Series: Lisa and Pat Series 2 #6
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 37859
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 sixth installment in Series 2
Author Notes: Fifth installment in Series 2
By: Pat and Lisa
"It's fine Abbey."
"Fine? Fine is not what you tell me right now," Abbey said as she looked at herself in the mirror.
"It's what Colleen picked out, she always does a great job," Jed said. Abbey glared at him.
"This is a non-official function Jed, Colleen picks out my outfits for official functions," Abbey sighed, her patience was about shot with her nerves.
"And you know what else I could have done. I could have said you look beautiful in anything you wear," Jed said.
"You could tell me it's going to be okay," Abbey said.
"Don't be so nervous it's just a doctor's appointment to make sure the baby's okay and get your first sonogram," Jed tried to soothe her.
"Yes, after which we announce that the First Lady is pregnant."
"Before people start guessing," Jed said, his eyes traveling to her middle.
"CJ it's Dateline on line one," Carol said.
CJ picked up the phone. "You're ready for tonight? You'll know when you get here. I'll prepare you when you get here."
She hung up the phone.
"CJ is there something you want to share?" Carol asked, shaking her head. "Like why the President and First Lady are making a joint appearance." She lowered her voice. "They're not getting a...well splitting up are they?"
"Who's splitting up?" Tucker asked as he breezed past with two large cartons. "Chloe where does this shi....uh stuff go?" he shouted.
"I don't care," Chloe replied as she sat fanning herself in an otherwise cool office.
"Listen no one is splitting up and I don't want any of this to go anywhere," CJ said, "the President and First Lady are fine. The reason for the joint appearance will be made known tonight."
"I'll take that as a put it down anywhere thank you Tucker for getting that heavy stuff up here," Tucker groaned, dropping the two boxes with a thud in the center of Chloe's desk and turning to CJ. "Is the staff going to be able to sit off camera and watch or are we relegated to the pinochole room to watch on the black-and-white?"
"I don't know," CJ said, "I'll have that information for you after I'm briefed by the President and First Lady."
"Thanks CJ." Tucker dropped into the chair by Chloe's desk, reaching out tentatively to touch her cheek. "You're not feeling well or what? You want me to take you home?"
"No, it's just that same flush thing I've been fighting for a couple of days. I feel fine except I'm a little tired and a little warm. I came here to do a job and I'm going to do it."
"OK," Tucker sighed. "I'll get you something cold to drink at least, and get these boxes out of your way."
"CJ-CJ we're here," Brighton's little boy voice echoed in the hall way as he hurtled toward them, Belle close behind and Leo following closely with baby Leo on his back. "Guys we talked about being quiet," he cautioned. "Hey CJ, have I missed anything?"
CJ scooped up Brighton with a smile of delight and ushered them all into her office. She opened a box she now stored in the corner and Belle and Brighton grabbed out the colors and paper and went to work.
"The First Lady and President should be enroute to her appointment now. We got the equipment moved in to the basement and had the top two OBs from GW over. I've a meeting with them both immediately afterward to discuss how tonight is going to go over. I'm trying to hold information down to a minimum down here to prevent rumors, Carol already asked if they were splitting, stuff like that could be fatal..."
"OK thanks. Sorry I wasn't here this morning. Caroline's appointment. And then the Nanny got sick and Caroline has a terrible migraine and nausea so she's lying down. I hated to leave her but...and why does my daughter look unwell? Is it something going around? God I hope not because I can't afford to be sick." Baby Leo picked that exact moment to do exactly that, down the back of Leo's suit coat.
"Okay give me that," CJ said taking baby Leo carefully and giving Carol the code baby. Margaret appeared with a new jacket and took the other one to go directly to the cleaners and CJ had Leo cleaned and changed in no time and was cuddling him in her arms. "Crisis over."
She lowered her voice then, "I think where your daughter is concerned that it might actually be a bug of the nine month variety. That's just my personal thought and I haven't figured out quite how to mention it to Tucker yet so I've just been watching but it's been a week and a half that she's been irritable like this and on more than one occasion she's been dizzy or flushed."
"How is Caroline? I didn't know she was ill..."
Leo collapsed onto the nearest chair. "Remember that discussion we had about whether Caroline and I should give it one more go after Leo here? No she's not ill. As for Chloe, wow. I know it's what they wanted. I just don't know if Tucker can handle it. Three nights ago she scraped her knuckle with a knife and he wanted to take her to the ER. He does love her though--more than I ever thought possible." He shook his head and mopped his face with a kleenex. "Are we going to get through tonight CJ?"
"I hope so," CJ replied, "Josh has been in with pollsters all morning running numbers. Apparently its not going to hurt us and it could actually help us if its handled well." CJ leaned against the edge of her desk. "You mean you and Caroline are having another? Are you sure yet? That could be a houseful with Chloe and Caroline pregnant at the same time."
"It's a big house," Leo smiled. "And sometimes it's scary. Chloe too huh--I hadn't gotten quite used to Caroline. But as long as I have my office--the door locks now--it's OK. And CJ, I love this family stuff. I never knew how much I missed it. When I think of all the time I was alone in there I just shudder now."
CJ smiled and sighed, "Yeah our place is too quiet most of the time, just Toby and I..."
Dr. Alyssa Cole and Dr. Ann McMatry rose when the President and the First Lady entered the basement room.
"Good morning doctors," Jed smiled, "relax please. I'm just another nervous expectant father here. Now what's on the agenda today that I'm going to have to pray I don't faint watching."
"Well we're going to give the First Lady--"
"Dr. Bartlet please," Abbey interrupted Dr. Cole.
"Excuse, Dr. Bartlet a full work up to determine as much as we can about her pregnancy and finish it up with a sonogram."
"Then I should stay? Remember twenty years ago husbands were relegated to the waiting room all the time. Dr. Bartlet what's your pleasure?" He kissed her cheek, resting his hand on her belly.
"Of course you can stay," Abbey smiled and laid her hand on his. "No doing that you know when..."
"I'll behave," he promised. "Hey we can show the sonogram on Dateline tonight."
Abbey looked at him as if he had just disclosed a state secret.
"Honey these nice people are not going out and blab that," Jed smiled. "Doctor Patient and all that. Besides we're planning to keep them locked up in the Roosevelt room until after the show airs."
Abbey smiled, "My husband is kidding obviously. Okay let's get this all over with. Do what you need to do."
"We're going to do the usual blood work, a pelvic, and your sonogram," Ann smiled. "Same things when you did your OB residency --well maybe not with the sonogram since they weren't routine back then. You've been feeling decent--nothing more than the usual complaints?"
"Tired and nauseous with the heat thing," Abbey replied casually. She changed into the gown behind a screen and got up on the table. "This is very First Lady looking."
"For the next seven months you are my pregnant wife," Jed growled. "That takes precedence over everything. But I do love the hole. Let's order a gross of these for playtime."
"Wouldn't the tax payers love that," Abbey said sarcastically. She turned to Jed while they took her blood and then McMatry began to do the blood work while Cole began to do Abbey's exam.
"Dr. Bartlet you're how far along?" Cole asked. "How many weeks are you figuring?"
"This would be...I'm guessing 12 or 13 weeks," Abbey said.
"OK," she nodded. "If you're giving birth to a linebacker maybe."
"What are you saying? I'm farther along than that?" Abbey asked surprised that she had miscalculated.
"Possible. Or.....how do you feel about twins? Of course the ultrasound is about to tell us anyway. Twins are more common in older mothers you know."
"Twins," Abbey gasped, "okay I'm not sure I really wanted twins..."
"You want me to cancel one?" Ann teased and looked to Jed. "Mr. President you still with us?"
"I don't think so," Jed frowned, watching as Alyssa prepared the ultra sound. "Honey, twins?"
Abbey sighed, "could be. They're concerned that I'm starting to show so early."
"It doesn't lie," Ann pointed as soon as the image came up and she swung the screen. "Ma'am, you're a doctor. Tell me what you see there."
Abbey sighed, "Twins. Fraternal twins."
"Bingo. Out on a limb, boy and girl," Ann went on. "And perfect. Better start interviewing Nannies."
"I'm willing to bet it's two boys," Abbey said. She said nothing about the nanny issue intending to think that over later.
Ann focused again on the screen. "Yep you may well be right," she said again. "Next month we'll see better. Mr. President you may finally be getting your sons."
"I'm....I'm speechless, and you know for me how strange that is," he sighed and kissed Abbey. "Wow. I didn't know the old plumbing could do that sort of thing any more. Wow."
"Yes that's just what the American public is going to think," Abbey sighed, "I'm not sure we can pull off twins. That's going to be a lot more difficult than one baby."
"What does the American public have to do with you carrying my twin sons?" Jed demanded. "They don't get a say in that part of my life."
"It could run your numbers into the ground if the public thinks I'm distracting you or if they think you can't handle all of it."
"I'm far more worried about how you're going to hold up as I campaign than I am about anything like that," Jed scoffed. "Doctors she's in good health right, well considering she's pregnant I guess?"
"Excellent health," Dr. Cole smiled.
"And she can do her activities for a while longer--as long as she eats and rests. No need to even think about bed rest or anything like that unless there's reason to," her colleague added. "Now about the sixth-seventh month, then yeah, it's time to stop climbing mountains."
"We're scheduled to start campaigning in the beginning of January, that will be the start of my seventh month, what then?" Abbey asked.
"We'll get with Josh and prioritize the appearances so you can still show up now and then, long as the doctor says it's OK. No you're not going to be tromping around the hills of New Hampshire but you can make appearances. Think what an opportunity you'll have too to talk about things like prenatal care and taking care of yourself, and that a woman your age--don't kill me--can handle being first lady and being pregnant at the same time."
"Scot did you get this," Haley said showing him her paper. "This is what I got out of the figures."
"Yeah I got that--and it's not the answer Toby wanted," Scott sighed. "It's not supporting the conclusion the President wants to present."
Haley sighed, "okay, I'll flip you for who has to tell him."
"I'll take Toby, you get the President," Scott teased and gave her a quick push, knocking her backwards on the soft rug from where she was kneeling at the coffee table. "And I'm ready to look at something else besides these blasted numbers. Food comes to mind in fact."
"Okay, what's for lunch then?" Haley asked, "actually something hardy like soup or a baked potato comes to mind."
"Commissary, deli, or home?" he countered. "We can tell them we're running an errand and have time to go home if you want. Beauty of living only two metro stops away."
"Yes but today is soup and spud day at the commissary," Haley pointed out. "I think I want a giant order of French Onion."
"Then let's go before Toby gets there first. Remember corned beef and cabbage day?" Scott got to his feet and pulled her up beside him, sneaking a quick kiss as he did so. "I'm a lucky man," he whispered.
Haley blushed. She was getting better at receiving his kisses. She no longer pulled away and only occasionally did she stiffen.
"Let's go eat. Because I want to us to get out of here at a decent time. You might want to get your hair done or something--whatever it is you women do when the man in their life has a surprise for them."
"A surprise?" Haley looked surprised already, "well okay no I don't think I'll worry with getting my hair done but I will want to find something to wear."
"Then you'd better know where we're going." He pulled out an envelope from his back pocket. "Tickets to South Pacific at the Kennedy tonight. Happy one month anniversary."
Haley looked truly touched and then she hugged him. "Oh Scot that's so thoughtful of you. I still don't know what I did to deserve you."
"I'm a lucky man," he smiled. "And for the past month a very happy one. Let's go eat if you're going to shop too."
Haley nodded and slipped her hand in Scot's to go to lunch.
"Just the people I'm looking for," Toby boomed, joining them in line. "You've got good news I assume."
"Well...er....actually....no," Haley squeaked out meekly.
"So what are you waiting for?" Leo teased, "and don't answer that--it was too personal."
"We're not trying to sir," CJ sighed, "we're not trying to wait."
"CJ I'm sorry," Leo sighed. "I touched a nerve and I should have known better." He put a hand on her shoulder. "Go get something to eat. Take Leo with you and give him to Toby. He needs the work--see I think it's going to happen for you guys."
"I hope so," CJ said sadly, "if not there's always adoption I guess..." she replied not sounding one bit happy about the idea as she left the room with baby Leo.
"Ah a baby," Haley squealed when she spotted CJ, thrilled to change the subject off the figures.
"Hi honey," Toby whispered, keeping his voice so that only the four of them heard. "You kidnap this from our boss?"
"Yes, it spit up on him," CJ replied cuddling him.
"Not exactly a walking ad for fatherhood," Toby smiled, tickling the baby's chin. "We want one of these."
"Desperately," CJ sighed and smiled down at the baby in Toby's arms, "so desperately."
"Our turn is coming," he smiled and looked at Scot and Haley, nodding to the baby.
"Uh we're not even close to there yet," Scott grinned.
"Nope but maybe someday I'll have one, down the road," Haley mentioned, "right now I'm hoping for you and CJ."
"On our wedding night, I'm going to give her my baby," Toby spoke up. "I promise."
"Tucker if you can take care of the rest of the press packets excuse me," Chloe said before she hurried off from her desk and meandered around her new secretive route to the ladies restroom.
"Certainly," Tucker sighed, staring after her. Then calling, "never mind that Josh thought I was joining him to help with the briefing they're setting up."
"Okay so that's it then," Abbey asked.
"Except for what we're going to say tonight," Jed told her. "Do we want to confess to twins and show the video? We can talk to Leo and CJ for advice but my gut says we come clean right now, and then the matter is closed."
Abbey nodded, "very well then. That's what we'll do."
"Doctors thank you. And I know we don't have to ask that you keep all this quiet." Jed said, taking Abbey's hand to lead her in the dressing room. When they were alone at once he took her in his arms. "I love you and we can do this. We did it when we were kids remember."
"You weren't the President then Jed," Abbey sighed.
"No, I was a poor dumb kid with a lot of dreams," he smiled, "and all of them came true, the best one being you."
Abbey smiled and kissed him long and lovingly.
"We're going to be fine," he went on. "Just like our first campaign when we schlepped through the rain with Elizabeth on our backs."
Abbey smiled and squeezed his hand.
"Thanks Tucker," Chloe reappeared fanning herself again as she got the press packets.
"You're welcome," he replied, kissing her forehead since they were alone, only to draw back at once. "You are running a fever here. What the hell is going on with you? And I did hear you throwing up this morning by the way. But when you came out I got that I don't want to discuss it look so I didn't. Now what's wrong Chloe Seaborn?"
"I think I've caught a little 24 hour bug," Chloe said, "it's not the end of the world."
"Then you don't belong here," he scolded. "Let me take you home to your mom."
"No, no...I'll be fine," Chloe said, "CJ needs me for tonight."
"Were you this stubborn before we got married," he growled. "OK go ahead, but you be sure and tell me if you're worse. I'll be with Josh."
"Okay, I have your beeper number," Chloe smiled and kissed his cheek. She had a lingering scent of illness about her before she left.
"Tucker, hey, how's it going?" A somewhat weary CJ asked him a while later.
"Worried about Chloe," Tucker frowned. "She's sick CJ. Won't go home. She's all warm and she's been throwing up some. And when I ask her she just blows me off. I don't dare talk to Caroline, and I hate to bring up anything to Leo because he's got so much on his mind. I don't know how to help her and I love her and I'm scared."
CJ smiled wisely, "Okay, come here." She led him into her office and set him down. "I didn't want to say anything before now Tucker because I wasn't sure but I think five days is enough. Tucker, I think your young wife is pregnant. I also think you might want to get a pregnancy test and talk her into taking it."
"I think I need Sam...Leo...somebody," Tucker gasped, reeling from the news. "I'm not sure..." He stopped and CJ gave him a long patient stare. "If I'm old enough to be a husband and to make her a mother, I'm old enough to deal with this aren't I?"
"Yes I'd say you are," CJ replied with a nod, "after all you two are married and if she is pregnant its your baby. You're definitely old enough to deal with it. Of course if you want to talk to Sam by all means go ahead. I have a meeting with the Bartlets now so I won't be needing you for a while."
Tucker swallowed hard and stood up. "Thanks CJ. You guys are all such good friends. I don't know what I'd do without you. No I think I'll run over to the drug store and then I'll collect my wife for some 'us' time. Thanks."
If the man at the pharmacy thought it was strange that Tucker wanted the little box gift wrapped, he didn't say anything and Tucker located Chloe later that afternoon at her desk. "Come. We have something to talk about," he said softly, taking her arm. "And it's important--more important than anything around here for the next little while."
"Okay," Chloe frowned and obediently followed him. No sooner were they alone than she gave him a loving kiss. "Love you."
"I love you, and that's what this is all about. I've loved you since the day I met you. And I always will," he responded, returning her kiss and then handing her the package. "And because I love you, we're going to do this together."
Chloe looked puzzled until she opened the box. "Tucker this is a pregnancy test," Chloe stated the obvious as she looked at him nervously.
"Yes ma'am, and you're going to take it, and I'm going to help you, and then we're going to deal with the fact that in all likelihood we're going to have a baby," he smiled. "That our dream may have come true."
Chloe was totally expressionless for a moment more and then a smile formed. She slipped in a stall and took the test and then they sat there, waiting on it their hands joined together.
"Time," Tucker whispered. "We'll check it together?"
Meanwhile CJ knocked on the door of the Bartlet suite. "President and Dr. Bartlet its CJ. I'm here for the meeting."
"Come in CJ," Abbey said where she and Jed were sitting in their sitting area.
"Hi CJ," Jed smiled. "Just an hour to go. You think these clothes work OK?" He gestured to Abbey's simple dress and his own open necked sport shirt and slacks. "This is personal, nothing to do with government, so we wanted to be informal and relaxed, which is anything but the way I feel right now after the news we got from the doctor."
"I don't know," CJ said, "I really like Abbey in something burgundy. It does wonders for making her cheeks glow and look rosy and if you get nervous..." CJ finished as she looked to Abbey. "You look fine sir," CJ added to Jed. "I have a burgundy suit," Abbey offered.
"OK you can change if you want," Jed smiled. "Hey I'm doing good when my tie doesn't clash. CJ, you need to know something." He reached over for Abbey's hand before he continued. "Twins CJ. We're going to show the sonogram tape on the program."
"Twins," CJ smiled and the excitement blossomed on her face, "Oh sir, ma'am congratulations. That is so wonderful. I think we need to call a quick meeting in the oval on that point though before you all go on in the Roosevelt room. I think you should tell the senior staff first so that the press won't catch them off guard if they ask them something about it at the conference afterwards."
"OK that sounds good," Jed said thoughtfully. "Why don't you get someone to call Wong's and have them send over dinner. Only none of that garlic sauce for me. I burped for twelve hours straight. We can all sit and relax over moo goo gai pan and make sure we're all together on this."
CJ nodded, "okay, will do, one hour in the oval office right?" she double-checked.
"Perfect," Jed approved and turned to Abbey. "Honey you OK with all this? See I think if we can just do it all tonight--the announcement and then take some questions, we can then say that's all you're going to get other than 'the first lady feels fine today' for a good long while."
Abbey nodded, "except for what I've agreed to let Danny do."
"OK well that's between you. CJ needs to be firm with the press about hounding her. And the two of you will have to agree on what's to be released. That should be up to you anyway. Anything else or are we ready to round up the others. I can taste that egg roll already."
"I think we're about ready." Abbey said and they made for the oval office.
CJ knocked on the side of Sam's doorframe. "Hey you, we're having a meeting in the oval office in an hour. What's your Chinese order?"
"Lasagna," he announced without looking up.
"You want to rethink that?" CJ asked with a raised brow. "I said Chinese order."
"Sorry I was thinking lasagna." He smiled. "Shrimp with lobster please."
Chloe nodded and they crept up on the pregnancy test. With a deep exhale for courage she picked it up and there, blaring at them was their future, a bright red plus sign. "Well I guess that answers that," Chloe said fairly nonchalantly and laying the test back on the table for Tucker to see she left the room in a state of shock.
Tucker smiled and pocketed it. Tomorrow he would buy a baby book and this would be the first entry.
Tucker hurried out and nearly bumped into CJ still standing at Sam's door making notes. "Am I missing something?"
"I'm taking orders for Chinese there's a meeting in the oval office in roughly ten minutes. Of course I'm going to be late if I can't get an order from Sam. Ah and there we have it, Shrimp with Lobster. What for you? How's Chloe by the way?"
"Moo shoo pork and beef and broccoli," Tucker said automatically. "Not sure what she'll keep down." He walked a few feet from her and turned back. "You were right. Thanks."
CJ just froze a moment and went ashen before a small, soft smile appeared, "Sam you're going to be an uncle." CJ spoke her parting comment softly before she moved to Josh's office. "Josh, Donna, Chinese in the oval office ASAP. I'm taking orders..."
"Donna your good food fairy is here," Josh called. "CJ she was just moaning about being hungry. That twelve inch subway from lunch just doesn't stick with her you know."
"Ignore him," CJ growled. "What do you want Donna?"
"Mmm...I would really love six spring rolls and the mooshu pork," she enthused.
"Okay," CJ said scribbling, "Josh?"
"Anything with chicken that's extra garlicky," he called. "I don't have to worry about keeping myself fresh for later."
Donna smacked him and called out, "just bring him beef and broccoli."
"Gotcha," CJ said. She wandered down the hall then and encountered Charlie. "Charlie, Chinese in the oval office. What for you and Zoey?"
"Oh wonderful," Charlie called. "Pepper steak for two please. Sam what about Ainsley. Should I get her?"
"Yes, last I knew she was in the law library," Sam said, "oh and be careful about sneaking up on her...she's developed some thing..."
Charlie immediately looked apprehensive. "Hey I don't want to scare her. What's she developed? Does it relate to her babies?"
"I don't know but lately she squeals and drops things if you startle her," Sam said emphatically.
"OK, thanks. I'll let her know I'm there," Charlie frowned uncertainly. With a quick kiss to Zoey he hurried down the back steps to the large library. He let himself in and with no trouble spotted her, standing on a low stepstool as she perused a shelf of volumes.
"Ainsley," he called softly.
"Oh!" Ainsley squealed rather loudly and threw the volumes into the air beaning Charlie with a couple of them, jerking to see who had startled her threw her off balance but fortunately she stepped down before she fell. "Oh Charlie I'm so sorry!" She apologized immediately.
"At least I was warned," he gasped, his own heart pounding as he reached out to steady her. "Do you realize Sam would kill you for being up there. And since he's not here, I'm telling you not to get back up there. What do you need--let me do it and then we're having Chinese in the oval before Dateline."
"Mmm...Chineese," Ainsley smiled. "Just that one and that one left to get," she said pointing at two large and heavy volumes. "I was debating whether or not they were too heavy for me and how I was going to get them down if they were when you came in and well, startled me, not that you meant to startle me but you did."
"Sam did warn me," Charlie laughed and mounted the stool. He grabbed easily the ones she pointed and as she said they were heavy, heavier than he expected and his own balance was lost as he juggled them. He tried to step down and instead ended up flat on his back.
"I want Zoey," he moaned and then sat up slowly. "Or a priest."
"Are you okay?" Ainsley gasped trying to figure out how to get down to him in a manner that she could still get back up again and not finding any. "Maybe we should leave these until tomorrow..."
"Oh I'm OK," he moaned again. "More embarrassed than hurt." He set the books aside and pulled himself to his feet, shaking off her offering hand. "OK now where do you want these?"
"Sam's office please," Ainsley replied graciously. Then she followed along with Charlie. "Moogoo gai pan please CJ," she requested as she met CJ at the door to Sam's office. CJ scribbled it down and moved on.
"Toby, Chinese in the oval office in ten. What do you want?" she asked while he was still bent over his writing. He was going over her responses for the post-announcement briefing she noted.
"Do I like Chinese?" he sighed without looking up. "And by the way, you do good work here my love."
"Thank-you. Toby, dinner, what do you want?" CJ rephrased.
"Something with a lot of vegetables and double scotch," he replied. "OK oval office. Hold the scotch. Sweet and sour pork will be fine thanks. And a kiss."
CJ smiled and wrote down his order. Then she walked over and kissed him before excusing herself to call in the orders.
"I'll need more of that later," he yelled after her.
They began to gather in the oval, all coming from various directions. "Charlie are you limping or something," Sam demanded. "And why do I think that's probably Ainsley's fault?"
"Sam!" Ainsley cried out before turning red with humiliation and looking like she might cry at any moment. "Now you've done it," Donna felt the need to comment. CJ was the last to enter after having placed the orders. She handed out a sheet to everyone detailing their possible responses, what not to comment on and how to address certain issues. Then she looked to Jed and Abbey giving them the cue to address the staff. Abbey looked to Jed giving him the freedom to proudly announce the news to his staff.
"Mr. President I know this is really rude of me," Sam spoke up suddenly, "but since we're sort of all family here, can I just say that I need to apologize to Ainsley for what I just said to her. I'm sorry honey, and the fact that I've just been rude to the President should tell you how serious I am. That was thoughtless. And now Mr. President, I need to apologize to you for doing this. And at this point, I think I'll resign."
"Not tonight you're not," CJ threatened in jest. "Not before you finish his speech to the labor union," Toby added.
"OK you talked me into staying," Sam sighed and turned to Ainsley. "How about you? Should I resign as father of our babies?"
"Yeah, when you can find someone that I think fits the job as well as you do," Ainsley replied.
"I'll take that to mean I've got the job until then," Sam smiled and kissed her cheek, whispering "I'm sorry," at the same time.
"Mr. President," Leo invited the crisis over for the moment.
"Twins guys," Jed smiled broadly, holding up the sonogram cassette. "This says we're having twins, and I couldn't be more proud."
"Twins? Wow!" Donna exclaimed and Zoey looked a little shocked. Caroline reached over and squeezed Abbey's hand, "congratulations Abbey."
CJ smiled but remained silent. There was nothing else she could do as she dealt with her own grief and silently hoped for a new beginning.
At once Toby's arm went around her, himself shaking slightly with his own grief. "Our turn will come," he whispered drawing her aside. "Promise you that."
"I wish I could make you that promise," CJ choked out tearfully. "This is going to be so hard to do tonight." She then added even softer, "we should be part of the group."
"They understand," Toby assured her, "but yeah, let's go be with them." He wrapped his arm around her fully, guiding her to the table where the Chinese food was being spread. "Mr. President" he spoke up. "You know this is hard for CJ and you know why, so if she's a little…well emotional.." He stopped speaking and looked at both Abbey and Jed for support.
Abbey smiled and reached out her hand to take CJ's. Donna, Ainsley and Zoey did as well. "It will get better. We're all pulling for you and Toby," Abbey said and CJ sniffled and smiled. Chloe meanwhile was looking a little pale as she inhaled the smells of all the different Chinese offerings.
Tucker sensed Chloe's discomfort and held to her at once. "Dr. Bartlet is there something you could give Chloe for her. . ." There was quiet suddenly and all eyes fell to the young couple. "Sam I'm resigning with you," he moaned.
"What are you resigning for?" Josh teased missing the point totally.
"Because I can't get my foot out of my mouth," Tucker sighed. "I swear it's a Seaborn trait--genetic."
"Oh," Josh said.
"Okay," CJ took over. "everyone has a copy of the information sheet with definitions of common pregnancy terms correct? You've all been told by the President and First Lady about the babies and I'm sure you'll agree they were very open about it. It's also quite obvious that they're very happy. The President does not appear to be putting the pregnancy first on his agenda nor is he neglecting the First Lady and everyone seems to be handling it with the normal professionalism. That said, does anyone have any questions for the President or First lady about any of this. Something you may want or need to know for the briefing?"
"Nothing I can ask in mixed company," Josh murmured, steeling himself for the smack from Donna he expected.
He received the much anticipated smack on his thigh.
"No questions?" CJ asked again. "Going once...twice...Okay Mr. President, Dr. Bartlet, do you have any questions?"
"Just guys, this pregnancy is part of the President's private life," Jed said firmly, "so let's approach it from that angle. Concerns from the press can be brushed off. The administration and the campaign proceed normally is the watch word. OK?"
Everyone around the table nodded. "Okay let's do this," CJ said.
There was a flurry of activity as everyone took their places. Charlie and Zoey stood with Leo and Caroline on the sideline while CJ made Jed and Abbey look comfortable on the couch by the fireplace. Danny came hurrying in announcing that he had been asked to do the interview and he was seated opposite in the arm chair.
Meanwhile Josh, Sam and Toby were standing in front of tv screens. Donna and Ainsley, Tucker and Chloe were in Josh's office on the couch and elsewhere tuning in as was everyone who wanted to know what the news was.
Tucker settled back and leaned Chloe back against him. "We're OK aren't we? I really didn't mean to let our news slip until you're ready. I don't think anyone was paying hardly any attention anyway."
Chloe nodded, "no I don't think anyone even understood what you were saying. I think CJ's the only one who knows..."
"OK, love you," he whispered, giving her a long kiss as the Dateline music started.
The program opened with the sonogram tape and the voice over, "What you are looking at is an ultra sound of 14 week old twin fetuses. What is unique about these babies is that they. . .well why don't we let the parents talk about it. Good evening Mr. President and Dr. Bartlet."
There were so many gasps throughout the wing that it was surprisingly audible in Josh's office. Margaret fainted. "Toby...uh, Toby," Sam said as Margaret was falling backwards next to him.
"Good evening Danny, Good evening Ms. Pauly," Abbey addressed to open the interview. She was practically glowing on tv and CJ was smiling. This was going to come off all right. Now there was just the press conference afterwards to worry about, hopefully.
"Dr. Bartlet, I'm a mother myself," Ms. Pauly smiled. "And I know you're thrilled and proud and scared all at the same time. Does that about cover it? And Mr. President, are you in shock yet or what?"
Abbey and Jed smiled at one another a moment before Abbey answered, "Yes I suppose a little of all of that."
"Mainly we're just thrilled," Jed said squeezing her hand and looking at her with pride. "When she came to me and told me I was in shock for a moment but I love each and every one of our beautiful, wonderful, talented children and the two growing inside her now are no exception."
"I can imagine," Danny spoke up. "So what now? You're about to enter a grueling campaign for re-election. Does this change things? Will you be campaigning less? What medical restrictions are in place?"
"We met with our senior staff earlier after having a talk with Dr. Bartlet's doctors and we decided that the campaign will proceed as previously decided with only a few minor alterations. My wife will be traveling with me so long as her health permits it and making as many appearances as she feels comfortable making. Our staff is very supportive and they have offered any assistance that they can give and we will be making use of that. However, this does not affect the Bartlet campaign or administration, only makes us stronger and more joyful."
"Dr. Bartlet, how do you feel about being a mother at your age?" Jane asked gently, "and don't answer that if it makes you uncomfortable. And before you do, I'm going to editorialize and say it's wonderful. There's nothing like a baby --or two--to keep you young."
Abbey smiled, "Well now I hadn't realized I was that old." This got a laugh from everyone and CJ gave the 'nailed it' sign for her own benefit. "Actually," Abbey continued, "I'll admit that I was a little nervous about that at first, having the same thoughts as you. However, I think a baby is always a blessing and this time we're hoping for at least one boy. My husband promised me an exciting life and I promised him a son and now I guess it's time I lived up to that part of the deal hmm?" she teased and got another smiled from Jane Pauly and Danny Concannon.
"Do you want to share the sonogram results? As far as gender?" Jane asked. "And on a more serious note, will you be having amnio to check for Downs and other defects?"
"Of course, I think it's important to get the best care during pregnancy possible," Abbey said, "and as for the sonogram results we have at least one boy on the way, the other baby was turned and we couldn't get a clear view."
"And now I'm going to ask a tough question," Danny said, "because I have a reputation to live up to. If the amnio was positive for Downs, or another defect, would you complete the pregnancy?"
Jed gasped audibly at that and looked back at CJ. He was a staunch catholic with a pro choice stance, but this was a question he had not expected.
"Damn," Toby cursed as he watched Abbey set up for her answer. Leo closed his eyes and shook his head.
"I feel that every woman has to make that decision on her own," Abbey said. "My husband and I have always had healthy babies and we have no reason to believe that these two will not be as well."
"Dr. Bartlet you didn't answer my question," Danny fished.
"No," Abbey said then, "I don't believe I would. I wouldn't want to subject a child to anything other than a normal life with all of the joys and experiences and discoveries that can bring. I wouldn't want to trap them in a world they would have trouble understanding."
CJ sighed and closed her eyes.
"I need Donna right now," Josh whispered and hurried to her, Sam following closely, feeling the same way. As if reading their minds, Tucker moved Chloe up and out of their way and both men sat down by their women. Their arms going around them at once both rested their hands on the baby mounds. "Ours are fine," Josh whispered.
In the dark of off-camera, Toby slipped his arms around CJ from behind, pressing his hands to where their baby had lay for such a short time. "Love you," he whispered.
"What is that going to do to the campaign," CJ sighed. She could just imagine whole droves of pro-life people jumping ship and running to support their opponent.
"It's always been known this President is pro choice," Toby whispered. "And any opponent they run is probably going to be pro life. He's simply stating he's protected the right of a woman to choose. Not only that, but he's protecting what is the law of the land right now. If people want that changed, they certainly have recourse."
"I don't want it changed," CJ felt the need to comment.
Meanwhile Donna smiled at Josh and rubbed his hand where it was over her babymound, "everything's okay. We're just fine."
"I know. And soon I'll be holding these three beauties. And may I mention again right now how beautiful you look like this." The babies rolled against his hand and he laughed. "Easy guys, easy on mommy. Daddy's here."
Donna smiled, "actually you know I kind of like it when they do that. ...I might not get to ever feel it again." She finished, choking on the last of her words and looking to be on the verge of sudden tears as Josh's surgery and the doctor's words came back to her.
"I know honey I know," he whispered, rubbing her belly, "but you know I'm determined to not let that happen." He turned his face to hers and kissed her gently. "You will carry another child of mine."
She squeezed his hands expressing her hope and nothing else was said, their foreheads pressed together while in the background the interview continued.
"Mr. President we are so grateful for you and Dr. Bartlet for sharing this intimate time with us. I'm assuming your daughters are thrilled as well?" Danny asked.
"My daughters are I think just thankful they won't have to share a room," Jed teased. "No, we've spoke with them all and while it came as a shock to them, as it did to us, they are all as happy as we are and they're looking forward to the arrival of more Bartlets in the family."
"Mrs. Bartlet, anything further?" Jane asked gently. "And just let me wish my personal congratulations."
"Thank-you, Jane," Abbey replied with a smile, "no I just want to thank everyone for all of their support and to say that while I may have to make some cut backs, as every expectant mother has to learn to do, I still plan to be here for the country and I plan to stay active."
"And the campaign as well as my efforts for this country will continue, this I pledge," Jed went on. "My wife has been through this three times before. She can do it in her sleep, lord knows I did."
Jane smiled, "thank-you again. This has been Jane Pauly with Danny Concannon reporting live from the White House Roosevelt room with President and Doctor Bartlet. Congratulations again and goodnight everyone." She looked to Jed then who added his 'good night and God bless America' before the cameras cut and everyone began to clear out. Meanwhile CJ whisked Jed and Abbey back to the oval where everyone was supposed to meet. When they got there everyone yelled congratulations and popped open a bottle of non-alcoholic sparkling white wine to celebrate.
"Are you all ready to address the press?" she asked the senior staff. "Leo, you, Toby and Josh are the first panel."
"Tell them I died and you can't find me," Josh yelled.
"I've got a date," Toby added.
CJ gave Toby 'the look'. "I'll haul you all out there kicking and screaming if I have to."
"You can't give her a hard time until after you're married," Leo told him. "March mister. Lyman you're no exception, time to move it."
"Yeah OK," Josh sighed and kissed Donna. "Hey you sit still and rest. You're looking strange." Before she could answer he trotted after Leo, who was pulling Toby's arm with CJ at his other side.
Donna frowned and looked to Ainsley, "I look strange? What kind of an answer was that?"
"You don't look any different to me," she shrugged. "In fact you look like a woman pregnant with triplets who's been on her feet too much and should be resting more before she gets ordered to bedrest for the day."
Donna sighed and returned to Josh's office to take over the couch and Ainsley came to keep her company knowing that's the second place Sam would look for her.
CJ seated the panel and then opened it to the press for questions.
"Garret," CJ called.
"Mr. McGarry do you think the administration is prepared to handle Dr. Bartlet's pregnancy and do you think it will affect the President's stance?" Garret inquired.
"Stance on?" Leo parried back, "because if you mean abortion, the President is a strong advocate of a woman's right to choose."
The press scribbled and then Garret replied, "I meant other issues, women's issues and the healthcare budget..."
"Ah," Leo nodded and then looked to Toby. "Mr. Ziegler would like to take this one."
"Oh God," Josh moaned, knowing he would be next.
"Mr. Ziegler would like to be excused," Toby joked.
Someone else jumped in then, "Mr. Ziegler how do you feel about a pregnancy in the administration and especially with the campaign coming up?"
"Mr. Ziegler honestly believes that what The President and First Lady do within their family is just that--family business." Toby said firmly. "Unfortunately it can't be that way. So let me say that I know this President and I know he's quite capable of compartmentalizing his life. His family is everything to him, but so is this country and his administration. A man--just like a woman--can have it all."
Everyone wrote that down. "Mr. Lyman, we heard that you recently had surgery. Was this surgery due to complications from your gunshot wound or something else?"
"You know about female problems?" Josh grinned. "This was a male problem." He took a long breath and imagined Donna watching him. "And actually I can say it. Prostate OK--prostate. Not a hard word. And I would urge men my age--twenty six--to get it checked. I had no idea. It was something that could have killed me, and I was lucky they caught it. But no, no connection to the shooting."
"Twenty Six?" Toby choked with laughter.
"It is good for men of all age to be checked," CJ butted in to promote the issue since it had come up. Once she whisked Leo, Josh and Toby off they were replaced by Sam, CJ herself and the secretary to the first lady. The conference went over well and CJ was smiling when she finally left the room.
"We did good didn't we," Toby smiled and kissed her. "You ready to go home?"
CJ smiled and laid her head on his shoulder, "there's no place I'd rather be so long as you're there with me." Then she stopped him and kissed him.
"Okay, let's call it a night people, good job," Leo said.
Sam and Josh immediately went in search of Ainsley and Donna, finding them with their feet up on Josh's couch. "You ladies ready?" Josh asked, kneeling in front of Donna. "And tell me you're feeling OK please."
"I feel fine," Donna said giving him a puzzled look and shaking her head. "I'm just a little tired and ready to go home and curl up in bed with you. Josh I'm only five months stop worrying so."
"I'm going to need a padded room by the time you're seven," he moaned. "Yeah let's get you home. Good night all." He stood up and pulled her to her feet, keeping firm hold of her as she got her balance. "See everyone tomorrow."
Tucker was putting Chloe into her wrap. "You ready? We have news to share, but we don't have to right away if we just want to enjoy it for ourselves."
"No, we may as well," Chloe said, "everyone else can be as shocked as I am then."
"And pleased?" Tucker asked gently. "This is our dream Angel--the thing we've talked about forever has finally happened."
Chloe smiled, "I know. A part of me keeps thinking I shouldn't hope too much because I may wake up tomorrow and find it's all a dream..." she barely whispered to him then, "I'm pregnant."
"That's what the stick says," he grinned giddily. "I saved it you know. Tomorrow I'm buying a baby book, and that's going to be the first entry." He hooked his arm around her neck and dragged her down the hall laughing happily. "Pregnant huh? Father anyone I know?"
"Yeah this guy who got me pregnant on my wedding night...I don't remember what his name was but..."
"Where was the man you married when this happened?" he chortled. "In the bar? And this guy who knocked you up, must have been a real stud."
"Oh he was, drop dead gorgeous," Chloe joked along, "in fact...I think his name was Seaborn."
"My brother got you pregnant," Tucker gasped in pretend shock. "That bastard. I'll kill him."
"No don't hurt him," Chloe gasped in pretend, "we just can't help ourselves and...I love her."
"Her who?" Tucker yelped and laughed. "My god it's worse than I thought. You're having a gay affair."
Chloe blushed deeply, "oh lord I meant him!" She was now laughing tremendously hard and swatting at Tucker. Suddenly she just doubled over in the parking lot and was ill.
"It's not even morning," Tucker objected, holding tightly to her as her stomach heaved again. "I want to ask Dr. Bartlet about you, or get you to your mom's doctor or something," he fretted, holding her as she went again. "Should I carry you Angel?"
"Do you think you could manage?" she asked looking at him pitifully.
Easily he swung her up into his long arms, carrying her across the parking lot to their car. "Your coach my love. How're you doing?"
"Better," Chloe said, "a little better. I think I just want to go home and go to bed."
"I think that's a good idea. Leo and Caroline are tired too. Better to leave the news until breakfast maybe." He settled her with the seatbelt around her and started off slowly, taking her hand in his once he was on the road.
"How do you feel?" she finally asked nervously as they were underway.
"Thrilled," he said simply. "Happy and thrilled. But honestly, we have talked and planned for so long for this time that it's not unexpected. How many times did we say you were going to conceive our baby on our wedding night. Plus, this one God owes us, He has our first child with Him."
"Don't think I haven't been thinking of that every minute since I saw that test. How long will I have this baby before he takes it too? I almost want to curl up in a corner and not move ever again."
Tucker laughed lightly. "Honey God has one baby Seaborn Angel. He doesn't need another." His hand pressed her belly and he smiled. "This one is all ours to have and to hold."
"I'm worried. I know I should feel something else. I know I should be squealing with joy and jumping up and down but I just can't make myself. I don't know what's wrong with me."
Tucker squeezed her hand hard. "Well for one thing you just lost your stomach back there, and I can still feel you trembling, so that doesn't help. And of course you're scared. I am too when I think about what happened before. But I'm not going to any more than I have to. I want to be happy. I want to enjoy every minute of this and see our baby grow inside you. But know this--if the worst does happen, you will not be alone. And I would still love you as much."
Chloe smiled and squeezed his hand, "thanks. I love you. I love you very much and I hope you know that." She leaned over as though to kiss him and then drew sharply back. "Sorry...forgot about the vomit breath thing."
"I can take it," he grinned and hooking his hand to the back of her head brought her lips to his for a quick one. "I love you. And I bless every day that you're in my life."
"Me too," Chloe smiled, "at least now we know why I'm being so moody. I have an excuse!" she winked in jest.
"Yes you do," he responded seriously. "And if I get out of line I expect you to remind me exactly what that excuse is. You're carrying my child. I can behave myself--it's the least I can do."
Chloe smiled, "oh the possibilities on that one..." She was still a little woozy and wobbly as he helped her from the car. "I feel beat."
As before he swept her into his arms, managing to juggle her but still hold on through the process of getting her inside. "Tucker," Brighton screamed at once. "Chloe play with us. Why you carry her?"
"Because I wanted to show her how strong I am," Tucker grinned, nodding to Caroline who walked slowly in from the den. "Did you see the show?" he asked quickly, diverting her attention.
"Yeah it was great. You all really killed tonight," Caroline smiled. She was still holding a wet cloth. "Is Leo on his way home yet?" she looked a little weary.
"They're wrapping up there," Tucker assured her. "Caroline are you OK. You're awfully pale. And I can see these guys are giving you a bad time. Chloe isn't feeling well either. Too much excitement and the room was kind of hot. Let me walk you both upstairs and you can shower and change and meanwhile I'll put the munchkins in a bath and bed. Where's Leo?"
"Tucker we just left Dad, at the office remember," Chloe pointed out, "you just said so yourself!" She began to laugh lightly. Then she yawned.
"Chloe are you sure you're feeling alright?" Caroline asked looking concerned.
"Fine mom," Chloe was quick to reply, "just fine. Just a little tired, busy day and all..."
"You aren't feeling well," Tucker smiled. "I meant baby Leo. Caroline is he down for the night? And we really have to start calling him LJ or we're never going to know who we're talking about around here."
"Yes, he's down for the night," Caroline said, "hopefully. Yes I think LJ might be a good idea. Are you sure you're going to be alright Chloe."
"Mother don't worry so much about me. You need to go rest and take care of yourself. Dad won't like it if he comes home and finds you so bad. Besides...I have Tucker to look after me."
"I'm going to take her up to a warm bath," Tucker said firmly, noting that where she was warm earlier she was now trembling and seemingly chilled. "And then I'll get the twins to bed. Caroline you're still here. Good Night. Belle and Brighton will be in for a kiss once they're in their pj's."
"Thank-you Tucker," Caroline smiled, "I don't know what we'd do without you sometimes."
"My family," he grinned happily, wrapping his arm around Chloe to take her upstairs. "You two come on up with us, " he ordered the twins. "Your bathroom now. I've got some new soap crayons you can make pictures on each other with."
"Yeah!" The twins squealed and bolted up the stairs racing one another to the bathroom. "They're growing up so fast. I can't believe they'll be three in October," Caroline sighed, "and I'm pregnant again..." she sighed and shook her head softly with a smile.
"And it looks great on you," Tucker grinned and kissed her cheek, and then added shyly, "Mom."
Caroline smiled and ruffled his hair before she disappeared to her room and the twins appeared at Tucker's feet again where he still had Chloe at their doorway. "Bath," they said simultaneously.
"Go get your clothes off and into the chute," Tucker ordered. "I'm going to help Chloe into hers and then I'll come. Go."
When they had run off, Tucker took Chloe into the bathroom and began to help her undress. "I love those little guys. And it suddenly occurs to me if your mom had twins..." He trailed off and stared at her belly.
"You don't really think...really?" Chloe gasped following his gaze to her belly as well.
"I think the twins we've already got are going to wreck the bathroom if I don't get in there," he grinned and gave her belly a light punch. "But hey, it's possible isn't it. I mean on our wedding night, I was a stud remember."
Chloe blushed, "just have to wait and see I guess," she called after his departing form as he went to go take care of the twins. By now they had found the bath crayons and Brighton was orange with black stripes and Belle was blue and purple and pink.
"Hey you guys started without me and I told you to get your clothes off," Tucker scolded. "You two are supposed to be acting bigger than the baby. OK let's get these things off. Good thing it's only soap. Belle quit writing on the wall and come here." His mind drifted back to Chloe and he groaned. "We may need to re-think twins." Finally he had Belle in the warm water and Brighton followed.
Leo meanwhile came home and walked wearily up the steps, hearing no noise but Tucker and the twins, and the music from Chloe's bathroom. "Caroline you OK?" he called at once.
"In here love," Caroline called softly. She was tucked in bed with a cool washcloth over her eyes.
"I hear the twins," he laughed. "Long day? I would have thought they would have crashed by now the way they were running at the place too. They're with Chloe and Tucker? And are you OK? This second pregnancy so soon is going to wear bad on you isn't it? " He sat and resting his palm on her cheek, leaning down to kiss her gently.
"I'll manage," Caroline smiled up at him. "I couldn't be happier. Yeah Tucker's giving them a bath. He said Chloe wasn't feeling well so he put her to bed."
"Oh I know she's not," Leo sighed and looked intently at his wife. "Honey I think she may be pregnant. What they've wanted for forever may be here."
Caroline gasped lightly. "I hadn't even been looking. Oh my goodness. You're probably right. Oh maybe I should go see about her..." Caroline moved to get up.
"With Tucker hovering over her I think not," Leo admonished her. "And you need your own looking after here. Besides I'm sure it's something she wants to tell you--us--herself. Leave her be. One of them will scream if they need anything. Right now I'm just going to get out of this suit and hold you tight. So we did good on tv tonight did we?"
"It was terrific," Caroline smiled, "wonderful job."
"I'm glad. We try hard." Leo smiled, starting to shrug from his clothes. Halfway done he stopped and looked down at her. "Are you happy about this second pregnancy, really happy, so close to Leo? LJ? Honey I'm worried, worried that it's too soon, that we should have waited, that something will happen to you."
"Leo, sweetie, I'm not the first woman to get pregnant when her baby is only four months. Women have done it sooner. I'll be okay. Really I'm seeing my doctor..."
"You are not women. You are my wife. My wife that I love who has already lost one baby, so pardon me if I'm a little over protective," he groused. "Just promise you'll tell me if you need anything or there's anything I should know."
Caroline nodded, sudden dimness and fear descending on her. She squeezed his hand, "do you think we're going to lose this one too?"
"No--Leo arrived just fine remember," he reminded her. "And of course you know the other one was beaten out of you. I just worry. It's in my nature. You know I worry if I have nothing to worry about. Let me go see the twins and check on Chloe. What can I get you from the kitchen? I'm thinking about that cheesecake I saw in there."
"Oh no!" Caroline exclaimed wrinkling her nose. "However, some toast with peanut butter would be good."
"You know that does sound good," Leo smiled. "Milk?"
"Yes please," Caroline smiled, "and then I want my husband by my side, after you check on Chloe of course."
By the time the bath was done Tucker was covered in soap crayon drawings but at least they were clean. "You guys ready to night-night Mommy and Daddy and then we'll have our story and cookies."
"Night-night," Belle enthused while Brighton squealed, "cookies!"
"Let's do it," Tucker told them, snapping the last of Brighton's pj's and pointing them toward Leo and Caroline's suite.
"Two someone's for a night-night," Tucker called at the door just as Leo opened it to get the snack.
The twins bounded for the bed and Caroline pulled them up while Leo returned and each child exchanged a hug and a kiss with each parent before they bounded off the bed again to Tucker's side.
"And in a year we'll have another one bouncing on us while you hold our baby," Leo sighed, watching them go, and pressing his hand to her belly. "Girl maybe?"
Tucker shepherded them into his and Chloe's suite where he could hear her in the bathroom still. "Get decent," he yelled. "Twins for night-night. I'll get them cookies and read them a quick story Angel."
"Coming," Chloe said in a sing-song voice and she appeared in a white robe with a towel on her head and scooped each twin up in turn to hug them. She was beaming a bright smile and her mood reassured the twins who settled in for their story and put in their cookie request.
"...The end." Tucker grinned, giving each little one a quick wrestle and then a kiss. "Night-night guys. We all love you."
Chloe smiled and she led them to their room and tucked each one in. Then as she did every night she sat in the rocker until she knew they were asleep and she quietly slipped out. She rejoined Tucker in bed yawning largely and falling asleep almost as soon as her head hit the pillow.
Tucker settled himself next to her with his little light to read himself to sleep, and she instinctively curled into him wanting his arm over her.
Abbey sat on the bed reading a book in her pajamas. "How did they say it went?" she asked gently as soon as Jed had closed the door and removed his jacket.
"Success all around," Jed smiled. "We may get some flack from zero population or something like that. If so we'll handle it. Or some jokes about being good Catholics. I'm not concerned. These babies will be part of our life long after this White House is but a memory."
Abbey smiled. "Do you have something you have to do now?"
"I am going to drop these clothes on the floor like a normal husband does, and then take a quick shower, and then I am going to climb into this bed. After that, well I guess it's up to you. Did you have something in mind?"
"Well I was running through my itinerary for the next six months..." Abbey said, "actually I was thinking just some cuddling and talk with my husband." She smiled at him.
"Your husband would love to hold you and tell you how much he loves you, and how proud of you he is," Jed smiled. "Five minutes to wash the day off me please."
"By all means," Abbey smiled, "thank-you for tonight Jed." she said as he disappeared into the bathroom.
When Charlie entered the room he found Zoey sound asleep with five month old baby Charles asleep in her arms.
Baby CJ was in that post nursing stupor, mostly asleep, milk in the corner of his mouth. Charlie lifted him from Zoey's arms whispering, "us men will finish up," and put him up on his shoulder. Rewarded by a resounding burp, Charlie got CJ through a diaper change and sat in the rocker to finish getting him to sleep.
Zoey meanwhile settled further down in the bed and went to sleep.
"Out for the count," Charlie whispered when he crawled into bed with her a long fifteen minutes later. "And so are you," he added, pressing his body against her warm one. "Good night angel, I love you."
Abbey struggled against Jed's arms as he held her in bed. Finally she broke free, barely glanced at the clock noting it was six-thirty before she hurried into the bathroom and was ill. She closed her eyes against the sight and sound.
"Abbey?" Jed wasn't sure if it was the absence of her body or the noise that broke through to him in his deep sleep. He staggered from the bed and to the bathroom. "Honey I'm sorry," he whispered, sitting down on the edge of the tub so he could hold her as she went again. "My babies are giving you a hard time."
Abbey just moaned softly. After a few moments more she was finished and then she looked up at Jed and just smiled. There they were, her in her sleepwear puking her guts up and him in his boxers and t-shirt with his tussled hair, the President of the United States, sitting by her side and holding her while she was sick as a dog.
"Good thing that door is locked," he grinned softly, pushing her head down to rest on his shoulder. "Do you realize in exactly ninety minutes I'm going to be at a congressional breakfast. OK, bad idea to mention food. I hope you have a light day planned."
"Actually I have a tea at the Willard, a morning speech at the Daughters of the Revolution meeting and a nap," Abbey said thinking over her schedule. "Come on, get ready for your breakfast. I'll be fine now." She got up and made her way back into the bedroom to begin getting dressed.
Jed looked out and then with a long sigh stepped into the shower. It was not easy to love someone and be president at the same time, and to throw in expectant fatherhood was just an added complication, but also a blessing. Twins. Much wanted babies. Five minutes later he emerged, a towel around his waist. "I think I'll treat myself to a shave and a haircut downstairs before I leave for the hill" he announced. "You're gong to be OK? You'll take it easy, you'll relax, and you'll call me later? And what would you think about clearing our schedules for Camp David this weekend?"
"Just us or us and your staff?" Abbey inquired. "I think it sounds like a wonderful idea if you can swing it. That or the farm."
Jed stopped short, the towel dangling from his fingers. "The farm would be great wouldn't it? So perfect this time of year. And I'm good with just us, or the staff could join us. I could combine a little work that way, but I wouldn't want it to take away from time together with you. What are you comfortable with?"
"Let them come, they need a break too. You know they'll be spending their free time alone together so it wouldn't be detracting from you and I in the slightest. I know Leo and Caroline need some time..." Abbey commented as she dressed in a grey suit with a burgundy blouse.
Laughing Jed pulled the blouse out and put his hands under, making a ballooning out where the babies would eventually be. "Looks good on you Mrs. Bartlet. You may not be sixteen any more but it looks good on you."
"I won't be wearing anything in this closet when I look like that," Abbey said. She grunted as she fastened the skirt. "In fact I don't think it will be lasting too much longer."
"Okay, you can tell them now," Chloe said as they stood outside the breakfast room that contained Leo and Caroline. "They're going to flip out."
"Yeah," Tucker sighed and took her hand. "Mornin'," he said softly in greeting as he led her to her place and looked at Caroline and Leo. "Mom-dad, OK, we're going to have...well I...I got your daughter pregnant on our wedding night. Don't hit me." He looked so serious that Leo burst into laughter.
Caroline smiled, "congratulations both of you. Sweetie, Leo had already pretty much figured that out. You're okay huh? You need to make an appointment to see our OB."
"I know," Chloe said, "I have one at one even though you know how I hate that place."
"Well I imagine you'll get over that now," Caroline commented.
"Oh I'm gonna--" Chloe gasped before racing for the hall bathroom.
"Wha's wrong with Chloe," Brighton demanded.
"Sick tummy," Tucker sighed, hurrying after her, then remaining outside. "I'm here Chloe, I'm here."
"You're not doing her much good on the other side of the door," Caroline said gently from behind him. "Go, be with her, help her. She needs you." Caroline winced as Chloe went at it again. Then she scooped up Brighton who had followed Tucker and Chloe and headed back for the breakfast room.
With Caroline's encouragement, Tucker opened the door, slipping inside to kneel beside her. "I'm here," he whispered, "and I'm sorry."
"It's okay. It's part of pregnancy," Chloe said once she was finished, "it's disgusting but it's the price I pay for carrying your baby inside me."
"It's not so disgusting as it is that I feel bad for you," Tucker sighed, holding her head to his chest. "What can I do for you?"
"Tell me how wonderful and beautiful I am a lot...oh and don't mention food," Chloe groaned. "I want to go directly to bed...but I need to go directly to work."
"I think you should take the morning off at least," Tucker said firmly. "And maybe if this is only bad in the mornings we can do some kind of adjustment to your hours--or our hours--so that you can recover here. You can't work if you're running to the commode."
"What if I'm doing this for months though, or what if it lasts all day?" Chloe almost whined.
"Then I think we need to talk to the doctor about getting you something," Tucker frowned. "Because this can't be healthy. You and the baby need food. Maybe we can talk to Mrs. Bartlet first."
Chloe smiled, "that would be great. I don't mind talking to her. She's like an aunt. Well that's why I call her Aunt Abbey of course."
"OK let's plan to do that. And I know she loves you like a niece anyway," he grinned. "Should we call and say you're going to take some time or do you want to try it?"
"No, no I feel fine now," Chloe marveled, "let's go while I'm still good."
"OK let's do it," Tucker nodded. "You're passing on breakfast for the moment? Maybe something from the canteen will appeal more to you later, just I'm sure you need to drink."
"Grab me a bottle of orange juice from the fridge. I'll eat later and let's get going," Chloe said before she left the bathroom and got the last of her things together for the office. "I imagine CJ's office will be swamped with calls today."
"OK, we're out of here," Tucker smiled, dropping quick kisses on the twins before walking her to the car.
Leo gave a long sigh and leaned back. "You know how lucky we are don't you honey?" he asked softly, squeezing Caroline's hand. "The best of all worlds."
"The very best," Caroline smiled.
"Shopping trip to New York," Jed prescribed upon hearing her clothing dilemma. "Seriously, if you want to maintain the image of the all business first lady, then you'll need the clothes for it. Professional and smart, like you wear all the time now."
"Precisely," Abbey smiled, "but just when are we or even just I for that matter, supposed to find time for this trip in the schedule?"
"I think we can clear a schedule for a Saturday don't you? I'm the President. I can order the nation to go to war, surely I can make a Saturday to meet with a few New York designers and take my beautiful wife to dinner at the same time. Maybe I can combine with a campaign speech or something there." He eyed her skirt and smiled. "In any case it better be soon. Even if you have things left from Zoey, those frilly tops you wore back then don't say First Lady."
"No and I don't," Abbey said, "that went before Zoey could even think of walking."
"But pregnant women were supposed to look cute and feminine back then," Jed laughed and shook his head. "I'll speak to Leo about making some time in the schedule for that. But right now I want to look forward to a weekend on the farm. Sit around the fire, drink some hard cider, and have my way with you. Oh I forgot, obviously I already did that."
Abbey rolled her eyes at him, "don't forget to give the staff a heads up. They deserve the break, plus I'm sure you'll wind up working part of the time and it would be better to have them there than having to call them here."
"Yeah I think that works good," he nodded thoughtfully, finally putting on the last of his suit. "OK off for rubber eggs and leather bacon and I love you honey." He pulled her into his arms for a long kiss. "You so turn me on when you're pregnant."
"Oh go on Jed," Abbey laughed playfully shooing him off. She was smiling though, that one small comment had done wonders.
"Leo good there you are," Jed called, obviously in a good mood as he returned from breakfast. "Abbey thinks a working weekend at the farm would be good. Everyone to be included. Think that would work for you guys? You know the twins will love it. And the weather is supposed to be gorgeous."
"That sounds good," Leo agreed, "I'll pass the word along. Josh!" Leo spotted him and when he turned around, "meeting here at seven on Friday to caravan to the farm, pass it along to the senior staff."
"Right. Donna will love all that time in the car," he sighed, picturing a comfort stop every twenty miles, knowing at the same time she would want to go. She loved getting away like that, and loved that old farm and its fields.
"Donna good you've got your feet up and I have good news," he sang as he walked in. "Good news--we're going to the farm for the weekend."
"The farm? The Bartlet farm? Oh that's great! Who all is going?"
"It's a working weekend so I guess everyone," he smiled. "But you know the President. Once we get there he wants to ride and chop wood and fix up the barn--I don't see much working getting done. Of course I don't exactly see you riding either."
Donna frowned, "I'll just sit on the porch. At least Ainsley has to also."
"I was thinking about walks down to the river and making out," Josh smiled and leaned down to kiss her cheek. "And there's a lot of other stuff besides horseback riding there, like taking out the carriage, or the paddleboat on the river. But yeah you know Ainsley isn't going to be riding horses either, nor Mrs. Bartlet this time."
"Yeah so we can wave good-bye to CJ and the others and..." Donna smiled kissing him. "Come on."
"Let's make sure everyone knows about it so they can start planning. I'm going to talk to Sam and Leo anyway. Wonder if they'd be interested in splitting the cost of a charter up there. Easier on the pregnant ladies and there's normally a bathroom aboard."
"That could be good. I imagine Toby and CJ will drive," Donna hypothesized. "Better go spread the word."
They walked down to Toby's area and found Sam standing outside his office. "Sam we're going to the farm this weekend--working weekend," Josh called. "Toby and CJ, Leo and Caroline, and Tucker and Chloe I'm sure."
"Okay, I'll spread the word," Sam said before poking his head into Toby's office. "Working weekend at the farm, everyone's going." Then Sam left in search of Ainsley. He found her in the mess eating an apple and talking to someone on counsel staff who was just leaving.
Sam nodded to the person and when they were alone, sat down and kissed her cheek. "Hey sweetie. Farm weekend. You up for a little plowing?"
Meanwhile Tucker and Chloe arrived and Tucker escorted her to her desk, easing her down. "OK there's something going on I don't know about," Toby growled as he joined them. "Just looking for CJ. We're doing the farm this weekend."
"CJ's at a meeting with the first lady's doctors to go over facts and disclosure and make sure she has all of the terms down correctly," Chloe said after consulting her book. "And yes there is something you don't know. I'm pregnant."
"Well thank you for sharing that," Toby gasped and sat down at her desk. "I take it you're happy." He looked to Tucker and laughed lightly. "And this guy is the dad?"
"No, it was the cateror at the wedding," Chloe teased, "of course it was Tucker he's the only man I've ever..."
"Of course he is," Toby laughed and patted her hand. "Congratulations both of you. That's wonderful. Tucker you take good care of her now. "
"Yes sir, always," Tucker answered solemnly.
"CJ should be back any minute," Chloe furthered.
"And here I am," CJ said in a sing-song voice as she appeared. She smiled and kissed Toby, happy to see him there. "And what brings you to my neck of the woods?"
"I've decided to run for Congress and I wanted you to be the first to know," Toby told her, with a totally straight dour face.
CJ blanked, followed by, "you've what?! Please tell me you're kidding?! Toby...tell me you're kidding."
"Of course I'm kidding. Who the hell would vote for me," he laughed and hugged her. "No thanks. I'm perfectly content right here. And when the White House is done, I'll be more than happy to retire somewhere with you and our kids."
CJ gave him a quick smile. "Now what am I missing?" she said, quick to turn the talk from babies. Meanwhile Chloe, behind CJ was frantically giving Toby the gag sign.
Toby frowned and shook his head. "Don't have time for charades. OK movie--3 words. Now what's up is that we're going to the farm for the weekend. Working weekend supposedly. I need a date."
"Well maybe Margaret's free," CJ offered.
"Nah, she's going with Leo," Toby grinned. "Guess I'll go stag and hope I meet up with the President's press secretary while I'm there. I hear she's a babe."
"Sleek and sexy," CJ flirted.
"And great in bed," Toby smiled as well.
CJ swatted him and everyone laughed.
"Tucker we need to get those books Toby needed," Chloe reminded him.
"Yeah right now," Tucker nodded, helping her to her feet. "But your days of box carrying are over. Come and show me where they are."
Chloe sighed and went with Tucker. "You know you can't baby me," she said as they navigated the hallway.
"I can try," he laughed and kissed her. "No I know I can't. I just want you to be careful that's all. I don't think either of us wants to go through again what we did with our first."
Chloe burst into tears right there on the spot.
"Nice move Seaborn," he chided himself and grabbed hold of her, pressing her into his chest. "Honey I'm sorry. I should know better than to bring that up; but of course it's on my mind. It bothered me as much as it did you and I don't want to go through that hell again is all I'm saying."
"So what...I...I should crawl into bed and stay there for...for the rest of my life!" Chloe wailed.
"Now you're being silly," he chided her. "Of course not. Just use a little common sense is all, lifting and carrying isn't a good thing right now. Climbing is a no-no, that sort of thing. You're surrounded by people who love you, and a man who would die for you--let us help is all I'm saying."
"It means someone else is doing my job though. It makes me ineffective," Chloe sighed.
"No it means someone is helping you with the physical. It's not any different than if you broke your leg and you were in a wheelchair. You'd need help then, but you could still do the bulk of your work. This is the same thing. You're just being careful of yourself and your baby."
Chloe finally showed him a small smile. By now they had reached the books and she called out the numbers as Tucker retrieved them. Then she opened doors for him all the way back to Toby's.
"Toby your savior has arrived," Tucker called. "And I can't wait to do a weekend at the farm." He laughed and blushed at the same time. "Remember when us guys went down to the river and jumped off the cliff--naked as the day is long as my mom would say."
"When you did what?!" Chloe gawked and CJ echoed that from the doorway where she had just walked in on Tucker's last statement.
"When was this and why am I just hearing of this insane nonsense?" CJ furthered.
"We got naked and jumped off the cliff holding hands," Toby laughed. "It was a dare. Pure and simple. Must have been the fourth of July--we had the keg remember."
"Well we'll have no more of that," CJ replied shaking her head
"You all could have killed yourselves," Chloe fretted.
"Oh we landed on Leo--he broke our fall," Tucker laughed. "You know men are more relaxed about that sort of thing than women. Men's locker room and all that."
Chloe threw up her hands in defeat.
Car doors closed as Sam, Ainsley, Josh and Donna arrived at the house on the Bartlet farm. CJ and Toby were already sitting on the porch, drinks in their hands enjoying the lovely Friday afternoon and the act of being together.
"Hi all," Sam greeted them, helping first Ainsley and then Donna from the car while Josh exited the driver's seat. "Going to be a beautiful weekend and Ainsley threw up six times on the way here."
"Thank-you Sam, my humiliation is now complete," Ainsley remarked.
"Just sharing a highlight of the trip," he smiled, keeping a close arm around her as they climbed the steps.
"And of course when Ainsley wasn't puking Donna was peeing. It's been a wonderful eight hours," Josh grinned. "We're chartering a plane for the trip back. Seriously."
"Hmmm..." CJ mused. "Everyone else is inside. Glad you all made it."
Josh helped Donna up the stairs, watching her lumber with her babies, large and beautiful he thought. "We need a ramp."
"I'm managing just fine Josh," Donna replied evenly but firmly, letting him know not to press the matter. She smiled as they reached their room. "Dr. Bartlet really does have such nice taste," Donna commented as she looked around the room. "This is going to be a really great weekend."
"I'm glad you're here," Josh whispered and kissed her. "I wouldn't have come if it was just staff and not staff and assistants and/or guests. Just remember we're a long ways from Georgetown Hospital and that beautiful nursery."
"Josh I'm not due until December 5th. This is September 5th!" Donna said with obvious frustration.
"You know I'm not good with dates and calenders, that's what the tax payers pay you the big bucks for," he grinned and kissed her. "Besides who else would put up with me?"
"I don't know but I may put out an ad," she teased.
"Brilliant and beautiful tall blonde, pregnant with triplets, seeks boss who isn't such a clod?"
"Seeks boss slash fiancé who can count months," Donna teased back.
"You can advertise all you want but you'll never find anyone who loves you more than I do," he whispered. "I've got the market cornered on that. And you are beautiful besides."
"Alright, you're forgiven again. Now, how about taking me out to the barn so I can at least pet the horses if I can't ride them."
"Right this way my love," he smiled, leading her to the kitchen and out the back door. "It's beautiful here," he sighed and took a deep breath of the fresh mountain air. "And so are you."
"You know what's really nice about sitting out here?" CJ asked where she and Toby were still the sole occupants of the chairs on the front porch and though they were in the clear view of many they were in peace and quiet.
"That there's no reporters yelling your name?" Toby grinned.
"No, that no one's cell phone has gone off since we got here," CJ smiled as though the thought was pure heaven to her. "I don't want to hear one all weekend."
"Hey we're all up here together--we'll just yell if we need to talk. Me I'm just glad to be out of DC, and glad to be here with you. You know what, we need a place like this for weekends--not this far away, but just where we can come to get out of D.C. but still close enough to get back easily if there's a crisis."
"I suppose so, though it's just as easy to hole up in our townhouse," CJ replied. She reached over and took his hand to hold. "It's so nice," she repeated softly.
"Amen," he smiled. "Let's talk wedding. Ours. Soon."
"How does Feburary sound? It's post babies. It will still be cold but it's too long of a wait for a spring wedding."
"I'd put it on my calander but only Ginger knows how to do that," he grinned. "National Cathedral right? And I have to wear a tie."
"You have to wear a tux and yes, National Cathedral," CJ replied. "What do you think about Feburary 20th?" she asked looking at her calender. "That's the next to last Saturday in Feburary..."
"Tux--Cathedral," got it," Toby grinned. "And reception and wedding trip. Trip?"
"We don't have time for a trip. I mean that will be the down slide to getting geared up for the campaign," CJ said.
"Well we can sure as hell do a weekend if nothing else at the Willard or Hay Adams," he told her firmly. They can spare us for forty-eight hours while we make a baby don't you think?"
CJ smiled and squeezed his hand, "now that I'm sure they can manage. "I'm thinking the Hay Adams, two nights of dinners and drinks and baby making, days too."
"We only leave the bed for dinner and dancing, then we're right back at it," he grinned, kissing the back of her hand. "And we tell no one where we are."
"Amen," CJ said whole-heartedly before she leaned in to kiss him long and lovingly.
"Get a room," Charlie teased as he and Zoey walked outside, with him carrying CJ the baby.
"I promised Zoey we'd take a ride if we found a sitter," Charlie went on and promptly dropped CJ into Toby's lap. "You're on Mr. Ziegler." With that he grabbed Zoey's hand and they ran for the barn.
"What the hell am I supposed to do with this," Toby demanded, juggling the squirming bundle.
"Hey, take it," CJ sighed, "it's as close to a baby as you're going to get for quite some time."
"Well make it stop squirming," he yelped. "He's going to wiggle right off. CJ take this -- I'm scared."
CJ scooped up the tiny baby and cuddled him into instant quiet.
"Wow," Toby breathed. "What was I doing wrong? I hope mine isn't going to hate me."
"Not a chance," CJ smiled softly and she sat close to him. "You see you have to hold them where they know they're secure. If you're uncertain they know that and they're going to be afraid that you'll drop them." She used her free hand to position his arms and then she carefully settled baby CJ there and the baby snuggled in immediately. "You see. They're just handle with care packages."
"He's absolutely amazing," Toby gasped, "but you keep your hands ready in case I panic. God CJ I've never seen a baby this little, let alone held one. You know what, now I think I know---know why Charlie looks the way he does when he holds his son. I want that CJ, I want you to have my baby."
"Oh Toby, you have no idea how bad I want that, how bad I've been wanting it...since before New Orleans..." She said as one lone tear trailed down her cheek.
With one hand he reached up and brushed the wetness away. "I know honey. And we're going to have it. This time next year I'm going to be sitting in this chair right here, but it's going to be our baby on my lap. That's a promise. And I pray it will be natural, but if not--if God doesn't bless us--well there are babies all over the world who need love."
"I want one of my own," CJ said painfully, "I want a baby Toby." She gently rubbed baby CJ's forehead. "Aren't they beautiful?"
"If it was in my power I would transform you right this second to a duplicate of Donna," he whispered. "Large with my child. I just know our time will come. God would not deny that to us, of that I'm certain. Beautiful, they are that. Ours will look like you of course."
"I hope he has a lot of his father thrown in. You're very handsome Toby Ziegler. You're handsome and I love you very, very much."
"And I love you Claudia Jean, but our first born is going to be a girl. Beautiful like her mother. You deserve nothing else. In fact you deserve more than God gave you with me, but I think you're stuck because I'm not going anywhere."
"I don't want anyone else but you," CJ smiled, "God did just fine."
"Then in this next year we have a wedding and a baby, and an election, to look forward to." He smiled and kissed her, totally happy.
Sam looked up from his newspaper to find Ainsley pacing restlessly. "Honey what is it?" He asked gently. "You want to take a walk or something, or a ride maybe? What can I do for you?"
"You could make these babies stop kicking me," Ainsley said rubbing her back. "I do believe that I am black and blue inside. Walking seems to help a little, in my opinion."
"Then let's walk down to the river and make out," he laughed. "We can still do that can't we?" He rose and came up to her from behind, splaying his fingers on the baby belly. "OK Guys, time to give Mama a break here." He was still for a second and shook his head. "Wow they are active at the moment aren't they? I'm sorry honey."
"Yeah," Ainsley smiled, "I was thinking of, perhaps, taking a blanket out under one of those large trees and spreading it on the nice grass and just laying there, maybe you'd read to me..."
"Well you know the President has more books than the DC library," he grinned. "What's your pleasure?"
"Something Jane Austen," Ainsley smiled.
"You got it," he smiled. "I'll get the blanket and some drinks too and meet you by the back door."
He found her there waiting and leaned over to kiss her nose. "OK let's go. "
Ainsley smiled and walked out front with him until they found a tree about 150 feet from the front porch and CJ and Toby. Ainsley spread the blanket and let Sam help her down. Then he leaned against the tree trunk and she laid a pillow in his lap and then her head. She smiled with contentment then and she placed one hand on her baby mound.
His free hand joined hers and he took it to rub gently across as they felt the babies relax.
"OK what am I reading here?" he asked as he showed her the books. "CJ helped me get these. I'm afraid my fiction reading list didn't include Ms. Austen."
"Why Sam! Pride and Prejudice is a classic. Everyone should read it. It's a very interesting romance about a woman who falls in love with two men, one of whom she hates at first sight but later falls madly in love with and another guy that she's head over heels for at the start...it's good. Just start reading. Darcy and Elizabeth..." Ainsley finished with a contented sigh as he opened the book.
"Once upon a time there was a good witch and a bad witch," he teased before kissing her forehead and beginning to read, balancing the book on his chest and turning the pages with one hand so his arm could rest protectively across the baby mound.
And that is how they spent the rest of the afternoon. Meanwhile Abbey was laid out in the barn in a pile of hay, taking a nap.
"First lady of the land," Jed smiled, gently nudging her side with the toe of his shoe. "You are beautiful in jeans and flannel." She barely stirred and he dropped down beside her. "Maybe we can have five minutes alone."
"I've had forty-five minutes alone and I've been enjoying it and if you come out here and spoil it I'm entitled to be cranky. I'm being moody right now and you're about the only person I want to see."
"Are you sure you even want me?" he teased. "How about if I just kind of lay beside you and if you want to hear from me you can yank my chain."
Abbey smiled, "that sounds...unbelievably perfect." She moved to let him settle beside her in the warm, surprisingly comfortable hay and they simply laid there, enjoying being together and doing nothing at all.
Baby CJ squirmed and fussed on Toby's lap, quickly going from fuss to anger, his face red and screwed up. "OK give up," Toby gasped after juggling him. "He's tired, cold, bored, hungry, pissed at me, what?"
CJ listened for a minute more, "dirty and hungry."
"I think I hear the President calling me," Toby gasped, holding the now flailing bundle to CJ. "At least I know one of us is going to be good at this."
"Oh no you don't Zeigler," CJ returned firmly. She rose, refusing to take the bundle from his arms and took him to the nursery. Then she instructed him through the entire process of changing the baby. Afterwards she showed him how to warm the bottle, test the milk and then started him feeding the baby. "You see, it's not nearly as difficult as you would like to make out."
"What if I drop him, what if he barfs, what if he hates me," Toby wailed. "What if he chokes, what if his diaper leaks, what if he hates me."
"He hates you a whole lot," CJ scoffed with a smile as she regarded one of baby CJ's hands wrapped around one of Toby's pinkies. "You're not going to drop him and he won't choke because you're holding him properly and if his diaper leaks you clean him up, rediaper him and take a shower and life goes on, same thing with the barfing."
Toby regarded the baby on his lap and pressed his cheek down against her hand that rested on his shoulder. "I want this CJ. I want this baby--well not this baby, our baby. You and me. Married. Me coming home at night and doing this. You and me."
"I want it more than anything," CJ smiled and sighed softly, "more than anything Toby."
"And I'm going to do everything in my power to make it happen for us," he vowed. "Work less, eat oysters, whatever."
CJ smiled. Then she said softly, "I bought a watch, you know the kind that's supposed to tell you the best time..."
"Excuse me Mr. President--yes I know the meeting is important sir--but CJ and I have to make a baby. That was that ding you heard from her wrist," Toby laughed.
CJ swatted him and laughed, "not if we're doing something that important...but if we're at home or on lunch break or..."
"In your office and it happens that it's quiet and we lock the door and there is that big comfortable sofa," Toby grinned, rubbing his hands together. "I'm going to fantasize about it."
"Do you and your fantasy want to be left alone?" CJ teased.
"Are you kidding? How can I have it unless I'm looking at you," he laughed. "Like when I'm watching you from the sidelines giving your briefing and I'm imagining you doing it in no underwear."
"Toby!" CJ squealed just before Josh appeared, minus Donna who was napping.
"Toby do not goose the press secretary," Josh ordered. "Only I can do that. And only when Donna is not around."
"I've always wondered about you two," Toby growled. "Well when her watch goes off, you better be ready."
"Huh?" Josh looked thoroughly puzzled.
CJ held up her right hand to display a delicate watch looking device, which was charting her body temperature and several other measurements.
"Doesn't anyone just have sex and let the baby happen normally?" he yelped, thinking of how Donna came to be having his children, and recognizing CJ's device. "I mean my grandmother had twelve, and I can guarantee you she didn't have a watch."
"Yes well I've been trying for four months now and nothing!" CJ rebuttled.
"You and Toby should go to the house in Hartford--the bed is still there," Josh grinned. "Probably will be another ten years before it cools." With that he sobered and took both her hands. "I'm sorry. I wish there was something I could do."
"Thanks I've got it under control," Toby groaned. "Shouldn't you be yelling at Sam about something?"
"Disappeared with Ainsley and Donna is taking a nap," Josh grinned. "So actually I think I'm going riding."
"I'll come too," CJ said rising.
"Well by all means don't let me interrupt your date," Toby muttered. "Just because I was a city kid and never saw a horse that wasn't pulling a wagon."
"Well I haven't ridden in forever..." CJ replied, "come on. We can walk the horses or you can ride doubles with Josh or I..."
"Sorry, but riding behind Lyman here isn't exactly something I'd crave doing," Toby muttered. "On the other hand, you I trust with my life. You can teach me a little."
CJ smiled and took his hand to drag him out to the stables. Once there she had the stable-keeper select a good doubles horse for her. Then she showed Toby how to mount while Josh held the horse steady. They CJ herself climbed up in front of him and took the reigns. "Okay, now hold onto me or to the horn here on the saddle. The first and foremost thing to remember is not to get stiff in the saddle, move with the horse or you'll be very sore afterward." She instructed while they waited for Josh to mount and then CJ started them off at a walk.
"OK wait a minute, Josh where did you learn to ride," Toby objected. "You're a city kid too."
"Nope. Grandmother had a house in the country," Josh grinned. "Lots of weekends, and about eighteen summers worth. It's not something you forget. Donna's a great rider too, but of course not now."
CJ smiled, "she'll get her chance next year." CJ glided easily in the saddle. She smiled at Josh before she brought her horse into a trot and he followed suit.
"The family jewels are being shook to death back here," Toby objected loudly.
"Ride with the horse," CJ called back, "besides they haven't done anything yet, maybe shaking them up..."
"Hey that was low--don't insult my guys," Toby yelled, trying to adjust himself so that he moved with the motion as he saw Josh doing.
CJ slid further back against him to encourage his body to move with hers.
"Well I don't know if this is going to help but it's taking my mind off most everything," he murmured. "We may have to tell Josh to get lost."
"You like horseback riding then?" CJ asked sincerely as Josh took his horse to a run and CJ nudged hers to follow suit.
"Whoa hey," Toby gasped, "This I wasn't ready for. Don't let me fall and be trampled to death under this beast's hooves." His hands groped for the saddle horn, plastering him to her back as he held on. After a minute he relaxed slightly. "Yes I want to learn to do this. Please."
CJ smiled, "well then tomorrow morning I'll teach you how to do it all on your own." She smiled as she felt him relax as they continued their run. Finally Josh had them looped back towards the stable and they slowed the horses back to a canter and then a trot to cool them down.
"This was great," Toby laughed when they reached the barn. "Thanks guys."
"You've got the makings of a real cowboy," Josh grinned. He turned his horse over to the stable hand and was walking back toward the house when Sam barreled out.
"Josh thank god you're back. Donna's upset and crying. She woke up like that. Mrs. Bartlet is with her, but she's needing you."
Josh pushed him aside and took off running up the stairs. "Donna? Donna honey I'm here. Is it the babies? Mrs. Bartlet she's ok isn't she?"
"She's fine I think," Abbey said professionally. "She's just having some of the anxiety that comes later in pregnancy."
Donna just continued to cry as she curled up against Josh.
"Thanks all of you for taking care of her," Josh gasped, feeling her wet his shirt with her tears. "Maybe we could have some time here? "
Mrs. Bartlet shooed everyone out of the room and took one last look at Donna. "I meant what I said now, you need to calm down. Your blood pressure is way up there. Not good for you or the babies. I'd rather not have to give you something but I will if it doesn't go down soon."
Josh held her as tightly as he could, the babies pressed between them. When Abbey had gone, he tilted her face up to his, meeting her tears. "Honey what was it? A dream or what?"
"I gave birth to purple elephants!" Donna exclaimed.
"That would mean you picked up the wrong bottle," he whispered, rocking her to him. "But it must have been real or you wouldn't be this upset. Are you OK now? Mrs Bartlet scared me talking about your blood pressure but I think you're more relaxed."
"I just get so all out of whack nowadays and the least little thing..." Donna fussed. "I'm not cut out for this!"
"For being a mommy?" Josh asked gently. "Yes you are. You are the strongest person I know Donnatella Lyman--well soon that's going to be the case. But you can do this, you can and you will and I'll be there for you. I'm sorry I wasn't when you were giving birth to elephants. You want me to hold you now or want to go get something to drink and sit in the swing?"
"Swing please," Donna said calming. "You really think this is all going to turn out okay?"
"In a few short months we're going to be up to our butts in diapers and bottles and loving every second," he assured her. "Three healthy baby Lyman's. And every women's magazine in the country is going to want to take pictures of you and them and ask how we manage."
Donna smiled, "and they're more than welcome to." She curled up with Josh and some cider on the swing.
"Our babies in Good Housekeeping," he grinned. "Better they get a baby food ad--someone's going to have to pay for Harvard for these three."
"We should start putting some away," Donna mused, "three is not going to be cheap. We might would have been better off with just one..."
"OK, we'll send two of them back soon as we check them all out," he teased. "Hey it's fine. We will start some kind of college fund for them though. In fact I should speak to Bart that does my taxes and ask him the best way to protect some of that money." He took her hand and kissed it as he smiled thoughtfully. "And my dad left some too that I've never touched. When they're ready to go, they'll be able to. And they won't have to hump food like I did."
Donna raised an eyebrow at his terminology. With a sigh and a smile of contement she swung with him gently on the swing and rubbed her babymound.
"Come here you," he said after a moment, turning both of them so that she was leaning back against his chest and he could reach around her to put his hands on the babies. "Three of them Angel. Not made from an act of love maybe, but loved all the same."
Donna smiled, "yes, loved all the same."
Meanwhile after about an hour and a half of peaceful lying in the hay, Abbey picked up a handful and dropped it on Jed. "Penny for your thoughts," she opened evenly afterwards.
"I'm happy," he sighed. "Happy lying right here with you. Wondering why I want another four years when I could easily retire here, write my book, and spend part of each day making love to you."
"Little late for that now isn't it?" Abbey bantered back. "Besides that wouldn't last five days and you'd be wanting back in again." She sighed. "It's in your blood."
"Yeah I guess," Jed sighed. "Abbey how do you think history is going to remember me--me and my presidency?"
"I think they'll remember you as a thinking President, one who did a lot for a great many people, one that tried his hardest to live up to his promises and one that did things, not for himself and the other politicians but for the people."
"I like that," Jed sighed. "A good and decent man' Ted Kennedy said of Bobby at the funeral. That's a good way to be remembered. Also for one who adored his wife, and never once--not once--did he cheat on her, or even be tempted."
Abbey smiled, "oh what, you're not going to charm CJ out here in the middle of the night and have a little roll in the hay?" she teased.
"CJ is a beautiful woman," Jed smiled, "who happens to belong to Toby, but even if she did not, the answer is positively NO. Honey there has been no one else in my life since the first time we made love. You remember that night don't you?"
"You think I would forget something like that?" Abbey raised a brow as she turned her head to look at him, hay in her hair but still wildly beautiful.
"You were scared. I was scared. And we were so much in love--and clueless as to what to do. Like puppies fumbling together."
"Yeah well I guess we must have done something right. We got Elizabeth. Boy did that shock the hell out of you," Abbey replied.
"Considering I had no clue what I was doing," he sighed. "And then there was the parents' reactions, and my reaction, your grandmother's reaction. Actually it's a wonder I'm alive."
"It's a wonder I'm alive," Abbey agreed.
"They wanted you to go to a home and have her," Jed sighed. "Me they wanted to join the Navy or the circus or something--anything to get me out of town. I was so proud of you for saying No. Telling them this was our child and that we were in love."
"I loved you and I wasn't going to spend the rest of my life regretting that I didn't stand up for us."
"And so two very scared children had a child," he smiled. "A beautiful baby girl who looked like her mother. And then later that year on a spring day with the apple fields in bloom, they were married. And what was even crazier, the guy, who hadn't even gotten his high school diploma yet, announced that he was someday going to be president. They must have thought I was in need of a rubber room."
"They're not laughing anymore," Abbey smiled. Then she leaned over and kissed him, "Are you ready to do it again? run again? have another baby..."
"Running again is a given," he grinned. "Another baby have I mentioned how scared I am about that?"
Jed...really?" Abbey asked looking at him softly, "why? you seem thrilled about the twins...your sons finally, or son and daughter whichever the case may be."
"Oh honey I am thrilled. No I'm just worried about things like time for them, me being gone as much as I am, things like that. No these babies--and you--are everything to me. In fact I've almost considered not running because of it all."
"What made you change your mind?" Abbey asked.
"You," he answered. "You're always saying we're not done yet. And I know that. I'm just concerned about you and the babies and me and having time for it all. Bless this amazing staff you helped me to gather and keep."
"We're going to make it just fine," Abbey smiled and squeezed his hand. "Come on, let's get that staff of yours in the kitchen to help make dinner. It's always better when everyone helps prepare dinner."
"Yeah well just keep that bottle of hot sauce away from Josh," Jed ordered. "The man does not know when to stop and I need this stomach lining a little longer."
"Duly noted," Abbey smiled and they rose and dusted one another off and made for the house.
"CJ are you using that knife there?" Ainsley asked and pointed.
"Nope all yours," CJ replied handing it to Ainsley with the hand that wasn't messy from peeling avacado. Ainsley meanwhile was slicing tomato next to Sam who was slicing larger chunks of tomato for the salad. Toby was doing the mushrooms and Josh was shredding lettuce. Meanwhile Abbey was toasting taco shells in the oven and tortillas on the stove. Jed was stirring up the bean and cheese combo.
"I don't believe we're serving beans and then we're all going to sit around in a close room and talk," Sam grinned. "I think we need beano before we all eat."
"Speak for yourself, Mexican loves me," CJ bantered as she did the salsa over to the refrigerator to get the next ingredient to be dealt with.
"Well it doesn't love me but I'm eating it anyway," Josh declared. "Should I sleep in the barn?"
"If you do can I have Donna?" Sam teased.
"She whines in the middle of the night," Josh said and recieved a glare, "...and I can't believe I just said that out loud."
"Guacamole!" Ainsley pronounced in triumph as she produced the big bowl full of the green concoction and carried it to the table.
"How's that salad coming?" Abbey asked Josh, Sam and Toby.
"Guacamole looks like something you ate and lost," Sam muttered. "However the salad is wonderfully done, an artistic presentation of the highest culinary order and a wonderful blend of several flavors and colors. What's too bad is that Josh sneezed on it."
"Nice try," CJ said, "dressing." She placed the caesar next to the salad.
Meanwhile Abbey had put together bean burritos, mexican pizzas and nacho guacamole dips.
"We couldn't have done better with caterers," Jed declared, looking at the array of food. "Guys I was serious before, I want us to talk campaign strategy after dinner. We'll do it in the den with the fire place going and drinks and I'd like everyone to come."
There was general nodding of agreement and then everyone sat down and began to dig in. "This is wonderful!" Ainsley exclaimed as she ate a bean burrito. CJ was almost to the bottom of her nacho dip bowl and holding another slice of her personal mexican pizza. Meanwhile Sam was having problems with Ainsley stealing off his plate and then when he had noticed she had taken something, Josh would grab something from the other side.
"I'm declaring my plate off limits" Sam screeched. "Ainsley you may be eating for three but that's no excuse for starving the father. And Josh don't you have a fiancée to feed or something."
Josh and Ainsley laughed and hi-fived one another in front of Sam. "Never a dull moment," Leo pronounced. "Oh I think this is the best I've eaten in forever, outstanding job everyone," CJ complemented.
"Great food, what I've had of it," Toby agreed as he attempted to reach past Ainsley for another burrito.
"We'll move to the den soon," Jed stipulated. "Before everyone falls into an after dinner stupor."
Ainsley passed the burritos and CJ grabbed another as Toby got one. The food was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Afterwards they all cuddled up in the den.
"And now my campaign manager, Mr. McGarry, will proceed to hand out assignments for the start of CREEP," Jed grinned. "And that's Committee to Re-Elect The President" for anyone who had too much of that Sangria punch. Josh."
"I'm Awake," he protested.
"CREEP...I'm not necessarily sure that's the best acronym..." Ainsley suggested.
"I'm open," Leo smiled. "Actually it goes back to Nixon and Watergate. The CREEP treasury was laundering the money."
Ainsley shrugged. Meanwhile the others were perusing their memos.
An hour later Jed looked up and pinched the bridge of his nose. "OK guys, that's all tonight. Everyone pick a partner and get to bed. Or we could draw names."
"Mmm...I'm taking Toby," CJ purred as she approached him seductively.
"Do I get to veto?" he laughed as he opened his arms for her and then as if they were the only people in the room whispereed, "I love you Claudia Jean Cregg."
"I love you Toby Ziegle--"
"Oh get a room!" Sam fussed in jest.
"Right now," Toby nodded, and playfully lifted CJ into his arms. "Let's do that shall we?"
CJ smiled and laughed throatily before closing her mouth over his as he carried her off.
"Yeah let's turn in," Donna sighed and struggled up off the couch to make her way towards the bedroom she shared with Josh.
Josh caught up with her and captured her, his arms around her waist and when they reached the bedroom he stopped ahead of the bed. "I can do that too," he maintained and sure enough he lifted her carefully up into his arms. "I love you Donnatella," and with that he gently carried her across to the bed.
Donna held on to him for dear life and it was somewhat more difficult to cradle her because she didn't scrunch up well. She smiled though and once he'd laid her on the bed she pulled his mouth to hers for a long, passionate kiss.
"Do you know how much you turn me on being pregnant like that," he whispered, letting his tongue sweep through her mouth as he returned her kiss. "I have always loved you, and that you're large with my babies I love you three times as much."
"I love it too Josh. That's why I did it in the first place," Donna emphasized. "Mmm...your kisses are getting suggestive Lyman."
"I could do more than suggest if you think we could," he replied his voice husky and his hands beginning to roam over her ample breasts. "Am I turning you on as much as you are me?"
"Oh yes, please more," Donna begged.
Carefully he slipped her maternity top from her and then divested her of her bra. "May I?" he whispered, his mouth about to close on one swollen nipple.
"Careful," Donna whispered as her hands wove into his hair and guided him to her nipple.
"Gentle," he agreed, and his tongue lapped at the surface of the nipple while he stroked with his fingertips along the sides of each.
Everyone smiled and the group broke up to go to bed. "Toby," CJ stopped him, "it's a clear, starry night outside. How about a walk before bed?"
"Good idea. Thanks for the suggestion," he teased and started for the door before holding his hand out to her. "I'd love to take a walk with you. Where to?"
"Maybe over the hills toward the barn, down around the pond and then back," CJ suggested as they stepped out. She was thankful she'd grabbed her pajmina against the cold.
"Anywhere as long as we get to stop and make out for a minute," he grinned, wrapping her in his arms. The air was cold and bracing and there were a million stars above. "Have I mentioned how much I love you?" he whispered as they walked down the well worn path.
CJ smiled, "many times and I love hearing it. It's one of the many things that I love about you." She leaned against Toby as they walked and every once in a while she would stop him to point out the sky. Then she would kiss him deeply.
"You are turning me on so much," he gasped after the latest kiss. "We may have to stop off in the barn and make use of the blankets that are there." He took her hand and brushed it against himself to let her know what she was doing to him.
"Not if there are still snakes in there," she promptly turned him around and began making back for the main house and their bedroom.
"What's a couple snakes," he laughed, letting her lead him up the front steps to the porch, nearly knocking down Jed and Abbey who had stepped outside. "Excuse us, gotta make a baby," Toby gasped as the first couple stepped aside.
CJ shrugged at Jed and Abbey, flushed slightly with embarrassment at Toby's open admission, and then disappeared quickly as Toby led her along.
"They really love one another," Abbey smiled as she settled with Jed on the bench. "I don't suppose the mother of your children could get some oreos and milk hmm?"
"Does she want that out here or in bed, getting crumbs everywhere which is how I know you're home and not off operating some place," he grinned. "You know we haven't talked much about that, but soon you're going to be the mother of two infants. How does that equate with your medical responsibilities?"
"Jed," Abbey laughed, "you know I don't do enough practicing right now to make it worth anything. The service wouldn't have it. Maybe I'll simply give it up."
"Well for someone who does so little, you're gone a lot," he growled. "Honey I've always been totally supportive of you having that life you worked so hard for, but I'm concerned now about you and the babies. That's all it is."
"Like I told the public in the interview, I'm cutting down Jed. I promise. I plan on taking good care of these babies."
"I'm glad honey," he whispered. "And I admit to selfish motivation too. I feel like now, especially now, I want to spend as much time as possible together with you."
"Well, your schedule is the complicated one," Abbey replied.
"And that's going to change too as much as possible," he vowed. "I'm going to limit my travels to campaign speaking as necessary, and representation at official functions only as needed. No longer am I running across the country to give a policy statement I can deliver from the Rose Garden just as well."
"Well how about running into the kitchen to deliver those oreos and milk?" Abbey teased.
"You got it," he grinned and kissed her before trotting off.
"Mr. President I do not believe the leader of the free world is getting his wife oreos," Leo teased as he fixed himself a ham sandwich.
"I'm still just a man in love and an expectant father Leo," Jed replied. "Speaking of expectant fathers, how are you and Caroline holding up?"
"She's having a mood tonight," he smiled. "We're taking a break from each other. Hence I'm having a ham sandwich and she's watching a teary movie and rocking Leo."
"And Chloe and Tucker, how is married life suiting them?" Jed asked, for no one knew of the baby yet.
"Those two are inseparable," Leo nodded. "From the moment they met. If they fight--and surely they do--it can't last long. The other night I came home and they were on the living room floor, twins and Leo on a blanket with them, and they were so wrapped around each other I couldn't tell where he stopped and she started. I guess you and me were eighteen once though huh?"
Jed smiled, "long ago. There's nothing like knowing your wife is carrying a child to make you feel young and alive again though."
"Yeah," Leo nodded seriously. "Oh yeah. I'm sure this will be our last, and I think that's OK. Caroline wants a girl I think--another baby girl to dress. And that's OK too. I have my sons, not that I love them any more than my daughters. Even Chloe. I have to remind myself she's not a McGarry. Of course she's not a Madison either any more. She's a Seaborn. I can't escape that name."
"Didn't you adopt her though before she was married. I remember you giving her away as a McGarry, was that just touching and not legal?"
"Yeah it was," Leo sighed. "I just don't like the thought of her being born a Madison. Of course it's more that Stephen had his filthy hands all over Caroline at the time that grinds my gears."
Jed smiled, "she's all yours now my friend. Woe be to those who try to come between a man and a woman who truly love one another."
"I never stopped," Leo sighed. "But then Jenny and I once had it all. Maybe we were too young and grew apart. On the other hand you and Abbey grew even more close as you got older."
"Some of us only get lucky once Leo," Jed replied, "you had two wonderful women, but some of us only get once and I'm holding on to Abbey."
"I know," he nodded soberly. "Jenny and I had a lot of wonderful years. She's happy now with Ted--I may not have told you we talked about a week ago on a tax thing, and she said she was expecting a ring for Christmas. I'm glad for her. She put up with a lot of my crap too over the years."
"Sometimes people just part," Jed said. "Okay, now I'd better get this plate of oreos and the milk back out to Abbey before I'm having some alone time." With that Jed left his best friend in the kitchen.
"Josh, Josh wake -up," Donna nudged his sleeping form next to her in the bed.
"OK OK I'm up. How far apart are they?" he murmured, at the same time pulling the pillow over his head.
"Josh, I'm not in labor. I just want some guacamole dip and chips with some sour cream...no wait, beans and cheese dip with guacamole and sour cream on top, yes that's it. Come on Josh, your babies are hungry."
"Not in labor," he murmured. "OK how can it be good for my babies to eat like that in the middle of the night. Never mind. Going." He staggered to the kitchen, groaning when he flipped on the bright light, and was amazed to find Sam right behind him. "Let me guess, hungry babies in your bed too?"
"Something about tunafish and crackers," Sam groaned, "yours?"
"Something mexican," he sighed. "I think I lost the gist of it coming down the steps. But it's something with chips and beans and sour guacalmole. And I hope it didn't have anything to do with tunafish."
Meanwhile upstairs Donna and Ainsley encountered each other in the hallway. "Bathroom?" Donna asked with a long sigh, her hands locked under her babymound to support it.
"Do I ever go anywhere else nowadays," Ainsley sighed. "I swear there's no Ainsley Hayes anymore. I'm just Sam's baby incubator."
"I spend a lot of time in here or ordering food," Donna nodded. "And you're right--we neither of us go anywhere but those places and work. You know what, I think we need to fix that. How about a movie next week, when we get back. You and me. Alone. Dinner and movie in fact."
"Josh and Sam will nix it first thing they hear of it," Ainsley replied.
"I don't think I was planning on us telling them," she grinned. "At least not until after the fact. I don't want them to worry, but at least we can establish that we're still our own persons. You game?"
"Oh yeah, freedom and natural abandonment here we come!" Ainsley cheered.
"It's a plan," Donna smiled. "Now the question is shall we invite CJ and Caroline as well? Or Chloe? It might be fun if the women all vanished."
"The men wouldn't know what to do. They'll call out the national guard you know," Ainsley replied.
"While we're innocently at a movie," she smiled. "No we'll leave them a note or something. We just won't tell them where we are. Or when we'll be back in case we want to go out for something sinfully fattening afterward."
"Exactly, you have such an incredible idea," Ainsley smiled, "we'll let CJ and the others in on it in the morning."
"Yep, it will be great. A girl's night," Donna laughed and both started to giggle as Sam and Josh returned.
"Now what the hell is going on," Sam muttered, hurrying a little faster. "You women OK in there?"
"We're fine," both replied as though it was a reflex.
"The campaign is going to seem like a day at the beach compared to getting through this pregnancy," Josh moaned. "Hey you guys, your food is here. Tuna with guacamole or something. I was asleep when I was fixing it."
Donna and Ainsley looked at one another and frowned hoping he wasn't serious. Fortunately though the men had gotten the orders right and the women kissed them in thanks and sent them back to bed. Then they sat down in the upstairs sitting room to eat, leaving the rest of the house to sleep.
Poor Chloe unfortunately kept tossing and turning in her sleep. First, she was too hot and then too cool.
"I love my blankie I hate my blankie," Tucker muttered, mimicking the advertisement. He had tried to take her into his arms, which did not work because it only made her hotter. "I'd get more sleep sharing a bed with the twins. Chloe, Chloe tell me how to help you," he begged.
"I don't know," Chloe moaned in agony. "I just can't get comfortable. Maybe I should just give it up. I feel like crap and I may as well just stay up." She threw the covers over on top of Tucker and got out of bed. No sooner had she sat up, too quickly, than she was racing for the bathroom to be ill.
"I'll be right with you soon as I recover from suffocation and heat stroke," he yelled, fighting off the blanket. When he got to the bathroom he found that she had not quite made the toilet as he stepped in her mess. "Now we both could use a cool shower," he smiled, kneeling beside her. "Easy honey, I've got you."
Chloe was crying from embarrassment and not feeling well. "I don't like this Tucker," she whimpered in between sobs.
"I don't either baby," he whispered, gathering her close, not regarding the mess that was now being shared between them. "I hate seeing you suffering like this. We need to talk to Dr. Bartlet, or get you to your mom's OB or something. Come on, let's shower off and then we'll fill the tub up and lay in the warm water."
Chloe smiled her thanks tenderly to her new husband and followed him to the shower where she let him wash her off. Then, no sooner had he settled her in the tub of warm water afterwards than she lay back against him and went straight to sleep.
"Rest easy little mother, I've got you," he sighed, resting his head on top of hers.
"Am I the only one eating down here," Jed shouted up the stairs the next morning. "I've got three kinds of meat and eggs to order. Move it."
"I don't even want to look at breakfast," Chloe moaned bypassing the kitchen in favor of the front porch, at least she wouldn't mess up anything out there.
"Benedict please, I'd like eggs benedict," Donna said.
"Ditto," Ainsley agreed.
"Sunny side up with sausage please," CJ requested.
"Is an omlet do-able," Caroline asked.
"How about toast," Abbey moaned.
"Where's the coffee?" CJ asked still blurry-eyed.
"Coffee in the urn, the 100 cup one," Jed pointed. "Toast is working and I hear a baby crying. Which one is that? Just don't hand it to me--I'm the egg chef."
"If the American people could see him now," CJ moaned.
"Yeah well you guys better eat good because we're doing a forced march, around the lake and back," he announced. "That's got to be a good 3 miles."
"More like ten," Charlie pointed out.
Zoey scooped up her son who was creating all the fuss and stepped into the first empty room she could find to nurse.
"Don't do that without me," Charlie scolded her gently, taking up his position behind her, holding their son in place and gently stroking her breast as she fed. "I'd rather do this with you than eat any day."
"Well I'm starving so I wish you could do it without me," Zoey laughed. "Someone didn't want to wait any longer for breakfast though."
"I'll take him soon as he's done and get him cleaned up. You can get me a plate," Charlie smiled and kissed her. "These times are only coming now. He's only little like this now. Of course--on the other hand--we're not stopping here are we?"
"I hope not," Zoey smiled, "you think you can handle another pregnancy in the White House?"
"I don't think about any of that. I only think about how much I love you," he told her seriously. "And how proud and amazed that I'm the one you chose."
"I love you, that's all that mattered then and all that matters now," Zoey smiled, "and yes I want more children with you."
"Zoey breakfast is getting cold, move it," Jed called.
"We'll be right there Mr. President, we're having another baby in here," Charlie called back.
Jed made a pained expression and turned to Abbey. "Where did we go wrong?"
"Mmm...leading by example?" Abbey replied raising a brow.
"I guess," he sighed. "OK, carry on in there, but hurry up, we're taking that hike in thirty minutes."
"Yes, Dad," Zoey's sighed reply came back.
Meanwhile everyone else seemed to be waking up and getting enough coffee in their system, except for Ainsley who had consumed two glasses of pineapple juice and was as wide awake as if it were the middle of the day.
"Mr. President have you given any thought to Ainsley and Donna on this hike?" Sam questioned. "As funny as it would be to watch them break trail, I don't think it's a good idea."
"Oh you bet I have," he smiled then added teasingly, "their fiancés will carry them."
"Are you kidding she has to weigh a--" Josh started and then stopped wide-eyed before quickly adding, "I mean what if clumsy me dropped her in her delicate condition?!"
"Nice Save Lyman," Seaborn grinned and shoved his arm. "OK Mr. President, what did you have in mind?"
"You'll see as soon as we all meet at the barn."
"All of us?!" Ainsley squeaked, apprehensive about going but willing to make a go of it if her President asked her to.
"Yes, babies too," Jed smiled. "It's going to be fine I promise. You won't believe what I ordered for just this occasion."
"That's it, let's go," Donna said and everyone began to move out, most of them were moving very slowly.
Belle and Brighton bounced along happily and Jed led the way toward the barn. Sam and Josh kept their arms around Ainsley and Donna, the bearing the largest of the pregnancies. When they reached the barn, Jed's prize was being wheeled out. It was an old fashioned surrey, complete with fringe, several comfortable seats, and pulled by two large Clydesdales. "So you see, we're all set," Jed said proudly. "Women with babies, either inside or out, may ride. The rest of us will be jogging along ahead."
CJ sighed and frowned at Toby.
Donna, Ainsley, Abbey and Zoey all hopped on the Surrey along with Caroline and Chloe hopped up without thinking about it.
"OK hold up," Jed ordered, taking roll. "Chloe Seaborn are you falling out of the march or what?"
And Toby nudged CJ. "You probably are anyway, even if we don't know it yet."
"No sir," Chloe replied, "Tucker and I are expecting."
"Serious?" Jed gasped and then began applauding. "Nice job Seaborn. Tucker Seaborn that is. I see you take after your brother. Twins?"
"We wouldn't mind would we Chloe, since they obviously run in the family," Tucker spoke up.
Chloe smiled, "not a bit, wouldn't mind a bit." She blushed softly as everyone began to congratulate her.
"Alright, this jog's not getting any shorter," CJ called out and they soon started off. She had no problem keeping up as they jogged along and even found herself appreciating the fresh air and exercise.
"You look real good," Toby encouraged, smiling at the sight of her in her royal blue running suit. "You uh...you want to make this little run interesting?"
"Sure," CJ said, "what do you have in mind?"
"You want to see if you can make it to the other side of the lake before me? And to show you what kind of a guy I am, I'll give you twenty seconds lead."
"Oh that's generous," CJ said, "okay, you're on Zeigler."
"Whenever you're ready," Toby called. "Move out CJ."
CJ took her place and took off. She was fast on her long legs.
"...nineteen, twenty. Prepare to eat dust," Toby hollered, to the cheers of the men as he took off after her.
"OK ladies, I'm open for business," Sam laughed. "Twenty says he overtakes her long before the finish. Anyone want a part of that?"
"My money's on CJ," Donna said.
"Mmm...I don't know, I'll go for Toby since he seems to be the underdog," Ainsley said.
"I'm staying out of this, they're both my boss," Chloe commented.
"I'll live a little," Tucker called. "Give me five on Toby."
Toby remained a good number of yards behind her, laying back until she might tire, and when they were about halfway around, put on a burst of speed. "At your back Cregg," he yelled when he caught sight of her.
"Yeah well that's all you'll see," she called back and tried to speed up a little.
"Make a hole," he shouted, closing the distance a little more. "Man coming through."
CJ grunted loudly as he passed her and she was now trying to catch up to him.
He smiled and looked back at her, adding a burst of speed until suddenly his lungs seemed to stop working and his insides went aflame. As the world started to spin before him he sank to the cool grass, trying to breathe in enough air and willing the pain in his middle to stop.
"Toby!! Oh God!" CJ cried out as she watched in horror. She hurried to him and dropped at his side, "what is it? What is it Toby?" She asked in an absolute panic.
"Breathe, can't breathe," he gasped. "Chest and stomach hurt." His head fell forward to rest against her and his breath came in short painful rasps. "I'm sorry honey."
"Help! Somebody I need some help!" CJ cried out fearful for the well-being of the man she loved.
"Is that CJ yelling?" Josh frowned, him and Sam out ahead of the next group. "CJ what's wrong?" he yelled down the trail. "CJ where are you?"
"We're up here aways, Toby just dropped, he says his chest and stomach hurt and he's having trouble breathing!!!"
"Dr. Bartlet we're going to need you," Sam yelled back and then started off at a frantic run, Josh not far behind.
"Toby?" Sam knelt beside them. "Toby can you hear me."
"Yeah I can," he gasped. "Sorry to make such a scene.".
"What's wrong?" Josh demanded. The carriage had been sped up and soon Abbey was being helped down and was at Toby's side.
"Toby let me take a look at you," Abbey told him. "Sam can you help him to lay back there. I don't have my stuff but I can tell a little bit what's happening." She put her hand to his heart then and her ear to his chest. "Toby you've got something going on, and it could be serious, but then again it could be just you exerted. Right now you need to be calm and breathe." She turned to Leo then. "We need a life flight chopper in here. Now. Get the service to radio us one. Now."
CJ had by now gone totally white and folded herself against Josh. She repeated, "oh god, oh god" over and over.
"Easy now," Josh urged, at the same time looking to the wagon at Donna's scared face. "Let's not think the worst."
"ETA on the chopper is five minutes," Leo reported. "Only two passengers. I think CJ and me huh?"
Sam looked for a moment like he might protest but then thought better. CJ turned to Toby then and grasped his hand. "I love you."
"Sam you and Josh belong here with Ainsley and Donna," Leo said quietly. "Caroline is not that far along and she can manage without me for a while. "
The chopper blades whirred over head and Jed knelt down before Toby. "If you think this is getting you out of doing that speech for the econmics council you'd better think again," he whispered, his hand to Toby's shoulder.
"No sir," Toby coughed. "I'll be working on it."
CJ smiled gratefully to Jed. Then when the paramedics arrived she turned to Leo for strength and the trio left. Chloe was buried against Tucker, terrified and Abbey sought comfort from Jed.
Jed kissed her gently and then turned to the others. "He's going to be OK. He's a tough guy, and he's got a woman who loves him and wants him. No way he's going to give that up. Let's do this--back to the house, clean up and we'll get Marine one in here to chopper us there. Meanwhile if there's anything to report I'll hear it. After all I'm only the President."
Tucker held tightly to Chloe. "OK honey, breathe now. Baby remember. He's going to be OK, and we're going to see him soon."
"Poor CJ," Chloe gasped out. Everyone was solemn as they got ready to go to the hospital. Ainsley was ready and standing at their bedroom window. "Things like this shouldn't happen to such good people..."
"They're family," Sam agreed, wrapping his arms around her from behind. "And he's going to be OK. He's going to grow old with her, seeing their grandchildren grow up." His hands massaged her baby-mound before he spoke again. "Just like we are." The sound of the chopper made him look out the window. "Our ride's here."
Ainsley hurried Sam, as fast as she could go out to the chopper and Josh and Donna had beat them there. Soon everyone was piled inside and huddled together, sharing their worry.
The chopper lifted off smoothly and Jed looked around to his assembled family. "Why don't we go to the Lord. Charlie would you please?"
Charlie nodded and everyone bowed their heads, "Our father in heaven we come to you now asking you to be with Toby and CJ. Put your sheltering hands over them and protect them."
"Help the doctors to be of great skill and wisdom and to heal him," Donna added.
Josh held her hand and in halting speech, repeated a few lines in Yiddish of a prayer he remembered from his childhood. "Be with them oh Lord, and us, as we deal with this," he added softly.
"Take our blessings dear father and wrap CJ and Toby in them, let them know that we are with them, that you are with them in this dark hour," Ainsley spoke.
Sam's arm went around her and he pressed his head to hers. "Father, he's a good man, and she and him have a lot of living to do yet. Don't take him away from her---or us."
Jed offered something in latin and then after a moment of silence Charlie said 'amen' and the others echoed it.
"If he dies, CJ won't want to live either," Caroline murmured. "Abbey what do you really think?"
"I don't know," Abbey said softly, "I'm just not sure Caroline without my instruments."
"Well I wouldn't want you to give false hope," she whispered thinking of Leo and Jed. "My god Abbey you realize both of them are a good fifteen years older than Toby. And you and I are both having babies here. What if..."
"God is with us all Caroline," Abbey replied, "we have placed ourselves in his hands."
"I know, but I also know something else," she sighed, "that when I see Leo at the hospital I'm giving him an extra tight hug."
Abbey smiled and squeezed her friend's hand. Leo was waiting for them when they arrived.
"He's in with the cardiologist now and CJ is with them," Leo said, smiling at the commotion the arrival of the Presidential party was causing, and sobering quickly. "They don't know anything yet."
"This never should have happened," Donna sobbed.
Josh was jolted from his thoughts by her dispair. "Hey let's you and me go sit down," he urged, a firm arm around her back. "Honey no one could predict anything like this. It happens."
They were escorted to a private waiting room and there they waited.
"I'd like cappucino," Donna said.
Ainsley nodded her agreement and added, "I'd like a tray of jalopeno cheese cubes."
"and cold cut slices," Chloe added.
The food was brought up and the waiting continued. Finally the door opened and CJ walked in flanked by two doctors. Jed got to his feet at once. "OK, let's have it. Straight please," he told the doctors.
CJ took a seat wearily.
"Mr. Zeigler was winded and he needs to trim down," the doctor said, "his blood pressure was a little high so we put him on some medication. He'll be fine to go back with you."
There was a general murmur of relief around the room, except for Ainsley who burst into tears, Chloe quickly following, Donna joining them, with Caroline and Abbey shortly adding to the sniffling.
"Hormone overload," Jed groaned, looking intently at the doctors. "You're sure now? He did not have a heart attack? He's just fat? God he doesn't weigh any more than I do."
"It's how he carries it Mr. President," one of the doctors replied.
"Maybe I'd better schedule a physical," Jed muttered. "OK, what's next? We can take him back to the house? Can I see him?"
The doctors nodded and led the group to Toby's private area, CJ went to his side at once. He was sitting up and looked practically normal now.
"OK Ziegler, now that you've scared us all to death, what do you do for an encore?" Jed demanded. "How are you feeling?"
"Fine now," Toby replied.
"I think we're going to get a cardiologist to pay us men a call at the White House," Jed sighed, looking at the various bellies on the men, including himself. "But right now I'm just glad you're OK." He looked to the doctors standing by. "Do you need him longer?"
"Nope, he's free to go but he's promised us he will see his own doctor," the doctor said.
CJ remained cuddled against Leo letting the other men help Toby and it was a silent helicopter flight back, most people saying prayers of thanks.
"Now what do we do for an encore to that excitement," Josh sighed, looking to Donna. "I suppose she could always deliver."
"No!" Everyone on the helicopter except CJ chorused. Marine one returned them to the farm and CJ went straight to her room, changed into her pajamas and crawled into bed.
Toby stopped at the kitchen for a glass of juice, Leo joining him a minute later. "You scared her pretty bad, not that you could have known what would happen," he said mildly. "But you did upset her. I've never seen her that emotional--of course you know her, she was holding it in as much as she could."
"She's not even married to me yet," Toby sighed in agreement, "I know I terrified her and I wish I hadn't. I'm going to work hard to get in better shape, make her trust me again."
"She's concerned that you're not going to be around for her I'm sure," Leo nodded, "or that you're not going to be there to see her baby grow up. Believe me I have that feeling all the time. I know I won't live to see my grandchildren mature. But that's OK. I'm alive now and so much in love, and so enjoying this father thing. I never did with Mallory--never took the time. Well I am now. I close up and go home now--something I never used to do."
Toby smiled, "I want that with CJ, you have to believe I do."
"Never a doubt," Leo assured him. "And she doesn't think that either. You didn't know you were doing anything wrong; besides you should consider this a wake up call--in fact it scared the President too. We're all going to have check ups and maybe eat a little more healthy. Maybe you should get on up to CJ now. She shouldn't be alone."
Toby nodded and made his way up to the room he shared with his fiancee. CJ was curled in the fetal position under the comforter, her face exposed but totally blank, her eyes almost glazed, her mind obviously elsewhere.
"Hi honey," he whispered, shedding his clothing down to his boxers and then crawling in with her. He edged close to her, facing her, but refrained from touching or speaking until he could tell if she wanted him.
"I almost lost you before I married you," she spoke in an eerily distant voice, "I don't think I'm cut out to be a widow and a single mother early in life Tobias."
"No you're not," Toby said, taking her comment totally seriously, "And believe me, if I thought I was doing something deliberately to endanger our life together I would stop right now. I'm making an appointment first thing Monday. I probably need to change my diet, lose some weight, and I'm sure cut down on the liquor and cigars."
"I'll help if I can," CJ said turning blurry tear-filled eyes to him as she reached out and gripped his wrist. "I love you so much Toby. I love you so much," she said and finally he noticed how badly she was trembling.
"Honey I scared you badly and I'm sorry, but you have to know that I would never have done that on purpose, or more to the point, if I knew there was a possibility of that, I would have made changes a long time ago." He reached for her then, wrapping her into his embrace and pulling the blanket tightly over them. "Shhh I've got you. Go ahead and let it out if you need to."
Then CJ buried herself against him and cried fiercly. She cried with her whole body. She cried until there was nothing left.
When she was done she was limp against him and he rocked her back and forth until they were both relaxed. "It's going to be OK I promise you," he whispered finally. "I'm not going to knowingly do anything that would take me away from you and our baby."
"I want you to get better Toby. I need you," she said with a finality in her tone that said the matter was closed then she cuddled further against him. "It's nice to have this time off."
"And it's especially nice to be here. I was having visions of being kept prisoner in that hospital bed. Maybe later we can take a walk. It's supposed to be a beautiful night."
"I suppose walking is good for you..."
"They told me not to be sedentary, whatever the hell that means. Actually I assume that means I spend too much time behind my desk. Frankly I see it as a chance for you and me to get out every day at lunch when the weather is decent and walk around the block." He held her pressed to him, rubbing her back softly. "If they can't live without us for thirty minutes, something is badly wrong with the system."
CJ smiled, "even then we could always take our cell phones so they'd feel better about it. You know they're helpless without you," she teased.
"Well they'd better learn to start functioning Ziegler-less," he declared firmly, "because I'm not marrying you, not having a baby with you, to spend my life away from home. I'm going to be very clear that most nights getting out of there at a reasonable time and home while the baby is still up and so forth is a priority with me."
CJ smiled, "you're going to make a wonderful husband Toby. I don't know why I ever doubted it could work between us.
"I never want you to think that," he declared. "I love you, and I'm on the record right now as being willing to do anything that will make it work between us. Anything."
"I can't say there's anything more that I'd ask for," CJ replied, "I have every thing I want, well except your baby and we're working on that."
"That's coming," Toby assured her. "We Zieglers are fertile. I come from a long line of very verile men."
"And you're an only child because?" CJ teased. "Oh well, perhaps God simply thinks the wedding should come first. Maybe we'll just have to wait until January."
"I want both, equally much," Toby smiled, kissing her deeply. "By the way, I was not told to refrain from bedroom activities thank you very much."
CJ smiled and kissed him deeply before pulling the covers over them.
"Jed," Abbey called from where she was resting on the bed. "do you know what would make me really happy right now?"
"A trio of male strippers dressed like characters from your favorite movie?"
"No...not at this particular moment," Abbey replied hesitatingly. "No, what I'd really like is a big plate of oreos and some milk and then a foot rub and then Italian for dinner."
"Italian as in I cook or we call for order in?" Jed smiled. "And I'll be glad to get you your milk and oreos, which I see we're now buying the institutional size. You know usually when I'm running a craving errand I meet someone else doing the same thing."
"Well don't dawdle too long," Abbey chirped cheerily, "and we're ordering the Italian. I want everything Olive Garden can offer."
"Calamari I'm guessing," he groaned as he walked out, encountering Leo in the hallway. "Milk and oreos, Olive Garden for dinner. Pass it on."
"The milk and oreos or the Olive Garden for dinner?" Leo asked.
"Olive Garden dolt," Jed teased. "See what Caroline wants. I don't know how Abbey is going to enjoy it after Oreos, but then I don't try to figure her out when she's pregnant. It's safer that way."
"Same thing with Caroline," Leo smiled, "like I'm not even thinking about the fact that I'm going to the kitchen for roast beef pieces and pepperjack cheese, which I know isn't going to sit well."
"That doesn't even sound good to me," Jed smiled. "At least your babies are running close together. Of course my mistake was believing the doctor twenty years ago who said likely she wouldn't get pregnant again."
"Are you sorry she is?" Leo suddenly looked concerned. "You two both seem so happy about it..."
"I'm thrilled to death, and twins no less," Jed declared. "Just shocked that's all. Also concerned of course. God Leo if anything happened to her or the babies--of course I don't have to tell you that. You're so in love with Caroline you can't see straight."
"They're going to be fine," Leo said. "Don't go borrowing trouble." They got to the kitchen and began preparing what they had been asked for on plates.
Meanwhile upstairs Caroline knocked on Abbey's door. "I heard the men go downstairs and you know they'll be down there a while, Can you use some company. Me and Leo Jr. here."
"Love some," Abbey smiled, "come in but be forewarned I'm resting in my pajamas." She was indeed in a pair of velveteen burgundy pajamas, pants and top.
"And I'm in a nursing gown with Mr. Insaitable here attached," Caroline sighed. "You sure you're ready to do all this again?"
Abbey nodded and smiled, "very. I had several long thought sessions when I first found out, long before I told Jed...I wasn't sure at first if I wanted to take my life down this path. But here I am and I couldn't be happier."
"And twins, wow. You know they're going to be the darlings of the American People, remember Caroline and John-John? Depending on how much you let them be shown that is."
"It depends on how the press treats Abbey about them as to how much the American people see them. It will be mostly her decision," Jed said to his best friend.
"I think just be firm from the beginning about them having some privacy," Leo said thoughtfully. Of course you'll be out of the white house before they're really old enough to know what's going on. On the other hand, there's Eleanor--who is totally unimpressed that her father is president.
Jed didn't look to pleased with that, "and Zoey and Elizabeth who are very proud," he said and that brought a smile back.
Jed discussed his issue, Leo and Caroline present, with Abbey as the men returned with their women's snacks.
"Thanks honey," Abbey smiled. "I just don't know. Most of the time I'm encouraging the press because I want to promote my current cause. But my children are not a cause. Though middle aged pregnancy, pre natal care, that type thing I could get real into. What do you think?"
"I think someone needs to speak out about proper care for and of pregnant women," Caroline said, "the average post labor hospital stay is only 24 hours now. A lot of women are losing their babies or having to take them back because something didn't show up in their short stay in the hospital nursery."
"Oh yeah," Abbey agreed. "But it's all on the heads of the insurers. In some states a 48 hour stay is mandated. On the other hand, some of that goes back to the late 70s when women were insisting home birth was perfectly safe and that babies don't need nursery care and so forth. Some people bought it."
"I think you can do anything you put your mind to," Jed said, pausing to kiss her forehead, "but just don't overdo it my little fireball. remember you're carrying twins in your body."
"A body that isn't getting any younger," Abbey sighed. "But thanks. It's a lot different now. We're not schlepping from place to place in an old Ford campaigning."
"Ah those were the days," Jed sighed and smiled.
"Mmm...I just can't get enough of this cheese," Caroline broke in.
"Speaking of cheese I'm really looking forward to the salad and the fettucini marinara tonight." Abbey spoke up, "topped with plenty of parmesian!"
"Oh yeah," Leo nodded, watching Caroline. "Be careful there sweetie, cheese is constipating."
"Oh not this, it's full of jalopeno peppers," Caroline replied.
"And if we needed birth control it would be perfect," Leo grinned.
"Mooommmeeeeeeeee," Brighton's scream echoed down the hall before anyone could answer. "Ghost Mommy Ghost."
Caroline was up immediately and rushing towards her children's room. Abbey was on her heels surprisingly enough, even though it was only an afternoon nap.
"No Belle," Brighton squealed. "No Belle." Sure enough the other small bed was empty. "Ghost got her Mommy."
"Hey calm down now," Caroline said soothingly, lifting him into her arms, and looking alarmingly at Abbey. "We need to find her."
Abbey nodded and began to look around discreetly. She knocked on CJ and Toby's door, "Belle is missing have you seen her?"
"Not in here," Toby hollered. "Sorry." Meanwhile Leo had been calling and searching on that floor. "Nothing. OK this is dumb. She's got to be in the house. If she did get outside the Service would have seen her and known she was an escapee."
Jed walked to the nearest phone and dialed the extension of the agent in charge. "Bill, we're missing Belle McGarry. Pass the word to your men please." When he hung up he looked to the others. "OK let's spread out and look for her. "This is a big house, but a little girl can't just vanish."
Abbey put her arm around Caroline. "We'll find her real quick. She's just wandered off and is hiding."
"Search the closets everywhere," Caroline suddenly thought, "sometimes when Stephen would come home or she'd get scared she'd crawl in a closet and usually she'd cry and I'd find her but maybe she's fallen asleep."
An hour later everyone returned empty handed. "I checked all the closets," Ainsley said worriedly.
"OK this is getting scary," Leo groaned. "I just can't see how she got out of the house but we may have to start searching the woods and the trail that leads to the river and oh god I don't even want to think that."
"No she's not out of the house I'm sure of it," Charlie spoke up. "Someone would have spotted her with these grounds crawling with security. Where does she like to play most when she's here?"
"She's only been once before," Abbey and Caroline both said. They stopped and wracked their brains trying to think of what they did last visit. Suddenly Abbey's expression changed, "Jed what did you do with the children while you had them and Caroline and I were napping?"
"I took them up to the library and let them play with the chess pieces and oh my god I opened the passageway to show them."
"Sir?" Josh frowned.
"This house hid Continental Army troops from the Redcoats," Jed gasped. "The bookshelf opens to a passage way to an underground tunnel that eventually--oh my god--opens to the river. But she couldn't have--I mean how would she know which book was--she couldn't have seen me move it that well."
That was all it took for everyone to go scrambling upstairs and find to their horror that the bookshelf passageway was open. "She's a very smart cookie," Caroline sighed. "Come on everyone hurry!" Charlie urged as the other men grabbed flashlights.
"Ok a couple of you guys need to get down there. Tucker? Charlie? You guys are young and thin. With any luck it's collapsed in there some where and she didn't get far. "Josh, Sam, we'll get out to the river entrance. I remember the cave."
The men moved out, leaving the women huddled together, Caroline doing her best to keep from crying, and Leo attempting to comfort her.
Josh and Sam had gone only a short way into the entrance from the river when they found Belle making mud pies, dirty from head to toe and having a delightful time. She was however, exceedingly happy to see Josh and Sam and she squealed happily holding her arms up to them.
"That has to be half a mile," Josh marveled, looking back up at the house, barely visable through the trees. "Thank god she had sense enough not to get into the water. Rock Paper Scissors for who carries her back?"
They battled it out with their hands and Sam won so Josh would have to bear the totally muddy bundle. "She has it in her hair and in her shoes and...I think her eyes are the only things uncovered!"
"You're a good man Joshua Lyman," Jed approved as he lifted the muddy bundle. "Sam call back to the house and tell them we've found her and that she needs to be hosed down. Before she touches anything."
"Caroline...yeah, yeah, we've found her. She's fine...yeah but she's filthy. Really?" he put his hand over his cell, "she wants us to bring her straight to the house anyhow."
"We can do that," Josh smiled. "Tell her to have a shower ready. We'll take her straight in. Of course I'm going to need one myself. Alert Donna."
"Caroline we're coming and please pass to Donna that Josh needs a shower, thanks," Sam said and hung up.
"Do I look like his hand maiden," Donna yelped when she received the message. "In case he hasn't noticed, I'm carrying a little load here myself."
"I'll run it for you," Chloe offered.
"Thanks Chloe," Donna smiled. "If you could get it started and get some fresh towels down I'll come in and help him wash off. Behind his ears and so forth."
"I don't know who's dirtier, me or her," Josh groaned when they finally reached the back porch. Leo was there to meet them and Josh gingerly handed her off. "Leo we got real lucky. She wasn't but ten feet from the river."
"My God," Leo sighed and he held his precious daughter tightly to him as he took her up to her mother and a bathtub. Belle didn't understand all of the commotion but she was happy to be back with her Dad nonetheless.
"Dooonnaaa," Josh whined painfully as he climbed the back steps, trying his best not to drip mud. "Donna, I'm dirty."
Donna appeared at the top of the stairs and made a face. "That's an understatement. Strip and get on in there. Chloe ran you a shower, that's a bit of a reach for me."
"Will you get in with me? Two hands can't wash all this dirt off."
"Sure," Donna smiled and she climbed into the shower with Josh's aid.
"Hi," he grinned, pressing her against him, letting some of the dirt rub off on her, and touching an especially dirty finger to her nose. "You're cute. And soon I'm not going to be able to reach over the babies to do that."
"I'm not going to get that big!" Donna tried to protest. She swatted him on the upper arm.
"Wow, she sure was dirty," Ainsley remarked to Sam after they had watched Leo and Caroline reunite with their daughter and take her off to clean her up.
"And that was scary," he sighed, resting his hands on her baby belly. "And we're having twins too? Who's idea was that?"
"It was yours," Ainsley said firmly as if she dared him to argue.
"Hey I just had the make love idea," he yelped with a big grin. "You know us men--after that the rest is a blur."
"Well to unblur you you're going to be the father of twins in January," Ainsley informed him, "now I'm thirsty, cold, my feet hurt and I need to pee."
"And this involves me how?" he teased, taking her into his arms. "Let's get you upstairs and put something warm on after you potty, and then you can have something to drink while I massage your feet. OK?"
Ainsley smiled, "That sounds absolutely...well...wonderful."
"Then let's go," he smiled. "We'll discuss payback later. Like carrying my babies isn't enough huh?"
"I wouldn't be asking me for too much right now Seaborn," Ainsley replied as he helped her up the stairs.
"Just to let me love you," he smiled, holding her close, his hand resting on the babies.
"Tucker," Chloe panted from the hall where she was leaned up against the wall. "I'm a little dizzy here..."
"Chloe?" He heard her voice and spun around from where he was talking to Charlie. He sprinted down the hall to her, wrapping her in his embrace. "You're all warm too," he fretted. "What do we do?"
"Just help me lay down and get me a cold cloth. It's just a baby," Chloe said.
"Right," Tucker nodded, and lifted her into his arms for good measure, carrying her to their room and laying her down on the bed, then loosening her shirt. "Be right back," he whispered, kissing her lightly before bringing her the cold cloth she wanted and a large cold orange juice.
"Mmm...see I'm clearing already. Thank-you sweetie," Chloe smiled and pulled him to her for a kiss.
"OK, but you did scare me," he admitted, laying down with her, careful not to smother her since she was already heated. His hand passed gently over her stomach, resting there. "I love you so much."
"I love you and I know all these changes with pregnancy are a little frightening to me too," Chloe confided.
"Is it wrong to hope for twins?" Tucker asked. "I mean Belle and Brighton are so great. I can't help but think we need a set of our own."
"Well maybe. We won't know for a while yet," Chloe smiled.
"I'm going to pray for it," he grinned, "but you know what I think I used up all my entitlement with Him--He sent me you."
She smiled, "well maybe if we do it together."
"Mostly though I just want you and the baby to be OK. I know you're scared and I know I should be strong for you, but I'm scared too. "We're going to need each other to get through this. Just know how much I love you."
"I do Tucker, I do," Chloe smiled and then she kissed him.
"Charlie! Charlie! Mom! Dad!" Zoey called with great enthusiasm.
"Zoey what's wrong? Zoey where are you?" Charlie came up the stairs two at a time, trailing crumbs from his cupcake snack.
Meanwhile Abbey and Jed walked from their room, looking for her as well.
They found Zoey in the bedroom marveling at Charles Josiah who was sitting up all by himself and smiling. "He sat up by himself! Look Charlie, he's sitting!"
"Of course he's sitting. See how broad across the beam he is--he's perfectly balanced," Charlie laughed gleefully, dropping onto the floor with his son. "CJ Young you are a piece of work and Daddy loves you."
"Good boy," Zoey cheered and this set CJ to clapping and squealing before he got busy playing with his hair.
"He's not going to be little much longer," Charlie observed. "Sitting, then crawling, then walking. Kindergarten can't be far behind that."
"Hey knock it off," Zoey scolded, "we've got a long time with him before then..."
"I know, I don't even want to think about all that," Charlie moaned, flopping flat on the floor and CJ's arms immediately begged his dad to take him. "DO you realize how lucky I consider myself?"
"As lucky as I am to have a husband who loves me and a beautiful baby boy. Now that he can sit up I want a family portrait done.
"Oh that's a great idea," Charlie was enthused at once. "You want the official photographer to do it--or no, portrait, like painting?"
"Oh, a painting would be wonderful, one for us and one for Mom and Dad..." Zoey enthused.
"You got it," he smiled. "We can send an official inquiry to the National Portrait Gallery and get some recommendations."
Zoey smiled and then threw her arms about him and kissed him which thrilled baby Charles into squeals of delight.
"He knows his mommy and daddy love each other," Charlie sighed. "A very wanted and loved baby."
"Very wanted and very loved," Zoey echoed. "Go get the camera, we should at least have a picture of this."
Charlie returned with his new digital and snapped several pictures of his son and his wife. Then with Zoey cuddling the boy, loaded them onto their laptop. "He's so cute," Charlie sighed, "but who is this? Zoey look at these pictures. There's someone else in them, in the room here with the baby."
Zoey immediately came to the computer, "What do you mean? What do you mean there was someone else in this room?!"
"Right there. It's an old woman looks like, in some kind of long dress. She's in all these, kind of hovering over the baby. Sometimes more of a shadow, but she's with the baby. Here put him on the bed and lets take a few more. See if it happens again."
Nervously Zoey put Josiah on the bed and put on a brave smile for her son as Charlie took the pictures. Then she waited anxiously for him to load them, her arms never leaving her son.
"Let's go show these to..." Charlie stammered. "Hey I don't know. The Service? How do we tell the Service we think there's a ghost hovering over our son in his grandfather's boyhood home?"
"Maybe we should take them to mom and dad..." Zoey suggested feeling very protective of her son now.
"Yeah I think so. One thing's for sure, we're not leaving him alone in this house, even asleep. Come on let's see if your dad has any clue. You get the stuff, and I'll bring the baby."
Zoey nodded and gathered up the things carefully handing over a now frightened Charles Josiah to his father.
"He's sensing we're upset," Charlie frowned. "I'd suggest we give him to CJ or Caroline for a bit, but I don't want him out of our sight for right now. At the same time, I'm going to look like an idiot when I say, "Mr. President, I think your grandson is being stalked by a ghost."
"But it's in the pictures, right here!" Zoey argued back.
"That's not deniable," he nodded, holding CJ to him. "Come on, let's go. I always wanted to be unemployed. But he's your dad, you get to tell him first, and I'll back you up."
Zoey hurried to her parents room and presented her father with the pictures. "Dad there's a ghost following Charles!"
Jed looked up from his magazine and peered over his reading glasses. "OK, what's the punch line?"
"No, look at these pictures Dad," Zoey said offering them to him for observation.
Jed frowned and took the pictures as Charlie sat on the bed with the baby. "It's your great grandmother," Jed sighed, looking from picture to picture. "Emma Bartlet."
Zoey looked a little disbelieving and quite curious, "so what is she doing over Charles. She won't hurt him will she? I mean she's not going to pick up a vase in the middle of the night and smash it over his delicate little head is she?"
"It was 1827," Jed said softly. "Emma Bartlet was sixteen, and very pregnant. She simply had no husband. And back then, it just wasn't something that was accepted. In fact she might have been stoned if the village was of a mind to do that."
"What happened?" Zoey asked with great concern suddenly very enthralled as she sat on the bed.
"She gave birth one night alone and afraid," Jed sighed. "Then she put a pillow over the baby's face and smothered him. A couple hours later she herself was dead, bled to death would be the best guess."
Zoey gasped and held her baby close to her. "Oh no!" She looked to Charlie with large eyes full of fear.
"So what do we do now?" Charlie gasped. "This thing wants our baby."
"She can't really harm him can she?" Zoey's eyes were now full of tears, "how can I defend my baby against something I can't see?"
"She's lived in this house all these years," Jed smiled, "well that's what the legend says. And that she watches over all babies born to the Bartlet family. Her spirit can't be laid to rest because of the crime she committed; so instead she looks after the babies. I don't think she's a malevolent spirit."
"Are you sure?" Zoey asked still somewhat frightened as she regarded her son who had now fallen asleep against her and was ready to be put down for his nap.
"Honey you're asking me to be sure about a ghost that is more legend than fact," he laughed, reaching for his grandson from her arms and laying him on the bed next to where he was reading. "You and Charlie go for a walk or something," he urged. "I'm here for the afternoon and I'll be happy to watch him. Nothing's going to happen to him."
Zoey smiled and then hugged her Dad. "Thank-you Dad, I love you." Then she took Charlie's hand and took him out back where she flopped them into a hammock.
He looked up at the house, frowning somewhat. "OK that was just too weird but I know your dad will watch him, plus he's got the Service behind him. Zoey I didn't know what to think for a while there."
"Nor I," Zoey confided. "I don't believe in ghosts by nature but...but seeing her..."
"Mr. President," Leo began as he walked into the room. "Whoa I didn't know we had company. Cute kid. Anyone we know."
"This is my grandson Leo," Jed replied, "now what can I do for you?"
"I'm just jerking your chain Jed," Leo smiled, sitting on the bed and touching a finger to CJ's forehead. "Your grandson, and you've got offspring on the way. Who'd ever have thunk it."
Jed smiled, "Not I. I have much to be thankful for. A wife I love who is giving me twins and three wonderful daughters and grandchildren."
"Yes you do, and daughter number two is on her way," Leo announced. "That's what I wanted to tell you. Eleanor is being brought in with her detail, and a guest apparently."
"Ah...perhaps that message would be better for Abbey."
Leo held up his hand. "I am not getting into the middle of that. Are you asking me if I would find Abbey and tell her that her daughter will be here in twenty?"
"No, I can do that, thank-you Leo," Jed smiled. "Anything else? Is Caroline feeling better now? I know she was worried earlier..."
"She and Leo are resting together," Leo nodded. "She was scared for Toby for sure. As were we all. We've grown to be a family here, and when one of us is hurting, we all are."
"And Belle as well," Jed reminded. "Well what are you doing here? You should be in there with your family."
"Just wanted to let you know about Eleanor," Leo smiled. "Since it was me they told. But OK, I'm going." He dropped a hand on Jed's shoulder. "You know where I am if you need anything."
"Thank-you," Jed replied. He left in search of Abbey then and found her, as he predicted, propped up in bed, reading. "Leo just told me that Ellie is on the way and she's apparently bringing a guest with her."
"Oh my," Abbey gasped, her hand to her mouth.
"Is there a reason for oh my?" Jed asked her, juggling baby CJ in his arms. "Is Eleanor seeing someone? Is it that?"
"She had mentioned him a couple of times, a Colin somebody but she always seemed casual about it when I talked to her," Abbey replied.
"Sounds like Colin is coming home to meet mom and dad," Jed sighed, hearing the chopper blades. "How do I look? Do I need a shave? I am on vacation here."
"Jed you look like a grizzly," Abbey said when she looked up from her book again and noticed. "Go shave. You don't want to embarass our daughter."
"OK but you get custody of the lump," he said, dropping baby CJ on to his grandmother. "Don't leave him out of your sight OK?"
"Jed, I am a doctor and a mother," Abbey reminded him gently, "I would never even think of it."
"Well you'd be concerned if you saw the picture Charlie and Zoey took," Jed frowned. "Just keep an eye on him. "
"Wait, what picture?" Abbey asked, bewildered, "Jed, what are you talking about?"
"Our in residence ghost was well, hovering over the baby," he explained. "I don't think it's anything to worry about, but there's no denying the picture. Just the same, I don't think the baby should be left alone."
Abbey firmed her grip on her grandson and nodded feeling a sudden chill in the room.
"This is like something out of a spy movie or something," Colin Parker enthused as he stepped from the ramp of the chopper and turned for Ellie's hand. "I'd be even more impressed if I wasn't scared witless."
"It's just a house like any other house. Really it's nothing special. In fact I think its a pain. I don't know why Zoey and Elizabeth are so excited with it. I think its a nightmare always having to be followed around. I'm sick of it."
"Yeah I got that impression," her agent smiled, overhearing her words. Jeffrey Stepford smiled and shook his head. He had heard it a hundred times before. On the other hand his partner tossed her auburn locks and looked distressed. "She's OK," Jeff told her softly. "You worry too much. You're a probie anyway, let me do the worrying will you."
"Stop saying that in front of the charges," the auburn haired woman replied.
"You two are so cute," Ellie laughed as Colin took her hand.
"Cute? We're cute?" Jeff demanded, looking to Casey. "Are we cute all of a sudden?"
Casey stepped on his foot, infuriated.
"OK serious time," Jeff smiled. "Casey would you show Ms. Bartlet and Mr. Parker to the house. I'll be out here getting a cast put on my foot."
Casey sighed and becoming stiff and professional she led the President's daughter and her guest inside. She radioed to Lucas and Gina and the others that they had arrived and then she brought Eleanor and Colin to the President and First lady's suite. "End of the road for me," she said taking a stance along the wall.
"Thanks Casey," Colin smiled, having at least gotten a little comfortable with the workings of the service. He held his breath as Ellie led him inside, standing ramroad straight when he saw the President, freezing in place.
Abbey was curious as any mother as she examined the young man and hugged her daughter. "Eleanor, won't you introduce us to your company?"
"I'd love to but he needs to come in," she smiled and tugged him. "Mom and Dad, this is Colin Parker. Colin is a med student with me and we're both interested in Oncology. And we've been together for a couple months now. Colin my mom and dad and please they're my mom and dad right now. Even if you have to call him Mr. President."
"Yes I do," he gasped. "Mr. President, and Dr. Bartlet, an honor to meet you both. And you have a wonderful daughter. You've raised her well."
"Why thank-you Colin. We happen to think she's pretty wonderful too," Abbey replied. "Where are you from?"
"I grew up on Cape Cod Ma'am in case you couldn't tell by the accent," he smiled and relaxed some. My folks run a B&B up there--uh Bed and Breakfast, specializing in weddings and honeymoons."
"Casey it's OK to come outside now," Jeff called softly. "The house is secure once they're inside. And there's lemonade and cookies."
"Oh is that a reward," Casey radioed back and proceeded to meet him at his location.
"It's a reward," he confirmed, handing her a cup of the cold liquid. "Are you OK? You're pretty touchy today. I know your 3 month probie eval is due, but I'm giving you a good one. You're doing fine. Just don't be surprised when I put down you're the best trainee I've worked with OK?"
"Hey, you can't lie on those!"
"That's right, because Ed would have my head. I'm responsible for the probies I train. By the way, I'm requesting you as my permanently assigned partner at the end of your next three months with me."
Casey stood frozen, totally dumbfounded.
"Unless you plan to file a 4200 and object," he added hastily. "You don't want to partner with me? Is there a reason?"
"no, er , uh, no I..." she shook her head, hoping to clear it but it didn't help, "I'm just surprised sir, that's all."
"And it's Jeff when it's just us remember," he smiled, putting his hand on her arm. "A good partnership team is also close friends. I hope we are that."
"I suppose so," Casey replied, "wow first daughter duty. I never thought I would actually be assigned to a member of the family."
"And what's important is that Ellie likes you," he reminded her. "She enjoys having you around and that's really important. If she didn't she'd be trying to slip you and that would be bad. No I think this is the perfect arrangement and I put that in my report every night."
Casey swallowed visibly and then began paying attention to her lemonaid. "So how long are we scheduled to stay here?" she asked calmly a moment later.
"Ellie didn't say how long she wanted to," Jeff sighed. "Hopefully over night. This is a beautiful place. If we can, I'd love to walk down to the river with you. If she's in for the night we can have some time. Or maybe she and Colin will walk and that will get us out too."
She nodded. "It feels weird having to wrap your life around someone else's."
"But you love it, and I love having you with me," Jeff smiled. "Before you, I was actually considering a change in the line of work."
"Ellie I'm just going to be blunt here," Jed smiled. "Is this a serious bring the guy to meet the parents weekend, or are you and Colin simply here to hang out?"
Ellie looked to Colin and then to her dad. "It's...it's a serious thing."
"OK," Jed nodded, getting more comfortable as he noticed Colin's arm slip around her waist. "How serious? Should I get my tux let out?"
"You might want to be thinking about it," Ellie blushed, looking to Colin. She was expecting a proposal any day.
"I'll make an appointment with the tailor," Jed smiled. "You two are here for the rest of the weekend aren't you? I know everyone would like to meet your almost fiance."
Ellie actually blushed, a feminine movement Jed had not seen her do since she was much younger. "Can you stay Colin?"
"Considering I came in with you on the chopper I think so," he smiled, hugging her to him. "Mr. President this is an honor to meet you. And Ellie, I told you he wouldn't mind that I'm a Republican."
"We kind of hadn't mentioned that yet..." Ellie nudged him.
"But one who would vote for his father-in-law," Colin laughed.
Ellie clasped her hands together and waited awkwardly in the silence-filled room.
"Your room is of course open," Abbey said, "and I'm sure you can find someplace for Colin to sleep. The occupied rooms have the sachets with 'welcome' and 'do not disturb' on the door."
"Thank you so much Dr. Bartlet," Colin breathed and held his hand out to Jed. "Sir an honor, and I promise not to bring up the tax bill over dinner."
"Mmm...a smart boy already," Jed commented with a smile to Ellie. She barely noticed as she was caught up in what her mother had been saying.
Abbey leaned down and kissed Ellie's cheek. "Get Colin settled and come see me on the porch for a minute," she whispered. "Just a couple minutes for mom-daughter OK?"
Ellie nodded and smiled. Then she hugged Jed and gave him a kiss on the cheek and then she hurried Colin along to her room, leaving him to amuse himself and she hurried back to the porch.
"Hey sweetie, have a glass of fruit juice," Abbey called. "As for Colin, he's quiet but he has that devil humor in him I can see. Anyone who'd confess to Jed he wanted to marry his daughter and that he was a republican in the same breath I have to admire. You want to tell me about you and him?"
"Well we met at one of my rallies," Ellie began, "he was inspiring and I suggested that we discuss things over dinner. He figured out who I was about the time I showed up to dinner with tweedle dee and tweedle dumb. Anyhow, we started meeting and studying together at the library and such and one thing led to another. He really is a very nice guy, Mama."
"Did one thing lead to another in the bedroom?" Abbey asked gently, "and of course you're an adult and you don't have to answer that."
Ellie blushed brilliantly, "you know me so well Mama."
"Thanks. You're the only one of the group who has any of my side of the family. Your sisters are such Bartlets," she smiled and kissed her forehead. "And if you and him share a room, just don't advertise it OK. How are you doing with your Service attachment? Last time I met them they seemed nice enough and as unobtrusive as possible."
"I really like this new girl, Casey, she's different. She has attitude and we almost kind of hang out. I don't really mind having her around because she doesn't try to get in my business like Gina does in Zoey's."
"OK," Abbey smiled. "I know it's hard having someone right behind you. As for Zoey, well remember she's younger, never mind that she's married, and Gina is a hover-er anyway. How's the guy--Jeffrey--she works under?"
"He's pretty nice, they're hilarious together. I think he keeps trying to hit on her...anyhow she's always got some kind of comeback. I'm not sure what she thinks of him. He can be kind of demanding towards me sometimes and he's always telling Colin which side of mine to walk on and where we can and cannot go. Colin thinks he's wonderful and the end all authority on my life and..." she finished with a small grunt of frustration.
"Honey he's afraid for you is all," Abbey smiled. "I mean look what happened with Charlie and Zoey. It could have just as easily been them and not Josh. OK, then everything is good in your life? Nothing you want to talk about while it's just us? We don't often get these moments."
"Not unless you want to discuss environmental pollutants or endangered species," Eleanor smiled and then she compulsively hugged her mom tightly. "How is the baby?" she asked softly.
"Babies," Abbey corrected, "And fine thanks. Feeling good and of course starting to get the little pouch since there's two. At least they won't be older than the grandchildren I have from you. Unlike baby CJ here."
"Twins?" Ellie looked shocked, "wow I'm out of the loop. Well it was almost a close call on those grandchildren but you're safe there."
"Oh Honey I thought you knew, but I'm really not sure how. I thought we covered it at some point--but you didn't watch us on Dateline?"
"No, I make it a point to miss all of the exploitation of my family thank-you," Ellie replied.
"Well at least you're candid," Abbey approved. "Yeah it's twins. Sons for your dad they think. You know I don't think I've ever heard you say if you have aspirations of motherhood. When I was your age I was already a mom twice over."
"Well Colin and I recently had to do some thinking about it," Ellie said with a sigh. "Maybe someday mom..."
"Thinking about it?" Abbey questioned. "Did you have a false alarm?"
"Yeah...a really long one," Ellie sighed.
"Sounds like something you're needing to tell your mom? I promise it's just between us if that helps?"
"Well I was recently a week late and we were so worried. I mean we had been so careful. We were trying to figure out what we were going to do, how we would tell you and Dad. Then I got my period and...and I guess we were relieved."
"OK honey," Abbey smiled, letting out the breath she was holding. "Relieved? Is that with a little disappointment mixed in?"
"Somewhat..." Ellie confided.
"Babies are wonderful, but sometimes, when you're stressed with school and getting along with a man, they're not really easy," Abbey told her carefully. "But you do love him don't you?"
Ellie smiled, "Yeah...I think I just might. He makes me feel good to just be me, not Elizabeth, not Zoey, just me."
"Well you're something special and someone to be very proud of," Abbey said firmly. "Your dad is proud of you too, he just doesn't know how to react to you at times. He's not sure how to take a person who's not impressed with his office--well other than me that is. Face it, when he's being a jerk I let him know."
Eleanor smiled, "I've never been his favorite and it just took some getting used to and accepting."
"He wanted boys I think," Abbey smiled, taking Ellie's hand and pressing it to her belly, "Which is why I hope both of these guys are; but you were too much like me. And a double dose of me is too much to handle sometimes. He does admire your drive. You know Elizabeth wanted only to be a wife and mother, and she's great at it. Five kids, volunteers, keeps that big old house they bought and revels in every bit of it. But for you and me, we needed more. I found it in medicine, and you're doing the same. You can have both honey. You can be a mom and a doctor and a wife, not necessarily in that order."
"I find myself wanting it, the more I study it," Ellie said, "I'm just not sure it would all fit. I know I could tell Colin he'd just have to stand behind my career...but I don't think I could tell that to a baby..."
"Juggle," Abbey smiled. "You don't notice me letting being First Lady get in the way. I devote a lot of time to it, but my family comes first with my career. You know why--because if I don't make time for myself, then I'm not a whole person. Honey you're so young. If you and Colin marry and you take a year off to have a baby, it's not going to hurt anything; but only you and he can say that's what you want. What was right for your sisters doesn't have to be right for you."
"But I have a better chance of being top doctor and bringing in the bucks if I don't have any family," Ellie sighed. "Sometimes I think I don't want to do it anymore and then I see baby ward in the hospital and the children's ward and..." she smiled brightly.
"You're still looking at Oncology? Because suddenly that sounded like obstetrics or maybe neonatology?"
Ellie sighed, "I know...and I don't know if it means I want to work with babies or have them."
"OK, let me guess--you manage to detour through there whenever you have a spare second, and you stop and look, and then you see a mom and dad being wheeled to the elevator with their new one in her arms?"
"Yeah," Ellie sighed with a smile.
"Well I love all aspects of my life," Abbey said softly, "including getting my medical degree, but nothing, nothing at all, compares to the feeling of pushing out that baby, and then having them put her across your breasts. Just remember you've got all the time in the world for all that."
A light tapping at the door interrupted them, and when Ellie opened it, the president was standing there with a sheepish Colin. "I found him kind of lost, and figured he belonged to you," Jed smiled. "You think you're going to keep him?"
"Jed honestly," Abbey scolded.
"Yes, probably," Ellie replied without a bit of blushing. "I happen to love him," she replied before she took Colin's hand and led him from the room, calling over her shoulder, "thanks mom."
"Your daughter," Jed smiled, swatting Ellie's rear as he passed her. "This Colin kid is OK," he added when they were alone. "We're never going to agree politically, but he's a bright kid. Reminds me of me thirty years ago."
"Yes, it should," Abbey smiled, "and he and Ellie are pretty serious."
"OK," Jed nodded. "I'd like to meet his folks. Hey maybe his dad is a democrat. Though with my luck he's probably a republican precinct chairman or something."
Abbey smiled, "you'll be fine dear."
Ellie and Colin walked outside, nodding to Jeff and Casey. Jeff poked Casey. "OK our people are restless. See where they're wanting to go and no they can't be alone out here, but we'll try to be discreetly behind them."
Casey sighed and walked over to Eleanor and Colin, "we're with you wherever you want to go but we'll stay discreetly out of the way, promise, so feel free to go, wherever."
Jeff nodded his approval, and as Colin and Ellie picked their trail to walk he and Casey fell in ten feet behind them. Colin took Ellie's hand and when Jeff saw that he reached for Casey's. "We're supposed to blend in, remember," he grinned.
Casey rolled her eyes and sighed. She would never understand men.
"Have I pissed you off?" Jeff asked her after a few minutes of walking. "Are you starting to like me and it's scaring you?"
"Like you? Like you?! You hardly know me!" Casey gasped trying to back from him and slamming herself against a tree. Her eyes grew wide and she knew she was trapped.
"I've worked with you for weeks," he smiled. "And I knew you before that--I read all your psychological profiles remember. So I do know you. And you know me, or at least you would if you'd let yourself." He took a long breath, looking up the trail at Ellie and Colin who had stopped by the water's edge. "Do you want another partner?" Before she could answer he put both hands up against the tree on either side of her body, further trapping her. "And before you answer, another partner might not want to do this," and with that he put a gentle kiss on her lips.
Casey's mouth opened several times with the intention of speaking but she was quite tongue-tied. She looked at him wide-eyed, surprised but not upset apparently.
"And if you want to report me it will have been worth it," he told her, releasing her at that point. "And if you want a new partner now, I'll give you the form."
"Uh-um..." Casey fumbled. "No, I don't back down on my assignments. If that was a test I passed with flying colors because I'm sticking my ground."
"It was a test only in that I wanted to know if you could still work with me," he murmured. "Because you know--well I hope you do--that I like you. A lot. But if you don't feel that way, or if I make you uncomfortable, then this is not going to work. And then we're not doing our job. Your ability is not something I have any question or reservation about. You are without a doubt the finest probie I've ever had assigned to me. You're the only one I've ever wanted to work with on a permanent basis."
"I...I don't know," Casey panted. "You've thrown me quite a loop."
"I'm sorry. Well not sorry I did that because I meant it, but sorry it bothered you so. I honestly thought you were starting to have feelings for me too. OK, you can be sure that my dealings with you from now on will be strictly professional." He moved his hands from the tree and backed away from her.
She grabbed him and kissed him quickly but firmly on the lips and then hurried up the path.
"Now I'm totally confused," he yelled after her. "Thanks a helluva lot." He broke into a trot, hanging back from her as she approached Colin and Ellie. "Casey we're going to climb up the trail onto Knob Mountain there," he pointed. "You two up for a climb?"
"Sure," Ellie said. "Oh I don't know. I'm not a very experienced climber," Casey hesitated.
"Hey we're not climbing with ropes and pinions here," Colin laughed. "Just up the trail and across the rocks. Is that OK?"
"Sure, let's go."
Ellie led the way, and Jeff and Casey fell in behind them, keeping about ten paces behind. The trail turned sharply upward and Jeff put a steadying hand to Casey's back. "Well we don't need ropes but it is a good climb isn't it? You're OK here right--you don't have a fear of heights--or mountain goats?"
Casey looked at him. "No, no I don't have a fear of goats or slopes."
"OK good," he approved, still keeping his hand in place. Half way up Colin called a halt and they sank down on a fallen log, leaving Casey and Jeff to survey the area. "I think we're OK," Jeff smiled, sitting down next to her on another log. "Next thing you two will have us bungee jumping."
Casey's eyes got huge. "I hope you don't like that."
"Skydiving," Colin pronounced solemnly. "Freefalling from five thousand feet, pull the rip cord at the last second, and float gently to earth."
"No! Okay I'll admit it I don't like heights," Casey cried out.
Jeff gasped, seeing her distress and looking sharply at Colin. "Not any time soon I hope," he gasped, his arm going around Casey.
Even Ellie looked shocked.
"I'm kidding, really," Colin laughed.
"Thank goodness," Ellie sighed and relaxed, "you really had me scared there for a minute."
"Like they'd let the president's daughter do that," Colin smiled. "Honestly sometimes I'm surprised they let you go to class."
"We take good care of her, thank you," Jeff acknowledged.
"And you'd step in front of a bullet for her?" Colin frowned.
"Yeah," Jeff nodded, unconsciously tightening his hand around Casey's.
"That's our sworn duty," Casey said, suddenly returning Jeff's squeeze.
"I hope it never comes to that," Eleanor said solemnly.
"We can say that easily enough," Jeff sighed, his fingers threading with Casey's. "But we would if we had to."
"How would you choose between us and each other?" Colin asked pointedly, to the gasp of Jeff'.
"It's our sworn duty. There is no decision," Casey said softly, "we know that when we take the job."
"Yeah that's right," Jeff nodded, not liking the picture that was being painted before him of such a scenario. "Colin, I love yah man, but give it a rest will ya."
"Yeah, Jeff here's kind of a chicken when it comes to that," Casey laughed trying to lighten the mood.
"It's part of the job that I'd prefer to not think about," he admitted. "Not that I' m afraid for myself--that much I can deny honestly, but that I'm afraid of seeing someone I care about being hurt--oh yeah that terrifies me. Big time." His eyes rested on Casey as he spoke. "And this is the first time I'm having to grapple with it."
Casey turned a bright red and looked away. Eleanor looked openly amused. "Would you take a bullet for someone Colin?" Ellie asked conversationally.
"I hope so," Colin gasped. "For you of course I would but I guess...well it's not something I want to think about."
"No one knows exactly how they'll react until it actually happens," Jeff sighed. "And I pray it never does. Gina pushed Zoey in the limo and stood over her in Rosslyn. I know that for a fact."
Ellie bit her lower lip and a tear came to her eyes.
Colin saw her distress and wrapped her into his arms. "OK change of subject here," he stipulated. "But know that if it ever came down to it, I don't need protection. I'd be right there ready to fight with you."
"Thank-you. Wow it's a great view from up here isn't it?"
"It's beautiful. I'm glad we came," Jeff nodded, keeping his hand at Casey's back after her confession to not liking heights.
"Jeff I'll kiss mine if you'll kiss yours," Colin teased.
"Uh....not that I would mind, but she's not mine," Jeff grinned, keeping his distance from Casey lest she deck him.
Casey smiled. "For this particular instance I give you permission."
Jeff gasped in surprise. "OK but don't hurt me," he whispered, watching for a moment while Colin took Ellie into his arms, his lips meeting hers in a loving kiss. Then Jeff cupped the back of Casey's head, holding her steady while he touched his lips to hers.
Casey kissed him fully and held on to the moment until he pulled away.
"Wow," he breathed. "You do that great. But you know that's bad--now I'm going to need more of them when we can. Like, excuse me Mr. President. Your daughter is quite safe and I need to kiss my partner."
"Oh...this could become quite dangerous," Casey agreed.
"I wouldn't do that," Jeff laughed. "For your career as well as mine." He reached for her hand and squeezed it softly. "No whatever we have between us, that's for private times."
"Right," Casey agreed.
"You know, it must be getting close to dinner time," Eleanor replied rising, "and if not I want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich anyhow."
"Oh good we're going to start back down before I have to make it an order since it will be dark soon," Jeff grinned. "You guys can walk ahead, just don't get too far in front." He pulled Casey to her feet, letting his hand brush her hair as he did so.
She smiled and walked with him after their charges.
"So has this all intimidated you yet?" Ellie asked Colin.
"Your dad won't be president forever," Colin smiled. "And I want to get to know him. As for the protection, well these two are pretty cool. We could be friends easily. And I'd be pretty damn glad they were around if someone threatened you. I can't be with you twenty four hours a day, and I don't carry a weapon besides."
"So you're going to stick it out with me still hmm?" Ellie smiled and then kissed him.
"You'll have to order me away at gunpoint, speaking of guns," Colin grinned. "I'm not going anywhere my love. President and Mrs. Josiah Bartlet request the honor of your presence at the nuptual rites of their daughter Eleanor to. . .to this bum she picked up in school," he laughed.
"Dad's going to freak when you finally get around to asking him. He'll probably want to have a long chat with you too. I'm sure he'll tell you to go for it though."
"I'm hoping to get to know him," Colin smiled. "I know having a republican son in law is going to be hard, but I'm not so big a conservative we can't find some common ground. Hell I voted for the man because I didn't like the other guy. I may not always agree with your dad, but I know he's got the courage of his convictions. Barker did not."
Eleanor smiled, "Yes that is one thing that can be said for him. Even if I don't always agree with what he says."
"He's a good man," Jeff agreed. "It's important that we believe that too, if we're going to be asked to stand in front of him at some point--or his family."
Ellie nodded, "Once I get married I can't be 'the obstinate headstrong daughter' anymore."
"You can be whatever you want," Colin laughed and kissed her, "long as you're always my Eleanor."
"What do you consider to be your Eleanor, lest it be that which I seek to change."
"I didn't know you wanted to change," Colin said softly, rubbing her back. "You know I fell in love with you as you are. Is there something about yourself that you don't like?"
"No, but if I am to be married I cannot pass my opinions off as childish rebellion and impromptou."
Colin looked at her quizzically. "You are without a doubt the smartest person I know. Your opinions are neither childish nor impromptu. They're always well thought out and mature."
"But they're not always what CJ needs out of me," Ellie sighed.
"CJ?" Colin frowned. "Un-confuse me please."
"CJ Cregg? The Press secretary for the White House," Eleanor offered hoping to jog his memory. "I'm sure you'll meet her sometime while you're here."
"OK I'm better now," Colin smiled. "In other words your quotes frustrate her?"
"Well yes because she must either explain their context or else figure out how to temper them so that the media does not feel I am against my father. It would be terrible to have a President whom is not even supported by his own daughters."
"I think you're entitled to disagree with him, if you have convictions in other directions," Colin said thoughtfully. "I mean obviously I don't agree with all he does. Now I do know that he and I have one common ground--we both love you."
She smiled brightly, "yes, I suppose it is." She kissed him then. "So...does all this bother you?"
"I'm tore between hating the hassle, and loving the excitement of it all," he admitted. "Besides, it's not going to last forever. By the time our kids would be starting to get old enough to think of themselves as something special because their grandfather is president---he won't be."
"He'll be a former President," Eleanor argued.
"But the focus will be off them, with the best remaining and that's protection," Colin reasoned. "Protection we won't have to pay for."
"Yes our family will always be safe," Ellie smiled, "they'll grow up knowing nothing else and probably resenting me for it."
"You'll have more control over setting how obtrusive we are once you guys are back to being private citizens," Jeff spoke up. "Right now we're mandated to hover. Though I like to think Casey and I give you enough leeway so we're not total pains. Once your dad is an ex-president, we'll fade more into the background...well whoever's in charge of you will I mean."
"You would leave?" Ellie suddenly looked frightened.
"Not voluntarily," Jeff assured her. "And you could request that we stay on." He looked over to Casey and smiled. "Of course by then this one is going to have filed a sexual harrasment charge on me and I'll be lucky to get a job at McDonalds. But I can't help myself. I think I'm falling in love with her you see."
"Well she doesn't appear to be too upset by it," Ellie offered.
"She's taking notes for the formal complaint she's going to file with our supervisor," he grinned teasingly, ruffling her hair with the tip of his finger.
"Hey now," Casey whined before she suddenly grabbed him and kissed him. "Now you can file a counter complaint."
"You guys are cute," Colin laughed. "Jeff tell her you love her and get it over with."
"I can do that," Jeff shrugged, grabbing hold of her before she could back off. "Casey Jean, I love you. There that wasn't so hard."
Casey blushed brightly.
"well, Casey?" Ellie looked to her for a response.
"It's OK," Jeff hastily came to her rescue. "She'll tell me sometime---if she means it. I wouldn't want her to otherwise."
"Thank-you," Casey smiled to Jeff. "I hear over the mic that they're getting ready for dinner back at the house."
"I thought we were roughing it," he grinned. "You know eat bark and acorns and stuff."
Eleanor gave Jeff a mock glare and hurried back towards the house.
Toby pulled his sweater down over his jeans and looked for CJ, realizing she was still in the bathroom. "You ready in there? It's not a state dinner. You could come naked even."
CJ emerged in a soft purple short sleeve sweater and khaki pants. "It's starting to get chilly. You can tell it's almost October."
"Feels good. And you look beautiful. You look about twenty-five dressed like that and I love you."
"I feel about twenty-five," CJ laughed lightly, "you make life all new Toby. How about I beat you thoroughly at pool after dinner?"
"You may look like you're twenty-five but you play pool like my great grandmother," he chortled, knowing every word was a lie.
Jed stood up when Ellie and Colin entered the room. "I wanted to ask you Ellie if you were comfortable with me introducing Colin to the staff as your fiance. Or do you guys want to wait for the ring and the formal announcement?"
Eleanor blushed and smiled with enthusiasm, looking to Colin for his final say. She had no idea how her father had suspected.
"Abby and I talked," Jed smiled in answer to Ellie's unspoken question. "I don't know how much she actually keeps from me, but at least we did talk about this. She said the feelings between you two are pretty obvious. And hey, I'll get even more coverage on Leno with being the future father in law of a republican. He'll start off talking about a mixed marriage and wonder in who's persuasion the kids are going to be raised."
Ellie laughed fully for once and took Colin's hand to give it a squeeze. "What do you think? I don't guess it would hurt to go ahead and do it now would it?"
"I would be proud to be known as your fiance, please," he grinned happily.
"There's your answer Dad," Ellie replied.
"Ainsley you need any help in there?" Sam called, knowing she was struggling to dress. "And I promise no tent jokes."
"Please Sam...this is getting difficult. I've been trying for five minutes to get my underwear on. At this rate I'll make breakfast if I'm lucky."
"And the babies are hungry?" he teased. "OK let's see what we can do, but you'd best come out here where there's room for me to work." He opened the bathroom door and smiled when he saw her struggle. "Hey beautiful," he whispered. "I love you."
"It's a good thing you do because right about now I'm wondering if it's worth it...and I miss my feet."
"Pretty as ever. Size ten right," he teased, taking her hand to lead her out into the bedroom. "So size wise, is Donna bigger? Belly not feet." Before she could answer he kissed her soundly, pressing the ever-growing baby-mound between them.
"Yeah, of course she's got one more baby than I do," Ainsley said.
"So you're not the worst off," he grinned, his hands splaying across the mound. "Daddy loves you guys. Tell Mommy daddy loves her too." He was rewarded with a resounding thump as a double somersault resulted and quickly he reached for Ainsley to steady her. "Maybe Donna's don't move so much, less room?"
"Exactly," Ainsley gasped exhaling loudly. "Just December. We only have to make it to December."
"It would kill me to have anything happen to you or one of them," he whispered almost tearfully. "They have to be OK. Just have to be."
Ainsley looked at him and smiled tenderly. She reached up and cupped his cheek. "I'm okay Sam, we're okay. The babies are going to be just fine."
"That helps," he smiled with a long sigh. "Should we feed you guys now?"
"Donna starving deputy here. And the President doesn't do room service. What can I do to help you along," Josh whined.
"Dress me," Donna moaned, "and let CJ be pregnant for me for the night so I can have a night off!"
"You know she'd kill to do that," he smiled. "OK dress you. Well I've undressed you. How hard can the reverse be. Do I get to play while I'm doing it?"
"No, not unless you want me to continue speaking to you."
"Yes ma'am" he smiled. "OK let's see, normally I do the underwear last so let's start with that. You sit on the bed and I'll take care of it." He helped her down and knelt in front of her, putting her legs into the leg openings, working his way to her maternity jeans and then her top. "You're not really tired of being pregnant are you Angel?"
"Kind of," she sighed.
"I'm sorry," he whispered, sitting down next to her and pulling her onto his lap. "I know when you started this, you didn't expect to get three at once."
"It's only a little over two more months now," Donna said, "we can make it."
"Please God," he breathed. "You and these babies are my life Donnatella. And then we have a wedding to plan."
CJ and Toby were the first to join the President, Ellie and Colin in the dining room. CJ was blushing with love, curled against her fiance happily. "We're going to have to come here more often, it makes everyone mellow," Jed smiled, looking to CJ and Toby. "You're both different people away from the White House. Toby look at you. You're almost relaxed isn't he CJ?"
"He's resigning himself to the fact that I'm going to defeat him in pool after dinner," CJ replied in jest.
"Is this a monetary wager?" Charlie spoke up as he entered with Zoey and baby CJ on his shoulder. "If so I've got a five that says you lady are out of your mind."
CJ raised a brow where she was sharing a gaze with Toby.
"My money's on CJ," Sam said then as he helped Ainsley into the room.
"Speaking of out of your mind," Josh groaned, following with Donna, who was holding up her baby belly.
"Donna you OK there?" Sharp eyed Dr. Bartlet looked at her closely. "I'm not of a mood to deliver triplets."
"I don't think they're going to do anything other than kick me and..." she sighed and rubbed her belly.
"December, we're holding out for December," Ainsley said.
"How are you doing?" CJ asked Abbey who was only four months and a week.
"My feet are swollen, my back hurts, they're sitting on my bladder and my breasts are tender," she groaned. "Thank you for asking. And kindly don't share that at briefing. That was for husband's ears. Yes that husband who is talking to Leo." She raised her voice pointedly and Jed waved at her. "You know when I get big enough to look like Rhode Island he's going to notice me then."
"Of course he will," CJ smiled, "who won't? You'll be beautiful ma'am. I know at least I'll be envious."
"Your turn is coming," Abbey promised. "And thank you. You know Toby wants you to carry his child as much as you want to. You know that don't you?"
"Yes," CJ sighed, "I just am beginning to wonder if I'll ever be able to give it to him."
"I'm going to remind you of this conversation in about five years," Abbey smiled. "You'll have a preschooler and a toddler and be large with number three."
CJ smiled, "I hope so Dr. Bartlet, nothing would make me happier."
"Or me," Toby grinned, having overheard and he came up behind her, wrapping her in a huge embrace. "And later, after I trounce you soundly at pool, you and me will work on number one again."
CJ smiled brightly. Then she thanked Toby as he seated her at the table where the others were being seated as well.
Josh stood behind Donna, his arms at the ready, not quite sure at this point how to help her. "Problem?" Charlie smiled. "Well sometimes I think I should sit first and let her sit down on top of me," Josh groaned, "like I should sit and catch her or something."
Donna looked at him. "Josh just help me down okay. This isn't exactly easy for me either."
"I know honey, I know. I'm not sure what to do any more," he murmured, catching her around her upper middle from behind and lowering her slowly to the chair, to a round of applause from the others.
"Now you can come do mine," Sam offered.
Ainsley looked at him and then eased herelf down into her chair. "No thanks to you."
Ellie looked to Colin and then to her dad anxiously.
"I'll help you up," Sam assured Ainsley. "Getting down was the easy part anyway."
"Ellie," Colin smiled, holding a chair for her. "See you don't have to be pregnant for your man to be a gentleman."
"Sure you do," Toby teased, plopping down and then gesturing for CJ to sit herself.
CJ stood there, perfectly still and waiting.
"Toby you're such a jerk," Josh teased, coming around to CJ. "Darling pay no attention to him. I'm here for you," he went on, and before he seated her he gave her a quick kiss.
CJ smiled, "gentlemen do still exist."
"And you're a good kisser," Josh smiled and gestured to Donna. "But she found me first."
"She's carrying your three precious babies and just nursed you through your second surgery, good choice," CJ smiled back.
Josh turned serious at once. "Yes she did," he said softly. "And I don't deserve her love."
Donna began to cry then and struggled to get up from her chair. Then she excused herself and scurried from the room as quickly as she could.
"Josh you going after her?" Jed asked gently.
"In a minute," he sighed. "She probably needs a little time away from me."
Donna felt humiliation under such praise, knowing that she and Josh had not been together still and she was beginning to feel self-conscious about it all.
"Donna you OK?" Abbey's voice called to her softly in the darkness. "Anything I can do?"
"Oh Ma'am. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to bring you out here. I'm just feeling a little sorry for myself."
Abbey came up behind her and put both hands on her shoulders. "First let's get you seated, and then you can talk about it if you want. You're not much older than my Elizabeth you know. And you left a confused guy in your wake. Josh was paying tribute to your love."
"A love we've never shared," Donna whimpered, "Josh and I...we've never made love with one another and after his surgery...well the doctor said he may never be able to make love again. I may never get babies the natural way!"
"You were inseminated," Abbey gasped. "I had no idea. I figured he was just magnificent. But honey I didn't know. Why not during your early pregnancy--too sick?"
"Yeah," Donna sighed, "and now I might not ever get the chance."
"Yeah," Abbey nodded. "And at the same time, at your six week point, assuming you're not too sore and tired which I would not count on, he may be right there up and ready. I'm sure he wants it as badly as you do. That's part of being in love, and that man has been in love with you since New Hampshire."
"But...what if it never happens?" she sighed.
"Sometimes impotence can be cured," Abbey reminded her. "And there are other ways of sexual gratification as you well know. Let me pose this question--would you love him less if he couldn't have intercourse with you? And you can tell I'm a doctor because I'm all clinical here."
Donna thought long and hard a moment and dropped her head. "I don't think so...but I'm afraid I might change my mind."
Abbey patted her hand. "I would bet no. For one thing in this life, you'll never find someone you love--or who loves you--like this."
"Ma'am...what would you do? If you were in my place? If it was your husband?"
"Love is so much more than the physical," Abbey smiled again. "To have someone who loves you and cares for you like Josh Lyman does--that's such a rarity. No way I'd let him get away from me, not for any reason."
Donna smiled. "Thanks. I'm trying real hard to keep that in mind. I guess I just needed a little boost. Thank-you ma'am."
Abbey linked her arm through Donna's. "Let's go back. I'm sure he's bothered by your leaving but he's pretending not to be. That male ego thing."
Donna nodded and returned in with Abbey.
"I was waiting for you," Josh called softly, walking over to her. "You OK? Are we OK?"
Donna smiled softly, "Yeah...I'm sorry...it's just...well your...your problem got to me again. I mean I started thinking about it and feeling guilty and then..." Donna sniffled and then offered the best smile she could manage at the moment.
"Would an ‘I love you’ and a hug work here right now?" he asked softly. "And you needn't be sorry for being honest. I always want to know what you're feeling."
Donna folded herself against him as much as she could for a hug, squeezing the babies between them.
"These babies are going to have stunted growth if we keep doing this," he laughed, lifting the babies with his hand. "Come on let's get you and them fed."
Donna smiled and let him reseat her at the table.
Eleanor looked to her father then to see if he was going to make the announcement.
"A little order here," Jed demanded, "and this group has about as little as any. OK people first of all I have the proud honor to introduce the newest member of our extended family. Everyone this is Colin Stepford, and he and my number two daughter Eleanor are tonight for the first time officially announcing their engagement. Jeffrey. .." He paused and picked up his wine glass. "Colin and Eleanor, congratulations and may you be as happy as the couples you see around here. And I hope that wasn't a curse."
Eleanor and Colin smiled brightly and cuddled one another as the table erupted with applause.
"To a long life together and many babies," Leo smiled with his water glass in the air. "And if you stick around this maternity ward you'll have them in no time."
Ellie looked shocked and Zoey called out, "I give you two months before you're pregnant."
"It's in the water," Leo grinned. "Negates whatever you're using." Caroline elbowed him sharply. "That's not what happened to us. Any of the times."
"I guess you haven't had enough to drink," Sam teased CJ. CJ reached for her glass to drink furiously but at that moment the power went out and a secret service warning went into effect. There was an intruder.
Continued in the next Episode