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22 February 2008 @ 09:29 pm
Ah Toby and Ellie.............how much I love thee.  Enjoy, and feedback is love. 

Title: Coupling
Author: Montiese
Category: Friendship/Humor/Romance
Characters: Toby, Ellie, Jason, Terry, Annie Westin
Pairing: Toby/Ellie
Rating: MATURE
Summary: “Ellie believes being typical is for quitters.”
Author’s Note: This is #14 in the Splendor series.

“How did I do?” Toby asked.
“What do you mean? You were great, pleasant, engaging, witty, and well versed. You even excelled at mixed couples Taboo.”
“Jason felt sorry for me so he made me his partner.”
“Nonsense.” Ellie laughed. “You were fine and I had a lovely time.”
“It was nice.”
The Zieglers were in the back of a cab. They were leaving Manhattan, and Dr. Jason Murphy’s swanky Riverside Drive address, for the solitude of Park Slope. Tonight was their first couple's dinner party. Ellie looked forward to it while Toby was unsure.

Ellie left work an hour early, heated leftovers for Huck and Tori, checked Huck’s math, and tried to find the perfect outfit. Toby was staying on campus; she would meet him there. She finally settled on grey slacks and a silver blue cashmere turtleneck. Her auburn curls caressed her shoulders as she grabbed her purse to call her husband.
“I'm on my way to you.”
“Are the kids alright?” Toby asked.
“They are fed and their homework done. I think I should pay Annie for looking after them Toby…she did not move in with us to be an au pair.”
Ellie put her coat on, kissing the kids and waving to Annie while heading out the door. On the opposite corner, she hailed a cab.
“We don’t pay Annie?” he asked.
“Are you serious?”
“You handle all of those things, sweetheart, I know nothing about it.”
“Well we don’t.”
“That definitely needs to be rectified. Moreover, we can always call the sitter service. She is in her 20s and should not have to be saddled with her cousins. Saddled probably isn’t the right word.”
“Yeah. I thought words were your specialty, Professor Ziegler.”
“I do great writing for other people. My own could use a bit of fine tuning. Are you on your way?”
“I'm in a cab. I will be there shortly.”
“Alright. I'm in my office.”
“Yeah. I love you Toby.”
“I love you too.”
Ellie smiled, flipping her cell phone closed. She leaned her head back and relaxed for the lengthy ride.
A rather attractive man with thick silver hair, bright blue eyes, and a pleasant smile opened the door.
“You must be Toby Ziegler; come in, come in. I'm Terrence Dresden, Jason’s better half.”
“Hello.” Toby said as they both walked into the spacious condo. “This is my lovely wife, Dr. Eleanor Bartlet-Ziegler.”
Ellie smiled, her cheeks flushing as she and Terrence shook hands. She knew how much of a kick her husband got out of saying that.
“Ellie is fine.”
“Excellent, I'm better known as Terry. Let me take your coats; is it raining yet?”
“I didn’t know it was in the forecast.” Toby replied. “We brought a Riesling…Sault St. Michelle.”
“Lovely.” He took the bottle. “Jason is handling the kitchen so come in and let me introduce you to our other guests.”
Toby and Ellie held hands as they walked into the living room. Tasteful décor and furniture in blues and creams filled the room. Ellie thought it was beautiful; she complimented Terry on the choices.
“It’s all Jason; he is the furniture guru. Art is my thing and I love to shop.”
“He is just being modest…one of his many amazing attributes.” Jason came through the kitchen door. “I am the luckiest boy in the world. Toby, I am so glad you came.” He took a moment to hug his colleague and friend. “Ellie, the pictures of you in his office barely capture your true radiance.” He leaned to kiss her cheek. “He does nothing but rave about you.”
“That’s nice to hear.” She replied.
“Oh yes, your husband has a nice, healthy crush on you. What can I get you to drink?”
“A glass of white wine.” Ellie said.
Toby wanted a glass of Glenfiddich, knowing Jason always kept a bottle. Their host returned to the kitchen and Terry went on with the introductions. There were two other couples there; Toby remembered Jason said he did not want to overwhelm them on their first visit. Dr. Paul Trent was a Professor of Philosophy at Columbia. His wife Beth worked Marketing and Promotions for VH1.
“Please tell me you are in no way responsible for any show where scantily clad women chase after has-been rockers, rappers, or actors.” Toby said, shaking her hand.
“That would be production, Dr. Ziegler. I just sell it to the public.”
“Oh no, I'm not a doctor, I just play one on TV. My wife is the doctor of the family.”
“What do you teach?” Beth asked.
“Actually, I am an M.D.”
“Ellie is the Assistant Director of Research at Hudson University Medical Center. Her specialty right now is neurological disorders but she used to work in infectious diseases.”
“Oh wow. Hmm.”
Dr. Sophie Mullen worked with Jason in the Psychology Department and her husband Nicholas was in real estate. He was a bit too touchy with Ellie for Toby’s liking; the former Communications Director moved between them.
“Drinks…and hors d’oeuvres.” Jason returned with two glasses and a tray.
Ellie sampled the mini crab cakes with her glass of wine. Toby wanted to wait until dinner but was happy for the scotch.
“Where did you study medicine, Ellie?” Paul asked.
“Undergrad at Northwestern University and Johns Hopkins Medical School.”
“I did my undergraduate work at Northwestern.” He replied. “Did you happen to come across Dr. Martin Greer while studying there?”
“Oh yes, Dr. Greer was my undergraduate advisor. I minored in Philosophy.”
Toby looked at his wife. That was something he did not know about her.
“Fascinating.” Paul said. “Typically those who study life sciences shun the social sciences.”
“Ellie believes being typical is for quitters.” Toby said.
They all laughed as Terry led them into the dining room. Jason’s masterpiece would be ready in just a few minutes.
“He likes to make a grand entrance.” Sophie said. “Diva that he is.”
“I heard that!”

“I guess I would not be opposed to doing that again.” Toby said. “Jason and Terry were quite pleasant to be around.”
“I agree. You need to spend a bit more time with people, Toby.”
“Do you think me reclusive, like the paper said?”
“Oh stop it, of course I don’t. I just know that you have so many wonderful things to offer. It would not be so bad, once in a while, to have coffee or dinner with colleagues.”
“You're right.” Toby conceded. “Though I admit that I had much more fun watching you…you were amazing.”
Apparently, the new Mrs. Ziegler’s mind was a virtual fountain of all knowledge. She discussed books, music, film, theatre, science and world events. Ellie was the star of the show and her husband was content to let her shine. She and Terry wiped the floor with the competition in mixed couples Taboo. He declared she would forever be his partner.
“So, next Wednesday its dinner with Dan and Connor.”
“I don’t think Connor likes me sweetheart.”
“She does.”
“No, I don’t think…”
“Toby, Connor likes you. She told me so.”
“She told you so?”
“Mmm hmm. She said you were intriguing, intelligent, and full of something.”
“Full of something?” Toby raised an eyebrow.
“I cannot remember her exact words. Connor likes you Toby. I think if anything she might be a bit intimidated by you.”
“Don’t act as if it’s impossible.”
“I'm always nice to Connor. Nicer than usual because I thought she didn’t like me and I wanted her to like me because she is married to your best friend.”
“That’s really sweet. Here’s the thing honey, I like Connor a lot because I have known her for many years. If you get her going on a subject she likes, you have to cover her mouth with duct tape to get a word in. Still, she is not well-versed in things like literature, politics, or world affairs. Her favorite film is Cruel Intentions and she has never seen Dangerous Liaisons.”
“I'm sorry, what?” Toby looked at his wife.
“See, you will think differently of her now. That’s not fair.”
“I won't, I promise. She has never seen Dangerous Liaisons?”
“Well, we all watched it one night but she admitted to zoning out. She said period pieces bore her.”
“Period pieces bore her? How can anyone find Glenn Close playing sex games boring?”
“I don’t even know if she realized they were playing sex games. So I think if you engage her in conversation on a subject in which she flourishes, she won't feel so dumb.”
Toby thought about it; he did not like the idea of dumbing down. Then again, it was not fair to call Connor dumb. She was a magazine editor. She had a degree from Sarah Lawrence, in what Toby didn’t know. She thought Dangerous Liaisons was boring, preferring the mediocre teenage remake starring Buffy the Vampire Slayer and that kid with the weird haughty New England accent. 
Sarah Michelle Gellar definitely went on Toby’s Top 10 list of fantasy women. As long as she was a brunette anyway. Not that any of that dealt with the matter at hand. He thought about what Jason said, he had to be more malleable.
“Alright.” Toby said as the cab pulled up to their door. “I will take a crash course in Connor 101 before next week.”
Ellie smiled, ignoring her husband’s husband face when she swiped her debit card through the cab’s pay bank. They got out and Toby took the house keys from his pocket.
“I will pay you back.” he said. “It was not a cheap ride.”
“You can give me an even better ride later, Professor Ziegler, and we’ll call it even.”
He glanced at her while unlocking the door. Her sexy, fresh simplicity never failed to turn him on. There was one lamp burning in the living room and the stove light lit the kitchen but the house was quiet.
“I’ll check on Annie and the kids.” Ellie said.
“Do you want a bottle of water?”
She headed for the stairs but Toby stopped her. Turning her around on the first step, he slid his arms around her waist and covered her mouth with his own. Ellie liked that the step gave her height advantage for the first time. Though there was something about standing on her tiptoes, which she didn’t have to do anyway, to kiss him, that was quite captivating. She moaned as Toby lifted her sweater to stroke the small of her back. When they pulled apart, she caressed his face.
“Mmm, that was nice.” She whispered.
“Very. I hadn't kissed you in hours…the feeling was overwhelming.”
“I’ll see you upstairs.”
In the kitchen, Toby grabbed two bottles of water. The kids were sound asleep, it was almost ten o’clock. Ellie pulled up covers and gave them kisses for her and Toby. She knocked on the partially open door before going up to the third floor.
“Annie, can I come in?”
“Sure.” She took off her IPod. “Did you guys have a good time?”
“It was very nice. Toby’s colleagues are a good bunch…we played mixed couples Taboo and Toby was quite engaging.”
“The kids and I watched The Spiderwick Chronicles and Huck started his book report on The Hobbit. It was a quiet night.”
“Well Toby and I both think that we should pay you for the evening. I was thinking…”
“Don’t you dare take out your wallet.”
“What? I enjoy the time I spend with the kids and if I couldn’t do it then I would just say so. Anyway, come January I am going to be a ghost around here with school starting. I also want to get a part-time job if I can. Being a homebody right now suits my needs. I know you and Toby need your newlywed time.”
“You have no idea how much we appreciate having you. Are you sure…?”
“Alright. Well, I will just say goodnight now.”
“Ellie, I talked to Reva last night and she is definitely coming in two weeks for a long weekend. She will be arriving Thursday night and staying until Tuesday morning. I thought I would ask if you and Toby didn’t mind having her stay here. A hotel on short notice would be a real expense.”
“She can definitely stay here. I am really glad she is coming out to see you.”
“Well, it could be one of those sad breakup trips. I loathe calling Reva a commitment-phobic because we were in a monogamous relationship, but she loves her freedom. She loves women and she definitely loves sex. I was talked into an open relationship upon moving to New York and all I can think about is her curling up with women who are prettier and worldlier than I am. She keeps telling me that I'm young and this time apart is perfect for exploration. She says it won't take anything away from what we have.”
“She's right.” Ellie replied. “You are going to meet many wonderful people at NYU and some of them will be attracted to you. Annie, you do not have to set your mind on meeting and hooking up with random girls…though I am sure that might be a fun time. Just don’t close your mind to having fun in your own way. You are going to be 65 one day; act 25 right now.”
“OK.” Annie nodded and smiled. “Are you sure you don’t want to talk the Reva visit over with Toby before committing to it. I could understand it might be weird for him. You know, two kids and the lesbians.”
“Give Toby more credit than that. We will discuss it of course, but I don’t foresee a problem. Have you talked to your mother lately?”
“Day before yesterday…she’s fine. Dad is fine and Gus is fine. The whole damn Westin bunch is just peachy keen and picture perfect. I don’t think I have had anything more than topical conversation with my mother since I hit puberty.” Annie rolled her eyes. “Thank God for grandma.”
“Cut your mother some slack.”
“You know I always do. It’s why I call home once a week.”
“Alright. Goodnight Annie.”
Ellie went back downstairs, down the hall to the master bedroom. Toby was already in bed. He wore his glasses and typed on his laptop.
“What are you up to?” she asked, closing the door and undressing.
“This instant messenger thing with CJ. She grabbed me while I was supposed to be doing email.”
TobyZiegler: Time for me to go…my wife is back.
CaliforniaGirl: You are so whipped.
TobyZiegler: Damn right, and happy about it.
CaliforniaGirl: Tell Ellie I said hello.
“CJ says hello sweetheart.”
“Oh, right back at her.” Ellie went into the bathroom. Toby heard the familiar buzz of her electric toothbrush.
TobyZiegler: Ellie says hi. We will talk soon, I promise.
CaliforniaGirl: I know. Kiss the kids for Aunt CJ.
TobyZiegler: Yeah. I love you Claudia Jean.
CaliforniaGirl: Love you more. And I miss you.
TobyZiegler: My door is always open.
CaliforniaGirl: You could always come to Santa Monica.
TobyZiegler: I hate the West Coast. Give my love to Danny and the kids. Say hello to Margaret.
CaliforniaGirl: Will do. Goodnight Tobus.
TobyZiegler: Goodnight.
He closed out the window and opened his email. Typing quickly, he shot out an email to Jason.
To: PsychProf45@hotmail.com
Subject: Dinner
Ellie and I both had a terrific time tonight. We look forward to doing it again in the future. We will talk more on Thursday, but I think my wife and your husband may be completely enamored with one another. Have a good weekend.
Pushing send, he exited the Internet and shut down his computer before placing it on the nightstand.
“Honey?” Ellie called from the bathroom.
“Yeah?” he sipped his water.
“Reva is coming to visit Annie in two weeks. Is it alright if she stays upstairs?”
“I don’t see why not? A hotel would be expensive and we have the room. I know Annie must be happy.”
“More like wistful. Love can be hard sometimes.”
“Tell me about it.” Toby chuckled a bit. “I hope it works out the way she wants. She is an amazing girl…how did she come from Liz and Doug?”
“A question frequently asked in the family. Mom says she is a lot like her, which I can see. Oh, and she refuses to take any money from us.”
“Did you push?” Toby asked.
“No, that would be rude.” Ellie came out of the bathroom dressed in one of Toby’s tee shirts and her panties. Oh yes, her husband thought, its bedtime.
“Annie likes spending time with Huck and Tori. She is going to be busy with school starting in January; the down time is good for her. She also feels good helping us out.”
She slid under the covers, pulling the blanket up to her chin. Toby turned on his side. He took her into his arms, teasing her lips with his own.
“I love you.” He said.
“I love you too Toby Ziegler. I am the luckiest girl in the whole wide world.”
Their kisses were soft but passionate. Ellie pulled his tee shirt up and over his head, murmuring between kisses that dammit, he was forbidden from wearing a shirt to bed.
“Yes Doctor.”
They rolled on the mattress as Toby maneuvered his wife out of her underwear. Stroking her most sensitive skin, Ellie arched her back.   His fingers were gentle but expert. It didn’t take long to bring her to breathless climax. He did it again with relative ease but then Ellie took his hand. Sometimes she was sensitive…two would be enough tonight. Toby kissed her before he finished undressing her. He loved her body. Her pale skin, the birthmark on her right shoulder, her dark pink nipples that he loved to tease with his tongue and lips, and her outie belly button that seemed to embarrass her.
“Oh Professor, mmm.”
She wrapped her legs around him while he played with breasts. That made it more difficult for Toby to shake out of his boxers, but he was a professional. Ellie sat up some; Toby took a pillow and slid it under her hips. Then he took a condom from the box in the drawer. He made a mental note to purchase more after class tomorrow. Once again, he touched her, watching with fascinated brown eyes as she quivered.
“Do you want me, Eleanor?”
“Yes…yes. Now honey, right now.”
Ellie loved how strong Toby was in bed. He was an intense man in all aspects of his life but when they made love, it was like nothing she had ever experienced before. She had actually cried, sobbed, from the power of his passion. Ellie did not know that was possible once upon a time. Well, she knew but never thought it would happen to her.
“Oh God, oh Ellie…” Toby groaned as he thrust into her. He bit down on his lip to keep from being too loud. “Ohhh baby.”
Smiling, she stroked his face. Her hips bucked to meet his long, swift thrusts and soon they were coming together. Ellie pulled him into a kiss as his body rested on hers. Toby never felt comfortable with all of his weight on his small framed wife but knew she liked to feel him close. Pulling out, he moved onto the mattress and cleaned himself up. Ellie rested on her side, holding the covers around her naked body.
“You have a funny look on your face, Toby said, inching closer to her.
“Its all bliss, I assure you.”
“Mmm hmm.” Ellie was in his arms, kissing his heartbeat. “You are really good at that Professor. I don’t want to make it seem as if that is all you are good at, but you are excellent at that.”
Toby laughed, pulling her closer. Ellie slid her leg over his and he sighed. She still trembled occasionally, the pistons firing at random after the exciting trip her body and mind took.
“Are we even?” Ellie asked.
“A ride for a ride…yeah, I think so.” Toby reached to turn out the lamp. “Well, maybe we’ll be even tomorrow.”
“OK honey. Goodnight kisses.”
Toby kissed her and promptly fell asleep. Classes, socialization, and a workout; the Professor was tired. Ellie was up a while longer, but for no particular reason. This weekend would be quiet. Huck and Toby would go to ten o’clock service and the girls would meet them for brunch afterward. She would probably do some drawing with Tori and they would definitely do Saturday night dinner and a movie as a family. Molly would come next weekend and she knew Tori was excited about that. 
Ellie also knew she and Toby would have to talk about a more permanent solution to the birth control dilemma very soon. He never complained about using condoms, not once, but she found that she was not fond of them. Still, she cringed at the idea of surgery. It seemed unfair to ask Toby to do it but Dana was right, so many men his age had the procedure. Oh God, that was selfish of her. They would work it out somehow; having some sort of conversation was a good start. Toby started to snore and she knew he was done for the night. Cuddling closer to her husband, Ellie fell asleep looking forward to the weekend.
I Feel....: tiredtired
I Hear....: watching Forensic Files
Claire: TWW - Gailjustdreaming88 on February 23rd, 2008 07:33 am (UTC)
I continue to love this. What's Taboo? I haven't heard of it as a game.

I enjoyed this chapter and I'd love to know how Annie came out to Liz and Doug. Yay for a bit of C.J.! Is Margaret still working with her?
SSA McGeek: Toby....bearded smilemcgarrygirl78 on February 23rd, 2008 01:19 pm (UTC)
Taboo is a game you play in groups of two and your partner has to figure out the word on the card, with you giving prompts but you can't use the TABOO words listed on the card to describe the main word.....hope that was a good description. There is this annoying buzzer that another person sounds if you use a TABOO word.

I'm not sure how Annie came out to her parents but it is definitely something I plan to explore in the future....Annie Westin seems to have captured me and I want to know more about her. And definitely yes, CJ and Margaret are still together. She's like Leo now, she can't tie her shoes without Margaret.