roll of film.

                                        

"And here's the transportation," Tucker smiled as he opened the door.  "I know we did this last year, but I couldn't let this year be any less."  He helped Chloe into her wrap.  "By the way, the hair is beautiful" he whispered, nuzzling her neck.  "I confess I was focused lower, like on where the pendant drops down to.  Bad Tucker."

                                       

Chloe smiled, her eyes sparkling.  Thus Rose and Jack were aided into the limo. "I've been waiting for this since I met you," she breathed in wonder as she looked around the limo.

                                      

"Oh yeah," he sighed, opening his arms for her.  "This is going to be a magical night.  And I love you so much."

                                     

"I love you Tucker and do you realize that in three weeks you and I will be married in the Rose Garden?" Chloe asked.

                                  

"Three weeks and fifteen hours," Tucker sighed.  "And that night you and I will make love, and we will make a baby God willing."

                              

"Oh I pray so," Chloe breathed, "I've even counted the days and the time is perfect in my cycle."

                             

"See God is at work already," Tucker grinned.  The limo sped through the DC night, depositing them in front of Clyde's on M Street in the heart of Georgetown.  "I've never been here," he explained as he hopped out, "and both Sam and Josh said if they had a prom date, this is where they would take her.  I said this isn't just a prom date, this is the woman I'm going to marry in a few weeks; and they still said I was doing the right thing.  So here we are."

                             

Chloe smiled and took Tucker's hand to be escorted inside. "Oh wow," was all she could gasp out as they entered.  It was obvious that Josh and Toby had been right.

                           

"Reservation for Seaborn," Tucker smiled, his arm around Chloe's shoulders protectively as the men who were alone inside eyed her.

                        

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Right on time Toby rang CJ's bell, pulling the collar away from his shirt at the same time to give himself some breathing room.

                                     

CJ looked herself over in the mirror and then opened the door.  She was wearing a blue velvet dress that was off the shoulders and hugged all of her curves to the floor.  There was a slit up past her knees in the back and out came sheer chiffon of the same blue which trailed just slightly behind her.  She had on beautiful matching heels and a double strand of pearls at her neck. "Wow, you're on time."

                                   

"Uhhuh," Toby gasped, unable to take his eyes from her, looking her up and down.  "I uh..We're uh..." he stammered, and then took her arm. pointing vaguely outside.  "Car's out front," he gasped again.  "Wrap?"

                                  

CJ walked back in to a chair in her foyer and grabbed a beautiful beaded wrap of the same sheer blue material and handed it to Toby, turning so that he could help her put it on.  Then she wrapped her arm in his and they left.

                                 

They reached the front entrance and CJ looked around.  "This would be us," Toby pointed and waved his hand.  A sleek black limousine pulled up under the canopy.  "Special night," Toby whispered.

                                

CJ let a small gasp escape her and with a smile she walked with him to the limo as the driver opened the door and assisted them in. "Well if you were out to impress me Toby you already have.  This is a prefect start to what I pray will be a wonderful evening...and not one mention of work!"

                               

"You just did," Toby teased, lifting his arm to rest across the back of the seat behind her.  "Dinner tonight will be in the Cherokee Room of the Capitol Hill Ritz Carlton, followed by the concert of course, followed by.... well we'll hold that.  I don't know that we'll get that far.  You might get sick of me before that point."

                              

CJ looked at him curiously a moment but then turned to look straight ahead again as the car drove along.  They arrived at the Cherokee Room and all eyes were on CJ.  A lot of the people there didn't even know who she was.  They were simply admiring her as a beautiful woman exquisitely dressed.  She smiled up at him when Toby seated her.

                              

"I consider the leader of the free world a personal friend; I've dined with the presidents of foreign countries, and met royalty," Toby sighed, "and never have I considered myself as lucky as I do tonight just to be sharing a simple meal with you.  I was a little tongue tied earlier.  You look exquisite tonight.  I don't know what I did to deserve this, but you are beautiful, and for tonight, you are mine."

                            

CJ looked at Toby a little in wonder. "Wow Toby, I think that's some of the nicest things that have ever been said to me. It's taken you two years but..." she shrugged.  The waiter reappeared and she ordered the four courses of her meal.

                           

"I like a woman who eats when I take her out," Toby smiled.  "Too many women order salad greens, no dressing; and then wonder why they're irritable.  In your case, I know why you are when you are.  Usually it's something I've done."

                          

CJ laughed lightly, "It's not always you. Recently a lot of it has been Sam.  Now that things are finally right between him and Ainsley though I expect it might go smoother.  Wait what am I saying...that's not allowed to happen is it?" She laughed lightly. "So anyhow Toby, what brought up this little engagement of ours here?"

                         

Toby took a deep breath to think before answering. "I finally decided I needed to see if there was ever going to be anything between us I guess," he shrugged.  "And to be perfectly honest, when I saw Jonathan whatever being so attentive to you, it made me realize you weren't always going to be there."  He reached over for her hand, playing with her fingers.  "CJ we were good together in California.  It never went any further than what might have been, but we were still good."

                        

CJ's eyes were locked with his.  Finally she breathed, "Two years Toby...it's taken you two years."

                       

Toby squirmed uncomfortably.  "I am very painfully aware of that," he sighed.  "Not something I'm proud of.  I could say it was due to being inundated at first with all the newness of the administration; but that would just be an excuse and not a very good one.  Certainly not after the first couple months.  No honestly you know what it was, I suddenly felt like you were like out of my league I think.  Serious now. Here you were, being brilliant on that podium each day, plus the decisions you made behind the scenes.  And here I was, this mousy guy who should have been a college prof someplace out of the way in a little office going home to my cat each night.  I hared out, what can I say.  So we both--well me, and you if you're grateful--have Jonathan to thank for me screwing up my courage to ask you."

                      

CJ smiled, "I'll remember to send him a pen.  Honestly Toby you are an incredibly brilliant man.  You're certainly more than the college professor type.  The President founded his campaign staff with you.  We're a team all of us and none of us could pull off what we do without the others."

                     

"And that was never more apparent than since the shooting," Toby sighed.  "Do you know how terrified I was that night before I knew you were OK?"

                

"Probably as much as I was having looked around for you as it started and watching you go down and then not being able to see if you were alright.  I was horrified," CJ shuddered.

             

"It was a nightmare night," Toby sighed.  "Finding that you were OK was a major relief, but as long as I live, I will never ever get over finding Josh almost dead like that.  I must have washed my hands a hundred times trying to scrub off imaginary blood."

            

CJ paled and looked anguished a moment.  She took a long sip of her wine.

           

Toby followed suit and then held up his goblet.  "To the banishment of the past, and the start of.... well of what we.... of us maybe?"

          

CJ smiled, "To the start of us." She clicked her glass to his.

         

"I like the sound of that," Toby grinned.  "To us, to the future, and to what we both want."

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

They were directed to an excellent table location and quickly a steward came to get their drink orders. "Non-alcoholic champagne please," Chloe requested. 

                        

Tucker nodded his agreement and took her hand, playing with her ring as he often did.  "So Chloe my love, how long have we been together?  Because frankly I can't recall--nor do I want to--a time when you didn't sleep in my arms."

                       

"We've been together a year and two months, we got together a week before my birthday silly!," Chloe laughed, "I can see I'm going to need to tattoo important dates to your head!" She leaned over and kissed him, "and I love you more now than when we met if such is possible."

                     

"I'll need one of those memory things that says 'hey dumbass today is..." he grinned.  "Truth be told I get so crammed full of things to remember for the Wing that I lose track of what's really important.  I need to work on that.  Because nothing is more important than you and me."

                    

Chloe smiled, "Just write it down on the calendar when I give it to you every year, first meeting June 9th, my birthday June 17th, wedding anniversary August 17th..."

                   

"I should be taking notes," he grinned.  "But your birthday is of course the day we became engaged.  I can at least make that connection.  We sat at a table very much like this and I gave you that ring, and promised you forever."

                

Chloe smiled, "Yes and in three weeks, fifteen hours we'll make good on that promise and start our forever. It's been an incredible year Tucker, even with all that we've been through-the birth of Leo, my car accident, the whole Jovana Kerrington fiasco...through it all we still managed to keep it together.  We're meant to be together...to be together and for me to carry your child."

             

"Amen to that," Tucker smiled.  The server arrived with their champagne and when he had poured and left, Tucker raised his glass.  "To the most beautiful girl in the world who has chosen me to love; and this time next year may we be holding our baby."

            

"That would be wonderful," Chloe smiled.  "Or at least that we have one on the way by then though I'd really like to be holding him or her."

           

"I see no reason we won't be holding him or her if we start that quick," Tucker grinned mischievously.  "Or two.  Seems to me twins run in your family.  I mean look at Belle and Brighton.  Didn't your mom tell me she was a twin, and her dad had a twin brother?"

          

"Yes, twins run heavily in our family," Chloe returned.  "We could have a set or two ourselves."

         

"I shall pray for that," Tucker grinned giddily.  "I think having a baby boy and a baby girl, or two of each maybe, would be totally wonderful.  You are going be a great mother."

        

Chloe smiled, "well we'd better hurry up and eat because before long it will be time for us to be a great Jack and Rose and to see who gets King and Queen.  I didn't even hear who got nominated." Chloe continued to eat her meal.

       

"Jack here is starved," Tucker agreed, digging into his lobster.  "And soon I will be sailing you around the dance floor."

      

Chloe smiled, "So you like the dress huh?  I love it.  I couldn't believe it turned out perfect!"

     

"Yeah I don't even mind the Jack suit," he grinned, "but you my love, you look magnificent.  A perfect Rose."

    

Chloe smiled, "Yes...so what do you think of me as a redhead? I'm going tomorrow to have it specially taken out so that I will look normal, especially in time for the wedding!"

   

"You're not going to have the red hair at the wedding?" Tucker frowned.  "I was just getting used to it--in a good way.  I love it honestly."

  

Chloe reached up and touched it astonished, "better than my blonde? I mean...would you rather I left it red? If I don't have it treated it's not coming out anytime soon. I mean I think it's beautiful but I thought...well I just thought you would like the blonde better and that you would definitely want it for the wedding.

 

Tucker now looked perplexed.  "OK I don't know.  They're both beautiful.  Too bad you can't just split it down the middle.  Ummm.... well if it's solely up to me, I think leave the red."

+++++++++++++++

"Did I hear there were cards at this location?" Sam asked, his arm around Ainsley as Josh answered the door. "The better question, I believe, is 'is there any food here'," Ainsley smiled.

                      

"Food, in a house where there's a pregnant woman," Josh laughed.  "Well it starts out like that.  Actually we have part of a cheesecake from when we stopped off this afternoon.  And we're going to order something delivered when you woman decide what you want."  He shook Sam's hand and then kissed Ainsley's cheek.  "You look beautiful Ms. Hayes," he grinned.  "This guy treating you decent I hope?"

                    

"I'm fine thank-you," Ainsley smiled as they entered the home.  She greeted Donna and took a stiff-seated position at the front of a chair.  "I heard there was cheesecake somewhere?" She looked to Sam and Josh.

                   

Donna also cleared her throat.  "I'll put on some coffee and some water for tea," Josh grinned, "and set that cheesecake out to soften.  "Hey you guys went to the doctor this afternoon right?  The president missed you.  Kidding by the way, but how did it go?"

                  

Ainsley smiled, "Well you'll be happy to know, I'm grateful to know at least as I'm sure Sam is, that the baby is healthy or should I say babies.  We're going to have twins." "Twins!  Oh wow that's so amazing," Donna exclaimed happily, "isn't that wonderful Josh, they're going to have twins."

                 

Josh was momentarily speechless and then looked at Sam.  "OK who helped you?" he teased.  "Kidding of course.  Ainsley that's wonderful.  Congratulations to both of you."  He looked back at Donna, "I know it's not a contest, but I wouldn't mind if you were having triplets."

                 

"Triplets?!" Donna looked wide-eyed. "Triplets...triplets...triplets" Donna tried it in several tones. "No I guess that wouldn't be so bad.  It would be a lot of work but then so is being your secretary.  I just don't blow up like a beach ball being your secretary."

               

"Well I'm teasing, but at the same time...." Josh's voice trailed off and he folded a large pillow in half, holding it up to her.  "I can't say it doesn't become you."  "Big difference in a pillow and twenty pounds of baby, and that's just half the weight," Ainsley pointed out.  "But she looks cute," Josh grinned.

              

"Well there's no telling until you go to the doctor, but she is rather..." Ainsley stopped not being able to find a word that she didn't think would upset Donna. "Large?" Donna supplied and Ainsley nodded. "See I told you I thought I wasn't normal," Donna told Josh.

             

Josh looked baffled.  "I figured it was just body image issues that went with pregnancy," he yelped.  "Are you larger than one would expect?  Hell I don't know."

            

"She is a bit I think," Ainsley supplied, "of course when you have your sonogram you'll get it all figured out.  So when is your doctor's appointment?  We can make it an excuse for another party and the opportunity to eat more."

           

"You're asking me when her sonogram appointment is?" Josh yelped.  "Good lord she has to tell ME when to eat lunch.  Donna, enlighten us please.  And be sure to clear my schedule so I can join you."

           

Donna sighed and shook her head; "Josh we talked about this...Dr. Cowan made a special appointment for us tomorrow at 11 in the morning."

         

"Great," Josh grinned.  "Then I'm assuming my schedule is clear.  We can sleep late, do breakfast, and then the appointment.  Sam you have never heard of me before noon tomorrow please."

        

"Well okay but I might also remind you that tomorrow is Saturday," Sam replied.

       

"You planned that," Josh screeched.  "You set that up to help make me look stupid.  Well I don't need help thank you."  With that Sam fell off his chair in laughter.

+++++++++++++++++

CJ and Toby finished their meal at a leisurely pace. "Toby let me just say this has already been an amazingly wonderful evening and we haven't even made the Kennedy center yet."

 

"Next on the agenda," Toby grinned.  "And we're heading that way shortly.  We'll have our coffee and dessert after the concert in the limo as we proceed to the third part of the evening, unless you're opting out at that point."

    

"Why would I want to do that?" CJ asked.  "I'm dressed for it right?"

   

"You're dressed fine for the first part of it," Toby said slowly, "but once we're there we'll have to make a few adjustments, but I did come prepared.  Concert first though, then if you're not sick of me, we'll do that."

  

"Okay..." CJ smiled at him her eyes sparkling, twinkling even. "You know I like a good surprise, a man with initiative.  I was getting dreadfully tired of having to pick all my own gifts and make my own dates."  She finished dinner and rose with Toby's aid.  They were soon in the limo again and she laid her head on his shoulder, cuddled close against him.

 

"I could enjoy a few hours of just this," Toby smiled, dropping his arm tightly around her shoulders.  The lights of the city sped by and as the limo pulled into the Kennedy Center impulsively he leaned down and kissed her forehead.  "Time for some good music.  I already have the company of the most beautiful woman in DC."

 

CJ smiled, "Don't let Sam or Josh hear you say that."  She took his hand and as they entered they attracted a good deal of attention.  First of all everyone was looking to see if the Presidential motorcade was arriving and secondly they were wondering what Toby and CJ were doing together, very together.

 

Toby's limo had pulled up to the side as he requested and he walked CJ up the long sidewalk, keeping his hand in place.  "This doesn't bother me at all," he said softly, tightening his hand so she would know what he meant.  "But if you would rather I didn't do it while we were out just say the word."

"So who's supposed to be playing tonight and what are they performing?" CJ replied.

                                                   

"New York Philharmonic and I have no idea," he smiled.  "That's what programs are for.  No honestly I just lucked into these tickets.  In fact I wasn't aware the President and First Lady were coming.  We might have joined them, though frankly I think I like these orchestra seats better.  Less formal and I don't have to be so concerned about--well paying attention to you."

                                                  

CJ smiled and walked with him down towards the front. "This is nice Toby, very nice." She said and she walked closer to him.

                                                  

They heard the President's motorcade come in and they stopped at the corded off area.  "We can at least wave hello," Toby grinned.  "He and Mrs. Bartlet will be amazed to see us.  Give them something to talk about during intermission."

                                                

"I'm sure," CJ smiled, "have you heard the newest rumor going around?  I overhead someone in the bullpen saying that Abbey was terribly sick.  I hope that's not true."

                                                

Toby frowned.  "I know she came back from the luncheon alone, and when the President got back he went upstairs with her.  Sick?  Good grief I hope not.  She's too nice a person to have anything seriously wrong with her."

                                              

CJ frowned a moment before she was all smiles and clapping as the president in his tux and Abbey in a beautiful silver gown passed by. "Shall we go and take our seats now?" she asked him.

                                              

"You bet," Toby assured her, taking her arm and leading her inside, down the stairs and into the orchestra area.  "Would you believe I played Oboe in high school" he laughed as he helped her to sit, spreading her dress out carefully beneath her.  "I used to dream of doing this for a living in fact."

                                            

"Wow...well I played the flute but I only did it because band was required and I certainly never got picked for the cheerleading squad with my coordination!" CJ laughed lightly. "Now sometimes I play just for fun, but I don't think I'd ever do it for an audience.  I took fourteen years of piano lessons too."

                                           

"You and I should play something together," Toby told her seriously.  "I still fool with it now and then.  Mostly when I get in a mood, especially if I feel like inflicting said mood on my neighbors, I drag it out.  In any case I'd love to hear you play.  In fact I just flashed on a mental picture of me enjoying your sofa while you played for me."

                                          

CJ smiled, "The sofa is probably all you'd enjoy but...I can play something for you sometime.  I play mostly the classical stuff, though I do know a fair amount of Jazz." She was quiet then as the conductor took the platform and the performance was about to begin.

                                         

Toby's arm was around her shoulders and when the music began he rested his hand on his lap, palm up in invitation for hers, at the same time moving his head to be closer to hers.   "It's already beautiful," he whispered as the first strains reached them.

                                        

"Toby," CJ smiled softly and when she noticed his hand she gingerly dropped hers into it. She smiled at him a moment before turning her attention back to the performance.

                                       

For ninety minutes they sat not moving and hardly breathing as the music washed over them.  The house lights came up for intermission and neither spoke until Toby said, "I don't see how he can top anything like that for the second half.  You want something to drink?  I need to visit the little Communications Director's room."

                                       

"Yes, a glass of burgundy would be nice or a Zinfandel, whichever they have," CJ requested.  She rose with him and made her way to the little Press Secretary's room and then returned back to their seats to wait for his return.

                                    

"A split of Zinfandel," Toby smiled, bending over her with a small tray and two glasses.  "I'm good at this.  So if our boss gets truly upset with me, I can serve wine in any of the nicest places.  It's always good to have something to fall back on.  Like the oboe.  Actually it's all part of my plan to get you in bed later.  You told me once you were great.  Remember that night.  And I was impressed--you weren't even embarrassed by it.  Like you were just stating fact."

                                   

"I was stating a fact," CJ replied and then she blushed again.

                               

"Now you have the good grace to blush," Toby laughed and impulsively nuzzled her cheek, kissing her lightly.  "My beard tickles I'm sure."

                               

"I kind of like it actually," CJ replied, "I can't imagine you without one. It would be kind of like me being within five feet of a pool and not falling in."

                             

"Whoa we'll have to watch that," he grinned, "in case I take you someplace sometime with one.  But good thing you're just like that around pools.  Though the other week at the photo op in front of the fountain I was concerned about you."

                            

CJ mock frowned at him. "Generally I have help falling into the pool!"

                           

"And actually since it was such a slow news day, I was going to help you fall into the fountain," he teased, "but I kept getting the evil eye from Leo.  I think he knew what I had in mind."  He lifted her hand to his mouth and kissed it.  "We had some good times out there.  If not for the campaign coming up, we might be married with a baby by now.  Ever thought of that?"

                        

"Only once or twice," CJ laughed lightly. "After you and...after your divorce and I saw you more and things between us changed somehow...and then you told me you were working on the campaign and I knew...I knew I had missed any opportunity of anything.  It came as rather a shock to me when you showed back up in California asking me to go with you. If I recall I fell in the pool..."

                       

================================================

Tucker now looked perplexed.  "OK I don't know.  They're both beautiful.  Too bad you can't just split it down the middle.  Ummm....well if it's solely up to me, I think leave the red."

                                                    

Chloe smiled and touched it again, "Okay...I'll leave it then.  Of course realize now that the wedding pictures are forever and that's how the day will be immortalized...with me as a redhead.  I haven't even seen it down yet..." She lowered her voice then, "Tucker, are you planning on making love to a redhead tonight?"

                                                    

Tucker choked on a shrimp.  "If that redhead would like me to, I would like to do that more than anything," he finally gasped.  "But if she would like to wait for our wedding night, I can handle that.  Maybe you'll want to see where we're going before you decide."

                                                  

"I should think so," Chloe replied with a smile. "And Tucker...if I forget to thank you...I had a wonderful time tonight."

                                                 

Tucker shook his head. "You thank me every minute of every day just by making me the one you chose to love.  Tonight was meant to be your night and you are very, very welcome."

                                                

"There's no one I'd rather be with.  I love you," Chloe smiled and she leaned in and kissed him.  She finished her meal in short order and soon they were back in the limo heading for the hotel that was housing their prom in its ballroom.

                                               

The Ritz Carlton DC was decked in the school colors, plus orchids filled the room.  The small orchestra had begun to play and once her wrap was hung, Tucker took her into his arms for the first dance.  "I have a lot of names on my dance card tonight," he teased, "but I wanted you first."

                                              

"Oh really," Chloe raised her eyebrows, "well just so you know there's a lot of men on my dance card tonight."

                                             

"Then I'll meet you at the door when it's time to leave," he grinned, pulling into his arms to demonstrate that no way was she leaving his side.

                                            

"Right," Chloe smiled, looking at her rings as her hand was clasped in his and they waltzed the correct way.  The other couples around them watched occasionally.  There was Romeo and Juliet, King Arthur and Guinavere, Ken and Barbie, even James Bond and one of his women.  "The costumes are wonderful," Chloe commented as they danced.  "I'm already having the time of my life and we're only on the first song!"

                                           

"Good, my plan to seduce you is working," he teased as he swung her around the floor, keeping them in perfect time to the music.

                                           

"Oh my you're just like all the other boys here, take a girl to the prom and be a gentleman and all the while you're trying to seduce her," Chloe teased and she leaned in and kissed Tucker. "Ahem," one of the chaperons coughed.  "Doesn't she realize we're engaged?" Chloe whispered when the woman had gone.

                                         

"Well that's not a friendship ring you're wearing," he grinned.  "I love you and I want you to kiss me whenever..."  He gave her a quick grin, "in fact...." and with that he dipped her slightly and kissed the soft skin of her neck as her head tilted back.

                                        

Chloe laughed as he brought her back up.  "That was nice.  You know I can't wait.  We're invited to the next State Dinner and we'll get to dance without any chaperons." She was quiet a moment. "Don't forget we have to go over and get pictures made sometime before this is over."

                                       

"Of course.  And they don't mean any harm.  But we're just not regular high school kids is all.  You and I are starting on a life together, and a career as parents soon too."  The music finished and Tucker led her to the punch table, pouring out cupfuls for each of them.  "This had better not be spiked," he whispered.  "I don't need to be picked up for under age drinking.  That Seaborn name sometimes can be a pain, and that would be one of those times.  And I know McGarry isn't any easier."

                                      

"Nope," Chloe sighed. She tentatively took a sip. "Nope...this stuff just needs to be spiked!" She laughed lightly.

                                     

"At least it's cold and wet," he laughed as well.  "We'll be having our midnight supper anyway, though I suspect it will be later than midnight.  Right now just having you in my arms, the beauty that is you, is plenty for me.  And the night is still very, very young."

                                    

"Thank goodness," Chloe smiled, "the next time we get to have a big event is graduation night and then of course our wedding.  Then everything is back to normal."

                                   

"Normal except we'll be Mr. and Mrs. Seaborn," he laughed.  "You realize that will be three Seaborns around the Wing.  Good thing the President uses first names mostly.  Otherwise he'd scream Seaborn and all three of us would show."

                                  

Chloe laughed, "What about McGarry? Oh!" She gasped as the loss of her name finally hit her. "Chloe Seaborn...hmm...not bad."

                                 

"I like it," Tucker grinned, "but I'm not so much a chauvinist that I'm going to demand you change it.  You may certainly use McGarry professionally--that's at work and school.  But around our house, you are Mrs. Chloe Seaborn, and you belong to me.  For now and forever."

                                

Chloe smiled, "No way, I want to change it all the way for everything.  I want everyone to know I'm happily married to you."

                                

"I don't think people will miss that," he grinned.  "Because I plan to talk about it non stop.  We have waited for a long time for this and I'm going to celebrate every second of it."

                              

Chloe smiled and laid her head on his shoulder.  They continued to dance for a while until they had their pictures taken.  The photographer marveled over how photogenic they were and then came the announcement for prom King and Queen. "This year's King is Tucker Seaborn and this year's Queen is Chloe McGarry."

                             

"I don't believe it," Tucker gasped and then looked to the other students.  "Thank you.  And let me say that very shortly, she will be my queen for real life as we are planning our wedding."  And with that he brought her into his arms and captured her mouth in a long and loving kiss while applause rose.

                            

"Is it proper for her to be crowned when she's already engaged?" One of the snobby girls at Chloe's school protested loudly. "I mean isn't that a bad representation for the school?"  "For me to be engaged?" Chloe asked daunted.

                           

"Don't be an ass," Tucker snapped.  "That she wears my ring has nothing to do with whether she deserves to wear the crown.  And even more important than her outward beauty is how beautiful she is inside thank you very much."

                          

"Children!" The principle snapped. "That will be quite enough.  The decision was made by your peers and passed through the school board. Tucker Seaborn and Chloe McGarry have violated nothing by being engaged.  In fact the faculty and staff wish them much happiness.  It is obvious and impressive their love and dedication to one another.  That they found each other at a young age is of no consequence to us." Chloe smiled as she accepted her crown. "Thank-you everyone.  This school has been a wonderful experience for me and I hope that I have contributed to the future of those behind our class. Thank-you for this honor and for inspiring me in my life." The room was filled with applause and the floor cleared for the king and queen to have their dance.

                         

The blue spot light came up and Chloe's reddish hair took on a beautiful glow as Tucker led her onto the floor.  "I love you future Mrs. Seaborn," he smiled in contentment, wrapping her in his arms.  The music played a well-known love song and Tucker began to sing the words into her ear.

                        

Chloe joined in for the chorus and they were lost in the enchantment of one another.  The prom concluded at midnight after much dancing and one crazy conga line.  "Oh Tucker that was worth waiting for.  I had always fretted that I was going to spend my senior prom alone without a date.  Little did I know I was going to have a fiancé."  She leaned in and kissed him.

                       

"You have a man who's about to become your husband, not just some vague fiancé," he grinned.  "A man who loves you so much.  Now we've accomplished one of our goals, with graduation to come.  But this night is far from over.  We have a drive ahead of us, and there's food waiting for us--at least there had better be--in the limo."

                      

"Oh food!  What a wonderful idea!" Chloe kissed him and hauled him out to the procession of limos waiting to pick up their charges.

                     

After a quick conference with the driver, Tucker helped Chloe inside, and sure enough on a table pulled between the seats was a pot of cappuccino, plus warm croissants and fresh butter and jam, along with scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage, and a bowl piled high with fruit.  "Looks like we've got food for the road," Tucker smiled.  "This will hold you for a few hours until we can have a real meal at our destination.  I know you're not much of an egg eater, so I'll just slide those in front of me."

                    

Chloe smiled, "Thanks."  She reached for the croissants and an orange and the butter and jam.  Soon she was feasting away and making all kinds of small moans of appreciation and satisfaction.

                   

"I hope I get that good a reaction on our wedding night," Tucker grinned.  "My god my love do you realize we're going to be standing in one of the most famous gardens in the world and be married by the leader of the free world?  Just the thought is incredible."

                  

Chloe smiled, "Incredible and exciting and wonderful.  I can't wait Tucker.  A few short weeks and we'll be there, pledging our love before all of our friends and family and when we leave that day it will be as Mr. and Mrs. Tucker Seaborn."

                 

"Yes it will, and speaking of leaving, note to self--nag Mrs. Landingham about arrangements."  He kissed her cheek and poured her another glass of grape juice.  "Two years ago I didn't know such happiness could exist.  I was the family screw up with parents who wanted no part of me and a brother about to give up on me."

                

"Now look at us..." Chloe smiled and then looking at him she felt the urge to quote from the movie "I'm the King of the World!" she laughed softly. "It's perfect Tucker...us together...it's perfect."

               

"And perfect is only beginning" Tucker promised.  "Part of that perfect is tonight and we should be there in about an hour.  In the meantime, just relax back and enjoy the ride and the company."

              

Chloe kicked her shoes off and snuggled in comfortably, grabbing another croissant and continuing to feast.

             

The food disappeared about the time the car stopped and the door opened.  They were parked in front of a rustic cabin, and the sounds of the river behind could be heard.  "Harpers Ferry West Virginia," Tucker announced. "Our home until Monday morning.  Nothing to do but eat, fish, walk in the woods, and whatever else we can think of to amuse ourselves."

            

"Oh wow!" Chloe exclaimed looking around, "wow! ...We do have food right?  I mean we're not going to be stuck eating fish all weekend are we?  Even the President's recipe wasn't that good!" She walked to the cabin and stepped inside to look around.

                       

"Fully equipped or I want a refund," Tucker laughed.  "To include hot tub on the back deck overlooking the river valley, stocked fridge, plus VCR and so forth for those times when we can't think of anything else to do.  I know we could have done a luxury hotel, but I thought this would be different.  There's even a stable we can get a couple horses from tomorrow."

          

"Oh wonderful," Chloe looked around, "wow, this is beautiful!" She smiled and then threw her arms around him. "Now...how about some sleep?"

         

"I think that sounds like a wonderful idea."  He gave her a mischievous grin.  "I'll take the loft bed and you can have the guest bedroom at the end of the hall."

        

Chloe raised a brow, "and what did I do wrong?"

       

He broke into a broad grin and lifted her into his arms.  "My love if I ever seriously suggested we sleep apart, you'll know I've had some kind of massive brain blockage.  You belong in my arms, tonight and every night."  With that he carried her effortlessly into the loft, which jutted out over the water below.  No curtains were needed and the moonlight set the water glowing. 

      

"This is perfect," Chloe kissed him.  Then she dressed Tucker for bed before changing herself and then she curled up in his arms. "I love you," She whispered.

     

"I love you my angel," he answered, pushing some of her hair back and kissing her lovingly.  "This was a perfect night and it's ending even more perfectly, with you where you belong."

    

"Always" Chloe whispered back before she fell asleep in his arms.

=======================

"Yes that's one of my fonder memories too," he grinned.  "I wanted you because I wanted the best PR person I knew; but it was more than that.  I missed you.  I missed the good times we had.  And I knew we were looking to be building something.  I just wasn't sure what.  And now, as you've mentioned a couple times, it's taken me two years to get back to it---two years too long in fact..."  The music's re-start broke off his words and he nodded.  "This is not finished," and to emphasize those words he turned her face toward his, placing a light kiss on her lips.

                     

The concert ended all too soon and Toby led her out the side door, avoiding the hysteria accompanying the president's departure.  "There's food awaiting us in the limo, and some more wine, not that I'm trying to get you drunk or anything.  And then you can tell me if we're on to the rest, or you're ready to go home."

                    

"Oh no," CJ smiled, "I'm having too good of a time to call it quits now.  I'm just beginning to forget the stress of my job.  It feels nice so let's go with it." CJ said as they reached the car.  The food was immediately being examined.

                   

"Guys it's food, don't pick at it," Toby growled.  A giant plate of cheese, assorted breads and crackers, and fruit was laid before them, along with a bottle of wine.  "Now the third phase of this plan isn't going to happen quickly," Toby warned, "so once you're in, well in for a dime, in for a dollar, OK?"

                  

"Oookay," CJ said.  She grabbed up some of her favorite cheeses and crackers and went to munching.  She was thankful when Toby had poured the wine and both her hands were occupied.

                 

The limo quickly left the lights of the city behind as they enjoyed their food and wine.  "I like a woman who eats," he grinned, pouring the last of the wine and leaning back as the food was gone.  He lifted his arm over her, urging her to rest her head on his shoulder.  "Relax now, sleep if you want--finish your wine first please--we've got about three hours to drive, and then about three more to wait for it."

                

CJ raised a brow at his comment but then with a shrug she tossed back the last of her wine and then curled up, taking her heels off and laying her head against his shoulder she allowed herself to fall asleep. "Toby..." she said softly about the time she drifted off and snuggled against him.

               

The limo moved through the night, heading east, and Toby snuggled her protectively against himself.  Sure enough three hours later Toby felt the car stop and the driver announced they were at their destination.  "OK thanks," he said softly and felt CJ stir against him.  "Go back to sleep honey.  It's not show time yet."

              

CJ snuggled closer to him and dozed right back off. By this time she had moved enough that she was now curled up on his lap.

              

Toby settled her as comfortably as he could and then closed his own eyes, making sure the alarm was set to awaken them.

            

The alarm went off and CJ smacked Toby's shoulder in a daze, imagining she was finding her own snooze button. "Oh Toby!  Sorry!"

           

"Good morning to you too," he grinned.  "Now bless whoever Margaret got to go to your apartment for me.  Because you need to change before we step out, as do I."  He pulled two duffels from beneath the middle seat and handed her hers.  "Since we're just going to underwear and back up, I think we can both share these quarters can't we."  He pulled out a sweatshirt and pants for her, and similar for himself.

          

"Sure thing," CJ smiled.  She waited for him to get started and then she got started as well, slipping into the comfortable sweats after great effort. "Okay, now that I've mastered the art of being able to change in a limo..."

         

"Just in time," Toby smiled as well, opening the limo door and stepping down into soft sand.  "We my dear are at Point Lookout, that would be the Atlantic Ocean and we're going to sit on this blanket in the sand and watch the sun come up.  Hopefully, if I've played my cards right all evening, you will be in my arms as we do so."

        

CJ walked with Toby barefoot down the sand to the blanket.  When he settled she curled up in his arms. "I guess you played your cards right."

       

"When I planned the evening, I was trying to think how the end could be perfect," he sighed.  "So I figured, well I've always wanted to see the sun come up for the Atlantic and...So here we are...with a beautiful woman in my arms that is."  The first rays painted the sky pink, and within ten minutes the sky was crimson and rose as the yellow orb rose before them, seemingly out of the water itself.  "Better than I could have hoped for," he breathed.

      

CJ looked at him and then leaned in and kissed him passionately.  Then she returned to watching the sunrise, curled against him.

     

When it was over, the beach was still deserted, and Toby lay her flat on the blanket, looming over her for a minute, and then lowered his head to hers, taking her lips in another passionate kiss.  "I could easily be in love with you Claudia Jean," he whispered when they parted.

    

"Toby..." She said his name tenderly and looked up at him.  Then in true CJ fashion, "Are you sure?  I mean and is this really the right thing to be doing?  Is this good for the administration? I mean I suppose it's ethically sound but--"

   

"Right now, right this minute, the only thing I'm thinking about is what's good for you and me," he assured her, kissing her again.  "This is no idle seduction Claudia Jean.  This is me, showing you what I'm feeling.  And if it never goes any further now, that's OK.  At least I'm being honest with you--and with myself."

  

"I didn't really want him," CJ said suddenly, "Jonathan I mean."  She kissed him softly again.  "The sunrise is beautiful.  I could use some coffee about now but the sunrise is gorgeous definitely a good addition to a wonderful evening."

 

"We have reservations at the Hilton just down the road," Toby assured her.  "I figured about now you'd enjoy a good breakfast, with coffee of course, and then a nice room to clean up in.  There's a pool, a hot tub, and the ocean twenty feet away.  It's a day just for us.  And yes I was being horribly presumptuous when I brought you here, but I had had high hopes."   He took a deep long breath.  "I'm glad about Jonathan--because I want you."

 

CJ looked at him, her eyes locked with his, for the longest while that's all she did. Her chest heaved and her eyes spoke volumes to him. Finally they rose from the blanket after she kissed him though she still hadn't said anything.  She seemed to be a little in shock, glancing at him as she was.  They made their way to the hotel and CJ laid down. "Room service can wait," she said softly and she curled up and went to sleep.  Shortly she began to shiver slightly even though it was a nice warm day outside.

Toby had been bringing in the bags, then getting ice so he hadn't joined her, and now startled himself when he realized she was shivering.  Quickly he lifted the loose blanket from the end of the bed and packed it around her, letting his hands graze across her arms and face to let her know he was there.

==========

With a gentle kiss Chloe woke tucker the next morning, fairly late in the morning.  "Let's just lay in bed for a while, maybe talk and then we can go check out the hot tub."

   

"OK by me, but you're the morning eater," he grinned.  "I don't know how long you'll hold out.  As for talking, I can hold you and still feel me gliding you around the dance floor.  One of the best nights of my life I'm sure."

  

"It was wonderful wasn't it?" Chloe smiled, "and there were some of the best costumes there.  I think Elizabeth and Willowby from Sense and Sensibility were my favorite after us of course.  Who did you like best, besides us?"

 

"Will and Grace," he laughed.  "Seriously, they were funny.  But I thought Heathcliff and that woman whose name I can never remember even for the test did a great job.  No one was better than us though.  And certainly no one more beautiful than you.  Leo will want one of those pictures on his desk soonest."

 

Chloe smiled. She reached up and began pulling the pins out of her hair.  Soon she had a hand full of them but still none of her hair had fallen from the arrangement.

 

"What is going on with the hair," Tucker frowned after watching her for several more seconds. "You glue that in there or what?"

 

"No the beautician just put a whole lot of pins in here," Chloe replied.  She finally removed the string of faux pearls.  After a few more pins it began to fall down and touch the sheets. "There," she pronounced when the curl filled red mass was all streaming down her back.

                                                        

He immediately sank his fingers into the long strands, gently combing through them.  "You are so beautiful my love," he sighed, "but even if you weren't I'd love you for who you are anyway.  Your beauty comes from within as well."

                                                       

"Thank-you Tucker," Chloe smiled and then she kissed him. "You're beautiful on the inside and oh so fine on the outside." She smiled brighter and kissed him again. "I guess we don't get room service out here so saying I want waffles would defeat the purpose of having you lay here in bed with me."

                                                      

"No, no room service, but when hunger wills out over wanting me, I'll be glad to fix up the batter.  It's one of the things I ordered, along with a lot of fresh fruit, and real maple syrup not Log Cabin."  He tickled her lightly and kissed her neck, laughing as he did so.

                                                      

"Oh but I wanted Log cabin," she teased and then kissed him again.  "Hey...how far away are our nearest neighbors?" she asked raising a brow and peering out the window, thinking of the hot tub she couldn't see from where she was but that she knew had to be on the back of the cabin.

                                                    

"Actually I specifically requested this place because it was out of the way," Tucker admitted with a quick grin.  "I thought just in case we wanted to do some skinny dipping in the river, cavorting naked in the moonlight on the grass or what have you--didn't want prying neighbor eyes."

                                                   

"Mmm...Tucker that's so thoughtful of you."  Chloe eased out of the bed and when she stood up she slid her satin nightgown to the floor and her underwear followed.  Then it was only the long red hair and soon she jogged playfully from the room and he heard her make her way down the stairs.

                                                   

Clad only in his boxers, he followed her, his bare feet padding across the carpet as he waited to see where she would go.

                                                 

Chloe slipped out casually onto the deck and set the hot tub.  While she waited for it to heat she looked out off the deck, her hair falling away and leaving her backside and her back exposed.

                                                

He came up behind her and stopped for a long minute to appreciate the view, and then dropped his boxers and undershirt to the deck floor.  "Hey you," he whispered then, running his hands down her spinal cord through her hair and rested lightly on her backside as he kissed the side of her neck.  "I like how you think."

                                               

"Who needs the tiring task of washing clothes," Chloe smiled and kissed him. "I thought a soak might be nice."

                                             

Tucker vaulted over the side of the tub and then helped her in, encouraging her to glide into his arms and before she could speak, his mouth devoured hers in a long serious kiss.

                                            

Chloe kissed him back when they had gotten a bit more air and then finally she pushed back from him. "Sitting and cuddling...I haven't even had breakfast yet." She smiled and kissed him again.  "This was a wonderful idea."

                                           

"I just felt like something different from the usual post prom hotel room," he smiled.  "We can get some breakfast whenever you're ready and then we can ride or hike or swim in the river or try fishing.  This is your time."

                                          

Chloe smiled.  Then enjoyed the hot tub for a long time and then they made breakfast together.  Once that was over they did some hiking and had lunch and then they fished in the river just a few feet from their cabin. "It's a good thing I don't have to fish to survive," Chloe sighed as she again brought up an empty hook where the fish had taken her bait. 

                                         

"You wouldn't have made a good Indian woman," Tucker grinned.  "But that's OK, because I have no need of a squaw."  He rubbed her back in comfort.  "DC seems a long way away when it's just us out here like this doesn't it."

                                        

"Yes it does" Chloe smiled. "Just think, next week is our last week of high school. Then there's graduation Friday night and then in two weeks our wedding. I was thinking maybe I might take off this next year from college and just work in the wing and save up some money..."

                                       

"And spend the year pregnant and giving birth?" Tucker asked slyly.

                                       

Chloe smiled, "and spend the year, us bringing our baby into the world. Can I convince you to join me?"

                                     

"You already have," he said softly.  "We're going to do this thing, and do it together."

                                     

"Okay then" Chloe smiled; "to a year off!" she raised her soda to his.  They finally closed their fishing out late in the afternoon.  They had steak and garlic mashed potatoes on the deck table and were sitting down to eat as the sun was setting. "This is definitely better than the hotel."

                                 

"Too bad we're not wealthy," he grinned.  "Well you are.  I mean me--can you see us with a place like this to come to every evening, and a chopper to take us back and forth to the Wing each morning.  Which brings me to---we haven't thought about a place.  I'm so accustomed to living with your mom and Leo; and the twins and baby Leo of course.  Do they even want us to stay on there?  As far as I'm concerned, as long as you're in the bed in my arms, we can be anywhere.  An apartment in DC, a house in the suburbs, a place further out.  There's a guy in Legal who lives out in the Virginia countryside, drives half way and jumps on the subway, sleeps the rest of the way into DC.  Anyway, I was wondering if you'd given it any thought."

                                

"Actually yes, and I've talked it over with mom and dad and they'd like it if we stay there at least the first year, especially if I get pregnant.  It might be nice to have my mother around to help out and keep me from panicking all the time. Besides that way we can keep helping out with the family and we're not too far from the office."

                               

He grinned broadly.  "I'm glad then.  I love being with your family; and I feel like Leo is...well good for me too.  A couple of times when I've been tempted to be out of line, he brings me right back.  In fact he can freeze me with just a look.  My dad would be so envious."

                               

Chloe laughed.  Then she sombered, "they really don't care much do they.  Having sent us 24 place settings of silver but they're not even coming to the wedding." She sighed, "of course then neither is my Dad, but I'm thankful for that."

                              

=========================================

Toby had been bringing in the bags, then getting ice so he hadn't joined her, and now startled himself when he realized she was shivering.  Quickly he lifted the loose blanket from the end of the bed and packed it around her, letting his hands graze across her arms and face to let her know he was there.

                                                         

Subconsciously she moved around on the bed then and an arm reached out looking for him to snuggle up against.  She was seeking his body heat and comfort.

                                                        

Immediately he closed himself around her, pressing his chest to her back and a protective arm went across her as he simultaneously drew her close to him.  "I could easily love you," he whispered, nuzzling at her ear before he rested his head on her shoulder and they slept together.

                                                       

"GUN!!!!" CJ cried out in her sleep as she began to thrash about and cry. "Toby! Toby! Oh God no!  NO!!!"

                                                      

Toby sat upright, himself not remembering through the fog of sleep where they were for a few seconds, and then he grabbed hold of her in as much of a hold as he could manage.  "Honey no it's OK.  You're safe with me.  There's no gun.  We're OK."

                                                     

"No..." CJ began to whimper and cry. Finally she jerked awake, red and puffy-eyed. "Toby...oh thank God." She buried herself against him.

                                                    

"Sshhh OK now," he continued to soothe her.  "You're here, no gun, and those men are dead now."  A sudden thought occurred to him and he held her tightly.  "CJ are you having these nightmares often?  I don't mind admitting that I am.  There's several variations, but they always involve guns, blood and screaming."

                                                   

"I haven't slept much since then," CJ sighed, "I've experienced the loss of everyone at least once, even Donna and she wasn't there.  I have trouble even making myself go to sleep at night because I wonder if it's going to be another of those nights where it comes.  I try and exercise myself to exhaustion so I'll sleep but it doesn't always happen."

                                                  

"I've spent a lot of late nights myself at the gym, hoping I'll drop off more easily," Toby nodded his understanding.  "Sleeping alone has always been hard for me, though honestly once Andrea and I split for a time I slept better just from the relief.  Now between all that goes on at work I replay the day, including conversations you and I have; and then once I do get to sleep the shooting always intrudes.  Maybe we need each other."

                                                 

"Toby," CJ gasped softly. "You're serious aren't you?" she stroked his cheek.

                                                

"If you know me at all, you know I don't say things I don't mean," Toby whispered, his fingers repeating what hers were doing to him.  "Yes I'm serious.  And this is how much..."  He kissed her lovingly, letting his tongue just barely pass over her lips.  "At least I think we owe it to ourselves to see if I'm right."

                                               

CJ smiled, "Okay then Toby we'll see each other exclusively, as if I had so many other men fighting for me."

                                             

"Jonathan what's his face," Toby could not help but mutter and then held her tightly to him.  "Face it, you and I are not getting any younger, as that tired cliché goes.  Don't you want that there should be something more in life than the fame you possess as press secretary?  Like..." he paused and looked away shyly,  "have you ever wanted a baby?"

                                            

"Woah Toby," CJ looked at him startled.  She sat silent for several minutes and then answered. "Yes...I've wanted a baby for a long time but I've pushed the urge aside because in my position it wasn't likely to happen."

                                           

"Well it does take two," Toby grinned.  "Anyway, it was a rhetorical question.  When you're ready for a baby, you'll find a way to have one if that's what you want.  I do know you'd be a great mother.  You'd figure out how to do your job and to spend the time with a baby at the same time."

                                          

"What about you?" CJ asked, "Are you trying to say you want to be a father?  And more importantly are you trying to tell me that you want me to have your baby?"

                                         

Toby backed away slightly, thinking over what she just said.  "Oh CJ I..." he began and then shook his head.  "No I'm not going to lie to you.  I would love to be a father yes.  But there's only one woman I would want to do that with."  Another deep breath.  "Her name is Claudia Jean Cregg."

                                        

CJ smiled and hugged him tightly. "How about some breakfast now?" she asked after a few minutes.

                                       

"Room service or dining on the terrace?" Toby asked her.  "I'm good with either, but I confess to enjoying having you alone to myself like this."

                                       

"Definitely room service.  I really don't feel like moving from this spot for a while," CJ smiled at him and then she gave him a soft kiss on the cheek. He gave her the phone and she called in the order and cuddled back against him to wait.

                                   

"The White House seems like on another planet at this moment," Toby murmured.  "I don't ever want this moment to end in fact.  I'm getting awfully used to this, way too quickly and easily I'm afraid."

                                  

"Why too quickly and easily?  Who said it had to be hard?" CJ smiled. She kissed him lovingly again.  "I'd like to think we can make this work. I would like it to work."

                                 

Toby gulped hard.  "I just don't want to rush or push is all.  You know I can be like that with something I want badly, something I feel passionately about."  He stared at her a moment before continuing, "Which part did you think you want to make work--us, the baby or it all?"

                                

"I'd like to see all of it work...but if all I get is you then I suppose I can be perfectly happy with that too," CJ said softly, tracing his cheek.

                               

"I told you earlier I wanted a baby, and that you were the only woman I would ever want that baby with," Toby answered, cupping her cheek tenderly in his palm.  "And I told you I don't say things I don't mean.  So when I tell you that I want you, and I want you to have my baby.... well I mean it.  I'm not at all hesitant to say that, and I can seal it thusly."  He covered the few inches between his face and hers, rubbing her nose teasingly before he kissed her.

                              

"If we negotiated like this with Russia..." CJ laughed lightly. "So what is on our agenda for today oh full of surprises?"

                             

"No agendas for today," he ordered laughing.  "Too much like work.  But that water looks warm and wonderful out there.  How are you at body surfing?  And I just realized what a dumb question Miss California."

                            

"Actually I'm pretty good for a woman," CJ replied. "And what luck that whoever snuck into my apartment packed all of my swimsuits." CJ pulled out a navy tank suit and disappeared into the bathroom. "I can't believe you even play at the beach," she called out through the door.

                           

"It's a new me," Toby shouted back, dropping his stuff and beginning to pull on a pair of snug fitting swim pants from his suitcase.  He had not covered his backside when she emerged. 

                          

"Oh goodness," CJ exclaimed turning and burying her head against a wall. "I'm sorry Toby." she apologized quickly.

                         

"No need for sorry," he grinned, "but the question is, did you enjoy the view?"

                      

"I'm not generally a butt-view enjoying person but I can't say I didn't appreciate it, you know off-the-record." She smiled and flushed.  She was standing there looking like a model in all her height as she walked past him and opened the door to the balcony, which had stairs down to the beach.

                     

Quickly Toby pulled up the offending garment, adding a shirt that he pulled on but did not bother with buttoning, and hurried after her, catching her hand for the walk across the beach.  "I am feeling so relaxed at this moment it's almost obscene," he sighed, swinging her arm as if they were teenagers.

                    

"Yeah it's pretty nice," CJ sighed softly, "I can't remember when I've been this relaxed in a very long while.  I can't even say I was this relaxed before the election because I wasn't...I wasn't and furthermore I wasn't happy."

                   

"Unhappy personally or professionally?" Toby questioned.  "Right now you seem very content in your job.  You're certainly good at it.  You make our boss look good every day, even to his political opponents and there's nothing wrong with that.  Sadly, as we start gearing up for the re-election, things are going to get much more hectic, with more traveling and more hours and....and maybe I just voiced the best argument there is for having that baby now."

                  

CJ suddenly looked up at him. "You mean have a baby now? As in right now? As in nine months from now?" She looked at him intensely and Toby's insight into people told him she was agreeing with him or wanting to agree with him even if she wasn't going to say it.

                 

"I mean us, you and me, have a baby before all the craziness hits," he said levelly, pulling her down on to the sand.  "I don't mean you need to decide right this minute, or even today; but I just think if we wait even a few months to start, we might not finish before."  He trailed his fingers up and down her arm for a second.  "Thing is, if we do this, it has to be fifty-fifty.  I mean I get to be the dad as much as you get to be the mom.  In other words, we bring the baby into a home where the mom and dad are together."

                

"Did I just get 'let's have a baby' and a marriage proposal in the same speech?" CJ said her breathing accelerated.  Her eyes locked with his, "If I have your baby we would be married.  Yes." She finished and then she laid back on the sand.

               

"You always cut to the chase don't you," Toby smiled.  "And yes, while my courage is still working, I suggested--make that begged--that you and I get married and have a baby soonest."

              

"Yes," CJ said again, not bothering to move.

             

Toby laughed and loomed over her, pressing his body gently down to hers and kissing her hungrily.  "Now let's go get that suit wet Madam Press Secretary."

            

CJ smiled and then scurried down the sand with him and into the ocean.  They laughed as the waves hit them getting them wet.  They were carefree.

           

"You're beautiful when you're all wet," Toby laughed loudly, picking up a two handed scoop of water and flinging it on her, then diving into the next wave before she could retaliate."

           

"When you least expect it Toby Ziegler I will get you back for that one," CJ said when he finally came up.  She was walking along with the waves crashing up to her waist when suddenly a large one came and then she disappeared.  She washed up on the beach a tangle of limbs a moment later.

         

Toby had screamed her name the second she had vanished, and repeated it as he looked frantically for her.  Finally a few seconds later he saw her and splashed his way to her in a shower of water, dropping to all fours over her and then pulling her into his arms, searching her face frantically to be sure she was all right.

        

"See...I can't even go swimming without incident," CJ said weakly as she coughed up water.

       

Immediately he maneuvered her so that she was sitting up and then tilted her head over between her knees, patting her back to encourage coughing.  "Let it all up honey, before the salt water makes you ill."

      

CJ coughed the rest of the salt water up. "Thank-you Toby.  I think the ocean was fun while it lasted but I've had enough for a while.  How about we go get some lunch?

     

"I think a shower would be in order first," he grinned, standing up and lifting her up, keeping his arms tightly around her.  "Right now there's sand and salt to both of us."

    

CJ smiled.  When Toby had carried her all the way in she was surprised to find him leaving as she was beginning to undress. "Excuse me? Is there some Jewish custom that I don't know about that says you don't ever under any circumstances take showers with your fiancée?  Cause if there is someone needs to tell Josh."

   

    "Josh showers with his fiancée," Toby stammered, trying to cover for his sudden nervousness.  "I can...you want me to.... I'm invited to shower with you?"

  

   "Oh now there's one I've never seen before," CJ said, "a nervous Toby Ziegler."  She finished undressing and with a healthy flush on her cheeks she walked over to him. "I would like it if you would but I understand if you're not well you know, ready."

 

  "I can do this," he gasped, "I want to do this...I want very much to do this."  And before he could change his mind from embarrassment, he quickly stripped.  Then he put his hands on her shoulders.  "You are a beautiful woman, with or without clothes."

 

 "Thank-you Toby," CJ smiled as she kissed him.

======================================

"The less said about my folks the better," Tucker sighed.  "Once they impressed the store with the silver order that was going to DC to the brother of Sam Seaborn, they weren't interested any more.  Just as well.  Sam and then Leo and Caroline, have been more parent to me than they ever have.   As for your dad, he seems well occupied.  What's her name, Lily, Lucy something."

                            

"Lucinda," Chloe bit the name out with putrid distaste, "Yes I suppose she does keep him occupied.  He's really going to be in for it though when she gets pregnant. He hates children after all."

                           

"Maybe he's having a second life thing--mid life crisis and all that," Tucker sighed, "and he's starting over.  But if not, I hope she uses something.  Kids only should be born to those who want them.  Like you and me."

                          

"Yes like you and me," Chloe smiled and then she leaned in and kissed him, "anyhow that's not my Dad, just my biological father.  Leo's my Dad."

                         

"And he loves every minute of it," Tucker grinned.  "In fact when I take stuff in to put on his desk, between the pictures of you and the twins and the baby, it's hard to find space.  The man is totally devoted to you all.  And somewhere in there, I like to think he has room in his heart for me too."

                        

"Of course he does," Chloe smiled and hugged Tucker, "if for no other reason than that he knows how much you love me. I think he adores you on your own merits though. And who wouldn't?" she kissed him. They finished their steak and cleaned up. "Okay, we could sit out in the hot tub and watch the stars or go upstairs and watch TV..."

                       

"To have you in my arms in that wonderful warm water is my idea of heaven," Tucker grinned.  "And then watch TV.  We can sleep on the ride home in the morning, or at work as the case may be."

                       

Chloe laughed, "Sleeping at work?  Wait tomorrow is Sunday silly!" Chloe tickled him.  Then she undressed and slipped into the hot tub, holding her hair on her head. "Tucker would you put my hair up?" she asked him; reminiscent of the first time they had ever been in a hot tub together.  The time that had led to their first making love.

                     

Tucker smiled when he recalled that moment, his mind flashing on every detail, as he gathered her hair into a large handful and took the terrycloth hair tie from her, making a neat knot on the top.  "That's about the same time I first brushed your hair too," he sighed, "but no where near the last."

                    

"I love it when you brush my hair," Chloe smiled contented. "It's so calming and relaxing.  This morning when I saw myself in the mirror it felt weird.  I've been a blonde for all my life. Do you still like it?"

                   

"I can honestly say I like both," he smiled.  "You are a beautiful blonde, with hair that most women would kill for, but this red shade is gorgeous on you.  You may want to maybe alternate or something, I don't know.  But the red kind of brings out your eyes maybe.  Face it, you were cursed with beauty."

                  

Chloe smiled and settled in his arms.  "The sky is so clear out here...you can see so many more stars..."

                 

"Away from the city makes all the difference," Tucker smiled.  "You know that I believe there's life out there don't you?  I mean there are millions of planets.  God made life on this one, but it can't be the only one surely.  I don't for a minute believe in all that vastness that we're alone here."

                

"But does it say that God made life on other planets?" Chloe asked.  "I don't disbelieve what you say I just don't know..."

               

"It says God made the heavens," Tucker sighed, "which I interpret to mean the whole of the heavens, to include all the planets.  But I don't know that I think there are other planets with human life.  Though why not.  I mean He put it here, why not other places too.  I don't know.  It's just that when I'm looking at the stars with a beautiful woman in my arms, it's what I think of."

              

Chloe smiled, "maybe there are...other people, other beings out there.  Maybe some of them are looking at the stars from their world right now and wondering if we're out here, wondering if we're thinking about them...boy is this getting Star Trek-ish." She laughed.

             

"Or X-files," Tucker smiled, remembering it was one of her favorite programs and that he had been getting into it watching with her.  "Thing is, these other civilizations don't want us--we're far too war like and can't settle problems on our own planet let alone in space."

            

Chloe laughed, "Yeah I'd agree with you there..." She moved so that she was curled up on his lap. "Bathtubs should be like this with continuous water temperature." She yawned, "Do you know how much I love you.  We're so in love we can sit here without making love and be totally contented..."

           

"Making love is just a small part of being in love," Tucker agreed.  "I'm wanting to do that again of course, to show you how much I love you, but for now, well this is wonderful and I am just as you say, more than totally contented, and very much in love with you.  You had my heart from the moment I saw you."

          

"You sure were showing off that day," She laughed and nudged him gently. She laid her head against his shoulder then and closed her eyes waiting for him to speak.

         

"If you're waiting for me to deny that, you're going to have a long wait," he sighed.  "I wanted to bad to impress you.  I figured I could macho my way into your heart.  That of course was wrong, but at least I ended up there.  Where I intend to spend the rest of my life thank you."

        

"So when did you change strategies?" Chloe asked.

       

"The second I realized that one wasn't going to make it," he grinned and hugged her, "because never in my life had I wanted someone so much.  And I don't mean in bed.  I mean to have for my life--to be my life."

      

"Oh come on, you didn't know that then," Chloe scoffed.  "All I saw was this really fine guy, okay this really, really fine guy.  Then this fine guy that also knew how to be sensitive and talk.  Then this guy that could do all these things and be sentimental and tender and I began to fall in love with you."

     

"Good thing because I would have had to blow my brains out if you hadn't," Tucker sighed, only half kidding.  "No of course it wasn't instantaneous, at least not like that.  But it was pretty damn quick.  And now that beautiful woman will be my wife and carry my child."

    

Chloe smiled, "gladly, gladly." She snuggled against him.  It wasn't long before he noticed she had fallen asleep.

   

Tucker settled himself more comfortably back against the tub wall, bringing her back with him as she slept, and held her on his lap, rocking her instinctively, murmuring into her ear.

"I can do this," Toby gasped, "I want to do this...I want very much to do this."  And before he could change his mind from embarrassment, he quickly stripped.  Then he put his hands on her shoulders.  "You are a beautiful woman, with or without clothes."

                                                                                           

"Thank-you Toby," CJ smiled as she kissed him.

                                                                                          

A little of his shyness gone, he ran the shower water and then took her hand to bring her in with him.  For a long minute they stood facing each other, splashed by the warm water, and then he lifted down the shower massage implement and began to spray water on her, rubbing gently to remove the sand.  "You really scared me with that surf ride you took," he said softly.  "For a second I was having visions of losing you before we've really begun."

                                                                                         

"No, just water-logged and scared half to death," CJ sighed. "I'm beginning to think I shouldn't go near water unless I've the intention of being submerged.  A flamingo I am not."

                                                                                        

"You are a beautiful swan my angel," Toby smiled, trying not to look embarrassed.  He poured more water on her, grateful that the sticky sand was being rinsed away; and then put the shower massage back on the hook so that he could wrap his arms around her.  Finally he roared with laughter.  "I just flashed on a picture of Leo's face opening these doors and seeing us," he chortled.

                                                                                       

That was enough to make CJ jump a minute, "Not very funny Toby.  I can't begin to imagine how the others will take all this. It still feels a little awkward to me.  I've been telling myself no for so long that yes feels strange."

                                                                                      

"It does to me too," he admitted.  "Feels strange to know that you and I are going to be together."  His hands dropped to her waist and then to her belly, "and to know that you're going to carry our child."

                                                                                      

CJ's eyes dropped down to where his hands were.  Then she looked up at him. Then she looked back at where his hands were.  Then she nervously reached for the shampoo and it slipped from her hands and landed smack on Toby's foot.

                                                                                    

"Crippled for life," he gasped laughing, and when she started to bend over for it, caught her firmly.  "I'll get it--don't want you falling and drowning in the shower."  Once he had retrieved the errant bottle, he turned her so that she was leaning back against him and poured some onto his palm, and then gently lathered her hair.  "OK, did the baby mention make you nervous?" he asked gently as he was working.

                                                                                    

"Only the whole mechanics of it," CJ replied, "I know how babies get here Toby I'm not five.  And while I don't just go around having casual sex I haven't had overly meaningful sex either.  This is going to be meaningful sex and that-that scares the hell out of me."

                                                                                  

Toby's hands froze in place on her scalp.  "Meaningful because it's sex to make a baby, or meaningful because you're feeling something for the baby's father?"

                                                                                 

"Both," CJ answered and then had to wipe away some shampoo that had gotten into her mouth.

                                                                                 

"I have to admit to being nervous too," he sighed.  "For the simple reason that all men have this inborn thing where they have to please the women--make it good for them and all.  And I haven't made love to anyone since Andrea.  And it has nothing to do with still having feelings for her or anything like that.  It's got to do with only wanting to do it with someone I did have feelings for.  Which hasn't happened...until now."

                                                                                

CJ smiled, "Well nothing says we have to do it right now...maybe we'll be inspired." She rose up and kissed him.

                                                                               

"Awaiting the right moment, how poetic," he smiled as he returned her kiss.  "Now later we are going to drink a glass of champagne and eat some wonderful seafood on a terrace at the water's edge.  But for the next couple hours the time is ours.  We could even play nine holes, or ride horseback if you can believe that.  Or I can beat you in tennis."

                                                                             

"We won't have the President introducing Stefi Graph on us," CJ furthered.  "That sounds good, let me get dressed."  They finished their shower and soon they were out on the courts. "Dinner sounds great by the way.  I think I forgot to mention that earlier."

                                                                             

"No problem" he grinned.  "Though obviously we're going to need another shower after I chase you all over the courts retrieving my wicked serve; but to show you what kind of a guy I am, you take the first one."  He handed her two balls, and was about to back away from her when he caught her hand.  "First though..." and he kissed her cheek.

                                                                           

CJ smiled and blushed. Then she walked to her side of the court and served Toby a fierce one. "Take that."

                                                                          

"OK, hardball," he laughed as he missed by a solid foot in the return.  "I'm ready for you this time."  And he was, backhanding her the return easily, which she easily sent back to him.

                                                                         

CJ was smiling and laughing as they played and looking relaxed, as she hadn't in a good long time.

                                                                         

"Winning because you're beating an old man isn't my idea of good sportsmanship," he panted finally, hurrying to the sidelines to take a drink of water.  "Let me catch my breath, and wait for this pain to stop, and I'll be ready for another set."

                                                                       

"Woah hold it!" CJ yelped instantly hurrying to him.  Her face grew white with panic and she clutched to him. "Toby what's wrong?" she barely managed to eek out in her worry.

                                                                      

"Just a little overdoing," he smiled.  "I'm not Tucker's age any more and once in a while I get a cramp here from being too enthused.  Soon as I sit with a cool towel and have some Gatorade or juice it subsides.  A few weeks ago, Josh actually called 911 for me in the weight room.  I kept trying to tell him I was OK.  And then they checked me over good...OK where were you---must have been when you went with the president to Ontario those few days."

                                                                     

"Oh...that's why Donna called...." CJ gasped.

                                                                    

"Donna called?" Toby gasped himself.  "I didn't know that.  I was trying not to make a big deal.  I told Josh not to worry about it.  They only kept me a few hours, just long enough to run an EKG--well OK overnight.  Does the president know?"

                                                                    

"I don't think so...but...but Donna's been told if she doesn't keep an eye on you for me that she'll regret it," CJ replied.

                                                                  

"Well that does explain a few things," Toby smiled.  "Like why Josh stares at me when we work out, or Donna brings me a salad now and then.  Honest honey I'm fine.  My heart is normal.  I have a little angina is all and I take a pill when it's bad."  He pushed a bit of hair from her face and kissed the spot he uncovered.  "I'm not going anywhere out of your life unless you order me to."

                                                                 

"You better not," CJ joked, it was the only thing she could do, "I've no intentions of being a pregnant widow, that's not on my Christmas list this year."

                                                                

"You better not plan on that," Toby ordered her.  "I'm going to marry you and see our baby born and grow up, in which ever order that comes in."  He leaned down and tilted her chin up to his, kissing her gently.  "I'm not ill, promise."

                                                               

CJ smiled. "Okay then...but that doesn't mean I'm not going to keep after you." She kissed him. "You know Toby.  I think this just might work."  She wrapped her arm behind his back. "I also think it's time to do something else...maybe something a little less strenuous."

                                                              

"You can nag me about what I eat if you want," he smiled.  "I'm supposed to be on a low fat diet.  Most of the time I'm pretty good about it.  Why don't we go back to the room and see if we can find something to do up there.  As soon as I clean up that is.  Socially acceptable at the moment I'm not."

                                                             

"We could try the shower thing again?" CJ suggested as they returned the racquets to the clubhouse and went back in the lobby to take the elevator to their room.

                                                             

"Sounds like a plan," Toby smiled, hitting the button.  "You made me work up a good sweat there.  You're really good at that.  Somehow I missed that on your resume.  Did you play in college?  I was on a team in high school; and once in a while I play a set now, but it's not my life."

                                                           

"No it's just a hobby..." CJ said casually.  "I picked it up as a good way to make business deals." They arrived at their room.  "If Josh or Sam knew..." she smiled and gave a short laugh.

                                                          

"Knew you hustled tennis or knew that we're sharing a room like this?" Toby questioned slyly.  "Plus they're pretty occupied with Donna and Ainsley at the moment.  Those two clowns are going to be fathers.  Who said God doesn't have a sense of humor."

                                                         

CJ turned to him her mouth gaped open, "Toby! I think it's wonderful that Josh and Sam are going to...Toby that wasn't very nice." CJ couldn't help it and she fell into laughter. "I'm happy for Donna and Ainsley." 

                                                        

"OK I'm jealous.  So kill me," he laughed as well.  "And yeah of course I'm happy for all of them.  And now even Mrs. Bartlet.  People are going to be wondering what's in the drinking water in that place."

                                                       

"What?" CJ asked turning to him confused.

                                                      

"OK maybe you weren't around for the resolution of that," Toby grinned.  "Remember in staff meeting the President was talking about Mrs. Bartlet's napping habits and someone suggested she might be pregnant.  Well turns out she is.  Josh told me this afternoon, but it's not being released yet.  They don't know how they want to handle it.  Maybe just a brief taped announcement from the residence.  One thing's for sure, he'll go down in history as the only president whose grandson is older than his own son or daughter."

                                                     

"Oh my goodness!  Abbey's pregnant?!  Oh my god!" CJ gasped.  "Wow that's just-wow. Yeah I guess they will.  Oh wow I'm so happy for Abbey!  We're going to have a White House full of pregnant women!"

                                                    

"I'm sure that's what the President is thinking about now," Toby laughed as the elevator stopped on their floor and he put a light hand to her back to guide her along.  "I'm sure you're going to be fielding a million questions.  You're probably glad you have that journalism degree so you can discuss breast swelling."

                                                   

CJ looked at him and then laughed lightly, "I don't think the women involved or hopefully the press is going to ask me to discuss breast swelling." CJ sighed, " so long as they don't issue press passes to say...the AMA then I'm fine." She sighed again.

                                                   

"I don't know, some of those women who write the women's pages are awfully interested in what wine is served and what color shoes Mrs. Bartlet has on," Toby growled.  "So naturally I'm wondering if they're not going to want a daily update of her pregnancy.... or yours for that matter as they watch you enlarge."  He gave her a soft kiss.  "I'm going to have to admit I'm looking forward to that myself."

                                                 

"When and if I ever get pregnant," CJ replied, "I promise you can have the full and exclusive story and probably more of it than you'd like. You can hear about my breasts enlarging and other topics that will disgust you...the press meanwhile can get their own firsthand experience."

                                                 

"No I don't think so," Toby shook his head.  "I mean I don't think you and the fact that you're carrying my child could ever disgust me.  Right now I am disgusting myself however.  We can shower again or we can try out that wonderfully large tub.  My whole bathroom isn't that large."

                                               

"Mmm....I like a good bath," CJ smiled, "but you have to watch taking a bath with a woman...we like scented fragrances in our bathes."

                                              

"I'm plenty secure enough in my masculinity to not be threatened by that," Toby told her staunchly.  "You go right ahead and fragrance away my dear."

                                              

Soon the strong fragrance of lilacs was wafting out to him, CJ appeared still clothed, "Okay...bath is ready." She walked with him into the bathroom and she undressed.  "I ran it warm and steamy the way I like it but if it's too warm for you we can wait for it to cool a little."

                                            

"I can take whatever you can dish out," Toby laughed and unselfconsciously dropped his clothes to the floor, stepping into the tub first, and suppressing a small gasp when he realized how warm it was.  "Like I said," he grinned and dropped down into the tub, lifting his arms for her to join him.

                                           

CJ glided into the tub hissing a bit herself as she settled against him.  "This way the bath lasts longer." She smiled.

                                          

"I'm for that," Toby grinned.  "At this moment, the White House, Washington and all that seem very far away.  The only reality is that I'm holding the woman I've loved for so long."

                                          

"I'm almost not believing it Toby," CJ sighed, "I mean that you've been wanting me and I was trying to make you jealous to get you and now...now here we are."

                                        

"You have to believe it," he protested laughing, ''but maybe this...."  He stopped talking and covered her mouth with his, kissing long and lovingly.  "My feelings for you are deep and real," he added when they stopped.

                                       

"Wow...this is amazing," CJ smiled, "Thank-you Toby."  They lay in the bath for a long while simply rejoicing in being together.  Then afterwards CJ got out and dried off and then walked into the bedroom just in the towel to decide on something to wear.

                                       

"You don't have to dress on my account," Toby smiled, joining her in just his boxers; unless you want us to lay out on the terrace.  I'd hate to give the neighbors camera fodder."

                                     

"No I don't believe I want to explain that either," CJ replied.  She made sure there was no way anyone would be seeing and then she just dropped her towel. "Okay...I haven't done the nudist thing for over a decade but I remember it was interesting."

                                     

"You've led a colorful life Ms. Cregg," Toby laughed, holding his arms open to her.  She walked into his embrace and he dropped them both onto the bed.  He reached for the remote but instead of TV, he put on soft music and curled his body around hers, pulling the blanket over them against the chill of the air conditioner.  "Comfortable?" he asked anxiously.

                                   

"Mmm...Certainly couldn't complain.  You know Toby if anyone had ever told me you were this romantic I would have called them a liar," CJ replied, "but I have to admit I definitely like it."

                                  

"I do too; and let's say that I made a lot of mistakes in my past relationship," Toby sighed, "things like letting my job be more important, and not paying attention to her when I was there as much as I could have.  Well with you I know all that, and I know how not to be. I also know we could be very good together and very good for each other.  Now all we have to do is figure out how to carry this back to D.C. and not let it get lost in all the BS that goes on there."  He adjusted his hold on her slightly, "because in case you haven't noticed, I don't have any plans on letting you go."

                                 

CJ smiled, "And that baby you want before the next election?"

                                

"In a perfect world, yes," he grinned back, nuzzling at her neck.  "But I'll take it anyway I can get it, as long as I have you."

                               

"Well I hope you know you can't get it like this," CJ teased, "unless you Jewish men have equipment we don't know about."

                              

"We Jewish men are magnificent thank you," Toby teased back, "but then you already know that from our combined shower and bath earlier."  He rolled her over to him and kissed her gently at first and then more deeply.  "But what you don't know about us is that we are wonderful at foreplay, and that we enjoy making our women feel very loved."  His fingers trailed down from her neck onto her breast, making feather like strokes with the tips and he followed that with kisses across the top, letting his beard tickle the area between.

                             

CJ gasped. "Woah," she shuddered, "I think I'd like a further demonstration of that..." For once in her life CJ was nervous.  She had never been nervous with a man before, this must mean something.

                            

Toby felt a twinge of anxiety tighten in his body as she responded to him, and he knew he wanted to please her, and to show her the love he felt.  His lips found hers once again and a hand shyly cupped a breast at the same time, his thumb gently tweaking the nipple as his tongue made gentle inroads into her mouth.

                            

CJ found she couldn't keep her eyes opened and they closed as with a deep moan her body more thoroughly enjoyed the intense pleasures that he was exciting in her.  Her hand traveled up his chest and found a nipple, which she began to arouse while they kissed. Her breasts were heaving now and her breath was ragged.

                          

"It's been so long...too long," Toby moaned.  "Much too long that I haven't made love to a beautiful.."  Further words were cut off as they renewed their kiss and he moaned again, adjusting himself so that his hardness was rubbing against her as they moved.  Breaking the mouth kiss he touched the flat of his tongue to her nipple and felt it swell and harden.

                         

CJ groaned and her whole body seemed to purr with anticipation.  Indeed she arched her back offering herself to him more exquisitely and when he paused she took her opportunity and her mouth met with his nipples.

                        

He stood still for that as long as he could, reveling in her tender ministrations as he continued to press against her.  His hand traveled down her middle, making tiny touches until it reached where they were touching between her legs and he moved back just enough to slide two gentle fingers inside, feeling for the little nub of pleasure he knew was there.

                       

CJ's sharp inhalation of ecstasy let him know that he had found it. "You weren't kidding," she gasped out in reference to his claim that Jewish men were good with foreplay. Her hands slowed against him as she became consumed with what he was doing to her and it was only a short time before he could feel her winding tighter and tighter almost ready to give into her first orgasm.

                      

Toby gave her a final tweak and brought his mouth back to hers in time to share her feeling as the first waves of orgasm washed over her and he rode with her, letting her undulate beneath him as his tongue swept her mouth.

                     

"That was incredible!" CJ gasped out when she finally had enough breath to say anything at all. "Toby you're amazing," CJ moaned as her hands snaked down his chest and she began to caress him one hand caressing him and the other just below it.

                    

"And so is what you're doing there," Toby groaned, feeling himself engorge ever more at her direct touch and his whole body trembled with desire to be inside her.  "Why don't you show me where that can be better taken care of," he whispered, "while it's still able to do so."

                   

CJ smiled and then gently guided him until he slipped inside her eliciting another moan. "I love you," she gasped out, her face coated in ecstasy.

                  

"And I love you," he gasped, "for this but for so much..." Words failed him then as he stroked within her, pulling almost all the way back before starting back down, moving at first slowly, and then adding a little speed with each stroke.  "Love you" he was able to pant after a moment and knew the end was near as he felt himself begin to throb within her tight confines.

                 

CJ was nearing her peak as well but Toby managed to hold out just a bit more than her and she orgasmed first. "I love you Toby!" She cried out and for the first time it sounded perfectly normal to her.  She gripped him tightly as her body spasmed and her inner muscles caressed him.

                

"Claudia Jean I love you," Toby responded at once, wrapping his arms around her and pressing himself lightly against her as his own release hit and liquid spewed from him, coating her insides with warmth. "I love you," he repeated more quietly now, "I love you."

               

CJ laid quietly against him playing with his beard and leaving light kisses on his neck as they calmed. "I like it Jewish style," she whispered softly in his ear. "I guess that's one less thing we have to wonder about."

              

"If Jewish men are gifted?" Toby questioned laughing, and then turned serious, "you mean if we're sexually compatible?  If that's it, I'd say somewhere around, oh ninety nine percent.''

             

"Actually I meant what it would be like when we slept together but those other two work also," CJ replied.

            

"If I can be honest, I've wondered what it would be like to make love to you since about the first day I met you," Toby sighed, "but not because I wanted a notch on my bed post, but because I wanted to know you, and to know that about you.  And CJ--earlier when I was in the so-called throes of passion and said I love you--it wasn't passion, it was truth.  I rarely talk marriage with women I'm not in love with."

           

"You talk marriage with women you're not in love with?" CJ raised a brow and her eyes twinkled. She leaned in and kissed him. "I love you Toby."

          

"You are the only woman other than Andrea I've ever talked marriage with," Toby told her quietly.  "I love you Claudia Jean, and I want you for my wife, and that's as plain as I can be.  And these feelings are neither new nor sudden, but just being held in for so long they're finally bursting forth."

         

"Yes," CJ answered. "Okay Toby, yes."

        

"Is that from the heart or because I talked you into it?" he teased, kissing her lightly.

       

"When was the last time you talked me into anything?" CJ teased before she kissed him again. "It's from the heart Toby...I wouldn't joke about something like that."

      

"Just had to be sure," Toby smiled.  "I don't want to go boast about something that wasn't going to be."  He turned thoughtful then. "In fact I don't even feel like boasting about it at all.  It's much more special than that.  And in fact, when we get back--maybe at lunch tomorrow, we can go ring shopping?  That's not too much rushing you is it?"

     

"I should certainly think not," CJ smiled then she picked up her left hand, "after all I'll want plenty of time to get used to wearing something there.  Not to mention showing it off wouldn't be such a bad thing."

    

"Then we won't mention anything, we'll slip out at lunch, and when you come back you'll be an officially engaged woman.  At the one o'clock briefing you can start fielding questions.  I'll be in my office, hiding from Leo."

   

"Why are you going to hide from Leo?" CJ asked, "We're not doing anything that's going to compromise our jobs are we?"

  

"No but Leo will consider it a distraction," Toby laughed.  "No in actuality, Leo will be thrilled for us; just as we were about him and Caroline and the baby.  Serious now, I don't anticipate any negative from anyone--well except maybe Danny.  I'm afraid you'll have to handle that.  He knows if you had real feelings for him the positions the two of you occupy would not have stood in the way.  The man is not stupid, only misguided."

 

"Okay then," CJ smiled, "Danny's not a problem. I guess it's you and I together from now on. I love you." She kissed him.

 

"I love you Claudia Jean Cregg," Toby sighed, bringing the blanket up over them.  "Together forever," he added reverently, stroking her hair.  They would make their way back to DC in the morning, ready to face whatever might come.

 

THE END

Chapters: 1

<< Back

Send Feedback

National Library