Series: Lisa and Pat Series 2 #2
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 34061
Character(s): Josh Lyman, Donna Moss, Jed Bartlet, Abbey Bartlet, Toby Ziegler, CJ Cregg, Charlie Young, Zoey Bartlet, Sam Seaborn, Ainsley Hayes, Ensemble
Pairing(s): Josh/Donna, Toby/CJ, Sam/Ainsley, Jed/Abbey, Charlie/Zoey
Summary: The second installment in Series 2
Author Notes: The second installment in Series 2
New Orleans & Beyond New Orleans & Beyond
By: Lisa [LAB7417@aol.com] and Pat [SSbpMN@aol.com]
Notes: This is the second in our new series, which will now be the official continuing one. Almost all of the characters you know and love have moved here for our first series (A Bagel and A Beginning) From now on this will be known as West Wing Series 2. It will of course have stories, which will serve as episodes, albeit long episodes. We hope that you will enjoy this series as much as or better than our original one and we would love to hear all of your positive feedback and comments if you do. If you don't please show us by merely not reading the stories. Thank-you.
"Donna, Donna honey don't we have the sonogram this morning?" Josh gave her a light shake, trying to focus on the clock and stop his head from pounding at the same time. "One beer too many," he groaned again. "What's your excuse for sleeping, and don't hand me pregnancy, it's gotten old," he teased, now nuzzling her neck and patting her backside at the same time.
"Human necessity?" Donna suggested, "it's true Josh, a pregnant woman needs more sleep. I was reading the other day..." her voice faded as she wandered into her closet and began to rummage. "...and that's just the way it is a woman needs lots of sleep for good health..." her voice faded again as she went into the bathroom and began running a shower.
"Then the least I can do is wash your back," he announced from outside the curtain and dropping his boxers and t-shirt to the floor flung back the curtain. It was only then he recalled that they had not yet seen each other like that, the baby having been made by non traditional means. "Oh my god I'm sorry," he gasped. "I shouldn't have done that."
Donna gave a gasp of startlement and tried to cover herself but found there was a good deal more of her than she could cover and she stood there looking at him. "Well it's happened now so get in here and wash my back Josh and I don't want to hear any large jokes or anything about how weird or ugly I look." she pouted.
"You have my permission to kick my butt if I ever do that," Josh gasped, staring in awe at her, the baby mound very obvious with her skin glistening from soap and water. He fitted himself behind her, placing his hands on the babies and rubbing them in the soapy film. "I think it's beautiful," he finally got out, in a voice that was choked with emotion.
Donna turned around in his embrace and threw her arms about his neck before kissing him soundly. "Josh Lyman that was one of the nicest things you've ever said. I love you."
"I love you Donnatella," he whispered back, accepting her kiss as the babies were now pressed against him. "I love you and I'm so very happy. Seeing the sonogram, and healthy babies--I mean surely there's more than one in there?--is going to make me even happier."
"Well I don't know if there's more than one, that's why we're going to go have the sonogram but not if we're late getting there. The doctor will give up on us and go play tennis or racquetball or something," Donna replied hurrying to get her hair wet and then squeeze a blob of whatever shampoo Josh had into it.
"Here let me help or you're right--we won't get out of here," Josh told her, sinking his hands into the blob of shampoo on her head and massaging gently. "Did you know I noticed your hair first thing about you?"
"Really? That's really sweet Josh, why my hair?" Donna asked.
"A girl's crowning glory," he smiled. "No I don't know, it was just so pretty the way it was hanging and....OK I do know--because it was framing your face so perfectly and it brings out your blue eyes--those big blue eyes that were so scared, and yet so sure at the same time."
Donna smiled and they stopped to appreciate the moment a minute and then they hurried along. Soon Donna was dressed in one of the new outfits Josh had got her that showed off her baby mound barely peeking through and they hurried to the car and the doctor's office. "Just please tell us it's twins," Donna blurted out to the doctor immediately after hello.
"Twins? I thought we were trying to best Sam and Ainsley with triplets," Josh teased. "In any case, I'm not psychic," Dr. Linser smiled. "But the ultra sound will tell us pretty quick. Mr. Lyman you want to help her get into one of those funny gowns and we'll take a look."
Donna smiled and let Josh help her change. Then she carefully got on the table, "woah that was interesting...I mean even getting on a table felt different pregnant." She lay down and looked anxiously at the doctor then.
"Pregnancy is not a competition," Dr. Linser smiled. "Did I hear you say you were trying to beat someone else's twins?"
"We were kidding," Josh laughed.
"Well you can stop," Dr. Linser said after a few minutes. "You were artificially inseminated after hormone shots right Ms. Moss?"
"Yes...." Donna said hesitantly, "Oh god please tell me there's not like seven in there or something!"
"No but you got your wish to beat the pair," he smiled and moved his pointer. "Three, one.... two.... and three...all in their own little sacs, and all doing very well. Triplets Ms. Moss, Mr. Lyman."
"Triplets, oh my God, triplets Josh," Donna squealed with enthusiasm, "three...woah, three...wow," Donna swallowed hard as the realization set in that they were talking three babies, inside her now. She squeezed Josh's hand and smiled. "See I always knew you were amazing," she teased him lovingly.
"Yes I was magnificent wasn't I? And think what I would have accomplished if I'd actually been there." he joked. "No, let's not--we might have gotten five. Oh but Donna three. Wow." He looked to the doctor, "did we get a good selection gender wise?"
"You want to know? Ms. Moss you want me to tell you?"
"Yes, yes please. I want to know what clothes to buy for them and things for the nursery..." She smiled, "please."
"The best possible, you got both," he grinned and picked up the pointer. "These two would be your sons, and this smaller one here, your daughter. All doing very well."
Donna smiled, "two boys and a girl...I'm going to have to think of more boys names,” she laughed lightly. I have lots of girl names but not so many boys names."
"I don't think it's a problem for today," Josh grinned and hugged her tightly. "Triplets, wow." As quickly as he celebrated he sobered. "Doctor what about care and cautions?"
He shook his head. "For right now, extra vitamins and iron, rest with feet up as much as possible, but some walking and maybe water aerobics. Otherwise just good common sense. As you start getting larger, then we'll talk more about where we are. We'll want to monitor the babies and we may reach a point where they'll be healthier in NICU than inside and... But all that's down the road. Right now go get a good lunch and celebrate."
Donna smiled at Josh and then they thanked the doctor as they left. "I could really go for one of those giant salad bowls at the Olive Garden," she replied before he could even ask what she wanted for lunch. "We should tell Sam and Ainsley. I wonder how they're faring..."
"We'll see if we can get a hold of them for later, maybe cook some steaks on the balcony," Josh nodded. "In the meantime I'll be glad to feed you Olive Garden. I wouldn't mind some of their angel hair pasta." Carefully he guided her back out to the car, holding tightly to her, one arm across her back and the other hand resting gently on her belly, and a note from the doctor providing for her to rest at least an hour each afternoon tucked safely in his pocket. "We can eat at the Olive Garden in Georgetown. I also thought of something this morning. We're leaving for New Orleans and we're doing that dinner at that...well whatever it's called. The dinner dance. Do you need a gown for that? Everything I've seen you in before like that is.... well it doesn't have a pocket for my babies."
Donna frowned, "Oh we have those black tie dinners and nothing I have will fit...Oh this is not happening to me. My first black tie dinner as your date and I have to go in a moomoo!" She whined in typical Donna fashion.
"Fortunately I don't know what a moomoo is," Josh groaned. "However we can certainly check out this shop in Georgetown. It's near Clyde’s where Sam and I go to escape at lunch--you know when we don't come back. Anyway, I just know it's for mothers and it has beautiful long dresses hanging in the window all the time. You game?"
"Yeah sure but don't be surprised if I don't make you go wow," Donna sighed, "I wanted to make you go wow, you know the first time we...had a date."
"Don't you know you made me go wow the first time I set eyes on you," he smiled as his arm tightened across her. "And every day since then, all seven hundred eighty of them."
"You count the days that you've known me?" Donna asked in awe as they made for the store.
"Yeah" he shrugged as if it was the most natural thing in the world. I know the Julian date of the day you walked into my life and it's a simple matter from there. I knew the minute I put my ID around your neck that I wanted you to be a permanent part of my life. It just took me this long to figure out how--and then I didn't even do that. You and my guys did."
"Your guys and I apparently work well together," Donna said and then she pointed, "hey look it's a White House clearance card! There in the car!"
"Sam's car," Josh laughed. "I'll bet they're inside the shop. Ainsley likely needs something to wear too." He took her arm and led her carefully over the rough street walking into the store.
"I want Mexican for breakfast? Mexican. I don't know why I want Mexican but I do," Ainsley was standing in Sam's kitchen by herself speaking to the refrigerator against which her forehead was leaned. "Mexican, for breakfast...what's wrong with me?"
"Possibly that you woke up the man who loves you," Sam groaned, suffering from that same one too many beer syndrome as Josh. "I'll have some ginger ale and Tylenol please, and please don't say Mexican breakfast again. In fact if you'll just fix me some quiet toast, I'll take you for lunch--soon as my stomach is speaking to me again--to that place in the mall that has the forty six Mexican...too much Mexican talk" he gasped and holding his stomach, ran for the bathroom.
Ainsley threw up her hands in frustration and quietly opened a bottle of ginger ale pouring a glass for him and one for herself. "Sam your ginger ale is in the kitchen when you get the chance." she called softly and then she put some bread in the toaster. "Yeah I'll take care of you Ainsley I promise," Ainsley mimicked Sam's promise.
"Did I mean twenty-four /seven," he moaned again, finally straightening up and stumbling to the kitchen. "Thanks honey, and I'm sorry. I'm sure hearing that didn't help the stability of your own stomach." He kissed her quickly, "and yes I did mean twenty four/seven, except when I'm dying."
"Well next time I'm not letting you and Josh have so much," Ainsley replied firmly. "Do you think some well you know the little square things that I have might help?" Ainsley said trying not to mention food.
"Toast, please," Sam gasped. "And you're right. You let Josh sit on my stomach and pour it down me didn't you?"
"No but I don't particularly want to deal with you like this," Ainsley half snapped. She sighed then, "look Sam I'm sorry. We're trying to get us worked out and here's a situation and I'm not dealing well. I'm sorry. I think I'll just go sit in the living room and be quiet." She left the kitchen with a dry piece of toast and her ginger ale.
"I'm sorry too honey, " Sam said at once, following her but making no move to approach her. "This happens when I drink beer late at night, and you're right. I'm supposed to be taking care of you, and I can't if I'm half sick myself. From now on, I'm limiting it to just a couple early on and then I switch to Mountain Dew or Sprite. And that promise of Mexican food for lunch still holds. I'll be fine by then and hungry."
"Okay," Ainsley smiled and she leaned against him when they settled on the couch. "I packed you for New Orleans on Monday. I hope you don't mind. I thought it might speed things up."
"Oh right, and I need to talk to Leo about the Willets amend.... whoa wait--you packed me? I'm not leaving you here," he yelped, coming out of the chair so fast his head spun and he collapsed back down.
"Well of course I packed for myself," Ainsley replied looking at Sam oddly, "I just, meant I packed for you also...all except the bathroom stuff, that's your department."
"You scared me," Sam sighed. "I was afraid you'd opted out or something. Thank you because I'm not leaving you. Yes I'll take care of my own shaving kit. We men don't need much." He leaned back and carefully pulled her down to be with him. "I'm sorry about this morning. Your point is well taken. I can't be there for you if I've killed myself. It won't happen again."
Ainsley looked at him a long moment and then smiled. Then she patted his leg. "Do we have anything for today?"
"Taking you for Mexican like I promised," he smiled largely. "And then we're going to check with Josh and Donna about the sonogram. Or maybe we'll get their call and have them meet us for lunch. I'm sure Donna is always up for Mexican food. And of course we brought home that briefcase of stuff to be looked at. Maybe we'll have a fire and I won't have to."
Ainsley frowned at him. "I wanted to go shopping, to have something nice to wear...since..." She looked down at her protruding abdomen.
"Well the Mexican food is in the mall is it not?" Sam smiled. "Or did you want to go somewhere else. If you give me fifteen minutes to shower and throw up again--kidding--I'll take you any where you'd like to go." He leaned over and kissed the baby mound. "This is cute, so don't be buying anything to hide it OK?"
"Unfortunately, I do not believe that hiding it is an option," Ainsley replied, "It most definitely ruins the option of buying some beautiful evening gown for the dinner we have to attend. Perhaps I'll just go in a sack."
"Paper or plastic," he teased. "Come, we are going to that place in Georgetown, I forget what it's called but I see it all the time when Josh and I go to Clyde's for lunch. They have beautiful things hanging in the window. And I know you need some decent stuff for work too. Around here you can wear the sack--because I think you're beautiful regardless."
Ainsley tried very hard to frown at him but ended up smiling and laughing lightly. She watched him leave to shower and dress and then she watched the people passing by their townhouse from the front bay window.
"Hey is the guy across the street undressing in front of his window again?" Sam teased when he walked out of the shower, his robe loosely around him as he strode to his dresser for a clean pair of boxers and an undershirt. "Because if he is I'm sure he's much more interesting that me."
"That depends on well frankly whose opinion we're discussing and it's certainly, although he is good looking, not mine," Ainsley said in the weird way she had of speaking. "And actually if you really want to know he isn't at his window at all. I was just passing the time. Although as a lawyer serving the President, well more accurately serving the White House counsel who serves Leo who serves the President I'm sure I should be doing something else more productive with my time."
"You want to be productive find me a pair of socks that match," he groaned, pawing through his drawer while trying to select a shirt at the same time. "And just for the record, I happen to be more...uh ...gifted than our neighbor."
Ainsley looked at Sam, "Now if I didn't know you as well as I do, which I think is fairly well since I'm pregnant with your twins, then I would most definitely think, as I believe most people would, that you have entirely too much time on your hands. I would also probably find the idea that you're looking at other men like that a little disturbing," She pulled out a matching pair of socks, "and here are your socks."
"It's been lonely in this apartment at night sometimes," Sam grinned, "and thank you." He gave her a shy smile. "You know I haven't seen anyone since that night you were here last. And I've spent a lot of time in that window seat, working on the laptop and looking out."
Ainsley smiled, "Well I'm here now...are you ready to go?" As soon as Sam was ready they got in the car and made to go shopping.
Sam pulled the car up behind the store and pulled down the white house ID placard for the windshield. "OK it's not official business, except you're dressing for an official occasion," he grinned. "It's either this or walk six blocks."
"I don't think it's illegal since we are dressing for an official function...at any rate we'll hurry and hope no one is inconvenienced," Ainsley said getting carefully from the car.
"Don't run off there," Sam cautioned, hurrying around to take her arm. They had no sooner walked to the door than they encountered Josh and Donna. "You're kidding," Sam laughed. "We just left you people last night. Let me guess, New Orleans shopping."
"Well I have to have something to wear," Donna replied. They walked into the store. "Wow these dresses look amazingly..." Ainsley began. "Sexy, feminine, beautiful," Donna finished as they looked at the amassment of slits and backless variations with beads and sequins and satin. The women immediately began to wander around inspecting this color or that color.
"What do you generally wear at one of these things?" Ainsley asked. "I don't know I've never gotten to go before," Donna replied. "Well what does CJ usually wear," Ainsley asked. "Something gorgeous and elegant and..." Donna said and she pulled out a gown of black satin with the back out and the front out to down between the breasts. The neck was high and made of just some black satin cord to which the small strips of velvet were attached. The front was joined with a diamond button and it had a mid-thigh high slit on the left leg. She turned to Josh with it pressed against her. "Should I try this one?" she asked him. "I think maybe I'd like something with beads," Ainsley said, "this is after all my first White House official dinner and I'd like to look my best."
"You'd look good in that sack," Sam moaned. "Mine talked about something called a moomoo,” Josh laughed. "You know Sam we could be more use over in Clyde's." Donna gave him a don't you dare look and he was immediately subdued. "They need us for zipping," Sam sighed.
Donna went and tried on the black dress. She emerged looking sensational. "Will this do? Does it look okay?" "Wow Donna," Ainsley gasped.
"Second that," Sam echoed. Josh was too stunned to say anything. He simply hurried to her side, turning her around to get the full view, and then rested his hand on the small baby roundness. "Perfect," he whispered.
"Okay, I'll wear this then," Donna smiled. Ainsley meanwhile had slipped off and she reappeared in an off-the-shoulder gown of navy and silver beads with a slit up the side like Donna's.
Now it was Sam's turn to stare while Josh applauded wildly. "You are both beautiful," he declared, "and Sam and I will be proud to sit with you, and to dance with you. And don't be surprised if the President doesn't insist on a dance besides." "Sam our wives.... I mean our women...have good taste," Josh smiled.
Donna smiled, "Fiancée Josh, Fiancée," she corrected before kissing him. "I'm so glad you like it because I'll admit I am a little nervous about all this..."
Josh looked at her closely. "Donna you've been to these things before, not as my fiancée maybe but certainly you hold your own. Normally I have to fight my way through the men standing with you just to see if you're OK...uh to talk to you...uh.... well you know what I mean. Granted now you're my beautifully pregnant fiancée, of which I'm extraordinarily proud."
"You'll have me all to yourself," Donna replied, "as soon as men get one look at me they're going to run the other direction and never look back." She laughed lightly.
"Yes, the end of competition as I know it," Josh enthused. "You ladies look beautiful in those. We have the Governor's lunch in the mansion the day before too so maybe something a little less formal would be called for?" He laughed and looked at Sam, "you know I'm realizing how eternally grateful I am that a man can go through most of life with a tux and a dark suit and not worry about all this fashion stuff." Donna's stomach growled loudly and Josh laughed again, "Did I mention lunch is included in this package?"
"It had better be or Ainsley and I will make sure we leave certain key elements of your wardrobe at home!" Donna teased. The women did some other casual dressy shopping and even picked up a couple of casual outfits to wear and then they all made their way to lunch. "I'm starved! What do the serve here?" Donna asked.
With Olive Garden and Ainsley's Mexican food discarded in favor of The Apple Tree just down the block, they were enjoying the comfortable atmosphere and the fountain in the center. "Everything," Sam moaned, eyeing the five-page menu. "Better order an appetizer--Ainsley will want to read it all. Potato skins, or jalapeno bites maybe?" "Good thing they take American Express, my Visa is used up," Josh teased. "Josh shall we...?" Sam started to ask if they were going to have a drink and then quickly shook his head. "I think a sprite is fine for this."
"Potato skins," Donna suggested. "Jalapeno bites," Ainsley requested at the same time as, just as Sam had said she was busy reading the menu item by item. "I'd like a sprite also," Donna requested and Ainsley nodded not taking her eyes from the menu.
Saved by the arrival of the jalapeno bites and skins, they were able to enjoy talking and laughing while Ainsley read the menu cover to cover. "Did you find anything to match my chicken Caesar salad?" Sam sighed giving her hair an affectionate ruffle.
"Yes I want the three enchilada platter with sour cream, guacamole, and the Baja sauce on top, two cheese enchiladas one beef," Ainsley said. "That sounds too good Ainsley," Donna gushed, "I'll take one too."
"OK but if you're grabbing bites of my steak kabobs you have to share that too," Josh sighed. With the food ordered the talk turned to the office and then to CJ and Toby.
"They didn't come back from wherever they ended up last night," Sam mentioned. "And the reason I know that is because Toby's phone is on machine and you know how compulsive he is about picking up when he knows it's me, even if I tell him not to bother."
"I hope Chloe and Tucker had a good time too," Josh smiled. "They're great kids. Hey do you realize we could be in laws in twenty years or so. The four of us related by marriage and a common grandchild."
Sam groaned. "Josh in six years we'll all be scattered out of DC."
The two women looked at each other and the floodgates opened up. "That's not fair..."
"Tell the constitution," Sam smiled, putting his arm around Ainsley. "It's not our idea that President Bartlet has to vacate. I suppose Josh and I could always open up a law practice.... how does Seaborn and Lyman sound?" "Better the other way around," Josh returned, not comforting Donna.
"How about Bartlet, Ziegler, Lyman, Seaborn and McGarry," Donna suggested with a sniffle. "Well it does have a good ring to it," Sam spoke up.
"It does," Josh agreed seriously. "And it's certainly something to think about. I'm not anxious to leave all this behind either. In six years our kids will have started school here. They will have made friends, and the friendships we started two years ago will be even more firmly entrenched. I can't imagine that we'd all part and only see each other maybe at Christmas or something."
"This is getting depressing," Donna sighed diving into her food and concentrating more on it. Ainsley who was fairly new to the group didn't feel it was necessarily her place to speak.
Josh patted her back. "Six years away my love. By then you and I will be married with...Hey you two, we didn't tell you our surprise. Donna had her sonogram this morning you know. Well...Sam I'm seeing your twins and raising you one. Triplets."
"Triplets?!" Ainsley gasped. "Wow, congratulations," Sam and Ainsley got out at the same time. "Boy are you going to have your hands full," Sam added. "How on earth are you going to manage," Ainsley finished.
"With a lot of daddy help, and maybe some hired assistance," Josh grinned. "I was even thinking of Chloe, except she's pretty happy with what she's doing at the Wing. In any case I am beyond thrilled. Two boys and a girl."
"That sounds like a good assortment, one of each at least," Sam smiled, "Donna really I'm so thrilled for the two of you." "Why thank-you Sam," Donna smiled, "I knew there was a reason why I always liked you."
"Enough to give one of the boys Samuel?" he grinned and Ainsley punched him. "That's for our son," she said sternly.
"Do you two know what you're going to have yet?" Donna asked, "besides them being twins I mean..."
"Oh yeah," Sam grinned happily. "There's a boy and his tiny sister tucked in there. They may have to watch the little one, but right now everything is fine. Nothing to worry about." He squeezed Ainsley's hand to emphasize his confidence.
Ainsley gave a soft smile. "Well I have to be careful too so I guess we can be careful together," Donna said.
"Yes we can and we will," Sam said firmly. "We can watch out for each other. "Donna if you have any problem and Josh isn't around then you come find me, and the reverse for Ainsley, OK?" "I like that" Josh nodded. "Like a safety net."
"And now what are we up to for the rest of the afternoon?" Josh asked when the food was finished. "You guys could come over and swim in the indoor pool if you want and tonight we can grill some steaks."
"Josh? Where is this indoor pool?" Donna asked, "Is your house slightly larger than I imagined?" "Sure we'd love to," Sam said and Ainsley softly smiled her agreement.
"You haven't checked the basement?" Josh teased. "No the Association has a gym and health club just down the block. Sam and I will lounge in the pool and you pregnant women can do a few dozen miles on the treadmills."
Both women came dead halt and then suddenly they laughed. "Okay then."
"We'll meet you at our place in about an hour then," Josh smiled, marveling at how easily it was to say 'our place'. He laughed and helped Donna up. "Ainsley, wear something skimpy for swimming."
Ainsley raised a brow; "I don't think you want to see me in anything skimpy..."
"Well let me be the judge of that," Josh replied, trying to keep a serious face.
"Donna take him home will you," Sam ordered. "We'll see you good people later." He helped Ainsley up and walked with her to the car. "Are you enjoying being with these people?" he asked gently.
"Yes I am I just don't...I mean I'm still new to the group. I feel a little on the outside," Ainsley replied. "I mean I still don't know if they really like me."
"Well I know," Sam smiled. "Josh and Donna love you. Toby and CJ think you're about the smartest thing we've ever had at the White House and Leo.. Well I'm not ever sure what Leo thinks, but his instincts are wonderful and he wouldn't have hired you if he didn't want you."
Ainsley smiled, "Thanks Sam. Sometimes I'm not quite sure what's going on with me nowadays..."
"Why don't you consider only the fact that I love you," Sam whispered, nuzzling her neck quickly. "You have a swimsuit?"
"Not a maternity one no... And I don't imagine Donna does either," Ainsley replied.
"Then we'd better make a stop," Sam grinned. "I mean there's the pool at the white house too. And I know swimming is very good for you and the babies. As you get larger you can do water aerobics." She stared at him. "Internet research," he admitted sheepishly.
Ainsley smiled softly and her eyes sparkled, "Have you been researching my pregnancy?" she asked softly in awe. "Sam that's...I'm amazed. You're so wonderful."
"I've just wanted to know what to expect and I found a good site. It says consult your OB of course, but still it's got a lot of good information," he smiled again, knitting his fingers to hers as they walked. "You know I don't do anything half way. Which is obvious by your belly I would think. You and these babies are my life now. I love you and I love them."
"Sam that is, I think, the most touching thing I have ever heard," Ainsley replied, "When I was younger much younger, 8 or nine, my oldest sister was married and she got pregnant and I remember my mother sitting with her on the bed and she told her that her husband would not be one bit interested in the pregnancy that men never were and not to expect it, that if she wanted to share something my sister was to come see my mother." Ainsley shook off the thought as they arrived at the maternity store.
"Toby I had a wonderful time," CJ said as they stood at the door of her apartment, the limo they had traveled back in was still waiting for him.
"You know I did," he grinned. "It was more than perfect--every minute. We're going to look for that ring tomorrow aren't we?" He stopped and watched her face for a moment. "Unless you want to back up and regroup there. Are you concerned we did that all a little fast?"
"No," CJ said calmly, "but it might be a kind of long engagement while I do all the planning in between being one of the most demanded persons in the country." She laughed lightly. "It's not whether or not I want to do it that's undecided, just when exactly."
"And then there's the matter of the baby," he said softly, "which even now could be incubating in there."
CJ flushed deeply, "Yes and then of course that would drastically effect any wedding dates or plans," she sighed. "Ring shopping tomorrow...Toby you do realize tomorrow is Sunday. Are jewelers open on Sunday? We have to leave out Monday morning at...what god awful hour did the president choose this time?"
"Oh my god you are so right," Toby gasped. "I'd lost total track of the days; Monday Air Force one leaves at eight something, which means the choppers leave at seven thirty. OK, plan B. Ring shopping in New Orleans Monday afternoon after the luncheon which is at one I believe."
CJ smiled, "Okay then and I'll have it to show off at the huge dinner affairs on Wednesday and Friday. You've got yourself a deal Toby. Thank goodness we don't have to ride in the choppers. I don't do well in helicopters."
"You can ride in my arms anytime," Toby assured her. "You get some rest now and I'll call you later. I love you."
CJ smiled, "It's about time." Then there, on the steps to her little house she walked back down, wrapped her arms around him and kissed him passionately, a kiss like you see in the movies. "You call me," she whispered softly and then she turned around and let herself inside and closed the door.
Toby stood quietly for a long minute before he allowed the limo driver to take him back to his place. It had been quite a weekend and it wasn't over yet. Once back in his place he knew exactly what he wanted to do. Very shortly two dozen long stemmed red roses were on their way.
"What does the well dressed pregnant woman wear to swim in?" he asked and the sales clerk came over to help. "You'd better listen to her and not me," Sam told the older woman. "Because I'll have her in something from the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue."
"I want something very attractive, well I think a pregnant woman should still be allowed to look very attractive, and you know not too old looking...." Ainsley said resting a hand on the babies as she was beginning to do by habit.
"You are shaped so nice you could still wear a two piece," the woman offered. "You certainly don't need anything with the giant bubble on top just yet, but I'll show you both types in case. This way."
Ainsley followed along and took perusal of what the woman had to offer and in the end she got a black two-piece and a navy one piece. "How does a pregnant woman wear a two piece?" she asked as they were following the clerk to checkout.
"In your case, very attractively," she assured her. "Especially right now. Now in two months or so, maybe not, but then again, pregnant women are beautiful, and this isn't the forties where it was hidden under yards of fabric."
Ainsley smiled and the garments were purchased. "Well now we'll have one in case our hotel in New Orleans has an indoor pool. Do you know if any of the others are planning to go out in the city or...I'm sure security is going to be incredibly tight. Are we even allowed to go out?" ===================================
"Toby Ziegler you romantic you," CJ said as soon as he picked up the phone. "These are absolutely gorgeous. I don't think I've ever seen this many roses all for me. They're lovely."
"I'm glad they got there OK," he smiled into the phone. "And I wanted some opening to ask you to join me tomorrow afternoon for brunch at the Willard. Champagne and orange juice, all you can drink."
"OH Toby! I'd love to. This dating business sounds like it could be pretty amazing," CJ smiled delightedly, "shall I meet you there? It's been so long since I've done this."
"No you should not meet me there," Toby retorted. "I'm old enough to remember that a gentlemen picks up the lady in his life. Especially the lady he's very much in love with."
CJ was silent and he could imagine her flushing. "Okay then...I'll wear something nice."
"Don't bother dressing on my account," Toby teased, "but the rest of the restaurant patrons might appreciate it. I'll be there about noon. And bring something casual to change into for after."
"Okay..." CJ hesitated. "Toby you're amazing."
"And I love you," Toby grinned. "I'll see you in the morning. You get some rest for the rest of the day now. We haven't slept much in the last two."
"Toby!" CJ teased and then she hung up the phone. =============================
Josh and Donna began the trip back to their house. "Donna, I bet you don't have a swimsuit for this afternoon do you? Not that I mind if you pass on one, but the facility manager may object."
"Of course I have a..." Donna began and then looked down, "No I don't imagine I have one that fits."
"You'll want one for New Orleans anyway," he smiled. "The hotel has a fabulous health center and pool.. Well you saw the literature they sent. OK, there's a mall at the next exit. We're there dude--and yes I used to watch Beavis and Butthead on MTV."
Donna shuddered, "Josh! That stuff is nothing but a terrible mind pollutant!" They walked into the mall and to the maternity store. "Okay...what did you have in mind?" she asked Josh politely, "and Josh Lyman if you say what I think you're going to say I'll haul you out of this store right now and hurt you."
"I have no comment," he grinned. And when the saleswoman approached, he told her the same thing.
"I like this black one here and this red one," Donna said after looking them over. "I can't believe they make two-pieces for pregnant women!" She picked up several suits. "I would let you decide which ones we should get but since you have no opinion I guess I'll get them all."
"Sounds like a plan," Josh nodded. "Seriously you're going to be doing a lot of swimming. Sam shared something he printed off the net about how water aerobics are wonderful for pregnant women. And our pool is warm and wonderful and then there's the outdoor part for good days. Anyway, this website is wonderful. You wouldn't believe the information for expectant fathers."
"You're researching this?" Donna asked and then her astonishment increased, "you're doing your own research?!"
"Credit to Sam for the idea, but yeah I am. I'm seeing what we men should know and he and I have agreed to kind of brainstorm over it--well like we do other things. I guess we were inspired or something." He took her hand and kissed it. "Hey I love you remember, and I'm concerned about you."
Donna smiled, "Josh that's really sweet. Sometimes you can be so nice and thoughtful. You amaze me and I love you."
"Hey I amaze myself," he grinned. "Now a quick stop for steaks and what--salad stuff maybe and then we're home to the pool." =================================
"When we're just ourselves we can come and go as we please." Sam assured her, "just like we do here. And there will be a lot of time to shop and sightsee, promise. I'm not going to let us get hung up in talks all the time. I thought we'd tour a cemetery at night maybe--see if we come on any voodoo practitioners maybe?"
Ainsley looked at him a moment and then smiled, "Sam I'm not quite sure just what to make of you a lot of the time. I'm glad that you at least know what's in New Orleans though. You do know what state it's in?" she couldn't help but tease.
"Of course. I looked it up on the Net as soon as I found out we were going there," he grinned. "Actually I've been there. There was a girl I met here and then she went to Tulane and....and I don't think I want to go any further with that story thank you."
"Was she a call girl?" Ainsley inquired before she slapped a hand over her mouth wishing she could shovel the words back into her mouth.
Sam looked embarrassed beyond all measure. "Thank you for reminding me of an unhappy episode of my life," he said softly and then squeezed her hand. "Hey we all have things in our past we're not proud of. That happens to be a stellar example of mine. No, she's a med student there in fact."
"Oh," Ainsley said and she was quiet for a minute, "well maybe you should stop in and say hi. If nothing else I'm sure you'd boost her popularity. After all it isn't everyone that knows Sam Seaborn who works in the West Wing of the White House."
"Pass," Sam grinned. "The only woman I'm interested in associating with in New Orleans, with the minor exception of CJ Cregg, is the woman who's carrying my babies."
Ainsley smiled, she was quiet for a good deal more of the drive over to Josh and Donna's. "I'm not jealous," she said without warning. "I don't mind if you have women for friends. I'm not the kind of person who feels insecure like that."
"A woman friend is someone I work with, and maybe we share a pizza at lunch once in a while, but the only woman I want to spend any time with is you." Sam assured her. "But at the same time I'm glad that you're not so insecure I have to worry if I make nice to another woman. After all I come into contact with women senators and congresswomen all the time. Actually the fact that I didn't see anyone while we were apart should tell you something. I wanted you, and if not you, no one."
Ainsley smiled and then leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. "I think you've got the hang of it this time Sam, how you do your job and I do mine and you don't protect me from my job at work, protect me at home if you want I think I could learn to handle that but please don't think you need to, oh I don't know, fire every guy that doesn't bow when I say something. I'm fully capable of handling myself and if I'm not then I know when to ask for help."
"I know you are," Sam sighed. I didn't before, but I do now. You're a beautiful capable brilliant woman, and I need to remember that always. I promise to back off as long as you promise to admit you need help. Remember we're not talking egos here or anything like that, but what's best for these babies that our love made."
Ainsley smiled, "I know Sam. Thank-you so very much for looking after me and for caring so much. I know all of this is a little awkward for you and not necessarily easy but..." She bumped her hip against his, "I think we can do it." >>
He grinned and bumped back laughing loudly. "Yes we can. It's not awkward though, it's wonderful. And I'm loving every minute of it. Someday the babies will read about this time in my journal. I'm keeping track of all of your pregnancy--well the part I've been in on at least."
Ainsley smiled, "Well if we ever go at it again maybe if you're good I'll let you in on it from the beginning." She leaned in and kissed him. "Sam I might be falling in love with you again."
"Thank you," he whispered, "because I have to tell you, I never fell out of love with you. I was simply praying you'd come back to me."
Josh escorted Donna into the grocery store and pulled a shopping cart from the line. "Hey you can't say I don't know my place," he laughed, getting behind the wheel. "Steaks first?"
"Steak sounds wonderful but we have to make sure it gets good and cooked because you know that uncooked meat could poison the baby," she fretted in typical Donna fashion.
"Yes ma'am. Of course Sam and I like ours still mooing." he grinned and then at the pained expression on her face was quickly sorry. "We'll go with medium this time for us and well done for you two."
"How about Medium or medium well," Donna conceded with a pleasant smile. They quickly finished their shopping at the grocery store, though Josh noticed that people watched Donna more than usual. Soon they returned back to Josh's apartment and were met with Sam and Ainsley who were waiting for them.
"We come bearing food," Donna smiled, "Sorry for the delay I had to go get a swimsuit." "So did I," Ainsley flushed.
"Well don't just stand there, let's see them modeled you two," Sam grinned.
"I'm up for that," Josh grinned as well rubbing his hands together, and when he saw Donna's glare added, "or we could have some drinks--non alcoholic of course, and sit on the deck."
"Sam you and I are pretty lucky men I think," Josh went on. "Pretty lucky." "Donna are you ready for New Orleans?" Ainsley asked. "I'm kind of nervous."
"I think it's going to be exciting," Donna enthused. "I like to travel." "Well I like to travel too but I've never done it in the company of the president of the United States." "It's going to be exciting," Donna reiterated before the men reappeared with the drinks. "I know I'm lucky," Sam had told Josh just before they emerged.
"Ainsley you look a little concerned or something," Sam frowned. "What's wrong?"
"She's nervous about the trip," Donna smiled. "Especially since it's Air Force One and so forth. But once the president is around just us, he's a regular person. I'm more worried about being airsick than him. I haven't flown since the pregnancy and I tend to get it anyway."
Josh grimaced worrying about having to watch his precious Donna being sick. This beautiful blonde woman before him who had him wrapped around her finger and his child within her, a good strong firm, grip on his heart.
"I'll be fine," Ainsley was quick to say to Sam, too quick.
Sam's eyes opened wide at her words. "That wasn't that reassuring," he told her, his hand closing around hers. At the same time he and Josh exchanged looks of worry. "Ainsley, level with me now. Are you going to have a problem with the flight?" Josh was likewise concerned, his brow furrowed. "Maybe we should tell the president we'll drive down?"
"Oh no!" Ainsley was quick to shoot down that idea. "No we should be okay flying right Donna?" Ainsley asked and Donna nodded. "I mean maybe there's something we can do to try and prevent motion sickness or maybe Donna and I can just hole up in the bathroom. If I am going to get motion sickness from being pregnant though I want to do it in a plane where I know the trip won't take two days!"
"Maybe we should get these steaks cooking--start eating instead of talking of losing food," Sam suggested. "And maybe you two could ask your doctors if there's anything you can take."
"Well they're certainly not going to make the trip sitting in the bathroom," Josh growled. "Mrs. Bartlet is pregnant too. The president should be totally sympathetic."
Meanwhile at the White House the First Lady was busy being ill herself. She had no idea where Jed was, nor did she expect too much of his attention during this pregnancy. He had been with her almost every minute of the others but he hadn't been the President of the United States then. She grabbed a cloth and wiped her mouth. Too soon--another bout hit her and she held the toilet again cursing the very idea of morning sickness.
"I am totally one hundred percent through for the day," Jed announced as he came through the doors of the residency. "And I have ordered dinner and a movie sent up here for the night. Zoey and Charlie are going out with Gina and Lucas and we have the place to ourselves....and I'm talking to myself. Abbey where the hell are you? They said you came up here an hour ago."
He heard her being ill again before he finally got a meager, "here."
"Oh god Abbey," he gasped when he saw her in the master bath, bending over the commode. He was down beside her a second later, in a move born of practice from Zoey especially, grabbing a towel as he did so. "Honey I'm so sorry. I guess this is not a first lady perk huh?"
"No I don't believe so," Abbey sighed, "I was hoping maybe it would end this week seeing as I'm nearing the end of my first trimester, only a week and a half to go, but it hasn't stopped yet. I need to tell Zoey soon too, or rather we need to tell Zoey soon." She finally finished and curled against her husband. "Are you sure we're doing the right thing Jed?" she asked. " Are you sure we can handle a pregnancy now?"
"I don't think it's something we can say, hey we've changed our mind," Jed grinned, and then sobered quickly. "Well we could, but I'd resign my office before I'd let you not have this baby. I love you Abigail Bartlet and I want this child; no matter what complications it causes. To hold a tiny infant that our love made again is going to be worth anything."
Abbey smiled softly and leaned against him for comfort as they went to the bedroom. After only ten minutes of lying down and some crackers she was ready for the dinner that he had ordered them.
"Chicken and rice, with some of the chef's great home made bread," he smiled, raising himself on his elbow to look down at her, letting his fingers squiggle in her hair. "I'm also going to start limiting these trips. New Orleans is OK, because that's a week and there's a lot of down time for us, but I don't want too many more of these run into a city and run out again fifteen hours later. That's too hard on you."
"Jed," Abbey fussed, "you're the President. You can't just suddenly stop everything because your wife is pregnant."
"I am the president, and yes I can," Jed grinned. "I'm just saying that I'm going to cut down on a lot of the BS traveling. We have the re-election campaign coming up and that's going to be hell on wheels. I don't need to do a lot of it before that."
Abbey nodded and then reached up to caress his cheek. "We'll do it Jed all of it. God bless you for being the man you are." She rose up and kissed him before their dinner arrived and she ate slowly.
Jed kept an eye on her as she ate, electing to have music playing in the background rather than the evening news shows. "I love you Abbey," he said softly as they were finishing. "I'll bet this pregnancy hit you out of the blue too. Were you scared?"
"A little," Abbey admitted seriously, "scared of hindering your Presidency, scared of disrupting the campaign, scared of how you and Zoey would react...I'm still a little scared but I know if you're here holding my hand we can do it again, just like we have before."
"I only want you to worry about having a healthy baby, and taking care of yourself. After that, I'm in charge," Jed told her firmly. "Anything that can come from this is small potatoes compared to other things--the shooting comes to mind."
Immediately Abbey sombered. She was still and quiet for a moment before her lip began to tremble her breathing changed and her eyes began to glisten and then she thrust herself against his chest and cried again. Abbey was still dealing with that night.
"I'm sorry my love," Jed sighed, holding her tightly, rubbing her back and hair. "I know you're still having a hard time with what happened. It's not something I like remembering, but once in a while it helps put things in perspective."
Nervously Toby paced in front of CJ's door, debating whether to ring the bell. He had arrived pizza and a movie in hand, wanting to spend some time with her after the wonderfulness of the first part of their weekend; and yet he wasn't sure now, thinking maybe she had had enough of him and yet at the same time, they had talked of shopping for rings so how could that be. He stood poised, his finger over the buzzer, still in indecision.
CJ opened her door, garbage bag in hand and jumped back with a gasp of startlement. "Toby!" she smiled, "hey there, you startled me, what odd timing we have reaching the door at the same time. Go on in and I'll be in, in a minute, when I've put this out."
"There's something really odd about the White House press secretary putting out garbage," Toby smiled. "And give me that anyway, you take the pizza and movie and I'll be right back."
CJ smiled appreciatively and traded him handfuls. When he came in she had a table set for two complete with Italian music and a red and white-checkered tablecloth. "What do you want to drink?" She called from the kitchen when she heard the front door close upon his return.
"Well I'd say some red wine with the pizza but I am driving home," he called back. "I'll have what you're having I guess."
CJ reappeared with two wine glasses full of sprite. "I hope this will do." She opened the box, inhaled deeply and smiled, "pepperoni, black olive and mushroom. My favorite pizza." She kissed him on the cheek as he came to the table.
"Of course. Who always calls Broadway Pizza from the White House with the we're working late order. I never have to ask you for your d'ruthers." Before she could pull away, he put a gentle finger on her cheek to stop her and touched his lips to hers. "I'm glad I came. I missed you---a lot."
CJ smiled and flushed softly. They ate dinner in comfortable, companionable silence. Then she pulled him from his seat and they danced together. "Are you ready for tomorrow?"
"I have a bag sitting by the door," Toby smiled and sighed happily. "And I'm much looking forward to the trip." He paused and picked up her ring hand, kissing the third finger. "Are we still on for the ring shopping in New Orleans?"
"Wouldn't miss it," CJ smiled, "in fact I'm looking forward to it. It could be hard to sleep."
"I'm waiting to see everyone's face when you walk in wearing it. Or on second thought maybe not," Toby smiled. "People are going to be saying, you're taking him when you could have any one of three dozen men in DC. What the hell is the matter with you?"
"If anything they'll be saying, 'I thought there was something between them'," CJ parried back, "or maybe, what a lovely couple I can't believe it." She sighed, "Toby just remember Creggs don't settle...we go after the best and we get what we want."
"And that was me? I mean I know it was me wanting you, but.... well I guess I just have a hard time believing it that's all. Anyway, I'm glad, because Claudia Jean Cregg I am in love with you."
"I love you Toby," CJ answered, "that seems so amazing to say, me, Claudia Jean Cregg, in love." She smiled. "What are we going to tell the others tomorrow?"
"I don't think we need to tell them anything until you're wearing my ring," Toby smiled. "Or when we have our staff luncheon, I'll put it on you and ask you formally to marry me, with them as witnesses."
CJ smiled, "And I promise to act incredibly surprised and everyone can be astonished. It sounds perfect. Okay then...tomorrow we can just pretend to be the usual CJ and Toby...though that might be hard, but after all we work at the White House...we can handle it."
"I don't think of us as ever usual; but we'll be on the plane most of the morning, and then we have some time for that shopping and then the luncheon isn't until 2PM, so that works out pretty well. I can't wait to see what you're going to wear. I heard you and Margaret and Cathy a few times last week yakking about clothes."
CJ smiled, "I've got a new outfit for every day. I've been selling off some of my old things to Donna lately but I guess I won't be able to do that for a while now. I can't wait to get my hands on all of the food and to enjoy the dance. Yes I'm a sucker for dances."
"You're an excellent dancer," Toby smiled, "but then I've always known that. From California even. CJ you realize if we had listened to our hearts and not been so into our careers back then, you and I might be married now with a couple of babies."
CJ smiled, "Yeah but would we be the Press Secretary and Communications director at the White House?" She rubbed his arm. "After all we're getting to the marriage part now."
"We'd be anything we want to be," Toby grinned, "but life and love should come first. In other words, it's our turn now. Our time, and I want to make the most of that."
CJ looked at him as if she was finally really seeing him. "Toby are you saying you want us to make a family here?" she asked gently as if too much force might blow the tender thought away.
"Yes that's exactly what I'm saying," he whispered softly, brushing a stray piece of hair behind her ear. When we were at the beach we talked of babies; well I'm still talking about it, and still wanting it--but you're the only person I want it with. Claudia Jean, I am in no uncertain terms, inviting...no begging actually.... you to have my child."
CJ smiled, "Then maybe we will. At least I won't worry about getting pre--pre-- you know, with you. I'm almost too tongue-tied to say it."
"No we won't be worrying about protection," Toby agreed. "But even more important is the fact that I'm in love with you and that's no BS my dear."
CJ raised up and kissed him passionately with all of her love for him. "I love you Toby," she said gently. Then she kissed him again.
"I love you," Toby answered sincerely. "And I'm not leaving you tonight--not unless you tell me you'd rather I didn't stay here."
"I--uh," CJ raised her brows, "I suppose it doesn't matter...we could say we carpooled so we'd only have to leave one car there..."
"Well I didn't come over planning to stay, so I have to get my bag anyway," Toby grinned, "but suddenly right now, all I want to do is spend the night holding you. We don't have to do anything else for that matter."
CJ smiled and snuggled against him, "I love you Toby. I love you so much." She took his hand and led him into the bedroom, "let's watch the movie in here cuddled up together."
"Tucker I can't quite get this closed..." Chloe grunted from where she was seated on her suitcase and having no success with the latch.
"But you look great perched there," Tucker smiled, and then mischievously pushed her off backwards onto the bed while he attempted to fix it. "OK this is not working. You can't go."
Chloe looked up at him and pouted. "Tucker..." she gave him her best pleading voice, the one he never seemed to be able to say no to. Then she smiled. "CJ pulled me to go so I'm going whether you like it or not. I guess I'll just take a suitcase and my train case."
"You can share space in mine if you need to," Tucker laughed and kissed her. "You know I wouldn't go anywhere without you. It would be like cutting off my left n.... I mean arm. I love you angel. You're my life."
Chloe smiled, "You'd better be saying that...only two weeks away from being married." She kissed him and then gave him the things of hers he needed to put in his case and her suitcase closed with ease. "I'm excited about tomorrow. I'm so wired I don't know how I'm ever going to sleep."
"Then we'll lay awake and watch movies and sleep on the plane instead," Tucker told her, pulling her into his embrace. "And you said once you could sleep anytime it was in my arms."
Chloe smiled, "Oh did I say that?" She kissed him. Just then the baby monitor went off and she got up to go take care of baby Leo.
"Soon you'll be answering that bell for our baby," Tucker smiled when she returned with a dry but starving baby. "And he who holds bottle gets baby," he laughed, lifting up the yellow nurser. "Baby's sister may cuddle with me during feeding."
Chloe smiled and gently placed Leo in Tucker's arms before curling against him. "I hope it's very soon, like a little over nine months soon..." she whispered tenderly. " I thought after over a year that perhaps my interest in that would have faded but it's relentless and I want your baby even more now."
"No more than I want you to be Mrs. Tucker Seaborn," he grinned, happily content with the baby in his arms and Chloe resting on his lap. "Hey what was the decision with the twins and Leo? Is your mom coming? This morning she was still unsure if she thought Air Force One could handle the hysteria. I told her I was sure the President didn't mind--he loves those kids, all three of them."
"I think she's actually decided to come. Last I heard she was planning out how to sedate the children for the flight. You know if Belle and Brighton get up there will be no peace and we'll probably all get parachuted out of Air Force one!" She smiled and laughed lightly. Then she kissed him.
"Toby will probably put them in the escape pod and launch them," Tucker groaned. "I figure they'll last till we're over Tennessee and then he throws them into the pod and lets it fly over the mountains. I'm glad she's coming though. And Belle and Brighton are great to have around. Besides it will give you and me an excuse to get out some. We can take them to the zoo and the parks, things like that, when the official going gets too stuffy. Leo too. I'd love having him in the snugli on my chest."
Chloe smiled, "Yeah. We'll have to be careful though, you know how mom worries about us. I can't wait for the dance. I still can't believe I've been able to keep my dress hidden from you." She curled more tightly against him while Leo continued to feed contentedly.
When Leo was half way through and indicating he needed to burp, Tucker handed him to Chloe, fitting himself around her while she handled Leo's need and let him go back to feeding. "We're going to be doing this all the time in another year," he whispered, "except the baby here will be a Seaborn rather than a McGarry."
"Ours," Chloe whispered reverently. He felt her tear as it rolled down her cheek and splashed onto his hand. She smiled at him. "I love you Tucker and I'm ready for it. I'm ready to toss protection to the wind forever. One more week."
"Only one," he whispered. "We've waitied this long and we can wait another. You're going to be a beautiful bride; and that night I'm going to take you to my bed, and put my baby inside you."
"Doesn't it seem strange?" Chloe asked, "I mean suddenly we'll be all grown up and people will expect us to sleep together. It just feels odd to me."
"If this was a hundred fifty years ago people would have expected us to be already married with a baby," Tucker grinned. "Strange or odd no, just wonderful. I'm so in love with you, have been for so long, and it's all just the next step in a wonderful life."
Chloe leaned back and kissed him. Baby Leo had finished his bottle and was going back to sleep in her arms.
Tucker leaned back against the headboard and pulled her down with him. "Let's just hold him like this for a little while, and pretend he's ours," he whispered into her ear. "You look incredibly sexy with a baby tucked under your breast."
Chloe blushed fiercely, "Why thank-you Tucker. He is a precious little one isn't he?" She gently fingered Leo's cheek. "I love you my little one."
"Leo Seaborn," Tucker teased. "No that doesn't quite do it. But that does bring up something. How are we going to name a baby boy? You'd best have three of them so we can honor all the men important in our lives."
"We already have a Leo and there's going to be a Samuel soon I imagine so we'd better start thinking about using middle names I suppose," Chloe thought aloud.
"Sam is Jacob and I'm Daniel," he said thoughtfully. "Good grief I have no idea what Leo is. And in fact, is Leo his whole first name? I'd want to use Josiah too, but I'm sure the President is wanting that for a baby boy of his own."
"Leo Joseph McGarry in full. Mom lengthened baby Leo's name because Dad didn't want a junior. Jeez are you going to let me have any girls?! We're going to have to have a son named Daniel Jacob Joseph Seaborn!" She laughed.
Once dinner was over, Sam and Ainsley, with Josh and Donna, went to change. When Josh emerged, his shirt just loosely draped around him, Ainsley gasped when she caught sight of his chest and massive scar. His eyes followed her gaze and he smiled softly. "It's an ugly thing isn't it? I wanted them to be more delicate, but they were too busy saving my life. Not that I'm bitter or anything."
Ainsley smiled softly, "I suppose not. That must have been the worst night of your lives. Even I was devastated, and that sounds like such a bad way to say it, when I heard." Donna emerged all covered over, trying to hide away and she walked to Josh and ran her hand up his chest. "I have to tell myself everyday that he won't break if I do that."
"Not at all," Josh grinned, holding her hand to his lips. "Now I have this other surgery to look forward to, but that's going to be a piece of cake compared to what they did here. I do have an offer from a plastic surgeon to clean this up some, but I'm not sure I really want to be cut on again in that area."
Donna left his side and walked over to the pool turning her back to everyone until she had slid completely under the water. Ainsley took off her cover-up and then blushed at Sam, "excuse me I'll be right back," she mumbled to the group and then hurried to the poolside bathroom.
Josh dove cleanly into the water and came up next to Donna, wrapping his arms around her, resting his hand on the baby pouch. "Do you realize there are three little Lyman's in there," he grinned happily. "I get giddy when I think about it. And no one else knows about that yet. Do you want to tell them? Right away I mean; because soon I want them to know. You're going to need watching some and I can't always be there."
Sam looked worriedly after Ainsley, wondering how long to give her before he stormed in to the women's restroom demanding to know if she was OK.
"Of course we can tell them," Donna smiled, "and Sam don't worry about Ainsley I think she was just inspired...and there she is." Donna smiled as Ainsley reappeared from the restroom and rejoined Sam. "Did you miss me?" she flirted with him for the first time ever.
Sam swallowed hard and looked at her in the swimsuit, the baby bulge totally attractive. "You know it. Of course I missed you. I don't like it when you're not in my sight; and you do look wonderful in that suit my love. The babies become you."
"Thank-you," Ainsley smiled and kissed him.
"Yes they do," Josh agreed, looking up from where he was nestled with Donna. "In fact Samuel I'd say both these women are even more beautiful as mothers to be."
Sam smiled and pulled Ainsley to him, "I believe I'd agree with you Josh, absolutely beautiful."
"And at the dance in the Grand Ballroom, I'm going to personally shoot anyone who hits on either one," Josh declared laughing, "or anyplace else for that matter. My fiancée belongs only to me."
"She doesn't wear your ring," Sam teased, at the same time looking at Ainsley's left hand longingly.
"Donna doesn't wear yours either," Sam replied. "He hasn't asked," Donna spoke up, "well he's asked he just hasn't followed through yet." Ainsley's eyes followed Sam's to her finger and then her eyes met his.
"He's afraid to ask," Sam whispered, "afraid he'll frighten her. And afraid he'll be told it's not like that between them."
"I thought this was a White House of action...” she whispered back to him her eyes locked with his waiting for the next move.
"All you have to do Josh is slide the ring on my finger and I'd be the happiest woman in eternity," Donna said.
Josh nodded solemnly. "Count on me to do just that. By the time we come back from New Orleans, you'll have that ring."
"You're right," Sam gasped, swallowing hard, and then dropped to one knee before Ainsley, taking her hand. "Ainsley Hayes, I am passionately in love with you. You are carrying two tiny Seaborns inside you. I love you. I want you to be my wife. Please tell me you'll marry me."
Ainsley smiled, "Yes Sam, I'll marry you." She waited for him to get up and then hugged him tightly.
"Yes, thank you Jesus," Sam gasped, lifting Ainsley as best he could, wanting to swing her and being mindful of her pregnancy. "I love you and I want you and these babies to be my life--for as long as I live."
Josh turned Donna's face to him, having watched her be mesmerized by Sam and Ainsley. A long kiss later, he whispered, "So I take it the idea of you wearing my ring bought in New Orleans meets your approval?"
Donna smiled, "Yes Josh. That meets with my approval very much."
"Now that we have that settled, let's talk wedding" Josh grinned and looked around mischievously. "Who's up for a double, and before you answer that, remember Sam that means you and I only have to put on the tux once."
"In a garden?" Ainsley suggested and Donna nodded enthusiastically. "Before or after the babies?" Donna asked. Ainsley shrugged, "let's do a double." Donna smiled and nodded.
"Dumbarton Oaks, spring--if you wait till after babies," Josh offered. "A long walk down a white cloth covered path under an arbor with roses. "Or there's always the White House. Leo would fix it for us--and it would be easier for the President and Mrs. Bartlet to come. Before babies--a fall wedding either place."
"What are you the White House social secretary now?" Sam demanded. "So ladies, before or after births?"
"After," the women said simultaneously.
"Dumbarton Oaks, in all its spring glory," Josh smiled. "I'll call from Air Force One--that's always impressive, and see what dates are open."
The women both beamed brightly. They swam for a while and then both women were beginning to yawn.
"Josh I think we wore them out," Sam sighed, feeling Ainsley wrap around him, "and we have to get up early in the morning."
"You guys are welcome to crash in the spare room," Josh grinned, "It's not a nursery yet. Martha Stewart here is still looking at wallpaper samples."
"Paint Josh! Paint!" Donna virtually squealed as the couples drug out of the pool. They dried off and went back to Josh's place to get ready for the trip in the morning.
"We're going to have a beautiful daughter and she's going to be called Caroline Chloe Seaborn" he whispered seriously, "and she's going to be the image of her beautiful mother."
"Tucker you're too much," Chloe smiled. She kissed him. "Come on now, which one of us is going to get the little one in bed so we can get some sleep ourselves?"
"I've got him," Tucker grinned, kissing her forehead. "You just stay here and look beautiful, which you do very well."
"Only the truth," he grinned. "Come on Leo, bed time." He scooped up the bundle, and singing Hush Little Baby, trotted down the hall to his bassinette.
"You got it,” Toby grinned dropped all but his boxers to the bedroom floor and dove under the covers, holding them up in preparation for her to join him. CJ smiled happily and pushed the tape into the VCR before she curled under the covers with Toby.
She settled against his chest and he sighed contentedly. "Right now I can easily see myself spending the rest of my nights sleeping just like this."
CJ smiled, "Well so long as some of those night's you're sleeping and I'm up with my laptop."
"Oh that sounds real romantic," Toby smiled. "How about if you bring the laptop to the bed, and curl up with me, and I sleep with you laying against me working as long as you have to be?"
"I believe that's what I just suggested...but you say it with so much more flair," CJ smiled, "I suppose that's why the President put you in charge of the message."
"OK you scared me," he grinned. "I pictured me being banished to the bed, and you at your desk. In case you haven't noticed Ms. Cregg, I'm very much in love with you, and I need you all the time."
"Well all the time could be a bit of a problem," CJ smiled, "one or both of us wouldn't be getting any work done. We'll have to go for always in spirit and sometimes in body?" She offered. She leaned in and kissed him. "I don't know how I got this lucky Toby." She kissed him and curled up for sleep.
Toby curled his arms protectively around her, and lifted her head to rest on his outstretched arm. "Good night my love," he whispered softly. "For now and always."
The next morning Josh, Donna, Sam and Ainsley were the first ones on the plane. Ainsley wanted the full tour and immediately afterwards curled up against Sam and went to sleep. Donna was looking at Josh with basically the same idea in mind.
Josh pulled down a pillow and blanket for her, helping her to get comfortable, her head resting on his lap. "I can't promise I'll be here with you the whole time," he whispered, "but at least you can rest a bit if I have to be up and down."
"Why did I agree to this again?" Caroline was grunting as Tucker was chasing a naked Brighton, Chloe was hauling luggage down while carrying Belle on her hip and Caroline herself was trying to get baby Leo to stop crying.
"OK big boy, you're holding up the US Government," Tucker roared, catching Brighton and throwing him upside down on his shoulder. "Now where are those big boy underwear with the Pokemon's on them for starters.''
"What the hell's going on in this house," Leo boomed and suddenly there was silence.
"And when we have ours, there will be one more country heard from," Tucker moaned, delivering Brighton to his room and nearly sitting on him to get him still for dressing.
"Sorry love," Caroline immediately apologized. "The children obviously don't understand the importance of today, not that it's easy to explain anything to a pair of three year olds and a three month old baby." She handed a now quiet baby to Leo. "Could you please put him in his car seat? I still have to check all the things in the kitchen and make sure the kids didn't leave anything important and get the diaper bag and..."
Leo took the baby with one arm and hugged her with the other. "OK calm now. It's going to be fine. We've got plenty of time and they're not going to take off without us. Besides I'm sure Zoey and Charlie are having their own problems getting ready. This is going to be fun. You and I are going to have some time to ourselves. Tucker and Chloe already said they'd take some sitter duties, and I want you to have a good time. After all this is about the first time you've really been out since Leo. And if I can say so--you're looking even more beautiful post-baby."
"I'm seven pounds lighter post-baby than pre-baby," Caroline supplied. "You know I think we are going to have a good time and it will be nice to get out." Soon but not without some struggle they secured everyone in the limo that had come to get them all and take them to the airport.
Abbey was sitting with Jed, Charlie, Zoey and their baby Charles Josiah waiting to leave out when Abbey began to pale feeling the nausea beginning to come over her.
"Mom you OK?" Charlie asked, seeing her turning pale and grabbing the arm of the seat. "Zoey," he hissed urgently. "I think your mom needs the bathroom. Mr. President?"
"Oh Abbey," Jed noticed and immediately jumped to his feet quickly taking Abbey and helping her to the bathroom nearby. "That was odd. I hope Mom's not coming down with a bug. I don't want Charles exposed to anything."
"I just hope she's OK to fly," Charlie murmured. "When I was in the office earlier, I heard the flight officer briefing the president and he said there was some bumpy air between there and here. It's not going to be a smooth flight."
"The leader of the free world kneels on the bathroom floor like any other expectant father," Jed sighed, reaching for a wet towel at the same time. "Sorry sweetie."
"It's okay," Abbey, said softly, "it happens. We need to tell Zoey and Charlie though. I'm sure they're curious after this. After all she's had a baby herself now...it wouldn't be like having to explain to her where babies come from or anything." Abbey rose from the floor in her burgundy suit. "I don't know how much longer I'm going to be able to wear all this either. I'm sure once we announce though the designers will be jumping at the chance to outfit the First Lady for maternity clothes. After all I highly doubt the secret service wants to go shopping for clothes that look like they were made for a beach ball attachment in the front."
"You can always have some of the New Orleans Boutiques to bring over a few things to the hotel," Jed offered, helping her straighten her clothes out. "And when do we want to make this announcement? I don't know if you can hide it forever. You're so cute when you do that beach ball thing anyway."
Abbey smiled, "Thank-you Jed. I don't know how you got so good at this. Why don't we tell Charlie and Zoey first, then anyone on the staff that doesn't know and then we can make the announcement at a conference in New Orleans."
"I'll relay the plan to CJ," Jed approved. "OK let's get you moving. Uh...my preflight briefing said the weather between here and New Orleans is not wonderful. In fact they called it bumpy, so that doesn't sound good for you. I'm afraid Donna and Ainsley will be suffering too. So no being a hero here, if you're ill, you say so, and let people take care of you."
Abbey nodded gently. "You can bet on that. I'm not much in the mood to be a martyr."
"Very good answer," Jed approved. "Now let's get you to the limo and get out of DC while the sky is good."
Abbey smiled and went with Jed. "Mom are you okay?" Zoey asked immediately when they emerged. Abbey smiled and touched her daughter's arm. "I'm fine dear. Sit down." Zoey frowned and sat back down with Charlie. "There's something your father and I have been meaning to share with you, you too Charlie. We're...pregnant. We're going to have a baby."
"Right mom," Zoey grinned and poked Charlie. "Shouldn't we not be kidding here when we have a limo waiting." "Zoey...Zoey I don't think they're kidding at all," Charlie told her, wrapping his arm around her. "Mrs. Bartlet, you're pregnant really?"
Abbey took a deep breath, "Yes, I'm really pregnant. Ten weeks now."
"Wow," Charlie gasped, "Uh..Wow ma'am I mean. Congratulations. That's wonderful. Mr. President, congratulations. I bet you’re thrilled."
Zoey had not moved or spoken. "Honey?" Charlie asked. "You OK?"
It was an impressive group that disgorged from the McGarry limo--Tucker and Chloe, Leo and Caroline, and Brighton and Belle. The three year olds were firmly in hand by Chloe and Tucker, Baby Leo tucked in his snugli strapped to his father and Caroline's hand in Leo's. Both three year olds shrieked as the mounted the steps. "Peace and quiet is over," Leo announced as Ainsley and Donna stirred with the noise.
"Hello little ones," Ainsley greeted them. Belle and Brighton froze then and suddenly were tucked behind Leo's leg with a death grip on his pants.
"Stranger alert," Leo grinned. "OK guys, this is Ms. Hayes. You can call her Ainsley, if she lets you." Gently he pried them both from his legs. "Go say hello," he urged.
Sam held out his hand. "Hi Belle, hi Brighton," he grinned. "Leo it's hard for them."
"Yes it is," Leo agreed, "but they're children of a public figure, and they need to learn to meet people. I don't expect them to be conversant, but they can be polite."
Ainsley gave them her best smile and slowly Belle approached her.
"Hello, pretty hair," Belle spoke up.
"Hello there, can you say Ainsley?" Ainsley prompted with a bright smile a hand on her baby mound anticipating her own little arrivals.
"Ains---lee," Belle said slowly, looking to where Ainsley's hand rested. "Baby." Silence reigned. "She knows because of baby Leo," Tucker spoke up, "we talked lots of times about a baby brother in mommy's tummy. She's a bright kid, what can I say."
"She's adorable," Ainsley smiled and hugged Belle to her. "Oh I hear sirens I think the President and first family are arriving."
"Uncle Jed," Brighton shrieked, running for the plane's door, which had been left open.
"Freeze mister," Tucker ordered, making a grab for him and missing. "He's getting faster," he muttered, heading for him. "Tucker my god, those steps," Caroline screamed. Tucker reached the top of the flight and grabbed for him again, this time snagging him before he could tumble down the steep flight, but not before they were both knocked to the hard metal. He held Brighton up as best he could, taking the fall himself on his back, where he lay panting for breath.
"Tucker!" Chloe screamed and hurried to his side. "My goodness are you alright? Please tell me you're okay!" "Chloe please don't panic," Leo said in his gentle tone coming to Tucker's side, "Are you okay?" he asked.
"Brighton?" Tucker gasped, struggling to see if the little boy was unharmed, and to get his breath at the same time.
Meanwhile below the President and his family were dismounting from their limo.
"Oh what's happened?" Abbey gasped with concern when she saw the gathered group. Brighton for his part was sitting on Tucker patting his chest. "Up. 'gin." Brighton ordered. Chloe was on her knees at Tucker's side. "Is everything okay?" Abbey asked as she reached the group. "I think we're fine," Leo smiled at her, "Good morning Mrs. Barlet." "Good morning Leo, Caroline, Chloe...and Tucker, " Abbey tried to make sure she wasn't missing anyone in the commotion.
"Good morning all," Jed grinned when he reached the top of the steps. "Mr. Seaborn is there a good reason you're blocking the entrance of our transportation?"
"Yes sir, I have a thirty pound three year old on my stomach," Tucker panted. "Also I'm dead."
By this time Sam had arrived to check on his brother. "Tucker are you hurt?"
"Get this kid off me and I'll tell you," he laughed.
"Ah he's fine," Sam waved his hand and turned around. Chloe picked Brighton up and helped her fiancé to his feet. Soon everyone was boarded. Ainsley curled back up against Sam under her blanket and looking very casual. Meanwhile Donna was up as soon as the plane got leveled off good and was making for the bathroom. She got halfway stopped then turned around and returned to Josh's side. "Maybe not," she said softly sitting down with Josh again.
Josh tucked her under his protective arm, laying her against his side. "You're OK now promise me please?"
CJ returned from her press briefing in the rear of the plane and found Toby reading in one of the seats. "Did you wow them?" he asked.
"The complementary cocktails wowed them. They hardly noticed what I was saying I think," CJ said as she sat next to Toby and surprising him she took off her shoes and curled her hosed feet beneath her.
"Am I to understand the press is all getting bombed back there?" Jed asked and CJ nodded.
"Well if they all pass out it will be a quiet flight," he sighed, joining Abbey where she was attempting to get comfortable.
"You have a run," Toby whispered, looking at CJ's stockinged feet, the toes just sticking out from under her.
"Well I can't very well buy a new set of stockings every time I have a run. I'd have to wear a new pair every single day. I try to make them last at least a week," CJ sighed and smiled at him.
"Maybe we could get a little of what the press is having for Belle and Brighton" Leo sighed as the twins began to explore the plane at full voice. Which was soon added to by both Charles and Baby Leo, doing a perfect harmony. "You know I could have retired two years ago, but nooooo," Leo went on.
After about ten minutes of this when several of the staff were beginning to look severely stressed and reaching the end of their patience Chloe began digging through her bag. "Aha!" she exclaimed. She crinkled the bag in her hands and two toddlers came running. "Is there somewhere we can set up nursery around here?" she asked her Uncle Jed.
"Why don't you give the press parachutes and then use their area," Jed suggested.
"Because then I'm out of a job," CJ called from where she was examining her feet now. Toby took her feet onto his lap at that point and began a foot massage.
"You wanna look at that," Ainsley pointed, "And she's not even carrying his baby." Sam and Josh exchanged looks.
"Chloe, you can take them to any of the little bedrooms back there," Jed motioned, "or just let them plop on the floor here. They're not bothering me; and from the looks of things, we'd all better get used to baby and toddler noise."
Everyone looked at Donna and Ainsley. "Speaking of baby and toddler noise," Abbey began, looking around to make absolutely sure there was no one in the room she didn't want there, "The President and I are expecting. We're going to have a baby in about six months and two weeks."
Even from the ones who knew, there was silence, and then Leo led a round of congratulations and applause. "When are we releasing that?" CJ asked, ever the professional. "We hadn't decided," Jed admitted, giving Abbey a hug. "Opinions?" "Maybe when she goes into labor," Toby offered, thinking of the logistics involved in the news.
"I think it will be a little obvious before then," Donna commented to the group but mainly to Toby looking down where her pregnancy was already rather visible. "I'm only four months and a week Toby if that gives you any idea."
"And you're huge," Toby said with that sardonic wit of his, expecting CJ to kick him. He was not disappointed. "You guys should know something," Josh spoke up, a large note of pride in his voice. "Donna is having triplets."
"Wow Josh, Donna congratulations," CJ was the first to speak up giving Toby one more good nudge with her foot before allowing him to continue his foot rub she was so enjoying. The others all followed suit. "I don't know what I'm having yet. I've been refusing a sonogram because as soon as I do that it will hit the press and that's not how I want it to happen," Abbey said.
"What do you want to do about the announcement?" Toby asked again. "I think some sort of family gathering maybe? I know that sounds hokey, but it seems to me it should be done in person, not just in a press release. Emphasize the family aspect and all."
"And no one will notice your grandchild is older than your offspring," Toby could not help again teasing.
"It must be something he ate for breakfast," Leo sighed and then looked more closely at Toby and CJ, "or some major life changing experience he's had?"
Toby and CJ jumped apart from one another as if burned. "What major life changing experience?!" They both said simultaneously. After a moment of shocked silence everyone laughed loudly. "Yes a family together thing on a couch or what not would be good. I can give a brief statement or would it be better from Jed or what should we say?" Abbey asked.
"I'm going to do a five minute address later in the week, and take questions," Jed said thoughtfully, "talking on the importance of the visit here and....no, I don't want to mix the two. When we go back, I want to do something in the residence, with the family around, including Charlie and Zoey I think. I might even get in a few licks about family values. Where's my speechwriter? Samuel?"
"Uh what?" Sam looked up from Ainsley guiltily. "Sir I mean...uh Mr. President."
"I believe he wants you to write a speech," Josh informed his best friend, "something about family values and the announcement that his wife is expecting again."
"That was a close call," CJ whispered to Toby in the meantime.
"They're going to know soon enough anyway," Toby laughed in her ear, holding on to her left ring finger briefly. "I love you."
"I love you," CJ whispered back quickly. She felt so young and alive since Toby had started this.
"Speech yes sir," Sam nodded, tearing his eyes away from Ainsley. "I can handle that. Now who's expecting?"
"Mrs. Bartlet," Josh exploded with laughter and Sam looked about to faint. "I guess I've been under a rock," he laughed. "Or Ms. Hayes," Josh hooted and Sam turned red.
"You're--" Sam looked at Abbey and stopped. "I wouldn't make any comments about the President's wife," CJ advised. Meanwhile Belle crawled up into Tucker's lap, nuzzled down and made the motions to ready for a nap.
Tucker dropped to the floor, his back against the wall and held onto Belle as she settled in, rubbing her silky strands as she closed her eyes.
That lasted five minutes until the pilot announced the rough weather was ten minutes out. "Let's get everyone strapped in back there," he urged over the intercom. "Anyone needing the bathroom better do it now."
Every one of the women got up, pregnant and non-pregnant and made use of the bathrooms, fortunately there were three. Then they strapped in. The weather made Belle start playing with her ears and a look of pain and pleading for relief came onto her face as she looked at Tucker, her eyes beginning to well. He might not have known what it was had not he seen his fiancé do the same thing one time before as they had traveled on a plane. This time she had ear devices in to keep them from stopping up. CJ was nuzzled against Toby. Ainsley had her head buried against Sam and Donna was pretending to be brave all the while she was wringing her hands with anxiety.
The bouncing began as the pilot had warned. "Just routine turbulence now," he announced calmly. "We'll be through it without any difficulty." He had no sooner gotten that word out when the bottom dropped out. The plane dipped as it lost a massive amount of altitude in just a few seconds. The lights went off as the pilot cut all unnecessary power and all women held fast to the men in their lives. "Air pocket," came the announcement, unnecessarily, as the pilot leveled the plane. "We're not going to die," Josh whispered.
"I love you just in case," Donna replied. Then she grabbed the emergency air sickness bag and used it. "You know if we got the pilot to pull nine g's we could probably convince the press to write about it," CJ tried to lighten the mood.
"We'll have to ask him," Toby grinned despite his fear. "And see if any of the press are still conscious back there.
"Ainsley? Ainsley?" Sam's worried voice surmounted the other noise. She was not responding. "Ainsley!" he screamed. "She's passed out. Oh god help me here somebody."
"Oh dear," Abbey was immediately making her way over to their side. "Someone get some ice chips and a glass of pineapple juice please." she requested. She began checking Ainsley's vitals. All motion from the rest of the staff stopped. CJ's hand was holding tightly to Toby's as everyone watched and waited and prayed.
"Ainsley, come on baby, wake up," Sam whispered, rubbing her wrist while Josh hurried to get what Abbey had ordered. "We need to put this crate down and get her to a hospital," Sam screeched. "Sam she's going to be OK," Leo tried to calm him, a firm hand on his shoulder. Sam barely heard him, as his eyes were wide with fright. "Abbey how is she?" Jed came up to them, his face etched with concern.
"She has a good pulse so it's nothing more serious than a faint but we need to get her to come around as soon as possible," Abbey replied. She took the chips from Josh and gave Sam a paper towel with some to place at the back of her neck while Abbey put some to her forehead in the same manner and then picked some up in her hands and ran them over Ainsley's lips. It was a very long few moments, excruciating in fact before Ainsley's eyes finally reopened. She looked a little alarmed and kind of weak but otherwise fine. "Sam..." she said softly. Abbey gave Sam the pineapple juice. "Make sure she drinks all of this very slowly," Abbey instructed.
Sam's hand shook with relief as he held the juice glass to her lips. "Drink baby, you're OK. You just fainted in the loss of altitude that's all. I'm here and I love you."
Ainsley smiled at Sam. "Thank-you. Thank-you for taking such good care of me." She leaned in and kissed him.
"All's well that ends well," CJ smiled. She got up to walk back and check on the press. She returned very quickly. "It appears the cocktails didn't mix so well the second time around. A little turbulence on uneasy stomachs...in other words our press corps is stinking up air force one."
"Couldn't happen to a nicer group of people" Toby glowered. "I'm sure most of them were scared to death, not that I wasn't. I probably should go check the condition of my own drawers."
"We'll be on the ground in about twenty minutes" the pilot announced. "And we're all fine. That air pocket was something else Mr. President. The New Orleans temperature is a beautiful seventy three, not a cloud in the sky."
"Perfect shopping weather," Toby whispered to CJ.
CJ smiled brilliantly, "perfect indeed." Then she whispered, "How soon do you think we can get away?"
"Pretty much as soon as we get our luggage sent up and so forth. The press knows there won't be anything for coming until after the luncheon. So that should give us a good two hours to look around, and still come back to shower and dress. I think we can find something in that time." Playfully he squeezed her finger, the one which would soon bear his ring.
CJ got a beautiful smile and glow about her when he did so. He was making her happier than she ever thought she could be. It was a chore to get everyone off the plane and into limos. Chloe and Tucker were assaulted by magazines and newspapers that wanted to interview them. Zoey and Charlie were closely guarded by the service and so avoided the mob. Soon everyone was getting a tinted view of New Orleans and then Canal Street before they stepped into the secured lobby and went up to the top to the presidential suite and surrounding suites. They had the entire floor.
"How are we going to divide up here now?" Toby frowned, looking to CJ as Leo was helping to get everything sorted out. "Do I look like the housemother," Leo groaned. "There's rooms for everyone but I'm sure as hell not going to do a bed check to see if everyone is where they belong."
Toby turned to CJ. "Well then you up for a room mate?"
"Let's get suites next to one another for the sake of privacy," CJ whispered, "But we won't be sleeping in one of them."
Chloe and Tucker didn't even bother to look at Leo as they placed their things in one suite. Ainsley was standing there awkwardly for a moment before Donna's voice made her jump and she picked out a room for herself and Sam.
"I'm sure as hell not sleeping away from Donna," Josh declared. "How much sleep do you think I'd get running back and forth to check on her."
Sam dropped his arm around Ainsley's shoulders. "We'll be fine in this small room right here," he said firmly, agreeing with her assessment.
Leo hurried to help Caroline with the twins, taking Belle from her. "Tucker and Chloe are of course sharing a room," he told her. "They have Baby Leo with them at the moment."
"Thank heaven," Caroline sighed, "We could use a little break. Although he's the one that sleeps most of the time." She looked at the twins who were already exploring the room.
"Wow isn't this beautiful," Chloe sighed dramatically as she looked out the whole wall of floor to ceiling glass in their room that overlooked the French Quarters. "I can't wait to go and see it all."
"So let's grab the twins and take them for a walk," Tucker grinned. "And then they'll sleep for the sitter during the luncheon. We'll go get their faces painted and get some ice cream."
"Are you sure we can do that? I mean I've been told it isn't that safe down there and with people knowing who we are..." Chloe said concerned for their well-being.
"I don't know if I like the idea that we can't get out," Tucker frowned, "but I wouldn't do anything that would risk you and the guys that's for sure. Let's go talk to Leo."
Chloe nodded and they headed off.
Toby and CJ walked inside their room. "Now let me get this straight, you're sleeping in here and I'm in the other room?" he teased.
"Right," CJ mocked and shook her head smiling devilishly at him.
"Then I guess I'll go unpack," Toby grinned, carting his suitcase with him.
"Dad," Chloe said softly as they entered the suite of her parents. "Dad we want to talk to you about going out and seeing things."
"You want to do what," Leo frowned, grimacing as Brighton climbed into his lap. "I think I need to wear a cup here. Now where do you want to go?"
"Well we were thinking about the...the quarters I think it's called, down there, out our window..." Chloe explained. "We thought we might take Leo and the twins."
Leo looked momentarily panicked and then looked outside at the mass of people milling. "Caroline I honestly think they'll be OK out there once they get away from the hotel. There's so many people around I don't think they'll be hardly noticed; but if you're going to worry, then it's not a good idea."
"Those photographers were just waiting for them at the airport, wanting to do stories on their getting married and working in the White House. I'm afraid they'll be mobbed when they get out there. Couldn't we send some type of protection?" Caroline replied.
Leo nodded. "I'll ask John if he can spare a man to walk with them if you think they won't mind and if it will make you feel more at ease sure."
Sam dropped their luggage on the floor of their room and turned to Ainsley, gently guiding her to the bed and laying her down on her back, following her down and resting his hand on her baby belly. "Everybody OK? That was a long and scary plane ride."
"I'm fine, uh we're fine I suppose," Ainsley answered, "just a little nervous and excited I suppose."
"OK," he nodded. "I don't mind telling you how scared I was, not just of the turbulence but when you fainted. What would you feel like doing? We've got three hours to kill before we have to get ready for the luncheon and the President has said he doesn't want to see any of us before then, so we can take a walk or a trolley ride, or just relax here."
"I'd like to ride the street cars and then maybe walk along the levee," Ainsley smiled.
Toby returned quickly to find her in the bathroom and he knocked at the door. "You ready to check out the little matter of that ring my love?"
"Yes I believe I am," CJ said. She reappeared in a beautiful navy suit and her heels with her hair immaculent. "Just in case I don't have time to change before the luncheon."
"Why would you want to?" Toby smiled, turning her around to check her out fully. "I'm so grateful a man can get away with a dark suit. Always except when a tux is called for. And that's not until the governor's dinner in a few nights."
And in Josh and Donna's room, he was putting much the same question to her. "Unless of course you're planning to ask someone else to help you parent your babies," he finished teasingly.
"No I don't think so," Donna replied quickly, "let's go see a man about a ring."
"You got it," Josh grinned, giving an involuntary sigh of relief. She had not changed her mind.
They walked outside and met Toby and CJ at the elevators. "Where are you guys headed?" Josh asked them. "We're going to do a little shopping." "Yeah us too," Toby smiled, watching the two women put their heads together and then laugh. "I would guess also we're being discussed over there."
"Yes I'd imagine," Toby agreed.
"We're doing it together," Donna announced. "What?" Josh frowned. "Ring shopping." "Oh OK," he nodded, "let's.... no wait. CJ? You and Toby are....?"
CJ flushed deeply, "We were maybe thinking about it. Yes Josh we are, but not a word we wanted to surprise everyone at the luncheon."
"Then why don't we all go together," Toby smiled. "Josh and I can keep each other company while you ladies talk about carats or settings or whatever. I tend to glaze over with that stuff."
Donna and CJ smiled and the two couples headed off. They soon found a prestigious jeweler and were talking settings. CJ wanted a platinum band with a one and a half carat princess cut but Donna seemed almost teary-eyed as she looked at the rings.
Josh looked up from where he was talking at Toby and realized Donna's quietness. "OK tell Uncle Josh what's wrong," he whispered, slipping both arms around her from behind. "You want me to be a part of this maybe? I just want you to have one you like. But I'm the one who's going to put it on your finger. After all it's got to last you the next fifty years or so."
"Is it bad to want a really expensive and glamorous one? I know I shouldn't ask for much but," Donna said. She had her eyes locked on a platinum set with a band of solid platinum for the groom, a diamond-encrusted platinum band for the bride, and a one and a half carat diamond in an emerald cut set in platinum. It was the same as CJ's except for the cut of the diamond in the engagement ring.
Josh turned her to face him, kissing her gently. "It is not wrong to want what you want here. These are the only wedding rings we're ever going to have. Once you put it on my finger, it's not ever going to come off. So you get exactly what appeals to you. They're all beautiful."
"I want this one," she pointed at the set she'd been staring at. "Great minds think alike," CJ smiled.
"Nice choice," the jeweler approved. "And both of you have lovely long fingered hands that can easily pull off a set like this. Will you be wearing them now?
"No way," Josh spoke up, "at least not this one. She's going to have it presented to her. I'm just not sure how yet. I'm.... I’m not real good with this romance stuff."
The jeweler glanced at Donna's figure and raised an eyebrow. Toby laughed lightly, "I think the jeweler is even disagreeing with you. You must at least be somewhat good at it." Donna was now solid red. No one knew how she had really gotten Josh's babies.
"Quit all of you," Josh warned, realizing they were embarrassing her. "And anyone can make a baby thank you. I'm talking about how you take a woman in your arms and tell her you love her--and not just that, but show her all the time, and let her know that she's your whole world and that she's the reason you get up in the morning and....." He stopped short, now as red as Donna. "Kill me now," he whispered.
Donna grabbed hold of his collar and kissed him soundly. "I love you Joshua Lyman," she spoke softly afterwards. "I'd say you're doing alright," CJ finally spoke with a soft smile.
Josh sniffled, as they broke apart. "I'm trying. It's a whole new experience for me." His eyes were fastened to Donna's and he stared for another few seconds. "I love you," he whispered before clearing his throat and looking to the jeweler. "I think we have a decision."
"Excellent sir," the jeweler said, preparing both sets and then making arrangements for payment. Then he handed the cases over to the men. CJ looked vivaciously alive. "Well that was quick. We still have a little over an hour before the luncheon.
"We did good," Toby grinned happily. "Shall we drink to that? I wouldn't mind a hurricane right about now."
"Actually that sounds great," CJ agreed with a smile. "I'll take a virgin strawberry daiquiris," Donna suggested, "Just be sure and taste it Josh and make sure it's virgin. I've read down here they sometimes try to slip you alcohol anyhow."
"Serious?" Josh frowned. "Taste for sure then. Let's find someplace that's doing music. I wouldn't mind a dance with my fiancé. It's not even noon--somehow dancing now seems wickedly decadent."
CJ smiled and they all headed off to find a place to satisfy everyone. They didn't have to go far before they encountered an intersection that was blocked off with several couples dancing in the street while a group played for them. Donna was mesmerized by how different New Orleans was. She quickly pulled Josh out for a dance leaving CJ to hold down a sidewalk table and Toby stepping in to get their drinks.
"What luncheon?" Josh grinned, holding tightly to Donna and feeling the babies pressed against him. "Hell there's only four of us. Think the president would miss us?"
"Yes I should think so," Toby replied, "the press secretary, the deputy chief of staff, the communications director and Donna's beautiful face? I sincerely doubt he could do without us. We really must get back."
"OK but not till the last minute," Josh conceded. "Right now this feels way too good."
Meanwhile Sam and Ainsley had walked a few blocks, checking out some of the shops. "Look there's a voodoo doll. Anyone you know you want to curse?" Sam looked gleeful at the thought.
"No!" Ainsley fairly shouted backing away and putting her hands over the babies. She hurried up to the next shop. "Sam that thing could put our babies at risk. I may not necessarily believe in voodoo but the evil it puts in people's minds..."
"Oh honey I'm sorry," Sam whispered, catching up to her and putting a comforting arm across her shoulders. "I've never thought about it I guess. This is my first trip here. Somehow during the campaign I didn't get tasked to come here. Anyway, I figured it was always just a joking kind of thing."
"Well I put it in the same categories with the KKK and Wicca and any other odd witchcraft or cults. My father raised us where we had to be fearful of such things. It was just something I learned." Ainsley said calming down. She laughed lightly then and shook her head. "I'm sorry I don't know what got into me just now. I'm sorry I made such a scene."
"You don't ever have to apologize to me for your feelings," he told her seriously. "Just don't try to hide them or shut me out. And there is plenty to be cautious of. It's a crazy world out there, and now we have two little lives depending on us besides." His hand went to her belly and he caressed gently. "I love you and I love these babies."
Ainsley smiled, "I don't know how I got so lucky." She knit her hand in his. Soon they came up on Royal St. and she saw a show of baby things. There was a cradle full of batten burg lace sheets and blankets and pillows in the front window. "Let's go in..." she said as she drug Sam through the door.
"Whoa, this is like no place I've ever seen," Sam gasped. No ordinary baby store, this was lace and ruffles and prints. "I guess it's not too soon to think nursery decorating is it."
"I wouldn't think so," Ainsley said, looking down at her changing figure. She was wandering around and soon she began picking up a christening gown, sheets, blankets, and a couple of little pillows. She found a set of drapes she liked in just her colors. Then she saw a bassinet of beautiful lace. She was immediately drawn to it as she dumped the other things in Sam's arms. She walked over and fingered the lace. She was absolutely mesmerized.
"Aren't they going to be a little crowded in there," Sam teased and the clerk raised her eyebrow. "Twins ma'am" he grinned, his arm around Ainsley's waist.
"We could buy a bassinet and a crib and alternate who went where. Well a bassinet and two cribs really, matching ones. Those beautiful rod iron ones there," Ainsley suggested.
"If that's what you'd like," Sam smiled. "I had a third generation wooden one that I'm lucky I didn't get my head caught between the bars and I survived." He grinned to let her know he was teasing again. "Of course we'll get what you want. And it's not like this is going to be a one-time event anyway right? I'm mean they'll get lots of use."
Ainsley smiled and cuddled against him. "Hope so anyhow," she replied. "I come from a large family so I love lots of children around."
"Well I don't and that's what I want to," he smiled. "I mean Tucker wasn't born until I was almost ready to leave home so I didn't even get to enjoy having a little brother for very long. I see us with a big house, and kids running everywhere."
"And stock in Tylenol," Ainsley teased.
"I was thinking Valium'' Sam teased back. "I love you Ainsley, and when we're ready, I want you to be Mrs. Samuel Jacob Seaborn."
Tucker and Chloe fastened Belle and Brighton to their wrists, with Leo in the sling on Tucker's chest and a volunteer from the secret service walking with them. "I've never been here," Tucker grinned, ''but this is great. We should come down for Mardi Gras--alone of course."
Chloe smiled, "That would be great...just us. I would say we could bring C and Z but that would never work. What a shame. Oh wow look in here at this pretty courtyard. Isn't this neat?" "Want," Brighton suddenly exclaimed jerking Tucker's wrist and pointing at a Lucky Dog stand.
"You hungry big boy?" Tucker grinned and looked at the eager young face. Sometimes he didn't know if he loved these little ones more as a father or as a big brother. "Actually I wouldn't mind something to tide me over till the luncheon myself. We didn't eat much on the plane with that little stunt the weather pulled. At the same time Leo began to squirm and fuss against his chest. "Another country heard from," he grinned and turned to the agent with them. "Mark we're going to break here I guess."
The agent took a quick survey and gave a nod. Then Chloe walked with Tucker and the children over to the lucky dog stand. "What do you two want on your hotdog?" she asked. "Yellow," the twins replied. "I'd like one lucky dog with just mustard, one with chili cheese, mustard, and onions..." she turned to Tucker to complete the order.
"The foot long, everything but the chili," he called and gestured to Mark, "something for our mother back there." "Cute Seaborn," Mark growled so only Chloe and Tucker heard. "Foot long, everything." Meanwhile Tucker pulled Leo from his sling and it was immediately obvious as to his problem. "You'll have to excuse us men--need to see a man about a pony here."
"Never do come back with that pony," Chloe teased as she watched him step into the nearby restrooms. She sat down with the twins and cut their hotdog in half, blanketing them with the full-length bibs Caroline sent with each of them always and giving them their half of the dog to go at it.
"Leo my boy your dad is the second most powerful man in this country and you're a mess," Tucker declared, pulling off the diaper and setting the baby in the sink to hose him down.
"Oh my goodness, you're, you're Tucker Seaborn aren't you?" a man asked as he came to wash his hands.
Tucker froze and tightened his hold on the baby. "Yes sir I am. Pleased to meet you. Pardon me if I don't shake hands, they're full of wet baby." He held his breath, hoping that the man simply wanted to be polite, and that politeness in return would be the right choice.
The man regarded Tucker for a moment and then went on his way.
"Come on Leo, you're clean--finally," Tucker sighed, feeling weak with relief that the man wanted nothing more than to know if it was him. Working quickly, still slightly unnerved, Tucker wrapped the baby in a blanket for drying, and then quickly redressed him. He was still slightly shaken when he returned to the table.
Chloe and the twins were laughing while they ate their food. Tucker had no sooner reappeared than cameras began going off. They had been discovered and were being photographed.
Tucker stood up at once, keeping himself in between the photographers and the children, as well as Chloe. Mark rose as well, his six foot two presence adding to Tucker's countenance. "People, these guys are just enjoying lunch," Mark tried. "Please, get a couple pictures if you have to and then get on about your business. We don't want the children scared now do we."
Most people grabbed a couple of shots and went but a couple of reporters actually attempted to approach. Belle and Brighton had finished their hotdog and they scurried behind Chloe. "Chloe McGarry, how do you like being the stepdaughter of the second most powerful man in the US?" the woman asked. "What does Leo McGarry think of your engagement to his deputy communications director's little brother?" another asked. "When and where will the wedding take place?" the woman asked another question. Chloe was overwhelmed and she looked almost frightened, obviously wishing CJ was present.
"Mark if you don't do something about these people I will," Tucker warned, needlessly as Mark was standing up again to his full height. "People" John shouted. "You know this is not the way these things are done. If you want an interview with these two, or anyone from the White House, you know there are channels you go through. That's what the people in the press office get the big bucks for. Now unless you want me to start taking names to give to Ms. Cregg, I suggest you get the hell away from here."
Tucker held Chloe to him as she cringed with the attention. "I'm glad we listened to your dad and brought this guy," he whispered.
"We can't go out by ourselves, not ever," she whispered softly. She cuddled baby Leo between them but soon the reporters had dispersed and Belle and Brighton were out and looking around again. Chloe finally got back to eating her hotdog of which she had taken only a couple of bites. "These are great! We might have to send out for some late tonight," she enthused.
"I'll be glad to pick you up some," Mark smiled, "as long as my dog comes too."
"These are great, and in case the luncheon food isn't, I'm glad we did this," Tucker smiled. "As for us being out alone--people here are just expecting us. I don't think it's a problem that can't be managed though."
Chloe sighed. Then she turned to Mark and smiled, "of course it's included. We couldn't have you eating ours on the way back!" She laughed lightly.
"You guys ready to start back?" Mark smiled. "Ms. McGarry you look adorable, pardon me for saying so, but I think you're not ready for that luncheon. Nor are you Mr. Seaborn."
"I was planning to wear this wasn't I Chloe?" Tucker laughed and looked down at his jeans and tee shirt.
Chloe raised an eyebrow, "Umm...I don't think so Tucker." She laughed and looked at her own casual sundress. Then she grabbed Brighton's hand and the group made their way back to the hotel. Chloe changed into a black suit with double-breasted buttoning on the front and a short skirt. She quickly styled her long hair and then slipped on her heels. "Tucker hurry or we won't get there in time for the briefing from CJ before the luncheon."
"I've decided to go tie-less" Tucker growled and then came out to Chloe. "Please," he whined. "No one ties them like you."
Chloe smiled and then adjusted Tucker's tie to perfection. "You look handsome. Now come on and let's go see what we're doing." They left the suite hand in hand and went to the private lounge where the senior staff was gathering.
"Zoey it's getting late." Charlie banged on the bathroom door from where he was pacing with Charles. "You outta that tub yet? I know you didn't want me to join you but even that wouldn't have taken this long."
Zoey appeared in a hunter green, sleeveless cocktail dress with princess seams. It was in a silk and looked casually elegant. Her red tresses were styled up into a French twist and she was trying to fasten a strand of pearls around her neck. Charles reached out and gripped them in his tiny baby fist. "Oh, no, no Charles. These are mommy's. She needs to wear them to this lunch thing."
"I'll take that," Charlie grinned, relieving her of Charles fist, "and let me give you a hand here." He quickly fastened the strand and turned her back to look at her. "How did I get so lucky?" he whispered.
"You were in the right place at the right time?" Zoey smiled brightly, "namely the kitchen. Although what really hooked me was you called me Ma'am. Then you smiled and it's just been good after that."
"And now I have you, and I have a beautiful son, and the best job in the world," he sighed. "Pretty good for a dumb kid from the mean streets of DC."
"You're by no means dumb," Zoey quickly contradicted. "You're two classes away from finishing college! I'd say that's pretty smart. Now are we ready to go eat food and schmooze?"
"And what do we do with the munchkin here?" Charles asked, hefting the baby onto his shoulder and getting a huge giggle for his effort. "Did we arrange his care or are we hauling him with us?"
"He's going to go and play in the lounge with the McGarry children," Zoey replied, "Mrs. Landingham begged to watch them. Imagine a whole lunch all to ourselves..." She rose up and kissed Charlie.
"Well I could better imagine this whole big suite to ourselves," he grinned slyly, "but lunch to ourselves, while I fanaticize with the other, works for me."
Very shortly the senior staff was gathered in the huge ballroom, with their hosts from the state legislature, and awaiting the arrival of the President and Mrs. Bartlet.
Who were unable to join them as Abbey was having another bout of sickness. "I'm not leaving you here ill, no way," Jed repeated. "When you're up to coming, we'll go together so stop telling me to go without you. It's not going to happen.”
Jed there's over sixty people in there waiting on you," Abbey protested, "besides we'll need them in the coming reelection months." Another bout of illness, "you can't upset them now."
"The only person I need, and care about at this moment, is the one puking at my feet," Jed said firmly. "Now you know this will pass if we just give it a few minutes. Leo and Caroline will be here in a minute to walk down with us, and I'm going to tell him to fill in for me. He can tell a few republican jokes or something. Ainsley can help him."
Abbey gave Jed a look that told him she couldn't believe he'd just joked about that. A moment later she sat back on the floor away from the toilet. "I think it's over," she said softly as if she could jinx it. "I don't know how I'm going to be able to eat at the luncheon though."
"I just want you there beside me, where I know you're OK," Jed told her. "Eating is the least of my worries, though maybe you'll feel like some bread and butter and juice maybe. And if you get to feeling bad there, you tell me, you hear?"
Abbey frowned but then, at Jed's continued look, reluctantly nodded. The knock on the door signaled Leo and Caroline's arrival and Abbey made sure she was beautiful and reapplied her lipstick before putting her arm in Jed's and going with him to meet Leo and Caroline at the door. Jed and Leo immediately exchanged the symbol to watch Abbey.
The band played Ruffles and Flourishes followed by Hail to the Chief as they approached the ballroom and the guests stood and applauded as the president was announced. "Thank you, thank you all," Jed smiled. "We are so glad to be here. Now let's enjoy some of this wonderful Cajun cuisine." He kept a sharp eye on Abbey, helping her to seat herself and then the rest of the guests followed suit.
As soon as Abbey saw the menu she went immediately for the red beans and rice. She ordered a heaping plate of it and some cornbread. Then she ordered some pepper jelly to go with it.
Sam and Ainsley walked in the room and shocked the press immediately they were being questioned about Ainsley's pregnancy. That soon ceased as Josh and Donna appeared and they were questioned. Zoey and Charlie received a warm welcome and the only question posed to them was how their new son was doing and how they were liking parenthood.
Those questions were answered quickly and then another reporter jumped up and began directing questions to Chloe and Tucker. Chloe looked to Tucker and he rose and walked to CJ. "CJ, Chloe isn't real comfortable talking about our private lives please," he whispered.
CJ nodded, "Excuse me. If you could kindly refrain from asking questions of Miss McGarry and Tucker Seaborn it would be appreciated. I believe the young people have a right to some sense of normalcy.” "Not when their father is the first or second most powerful man in the world," Scotts countered, "besides they work at the White House. They place themselves in the public eye and the public wants to know about them."
"That may be, but the public does not have a right to know about their private lives," Leo spoke up, rising from his place. "These two are not public figures; they are students, who happen to be in love, and who happen to earn their living working for the federal government, and their duty station happens to be the White House. There's nothing magical beyond that."
"Except she's your daughter and he's the younger brother of the deputy communications director. How does their engagement sit with you and with the senior staff as a whole Mr. McGarry?" Scotts asked.
Leo smiled slightly and the room was silent. He looked to Jed, who gave him a silent nod. He then walked to Tucker and put his hand on his shoulder. "This is one of the finest young men I've ever had the privilege to know," he said slowly and deliberately. "He has the same integrity this country has received from his brother in his two years of service. I'm very proud to be welcoming him into my family, and to bless the union with him and my daughter. My daughter and Tucker Seaborn are very young, but they are also very much in love. No one has the right to question that. Not even members of the press."
CJ Craig smiled brightly, "And that's all we have time for," she said as the press was ushered from the room. Danny and Brittany had come along on the trip even though Brittany was now seven and a half months pregnant and CJ gave only them the liberty to stay in the room. "Bravo CJ," Jed spoke up, "someone buy this woman a drink tonight." Everyone laughed.
With the press gone, the atmosphere relaxed and dessert and coffee was served. Danny kept a wary eye on Brittany as she moved around greeting staffers. "Danny she looks wonderful," Josh told him as Danny came up beside him. "You both look real happy."
Danny smiled, "I love her like nothing else. I see the same thing with you and Donna...off the record what's the story? Last time I saw her she was," Danny made the motion for a beautiful woman's figure, "and now she's" he made the motion of a pregnant belly extending from himself.
"Pregnant with triplets," Josh whispered proudly, "and if that gets out I'll know exactly where it came from. And the rest of the story is between her and me and no one is privileged to share that."
"Well I have something I need to do about now," Toby announced when there was a momentary quiet and he made sure there was no one but the staffers plus Danny and Brittany. "This is not going to come as a surprise to her, but I wanted it to be formal, and I wanted our friends to see it." With that he walked to where CJ was standing with Abbey and turned her to face him, taking her hand and kneeling on one knee before her. "Claudia Jean Cregg I love you with all my heart, and now, in front of these people who are like family to us, I'm slipping this ring on your finger and asking if you will do me the honor of becoming my wife." There was utter silence in the room as he produced the ring. It caught the light as he slid it onto her finger, kissing her hand as soon as he had done so.
Ainsley gave an audible gasp and Sam was by her side at once. Jed and Abbey, with Leo and Caroline, smiled happily. Josh felt for the ring in his pocket, deciding on a more private moment, his arm firmly around Donna. Tucker and Chloe were beaming, Tucker fingering the ring, which she wore; and lastly, Charlie and Zoey stared in awe, Zoey feeling wet tears on her face.
"Yes Toby, I'll gladly marry you," CJ said with a smile, "and for a woman whose job is words I find I have very few right now." Two tears made their way down her cheeks, happy tears.
A round of applause went up and Jed picked up his water glass in toast. "To the happy couple," he called. "And may they be as happy as Abbey and I have been all these years. CJ, Toby, you are like family to us. We love you both."
Josh closed one hand around Donna and felt the ring in his pocket with the other. "I'm not planning on giving yours to anyone else," he teased in a soft whisper.
Donna smiled at him sharing the joke. Suddenly she frowned, "oh!" she exclaimed, "I felt flutters."
"Thank-you," CJ said and then everyone turned to Donna.
"Flutters?" Josh questioned her anxiously and then realized what she was saying. "Oh babies, babies moving, right?"
Donna nodded enthusiastically and with great glee. "No kicking I don't think but definitely moving."
Abbey put her arm around CJ's shoulders, hugging her friend. "CJ I'm really happy for you. I saw it a long time ago, but I figured you two were never really going to get to it. You're going to be very happy I just know it."
CJ stood with an arm around Toby definitely comfortable. "We hope so. We were so scared of getting involved we almost let something wonderful get away from us. Fortunately we didn't."
Tucker lifted Chloe's hand and looked to her ring. "I remember the night I put this on you," he whispered. "I loved you so much that night, and that's only grown since then."
"Yes and you have very little time left to reconsider," she laughed with him and then kissed him. "I love you Tucker Seaborn and I can't wait to be your wife. Mom can't wait either so we can open up all of the gifts that have consumed the dining room!"
"It looks like ten Christmases rolled into one," Tucker agreed. "And our wedding is going to be an event we'll long tell our grandchildren about. And we have our honeymoon as well the next day."
Josh did the typical father act--he pushed a chair under her. "Three little Lyman's moving around in there. Wow."
"Josh, I'm not going to break," Donna chided softly.
"I hope not," he declared forcefully and then realized he was sounding silly. "OK, but I'm not going to stop worrying about you."
Donna sighed and shook her head.
"Jed and I talked about it a lot, but he wouldn't let me matchmaker," Abbey smiled. "He kept telling me if it was right it would be right. I guess he was right. "Have you thought about location? The Rose Garden or the East Room comes to mind if you want a White House wedding."
CJ smiled, "I always wanted an unusual wedding. I don't think very many people can say they were married at the White House. The East room would be beautiful."
"That was a selfish desire anyway," Abbey sighed. "I want Jed and I to be there, and it will be easier if it's in the White House. Plus we can..." Her hand went to her stomach and her face turned blank. "OK cornbread didn't go well," and she dashed toward the bathroom.
Leo noticed and nudged Jed, "Abbey's having a go of it," he said softly, "I remember that look well."
"Yeah I know," he sighed. "I wish the doctor could help her, but his solution is medication that makes her too sleepy to function and she won't have it. I'm starting to get concerned about her nutrition because I don't think anything is staying with her. What I don't get is why now, why not more early on."
"Sometimes boys make women sicker later in the first trimester," Leo said, "that was the way of it with Caroline if you remember."
Jed grinned at that thought. "A boy for the old man. Wow. We've still got to think about when we're going to announce this thing." He looked over to Danny, now talking with CJ, his protective arm around Brittany. "Mr. Concannon, how would you like to have the story of the year as far as the personal lives of the president and first lady go."
Danny and Brittany immediately excused theirselves from CJ's company and made their way to the President as quickly as Brittany could manage. "It would be an honor sir," Danny smiled.
Zoey was just bringing her mother from the bathroom and Jed shot her a concerned look. "She's OK dad. What's up here?"
Jed looked to Abbey and motioned to Danny. "I'm going to have Danny here help us with the announcement," he told her and she nodded. "Danny Mrs. Bartlet is pregnant."
Danny stood there with his pen poised and he laughed lightly. "Nice one sir, now really." Then he looked up at the faces of the first family and he smiled brightly. "Mrs. Bartlet congratulations and you too sir. May I ask when this bundle of joy is due to arrive?" "February 11th according to my doctor," Abbey replied. "Congratulations," Brittany got a word in. "Thank-you," Abbey replied. "What was the reaction to this wonderful news?" Danny asked.
"Before or after I had my stroke?" Jed teased. "Honest Danny, I had no idea. We had our family, and after Zoey we hoped for another, but it never happened, we got busy with the kids growing up, I got in to politics, Abbey finally got her degree, and it wasn't something we thought about any more. But then obviously nor was it something we thought about NOT."
Danny wrote furiously as the president spoke. "Now how will the administration be affected by this joyous news? Surely you will be making allowances for the First Lady."
"Danny I never handle my wife," Jed said staunchly and Abbey poked him right before she broke into peals of laughter. "OK, I guess we're going to reach some sort of a compromise between my idea where I keep her in bed for the next six whatever months and hers where she runs around the country like a mad woman. Abbey?"
"I am postponing indefinitely any trips overseas for the health of our baby. Also I will be regretfully cutting a good deal of my trips in the US as well. However I plan to continue to play as prominent of a role as First Lady, as much as is good for the well-being of the baby which as a mother and wife first must be my first priority."
"Works for me,” Danny grinned, still writing as fast as he could. "Now what are we going to do about announcing this wonderful news? Mrs. Bartlet, are you going to be available to take questions?"
Abbey shrugged and looked to CJ. "I don't want them shouted at me for sure, but I could if it was done orderly I think. CJ?"
"We can arrange it so that you only have to answer those that you want to and we could do it from inside the White House, give you the luxury of sitting comfortably," CJ was already planning. "And Danny I'll grant you the only interviews during my pregnancy. After all it'll help get you ready for getting back on the campaign trail with us. You are coming this time aren't you?"
Danny looked to Brittany. "I'm not leaving her and the baby, but if we can make good arrangements, yeah I hope so. I really want to. Covering the Bartlet re-election has been a dream of mine since I covered the first election."
"How about two spaces on one of the buses," Jed offered, "but when CJ says you're off the record, you're off the record."
Danny broke into a broad grin. "Oh yeah, that would be great. I could do a daily diary thing then. And of course I wouldn't send anything for print until it was cleared with CJ and..." He stopped himself and turned to Brittany. "Honey I'm sorry. I'm making all these plans and didn't even ask you. What do you think?"
Sam looked around for Ainsley, finally finding her staring out off the balcony. "Ains you OK? What's on that pretty mind of yours?"
Ainsley smiled, "Yeah I'm okay, though I do wish the babies would move though there's little I can do about that. I was just watching the boats and thinking to myself, well of course I was, that it was so lovely out there and it would be nice to walk along the river of take a carriage ride later. The French Quarter is wonderful what I've seen of it." She was quiet a moment, "plus the very smell of seafood is making my stomach turn.
"OK," Sam said softly, wrapping his arms around her from the back, rubbing her belly with both hands. "We can do that easily, whichever you'd like. I noticed that smell too, the whole city is like that; but of course to me, who eats raw oysters, it's a good smell."
"Well I used to love seafood," Ainsley thought aloud, "back in March I went to a seafood restaurant and as usual I thought I had died and gone to heaven."
"Back in March you weren't pregnant with my twins," Sam grinned and hugged her. "And tonight I'm going to take you for that carriage ride under the moonlight. Maybe we'll listen to some jazz and dance first. Might get Josh and Donna, maybe CJ and Toby, to join us."
"I'd like that," Ainsley smiled, "I'm happy for CJ. I think maybe I finally fit in here."
"Of course you fit in my dear. You belong to me, and you're going to be Ainsley Seaborn whenever you're ready. Hell we could walk down to that big ole church on the corner and speak to the priest about it right now as far as I'm concerned, but I don't want to do you out of a big wedding if that's what you want."
"I've always wanted a large wedding and besides," Ainsley said, "Jacqueline would never forgive me if I got married without her."
"No of course we have to let her.... OK who's Jacqueline?" he stammered.
"Jacqueline is my younger sister, Jacqueline Camille really and everyone calls her Cammie," Ainsley said in a rush that came out with a heavy North Carolina accent. "You haven't even met her yet and she doesn't know about...and anyhow she's just turned 21. She's delightful."
"I can't wait," Sam grinned. "Because I know if she's related to you, I'm going to love her."
"Big brother looks like you've got enough there to love," Tucker teased him as he walked out escorting Chloe. Sam glared. "It's Ainsley's sister doofus."
Chloe and Ainsley burst into laughter. They loved the way their men loved one another and were so close.
"Oh in that case, is she cute?" Tucker teased, breaking into laughter at the absurdity he would ever look at someone other than Chloe.
"Woah, aren't you going to be married in like a week?" Josh took that opportunity to step in.
"Does a man ever stop looking?" Tucker laughed again, his arm tightly around Chloe, letting her know he was teasing.
"Josh checked out the waitress in the coffee shop earlier," Sam contributed.
"I didn't any such thing," Josh objected. "She wasn't my type at all. I don't like short brunettes with cute little noses and big.... I think I'll quit while I'm ahead."
"Good idea," CJ jumped in as she and Toby joined the group as well. "Tucker and Chloe are going to get married in a week and show us how it's done." Chloe smiled. "Now what about this waitress?" Donna teased Josh. Ainsley was about in stitches from laughter.
"Josh was checking her out," Sam reiterated. "He was undressing her with his eyes." "Samuel Seaborn you are a dead man," Josh sputtered, starting after him. Sam took refuge behind Ainsley. "Oh that's right, hiding behind a pregnant woman," Josh glowered.
"Jed the children are getting rowdy," Abbey smiled.
"Isn't this wonderful?" Jed said, "to find yourself working with your best friends. It makes work a lot easier, like going to a party almost. Speaking of parties do you have a wonderful dress for the dinner in two nights?"
"I have three wonderful gowns with me," Abbey sighed, "and not one of them zips. Your son is filling me out. At this rate I'm going to look pregnant still when he's six months old."
Jed's face took on a look of awe and wonder, "Already?" he asked rather amazed. "Well then we'll just have to go shopping for you some new dresses. Do we go to the maternity store yet?"
"Well actually I don't think it's your son so much as my sweets craving," Abbey admitted. "Sometimes it's the only thing that stays down. No what I really need is just a good boutique. I hate to be a pain, but do you think we could get something private set up. Maybe Caroline would go with me. She knows what it's like to be our age and pregnant."
"I'm sure something can be arranged," Jed smiled as he placed an arm around Abbey's waist. "CJ." Claudia Jean Craig quickly appeared. "Yes sir." "A good boutique here," the President requested. "La Roi de Lune," CJ replied, "it's in the garden District. Also there are several branches of Ralph Lauren, Gucci, and Alfred Angelo that I know of here."
"Whatever," Jed sighed, knowing little about designer labels except the Armani he favored for business wear, "OK, let's see if we can't arrange a shopping trip for Abbey there. CJ, maybe you and Caroline would go with her. I've got meetings coming up for the afternoon, but Leo, would you get the secret service on it please. As far as that goes, as long as we're going to create chaos, maybe all the women would like to do some shopping in a closed store."
"And just how are we going to do that when some of them are--" Sam began and Josh jumped in to save him, "Maternity." Sam nodded and continued, "and some are not." The women who had all gotten excited over the prospect of shopping suddenly frowned.
"Because a lot of the things there can be worn in early pregnancy," CJ replied calmly. "None of you have turned into the great pumpkin yet." Sam giggled and looked at Donna, sobering the second she glared at him. "Well Brittany is large with child, but that's different. She's due a lot sooner than the rest of you." CJ's hand went to her own belly in a wistful gesture before she shook herself and went on. "So I think we should all go and see what there is while the men stay here in these meetings; and then tonight is the buffet barbecue on the roof."
"Barbecue," Josh and Sam both enthused. "Steak with peppers and onions and..." Ainsley said looking like she had died and gone to heaven. "Shopping," Chloe said bringing everyone back into focus. The women said goodbye to their significant others and with a large band of secret service they flooded into a limo to go shopping.
The drive to the boutique was a short one, with the women chattering happily. "Why does it feel so good to get out of DC," Abbey smiled. "We're all just together and relaxed and that's how it should be I think. Just friends having fun. I mean this administration is going to come to a crashing end at a point in the future, so we need this for now."
"I don't want to lose all of you," Chloe spoke up, "I can't imagine not seeing you on a daily basis. It won't be the same...it won't be as good."
"Sam and I talked about that before too," Ainsley sighed. "How he doesn't want to do anything but work with these same people. I told him we should all go together and open a bed and breakfast on the Outer Banks. He wasn't amused."
"I was thinking more along the lines of a law office myself," CJ spoke up, "heck we all have law degrees. We could buy some land and build a law office and then set up a residential neighborhood for ourselves nearby."
"It'll need to be in New Hampshire," Abbey spoke up. Everyone immediately nodded their agreement with her statement and laughed as they thought of the President making such a statement.
"OK go ahead and laugh," Chloe pouted, "but I don't want us separated when this is all over. Something has got to work out; otherwise we'll be reduced to sending each other Christmas cards with a computer printed newsletter about our families." A large tear rolled down her cheek. "And I'm not even pregnant," she moaned.
"Yet," CJ spoke up, "or maybe..." "No, I'm not," Chloe said, "Tucker and I have been behaving. We're waiting for our wedding night now."
"You're kidding," Donna gasped and then looked embarrassed. "I mean...I think that's well.... sweet."
"And definitely romantic," Abbey added with a motherly smile. "Honey I assume you've got something picked out for the wedding night?"
Caroline looked up as she caught the conversation and Chloe turned a deep crimson. "No..." she whimpered softly. "I hadn't even thought about it being time for that," Caroline sighed, "it's so hard to realize she'll be a married woman in a week."
Tucker was the last man to come in after seeing them off at the private driveway. "Tucker let's go," Sam yelled. "We need you to run the overhead remember." "Yeah right now," Tucker nodded. "I'm just...I don't know...I don't like that Chloe went. I keep having this feeling, maybe it's all this voodoo, that there's something.... I'm being silly aren't I?" Sam exchanged a long with Josh who had stopped to wait for them.
"You think?" Josh said with a brow raised, "Relax Tucker that's probably the safest group of women that ever went out. One of them is the First Lady. The rest of them will be fine."
Tucker shook his head. "I guess with the wedding so close, and we've waited so long for it, I'm just super-scared that something is going to happen to mess it up." He looked up at Sam, a bit of big brother hero-worship in his voice as he added, "Sorry to be such a little kid here."
Sam shook his head; "I have the same feelings where Ainsley is concerned little brother. Nothing unusual there." "Come on that overhead isn't running itself," Josh called back over his shoulder.
"Right with you," Tucker shook off his feeling. "You'll be impressed with my slides guys. Charlie helped me in fact and..Oh god, we were fooling around, running off some prints of...oh god I hope they didn't get mixed up in these come to think of it. I haven't seen those.... those joke ones since." Tucker took off at a run.
"Definitely your brother," Josh said as he and Sam began hurrying after Sam to make sure they weren't going to look absolutely unprofessional in a few moments.
"He's a Seaborn all right," Sam muttered, chasing them both down. They found Tucker in the conference room, frantically trying to sort the slides without getting them out of order. Josh and Sam looked at him quizzically. "I found them" he whispered, "but they're mixed in with the good ones. Help me guys."
"Why are you playing with the slides?" Toby asked with an expressionless voice a few minutes later when he came upon Sam, Josh, and Tucker all frantically sorting slides.
Tucker shoved a stack at Toby. "We're looking for ones that don't belong," he explained hurriedly, "uh.... OK they look like this." He held up an example of the offending slide. "I don't think we want them shown at the presentation." "Toby, don't ask," Sam hissed.
"I don't think I have the time," Toby grumbled before he too joined in helping sort the slides. "Hey why are you playing with the slides?" Charlie asked worriedly when he appeared a couple of minutes later. "Leo's in the other room greeting the people that are supposed to be looking at these things."
Tucker gave him a dagger look. "Charlie, the other night when we were making these slides, what other slides did we make? Think man."
"We didn't--" Charlie groaned and then he was sorting through the slides as well. Toby and Sam had their parts joke-free and back in order first followed by Josh. In the nick of time they got all of the slides back in the projector and Toby put the joke ones in his pocket. He would enjoy those later.
"I think we saved the day," Tucker sighed. "Yeah well it's a good thing for you or us members of the senior staff might have been down here gathering sugar cane for the next six months." Sam growled. "Go move. You've got an overhead to run."
Tucker hurried over to run the overhead. Indeed they were doing fine until one of the slides in Josh's section came in upside down. Toby drew his hand across his face and sighed.
"They're just seeing if you people are awake," Jed smiled, turning his head sideways to see the image. "We've got it Mr. President," Josh assured him, poking Tucker to make the adjustment.
The guests laughed good-naturedly and the rest of the presentation went off without a hitch.
"Me too," Chloe whispered. "Mom, ladies. Help."
Abbey smiled and patted her arm, "of course dear. We'll get you something that will make Tucker weak at the knees. The right garment still does that to Jed after all these years of marriage."
Chloe blushed royally. "I can't imagine the President of the United States..." Her eyes went to Abbey's tummy and she smiled then. "Actually yes I can. Besides he loves you so much after all these years. I want that with Tucker."
"You have that," Caroline smiled at her daughter, "the love you and Tucker share is special and amazing Chloe. Just don't ever take it for granted. Marriage is something that has to be worked at." "I know mom," Chloe smiled, "thanks. Now about this something in white. How do you shop for that stuff...I mean how do you know what the good ones are..."
"You try to think like a man and decide what he'd like to see you in," Donna giggled. "Plus it should be fun for him to open," CJ smiled, "like a Christmas package.... uh not that I would know anything about that."
"Then what's that ring you're wearing for," Caroline pointed.
CJ flushed and everyone laughed. "So when are you and Toby going to tie the knot?" Chloe asked. "Well I've always wanted a May wedding," CJ said, "I'm not sure Toby will handle waiting that long, but that's what I want." "Donna and I are having post baby fat weddings," Ainsley spoke up one hand absently rubbing her present baby mound, which resembled a third of a basketball sticking out.
"In the Spring at Dunbarton," Donna confirmed. "With the babies watching and I don't care if they cry, I just want them there." She smiled at Ainsley and touched her own belly, the triplets making it prominent even this early. "Besides Ainsley's sister is coming at some point."
"My brother is taking an assignment in DC some time soon too," CJ mused. "Baby brother in fact. Mom's change of life surprise she always called him. I called home from college in my freshman year and asked what was new. Man I got an earful."
This perked the women's attention. "So what are you going to tell your mother when she calls?" Abbey asked CJ. "Or are you going to save the wedding announcement until after you're carrying the communication director's baby?" CJ flushed and smiled. "No I think I'd better deliver the blows one at a time. Besides there's no telling when or even if I'll get pregnant." "Wow so how many years are there between you and your younger brother?" Ainsley inquired.
"He was born when I was not quite eighteen," CJ smiled. "I skipped my senior year and went off to school see. We haven't stayed too much in touch, except for when I was in California. He's in the Navy, a petty officer, and he's coming to work at JAG as a legal aide. Finished school at seventeen like I did, and enlisted that summer. He loves it."
"A naval officer," Donna sighed and received looks from the others. "I'm a sucker for dress whites," she whimpered. "Who isn't?!" Abbey spoke up. "Ah dress whites," Chloe sighed, "wouldn't want to be married to a naval officer though. I like Tucker where he's at. In my arms."
"Well it won't hurt Tucker to see that another man finds you attractive," CJ smiled. "Anyway, his name is Corey--Corey James Cregg. CJ--my dad was Clark Joseph. Silly I know but that's what they wanted."
Everyone smiled. Finally the limo arrived at its destination and once the place was secure the others were ushered in first followed by Abbey at the last. "Wow this place is great," Chloe said in awe. CJ nodded her agreement.
"When you said boutique I was picturing those little ones like in Georgetown," Caroline gasped. "This is huge, and to have it all to ourselves is amazing. "I wasn't going to get anything, but everything I've brought I've used in the past couple of months, what I can fit into post-Leo. I think it may be time for something new for the Governor's Ball at least."
"I think I'm going to do something in black and silver, conservatively, can pregnant women wear beaded dresses?" Ainsley asked as she was admiring a black and silver beaded gown. "What color should I do this time? Wait it's black tie isn't it? Blacks and whites?" Chloe inquired.
"Men's black tie--well the invite says formal attire," Donna confirmed. "And pregnant women wear anything they want Ainsley soon to be Seaborn. This isn't the south of the 50s. On you that would be beautiful."
Ainsley smiled, "I would need some alterations in the front." They laughed lightly. Chloe gasped when she saw a halter-top gown that was modeled like a man's tuxedo. It had a bowtie at the neckline and white silk down to the waist with fake buttons and collars like a tux. The back was completely out to the waist. Then the skirt was all black satin to the floor with a thigh-high slit up the left. "And with your hair in curls down the back..." Donna nodded enthusiastically.
"Big mistake," CJ teased. "Tucker could not handle you in that."
"All the more reason she gets it," Caroline smiled. "Make the boy crazy. It's good for him. I just wish Leo would.." She stopped and turned away quickly. "Sorry, never mind there."
"What is it?" Abbey asked gently, coming to her side and laying a hand on her friend's arm. What's wrong Caroline?"
Meanwhile Ainsley and Chloe were helping Donna admire the attributes of a white beaded gown with a slit up one side and strapless.
"You think?" Donna whispered, daring to finger it. "With my hair and skin, you think? It's so beautiful. But then it's got to look good with the basketball I'm wearing too."
Caroline sniffled and then held her head up. "It's just that, well the doctor told us we could...start back you know.... that I'm healed if we're easy.... and I want to, but Leo's like...afraid or something. I'm afraid it's not that he's scared he'll hurt me, but more that he doesn't think it will be good so soon after the baby--or worse, that we'll have another one right away. I don't know how to approach him about it."
"Honesty has always been the best with Leo," Abbey replied. "He likes it when people are straight forward. Caroline you should just sit down and explain your thoughts to him. He may not even realize what he's doing."
"If I knew what the problem is, I could handle it better," she sighed. "I'm just afraid he doesn't find me attractive, or doesn't want another baby, and I don't know which alternative is worse. I have one more good pregnancy in me before I'm too old, and I want one more of Leo's children. That's not so wrong is it?"
"No I don't think so, an even half dozen to love doesn't sound so bad," Abbey smiled softly. "Just talk to him Caroline. But I can tell you right now it's not that he doesn't find you attractive. He was looking at a picture of you just the other day and telling me again how beautiful he thinks you are."
"A pre baby Leo picture maybe," she sighed, "but thanks. Abbey it feels so good to talk like this about it. If Leo doesn't want another baby, well I can live with that; but he can't not want one now and then decide he does in a few years because I'm not going to have a high-risk pregnancy. I'd be terrified for all forty weeks. Besides the twins are already almost ready for school. I don't want them to be so far apart from a new baby. And I'm whining again and I'm going to stop. But Abbey thanks. You're a good friend. Now let's find something that the two of us old ladies can fit into."
"Old?" Abbey laughed, "speak for yourself. I'm young enough to be an expecting mother." Abbey found a gown of black satin with a white pearl demi-jacket that went over it. The jacket was made entirely of pearls. "Elegant?" she asked Caroline's opinion. "Or maybe I want something beaded?"
Meanwhile CJ had already made her purchase and was intending on keeping it a surprise until the party.
"I don't think so," Caroline shook her head as she held it up to her front. "You need to slip this on and I think that will be your answer."
Ainsley had propelled Donna in to try on the white gown and was sitting when she came out. The fabric clung attractively to her, outlining the baby mound just so and the white set off her alabaster skin perfectly.
"Donna," CJ and Chloe both started. "That looks amazing," Ainsley said, "if I may say so."
Abbey went in to try on the gown. "Caroline can you zip this?" she called a moment later.
Ainsley meanwhile had gotten a spaghetti strapped gown of basic black silk with a slit up the right and which rather showed off her baby mound. She walked out nervously to show off the gown. "I look like a cow right?"
"How come I looked amazing and you look like a cow?" Donna demanded sarcastically. "Ainsley soon to be Seaborn you look totally wonderful, and the babies only add to how great you look. Plus you know Sam will say the same thing. My god the man swells up with pride when you walk past him now."
"Are you sure it looks alright because it being my first official traveling Presidential function well of course it's my first function well anyhow I just want to make sure I make the right impression. That being on both Sam and the general guest list as a whole. I mean after all isn't it our duty to properly present ourselves?"
"Oh wow," Caroline breathed. "That's wonderful on you. The first lady of the land looks wonderful in that."
Abbey looked at herself in the mirror and smiled. Then she placed her hands below her waist and watched the fabric curve. "You see that Caroline," she smiled, "Jed's son."
"You don't think God would send you another daughter?" Caroline teased and then she rested her hands on the baby mound. "No this is a boy. The son of the man who'll be known as one of the best presidents this country ever was privileged to have."
"I dare you to repeat that," Donna smiled at her friend. "Ainsley I'm scared too. I mean I'm just Josh's assistant. I don't even have a fancy title to go with my name. People are going to look at me and say I slept with the boss and conceived his babies that's not even..." Her hand to her mouth kept the rest of her words from coming out. No one must ever know the actual story behind the babies' origin.
Everyone looked at Donna a moment but then let what she had said slide. Once the women had made their purchases they were back in the limo. "Hey I know these really great hot dogs, called Lucky dogs," Chloe began.
"With mustard and onions," Donna sighed, suddenly getting the image of a foot long. "Chili, mustard and onions," Abbey added. "Chili, mustard, onions, and pickle," came from Ainsley. "It's getting worse."
Abbey paused only another second before reaching for the phone. "Don..oh George excuse me. We ladies are feeling like Lucky Dogs and we'd like to eat them by a lake or something please. Fresh air and stretching our legs. Thank you."
"The Service isn't going to like you putting them through those hoops," Caroline smiled.
"Lunch without the press," CJ smiled brightly. She was admiring her ring for the 500th time since Toby had given it to her. The service took all of their orders and got the hotdogs. Then the women were driven out of the Quarters and over to City Park. The women were allowed a secure spot under some large old oaks with a large expanse of grass. CJ got out and after only a few steps she took off her heels and tossed them to one of the service men to put back in the car. Chloe did likewise and then they helped Ainsley and Donna. Abbey even reached down and chunked her shoes off, laughing as the servicemen tried to catch her shoes and Caroline's at the same time. "This is wonderful," CJ smiled. "So peaceful too," Chloe added.
"Yeah who needs the guys," Donna grinned, lowering herself carefully to the soft damp grass. "OK I wouldn't go that far I guess, but still it's nice to just have a girls thing now and then."
"I thought that's what the tea with the governor's wife was, and I don't even know when that is," Chloe sighed. "I can't keep this stuff in my head any more, it's too full of wedding plans."
"And baby want," Caroline smiled, seeing Chloe's look of envy at how Donna sat, keeping her back straight for the baby weight.
Chloe sighed, "Lots of that. I want to tell Tucker I'm carrying our baby as soon as I can. I don't want to have to wait several months. I don't think I could handle it. I want to get large with his baby and be big and round and pregnant and happy."
Caroline reached for her daughter's hand. "Honey I got pregnant with you on my wedding night. You see your dad and I waited too. And Stephen and I were so much in love back then; like you and Tucker are now. And for a long time it was good, until he started making his fortune and his business, and then his women, were all he cared about."
"If love alone could make a baby, you and Tucker will have one in nine months, " Ainsley smiled.
Chloe smiled, "I hope so. You're all going to help me through it when I do get pregnant right? I don't really have the first idea about what to do or what's going to happen..."
"Of course we will, that's what a mother and friends do," Caroline laughed.
"Besides you'll know it--when you can't get three feet away from the bathroom," Zoey sighed. "Mine didn't last long though, and the doctors tell you that as long as you're sick, that's a good sign you're keeping the pregnancy going. It's very upsetting to men though."
"Well it didn't do much for me either," Donna sighed. "I tried convincing Josh I had four month flu. He actually bought it for a while."
Ainsley laughed, "Well I simply avoided Sam. It helped that he thought I was still mad at him." "You weren't still mad at him?" Donna asked. "Well yes but that's all in the past now," Ainsley replied and everyone laughed lightly. "I promise I'll do the best job I can even if I get morning sickness," Chloe told CJ.
"Well child maybe you and I will have it right along with each other," CJ smiled, "but I know you will. I'm not at all worried."
"What about fitting behind your desk and your arms still being able to reach your computer," Donna fretted, stretching her arms out in front of her belly, comically waving them.
"I suppose that's where having a laptop would come in handy," CJ smiled. "I hope we won't get THAT big!" Ainsley fretted.
"I'm already that big," Donna muttered. "I'm waiting for the first Lyman remark about bouncing me into a room. And as for a lap top--in case you hadn't noticed, I'm not going to have a lap much longer."
"You can put it on top of the baby," CJ suggested. Everyone laughed. Chloe reached out and touched Donna's belly.
"It's OK," Donna smiled at the young woman. "There's 3 in there. If you put your hand flat, and you're still and I am too, you can feel the waves they make sloshing around." With only the women around her, she pulled down her waistband and nodded to Chloe. "If you want."
Chloe gently put her hand there and was patient. In a moment a look of sheer wonder came over her face. "That's the most wonderful feeling in the world!" she gasped excitedly, "No, I bet from your end, from the inside it's the most wonderful feeling in the world."
"Because it's flips right now," Caroline grinned. "Zoey tell them what it's like when it's feet and hands. And then multiply that by a second baby."
Zoey winced, "Okay til you're about eight months or eight and a half and then it's worn out it's welcome..." "Zoey don't frighten them," Abbey laughed lightly.
"OK, but it can get painful," Zoey smiled, "and at the same time it's the best feeling knowing your baby is growing inside you. When Charles was born I was like OK I've seen him, he's great, now put him back where he belongs, all warm and safe inside."
Donna and Ainsley began to sniffle and cry. Chloe looked dazed and CJ merely sighed. "Ah hormones," Abbey smiled.
"Yes," Zoey smiled. "I cried more in nine months than I did my whole teenage life. But Charlie was always great to me, even though I baffle him some. It's Sam that I can't imagine as an expectant father. Ainsley how does he do it?"
"Amazingly," Ainsley smiled and ceased her crying, "he's been doing research on the internet I just found out the other day and he's read all of the expectant mother books I have in the house. He's really involved and it's amazing, beautiful actually."
"We are talking about Samuel Seaborn here aren't we?" Abbey laughed. "Actually honey, I've never seen the man so happy...or so devastated when he thought you didn't want him anymore."
"I wasn't sure I did," Ainsley sighed, "he had hurt me so badly. I didn't know if I could fix things between us. Of course when he finally found out I was pregnant everything changed." She smiled and rubbed her babies, "I'm glad it did."
Donna frowned. "I didn't know you felt hurt by him. Was it something he said?"
"More like what he did," Ainsley replied, "when we were together, the first time I mean, and after we got together he just...well you know he just started protecting me too much. He was stepping in and fighting all of my battles for me and it made me feel weak."
"Only because he loves you," Abbey said softly, "but I can understand. I know how I feel when I feel like I'm being handled by Jed's office. I love the man to death, but I am my own person, with my own life besides being First Lady and Mrs. Jed Bartlet."
"We know that," CJ said. The women continued to enjoy their lunch. Then afterwards they walked around on the grass for a bit enjoying its softness before they finally got back in the limo to go back to the hotel.
"You know by now the men are frantic for us don't you?" Chloe smiled. "Good for them once in a while," Donna grinned. "They need to miss us--reminds them why they like us around."
With its small police escort the limo shortly delivered them to the hotel's basement entrance.
The meeting finished up and the men said goodbye to their guests. Sam hung up the house phone as the last person left. "Guys....uh Mr. President and guys....the women aren't back yet. How long does shopping take for crying out loud?" "Not back?" Josh looked panicked. "Who's not back?" Tucker demanded. "Sam why don't you yell fire in a crowded theater next time," Jed muttered. "Leo?"
"They went to have lunch in the park according to the last service report," Leo replied, "you can all stop panicking."
"And you were going to share this exactly when?" Toby growled. "We could have all had strokes here. Well I'm glad they had a good time anyway. Now if I have the schedule straight, tonight is the Cajun food and dancing on Bourbon Street right?"
"Yes, all except the President and First Lady," Leo said, "the service said it was just too much of a security breech for that."
"They can't close down a place for the night?" Toby frowned. "I didn't realize they weren't going. It doesn't feel right."
"Well I didn't know you all wanted to stay at just one place. If you name it we can get it shut down," Leo smiled.
"You know what," Josh spoke up. "It may be that the man would enjoy a night in a hotel room with his beautiful wife and the rest of us out of his life for a few hours."
"Can't they do that afterwards?" Sam asked.
"Seaborn I'm not going to get into what the President and First Lady do in their hotel room," Josh joked.
"Why don't we ask the man himself what he'd like to do tonight?" Leo spoke up. "If he'd like to go, Caroline and I would be fine staying with him and Abbey in a private area while the rest of you lushes bar hop."
"You know I think a night out would be wonderful," Jed said, "Abbey and I can relax out as well as in. Especially since it will only be you around. She can rest at the hotel tomorrow night, unless she says otherwise."
"I just wish they'd all come back here," Josh fretted. "All of them running around the city is not sitting well with me."
"They're well guarded," Toby pointed out and then looked to Leo, "they did take plenty of protection right?"
"Abbey's with them," Leo reminded the men. Wherever the first Lady was it could be assured that half of the service detail would be there as well. "They'll come back when they think they can handle us again." He sighed as he thought of Caroline and how much he missed her, Chloe too.
"I know. I just needed to hear you say that," Toby sighed. "I'm a little new at this."
The other men smiled at him and Sam patted him on the back. "She's going to be fine. You really love her, that's easy to see and the way she loves you back. You’re one lucky man Zeigler."
"I am yes thank you," Toby blushed and grinned at the same time. "When I realized she loved me, that the feelings I've had all these months were returned--I felt like the luckiest man on earth. She's a wonderful woman; and one of the best things about her is that she can give a reporter hell, and then five minutes later she's the warm and sweet woman I love and I'm going to die of embarrassment now--excuse me."
The other men laughed. "Well how about Donna," Josh spoke up, "how she can put up with me all day and still be as cheery and willing to serve as she is I don't know." "And what about Ainsley," Sam added on, "she came to a job for a White House she didn't even believe in just to serve her country and now she's one of the best assets we have." "And Abbey, who after 25 plus years of marriage and numerous campaigns and at the age of forty one is carrying my child again," Jed said.
"And Zoey," Charlie spoke up. "A beautiful woman who could have anyone, and wanted a poor kid from the projects. And not just that, but she shows me every day how much she loves me. And Mr. President, I don't know if I've told you or not yet, but I wanted to say congratulations on your baby. Bet it's a boy."
Jed smiled, "A Boy. That's what we're hoping to, but we have four beautiful and wonderful girls, another one of those would be just fine too." "I miss them so much," Josh suddenly blurted out.
"You can miss Donna," Sam grinned, giving him a large push. "But leave off Ainsley. She's mine to miss."
"They're back anyway," Leo called, hanging up his cell phone.
Donna emerged from the bathroom after her hour-long visit in a soft blue maternity sundress with Hibiscus flowers patterned on it.
"Whoa that should come with a sunglass warning," Josh yelped, walking up behind her to wrap his arms around her and the babies both. He shook her belly gently. "OK you three, this is your dad speaking," he joked.
"They can't hear you yet," Donna spouted off informatively, "but it's good that you talk to them all the same." She smiled up at him.
"Well they can feel me then," he grinned, giving her belly another shake before putting his arm around her shoulders. "And where is your sweater missy? Chilly nights remember?"
Donna sighed, "Josh I'm an incubator. I feel like I'm 112 sometimes! Do we really have to--" at his look she grabbed the sweater impatiently and then threw it at him. "You carry it." she hurried out the door then to meet up with the others.
Josh put the sweater around his shoulders as if it was for him, resting his hand on her back as they walked. "Hey Lyman it's you," Toby assured him, "but when I wear them I tie the sleeves and I look better in pink."
"I don't think I really want to know," CJ said as she appeared behind Toby, "especially not if it involves you and pink. I still remember when you had to dress up in a big pink bunny suit and be the Easter bunny."
"I was adorable," Toby reminded her. "The best Bunny on the Easter egg rolling hill."
CJ smiled and kissed him, "that you were. Now come on and I'll show you about how to handle jambalaya."
"The hotter the better," Toby declared, giving her a little push. "Lead me to it woman."
"Do you know they have a dish akin to this in India," CJ said as they headed down the hall arms around one another to get ready and board the limos.
Meanwhile Ainsley appeared in a black and white checked top and shorts outfit. Her hair was pulled back by the headband she usually wore and curly at the ends.
Sam was lying on the bed, reading Newsweek and not looking up. Having been dressed and ready for a half hour he had given up on her.
Ainsley coughed, "Samuel Seaborn you'd better get a move on now and let's get out of here before I have to go to the bathroom again."
Sam leaped to his feet and regarded her. "Hi. I figured you'd gone with someone else. Ok I'm ready. I'm going to have crawfish and bite the heads off them."
Ainsley's eyes got wide and she immediately threw a hand over her mouth and barely made the bathroom.
"Bad visual I guess huh?" Sam whispered from the doorway, waiting for her to pause before he approached her, keeping a wet towel in front of him. "You wouldn't hit a man with a wet towel for you would you?"
"That depends on whether or not be brought an apology with him, I mean that was horrifically gross Sam and I already warned you that the little swimmy things were a problem..."
"And I will not touch a swimmy thing all evening," he promised. "I just didn't associate them with...that kind of food. I will eat whatever you're having. Now can I help you clean up?"
"That would be lovely," Ainsley half smiled.
Sam knelt next to her and wiped her face, pressing the cold wetness to the back of her neck as he kissed her temple. "I'm really sorry honey."
"It's alright," Ainsley, said, "It's really alright Sam. You can't help that some things make me puke at some times and others don't...and then sometimes those other things make me puke and the ones that usually...well you know."
"But I don't like when I cause it," Sam frowned and helped her up.
Chloe hadn't even gotten dressed yet she was so busy working on her laptop.
"Chloe soon to be Seaborn, if you don't get a move on I am going to ask the front desk for an escort service to do this evening with," Tucker threatened. "And I'm starving. Some of us worked the afternoon away." He dropped behind her and pulled her to him away from her machine. "I love you remember?"
Chloe smiled, "I know. I'm sorry I'm being so distant. I just have a lot on my mind." She kissed him and promptly closed her laptop pretending him from seeing what she'd been working on so diligently and she went to get dressed.
Tucker stretched out onto the bed, intending to close his eyes only for a moment while she dressed, but fell into a sound sleep instead, caused by his insomnia at night.
Chloe turned around to tell him she was ready and found him asleep. She sat next to him on the bed and brushed his cheek. "Still not sleeping at night? Why Tucker?" she asked gently. "I'm ready to go."
"Worried, scared, excited and in love," Tucker smiled. "And mostly I lay awake and watch over you sleeping in my arms."
"I'm not going anywhere," she said softly, "Tucker it's going to be wonderful. Everything's going to be just fine. Please don't worry so my love. I worry about you not sleeping..."
"Well it's a Seaborn trait," he sighed. "Sam doesn't much either. We just know how to keep quiet about it so we don't disturb our mates. Hey, the only thing I don't worry about is how much you love me. And how much I love you. That's not a question."
Chloe smiled and kissed him. "So will you carry me home if I get drunk?"
"Of course I would look after you," Tucker smiled, taking her question in all seriousness. "But as someone who hopes to get pregnant in a week, I don't think that's a great idea."
"Oh that's right...I'm abstaining from Alcohol...remind me of that," She smiled and kissed him again. "I'll just get drunk on happiness then..."
Amidst tight security the party gathered in the underground garage. "Abbey you look great tonight," Jed smiled when he had a calm moment to notice her. "As pretty as the first night I ever asked you out. I was sixteen and you were fifteen and I had loved you the whole year of geometry, third period, Mrs. Fox remember."
Abbey smiled, "yes and I had fought you for top score all semester too if you remember."
"Yes I do, and I told you if we shared history class you wouldn't even come close." Jed smiled and Abbey kissed him. "Yes but I won in the end..."
"What can I get for you Mr. President sir?" the owner of the restaurant asked.
"Something totally authentic New Orleans, with rice, and the hotter and spicier the better," Jed declared.
"I'll have whatever you're bringing him," Leo nodded, "with something tall and cold and wet to wash it down, with one of those little umbrellas in it. Just hold the alcohol."
"Ah then you be wanting some jambalaya and a Strawberry Daiquiris, virgin," Leo said. "Two virgins," Jed added. "I'll have the same," CJ added, "and some gumbo." "Same here," a bunch of the others all started at once. "I tell you what," the man said, "Boudreaux is goin' a make you everything this restaurant has to offer and you can try it all. We have the best Cajun food you'll find this side of the Mississippi."
"Then bring it on," Sam declared. "And I'm buying my friend Josh here a beer, and then he's buying me one, and then we're switching to pop because I don't get drunk in front of my children." "No you do that in private," Tucker told him, snuggling in close with Chloe. Sam threw a napkin wad at him.
Chloe looked through the drink menu. "I want a strawberry Daiquiris no alcohol please," she requested. Soon everyone had a drink in hand, only Toby, Sam and Josh having alcohol. The music soon inspired Chloe to want to dance. She pulled Tucker from his chair and they made their own dance floor.
The music changed from fast to slow, and shortly Chloe was wrapped in Tucker's long armed embrace. "Leo they make a beautiful couple," CJ smiled. "And next week you'll be the father of the bride." "Yeah I know," Leo smiled and moved closer to Caroline, "and the mother of the bride is more beautiful every day." Beneath the tablecloth he ran his hand up her leg, tickling slightly and felt her shiver under his touch.
Caroline looked at him and her eyes filled with tears. "Leo," she gasped softly.
Chloe smiled up at Tucker where she was dancing in his arms. "Will you still love me like this when we're married? Will you still look at me the way you do?"
"When we're married and you're large with my child inside, I will cherish you even more," Tucker whispered, sliding his hands down her back as low as he dared in view of the company. "Chloe Madison, this is for life."
"What," Leo whispered in mock innocence. "I happen to be married to the most beautiful woman in the room, and I'm damn lucky to be that, and... And later,” His voice broke and he had to swallow hard. "And later I'm going to show her how special she really is to me. I've missed you--I mean I've missed us."
"Oh Leo!" Caroline exclaimed and she threw her arms about him for a kiss. Abbey saw them and smiled. She prayed all would go well for Caroline and Leo.
Meanwhile Chloe was curled against Tucker. CJ turned to Toby, "it's been a while..."
"Too much information," Toby smiled and blushed at the same time. "Of course where you and I are concerned I consider 'been a while' to mean we skipped the morning because we were rushing. I think I'm wanting to make up for years of being deprived."
CJ's eyes got wide and she elbowed him. "I meant it had been a while since we'd danced. Toby," she gasped in playful astonishment. She leaned in and kissed him.
"I can't believe we started out waiting years and now we're only waiting days," Chloe whispered into his ear from where her head was laid on his shoulder.
''You make it sound like we've been engaged since we were twelve," Tucker grinned, kissing her forehead. "Yes it's almost over for us, the waiting I mean. Us is just beginning."
"We danced our first night together," Toby smiled in remembrance and stood up, helping her up. "Hey I was just about to ask her," Josh teased. "And she probably would have accepted since Toby was just sitting there," Sam joined in. "But I think Josh and I should ask these two beautiful women who carry our children if they would like to."
"No thank-you," Ainsley spoke up. "I'll give it a try," Donna said coming up with a new method of getting out of her chair. She walked with Josh onto the dance floor. "This is going to be kind of weird," she stated.
"Dancing with the woman I love is not weird," Josh, corrected her. "Just rest the babies on me, put your arms around me and we'll wing it."
"Ains you ok?" Sam hooked his arm around her neck and rubbed his thumb against her cheek. "Just not in a dancing mood?"
"I...I've never...I don't know how to slow dance Sam," Ainsley admitted sheepishly, "I never learned how to waltz or anything. I can't fast dance either for that matter."
Sam opened and closed his mouth a few times and then looked at her closely. A Southern conservative family he realized. Maybe dancing was not something they did for religious reasons. "I can only do what I need to get me through parties and functions," he admitted. "But don't worry, I'm more than content to sit and hold you. And watch Josh and Donna balance a beach ball between them."
Ainsley looked at Sam almost hurt. "I think they look beautiful," she said, "and just because I can't dance doesn't mean I don't wish I was out there. "Look at how they're doing it even though she's..."
"Come on," Sam told her, hearing her assurance that she wished she could. "Anyone can stand there, holding on to me and praying I don't mash these big clod hoppers down on their little toes. Besides I want us to balance our own beach ball, only we have the volleyball size yet." He stood and offered her his hand.
Ainsley smiled gently and took his hand. She didn't rise quite as gracefully as she used to but she had poise when they took the dance floor. Amazingly they danced perfect together, Ainsley's pregnancy nestled between them. She smiled at him happily after a minute. "This is definitely nice."
"Very definitely, and it's become my favorite way to sleep too," he grinned, "I love feeling the babies tucked between us. It's like between the two of us, nothing can happen to them. They're all safe and warm and protected against the horrible stuff that goes on in the world."
"Well they can't stay in there forever," Ainsley smiled.
"No but when they're born we're moving to an island off the coast of Maine where the rest of the world can't get at them," Sam told her, not totally teasing.
"So later, when we go upstairs," Leo was saying into Caroline's ear, "well I just hope you bought something skimpy and fun."
Caroline looked at him, "Leo can we go somewhere and talk," she said seriously. "It's important."
Leo took one look at her and knew she was serious. "Of course we can honey." He rose and took her hand. "Mr. President, Mrs. Bartlet, excuse us for a bit please." He led Caroline to another part of the room helping her in to one of the unused booths, whose high backs provided them privacy. "Now what can I do for you? And if it's something I did or didn't do, let me apologize first off."
"Leo we need to talk about things between us, or the lack thereof lately. The doctor cleared us to make love again if we were careful and gentle. Several times I've offered and every time you've refused. Is this about baby Leo--is this about not wanting another baby?"
Leo drew in his breath sharply, thinking over his reply. "Yes OK, it was at first. Not for the reason that you might think though--but because I felt like you were already overwhelmed, with the twins and then with baby Leo. I would love another child Caroline. But the thing is, I'm gone so much of the time, all day most of the time, half the night others. I already destroyed a marriage that way, not that we didn't already have problems, but my hours were the last straw. I was scared that's all. I didn't want to see you begin to hate the life you came to in D.C. Is this making sense?"
Caroline smiled softly, "It makes very good sense except for one thing Leo. I'm not your ex-wife, I'm your current wife and I love my DC life, here with you and our children. You know when you're gone too long we bring you and Chloe and Tucker lunch. You always make an effort to spend at least a few hours of each week with just the children. You're a remarkable father Leo and I would love to have one more child with you before I reach the age where I can't...but only if that's what we both want. Most of all Leo I want you and that means sharing with you the responsibilities that are your life and accepting that that's what makes you, you." She kissed him. "I love you Leo and I'm not, we're not going anywhere."
Leo kissed her longingly, right there in front of everyone. "I think another child would be just wonderful. You are such a good mother. I want us to have another baby, as soon as you feel up to it, with this one caveat--that you'll get some help. I know how you feel about turning the kids over to others, and I'm not talking housekeeper or nanny. I'm just saying a college girl to come in a few afternoons a week after nap or whatever to take them off your hands. You can go read or sew or soak in a tub--just so you take a break. Deal?"
Caroline smiled, "Deal. So long as I'm always in the house when she's there that's fine." She kissed him, "I love you and I'm glad we had this talk. I was really worried and feeling a little hurt."
"I know," Leo sighed, squeezing her hand. "And I've been wanting to bring it up too. I've missed very much our time together--making love to you. I love you Caroline, more than I ever thought I could love anyone in my life. I used to think Jenny and I had a good marriage, but we were just going through the motions. And once Mallory was in college, even the motions stopped." He leaned across and kissed her again. "How about we join the dance floor before all that food gets here because after I expect to be too bloated to move."
Caroline took Leo's hand and moved with him onto the dance floor.
"Mom looks better," Chloe sighed happily from where her head was still against Tucker's shoulder.
"You know it's a shame Gina and Lucas couldn't be here," Zoey said to Charlie as they sat at the table sipping their drinks, "but with her due date in a week..."
"I miss them too, but the doctor freaked, not to mention Lucas, when she mentioned coming," Charlie nodded. "But I hope she doesn't have the baby until we get back. She really wants you to be there when Daniel Lucas is born. I think it's so cool she's naming him after her dad too."
"So do I," Zoey smiled, "and speaking of little ones I miss ours. I haven't seen him hardly all day except to feed him once."
"I'm waiting for the day when I can play ball with him," Charlie grinned. "Zoey you know I really want to be a good dad to him. I don't want to be at work all day and just see him to tell him good night at nine."
"Your mom does look more relaxed, Tucker agreed. "She and Leo just needed to talk I bet. Leo gets so busy, and then she doesn't want to bother him so they don't sometimes, not to mention dealing with the twins and the baby is so exhausting sometimes."
Chloe sighed, "Yeah and I haven't been there to help anymore. Belle actually told me the other day that she missed me. I told her that we still live in the same house but she said it wasn't the same."
"I miss them too," Tucker smiled. "And that begs the question as to scheduling after we start classes, not to mention what if you're pregnant by fall term?"
"If I'm pregnant by fall term, which I hope I am. Then I'm not going. I'll continue my work at the White House but otherwise I'll be taking it easy. We'll be living at Mom and Dad's and so I'll have her to help take care of me." Chloe smiled brightly, "imagine me pregnant by Fall term. That's only three weeks away..."
"I'm praying for it---your pregnancy, not fall term," Tucker grinned. "A baby of our own--I'm almost afraid to say it aloud. Hey do you think your mom wants another baby?"
"I've heard her talking to baby Leo about it," Chloe said. "I think she does. For one thing I think she likes the way Dad treats her when she's pregnant. Plus I think she always wanted a big family and Stephen wouldn't give it to her but Dad does."
"I like that big family idea," Tucker grinned. "I love Sam but of course he was gone before I could really get old enough to appreciate a big brother; and my parents weren't into kids---well you know that whole story." He leaned down for a long kiss. "You and I...we're going to fill up a big house with them aren't we?"
Chloe smiled, "You’d better believe it! For one thing we're lucky in that we're getting a nice early start." She raised her head up and kissed him. "I love you so much Tucker and I want this baby so badly."
About that time the food began to be brought out and laid out on a long bar that would serve as the buffet.
"Sam this is wonderful, but your children are demanding to be fed," Ainsley pointed to the food and looked to Donna and Josh. "Donna the food is arriving," Josh pointed. "I don't suppose you're..." All he saw was her back as she and Ainsley had the same idea.
Tucker kissed her softly. "Oh listen, a year from now you'll be moaning about stretch marks and we'll be so sleep deprived we'll wonder where our heads were when we wanted this so bad," he teased, his alight at the prospect.
"And we'll be blissfully happy and probably trying to work on another," Chloe laughed lightly and then kissed him. "Wosh look out, hungry women coming through," Chloe said as they dodged the forming line. "Ainsley was first followed by Donna, Abbey, then CJ, Chloe, Zoey and finally the men.
"I know I'm going to pay for this," Donna sighed, fixing herself a bowl of the spicy jambalaya, "But right now I want something that burns going down." "I'll take some of that good looking Gumbo," Josh pointed, "and with the garlic in these, I doubt we'll be doing anything later."
"Babies the lot of you," CJ said. She was seated with her bowl of gumbo and halfway through it without breaking a sweat. She was obviously a pro at eating gumbo. Abbey wanted everything with sour cream in it or added to it.
"Good lord I hope this place stocks pepcid," Jed mumbled, looking at the pregnant woman wolfing down the spicy Cajun fare. "At least we don't have anything going on in the morning and then we're doing the bayou tour with the boats in the afternoon. This New Hampshire boy is looking forward to that. I specifically ordered an alligator or two be on the bank."
Abbey gave him the 'Jed get real' look and then went back to eating. "Anybody have any oranges?" Ainsley asked a minute later, "Sam I want an orange between my bowl of gumbo and my red beans and rice."
"We are bringing out some fresh fruit in a moment ma'am," the waiter assured her.
"Between what and what?" Sam frowned. "You're going to eat red beans on top of that gumbo?"
"And don't forget the cornbread for those beans," Donna pointed out. "This food is wonderful."
"Excellent," Ainsley agreed. "Men are definitely babies in this department," CJ added as she was starting on her plate of red beans and rice. Chloe had chose to start off with the red beans and rice and having mashed her cornbread up in it was enjoying her meal taking sips of her strawberry daiquiri to wash it down.
"Is that a virgin daiquiri?" Caroline inquired and Chloe gave her the look.
"You know the staff needs to do these things more often," Leo pronounced, "except that in five years we'd all be dead from obesity and high cholesterol."
"Or something else," Josh sighed, thinking suddenly of his upcoming surgery and quickly looking around for something to change the subject. "Sam pass me some of that braised cabbage stuff please."
Donna looked at him and her eyes filled with concern. "Josh," she said very softly as she laid a hand on his arm.
"Sorry, Deputy Downer strikes again," he whispered. "I'm OK with it really, just a little scared, but more dreading being in the hospital again than anything; and not even so much for that, but for being away from you. No one can look after you like I do."
Donna smiled, "well you know if you'd actually tell your friends what's going on in your life they might pitch in and try to look after me while you're in there and they might help out in other ways too," Donna hissed back in a fast whisper.
Josh opened his mouth to object and then was immediately quiet. "You're right," he said softly. "I hadn't wanted them to know because I don't want a big deal like when I was in before. Will you help me tell them?"
Donna smiled and squeezed his hand, "whenever you're ready...just remember I'll be at your side as much as I can be. There's no place I'd rather be after all." She leaned in and kissed him.
"Mrs. Bartlet could you pass the sour cream?" Sam asked looking at a plate of red beans and rice. CJ, Toby, Ainsley, Jed and Leo all looked up from their eating to look at him.
"What a man can't ask for sour cream?" Sam frowned. "It's an acquired taste OK?"
"Thanks," Josh grinned, "but I don't want you there exhausting yourself. You did that when I was shot and that was bad enough. You weren't pregnant then."
"And I'm not going to worry and fret worse at home?!" Donna suddenly yelled standing up. "Joshua Lyman you are the most infuriating, pig-headed, stubble brained man I have ever met!" she tossed her napkin into her chair and grabbing her plate of red beans and rice stalked out of the room. "I'd say you pushed the wrong button," Sam was the first to make the acute observation. "What was that all about?" CJ asked.
"OK let me just tell everyone at once," Josh sighed, "and then I'll go humble myself to my fiancée. When we get home I'm going into the hospital for a couple days for surgery. It's a male thing, sort of like female trouble I guess. Anyway, they expect it to be benign. I can come home in forty-eight hours, and I can come back to work part time a couple days after that as I'm feeling up to it. They found it in the hospital before, and they've just been watching it, but it's starting to cause discomfort now and needs to be taken care of. My problem is not with that anyway, it's with worrying about Donna, and asking you guys to watch over her."
Everyone nodded and made comments of 'yeah, sure no problem' or 'yeah, we'll do that'
Just then Donna let out a loud scream that stopped the room and all it's occupants.
END part 1