Set after "100,000 Airplanes" ~~ previous
Characters property of NBC and Aaron Sorkin. No infringement intended.

Don't get used to this. I'm still taking a fanfic break; it's just that, well ... yeah. I was worried about Toby. ;)

100,000 Pecans, And Maybe Some Lemon

What is it with that guy? He needs numbers, like, overwhelmingly, at every minute of the day and night, or his whole world will just implode. He wants numbers to just appear instantaneously out of the air; he once went so far as to suggest that we open up a computer to get numbers. And even when I'm giving him numbers, it's not enough. He wants the next numbers. It's one part amusing and two parts highly irritating.

But aside from Josh Lyman annoying me, I'm feeling pretty good right now. I've done a lot of polling for a lot of people, but this is the only place where anyone's ever picked me up and spun me in a circle when I've told them good news. Now they're spinning all around me, laughing, dancing; they've put on music and they're celebrating the numbers I so hoped I would be able to give them.

Poor Kenny. Utterly professional, he would never admit to me that he's been overtaken by signer's cramp. I guiltily admit to myself that since I've fallen in with the White House crowd I've probably given Kenny a strong push toward carpal tunnel syndrome. There are people all around us and he's trying to be all of their voices for me. In the middle of CJ's victory speech interspersed with Josh and Donna's cheerful bicker, I take up Kenny's hands to silence them.

Take a break, I tell him. It's okay.

You sure? he asks, and looks relieved when I insist. Only then does he find a chair, leaving me free to smile into faces under the pretense of reading speech. Gives me a thrill, staring into faces this happy.

Sam's back from wherever he's been, and his face isn't happy, exactly, but he looks all right now. He catches my eye and tells me thank you, as if I singlehandedly created the results of tonight's poll. I give him a thumbs-up and watch him as he turns to watch his colleagues.

It's Toby he's watching, and suddenly I am, too -- Toby who's been just as joyous as the rest of them, but now standing apart from the others, just scratching his chin and thinking. He doesn't look altogether troubled, but then he doesn't look like someone who's just danced three rounds with the Press Secretary, either. I make my way toward him, for some reason, and he smiles a little when he notices me, and nods hello.

"Some party," I tell him, and he leans a little closer and shakes his head; it must be pretty loud in here. "Some party," I tell him, louder, and he pulls me into Josh's office, where the noise would be cut off a little. "Some party," I say.


"You've stopped dancing."

Now he laughs appreciatively, but it doesn't quite reach his whole face.

"Long week?" I ask , as if I don't know, and he doesn't understand; I repeat myself. "Long week?"

He laughs again, making me laugh, too, because of course it's been a long week, and worth it, sure; I mean, it's not like we cured cancer or anything, but we all did a pretty good job.

"I was just thinking," he says, and then he shakes his head, embarrassed.

"Of what?"

"You should go back out there .... looking for a dance partner."

I've missed a name. "Say again?"

He says it again, and I miss it again, and grab a pen off Josh's desk and ask the name. Larry.

"I don't dance," I answer, which for some reason cracks him up; maybe because I just made him get the point across even when the answer would be no. I grin a little, too, but ask again, "What were you thinking of?"

He shrugs, and smiles, and I know he's not going to tell me.

"I'm wondering what it's going to be like to eat something other than pie," he lies. "It's like this every January."

"What sort of pie gets the State of the Union written?" I ask him, twice.

"Pecan for me, but Sam likes lemon."

"And barrels of coffee, I'll bet."

He smiles and nods and goes back to looking distant. "I don't know how much more pie I can --" he starts to say after a while, and I think he's said it quietly, and I think he's forgotten he's talking to a speechreader, and I see him remember. He shrugs apologetically.

"What?" I ask him.

"I -- it was a -- it was a bad month to get writer's block," he says, and that's all I get out of him. A minute later he returns to the party, and I follow, thinking maybe I understand. Sam and Toby are both brilliant writers, and they both did an incredible job on this thing, but I think maybe Sam had less time for pie than did Toby. I also think it'll look better to Toby tomorrow, and I don't worry about him too much.

Now Josh Lyman -- that's someone to worry about. He's trying to dance with Donna, only he's done something to tick her off and she's deliberatley stomping on his toes. And CJ Cregg. I might worry about her because she's just climbed onto a desk to make an announcement -- Kenny, ever professional, signs across the room, She's about to do 'The Jackal.' Ronnie Jordan. You want me to --

I know the lyrics, I laugh. You're on break. He raises his hand and smiles in thanks.

No, I won't worry about Toby, because the Jackal seems to be cheering him up just fine. And I might worry about Sam a little, because he's the only one who seems really upset that it was impossible for us to cure cancer just now, but Sam will be all right. They're all going to be all right, and I think this is the first night since the MS disclosure that any of us has really believed it.

Now seems like a good time to slip out. I'm not in a party mood, really; I'm a quieter sort of hopeful. I tell Kenny I'm going, and he follows me, and it takes us ten full minutes to get out, everyone stopping me to say thanks, and Joshua spinning me around one more time. At last we're outside, but I'm not quite ready to go home; the glow from the party hasn't left me. I should treat Kenny to dinner, or maybe a hand massage. I wonder if there's anywhere to get pie at this hour, and figure, if the State of the Union got written, then there must be.


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Set after "100,000 Airplanes" ~~ previous