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06 April 2008 @ 07:09 pm
This universe keeps growing, and I think it gets better.  This coupling is such fun for me....I wonder where the future is going to take them.  Not having the confines of the show means I'm either going to fly high or fall flat on my face.  Read and enjoy.....feedback is like cinnamon buns and extra frosting   :  ) 

Title: Merry Birthday
Author: Montiese
Category: Holiday/Romance/Friendship/Family/Children
Characters: Toby, Ellie, Jed, Abbey, CJ, Danny, Huck, Tori, Zoey, Charlie, Donna
Pairing: Toby/Ellie
Rating: MATURE
Summary: Neurotic would be waiting for her in the New Year…it could not have her
Author’s Note: This is #17 in the Splendor series.

“Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Tobias Zachary Ziegler, Happy Birthday to you.”
Toby opened his eyes, smiling at his wife. His arms went around her as Ellie stroked his belly.
“I'm really old.”
“Oh stop it, you are not old.”
“What would you call it?”
“You’re an elder statesmen. Do you have any birthday wishes?”
“What?” Ellie asked, smiling.
“I want you.”
“I'm right here. I'm always here.”
“Perhaps it is time for me to unwrap my present.”
He sat up a bit, looking around to see if someone was watching. It was silly since Jed and Abbey slept downstairs. Rarely did the former President come to the second floor these days. They were quite safe but Toby was paranoid and tired. He was not sleeping well. He spent his second night in Manchester tossing and turning while his wife slept soundly beside him. He and his family were there for the Christmas holiday. They braved significant snowfall to make it out to the farm. Charlie, Zoey, baby Jed and Annie were already there with the Bartlets.
“Hello!” Ellie walked into the farmhouse first. “We’re here.”
“Hello darlings.” Abbey came out of the den.
“Nana!” Tori rushed into her arms. Abbey scooped her up as Jed made his way into the living room. “Hey grandpa.”
“Hello sweetheart.” He kissed her cheek before looking at Huck. “Hello Huck.”
“Hi. Ellie said it would be OK to call you Nana and Grandpa Jed. Would it be?”
“We would love that.” Abbey smiled. “Come and give us a hug.”
He went to Jed first and Toby watched his son hug his former boss. The little boy could love anyone. Huck then kissed Abbey’s cheek.
“Cookies in the den.” She said, watching them run as fast as they could. “Merry Christmas guys.”
“Hi.” Ellie hugged her mother and father. “How are you feeling, daddy?”
“Between the MS and what this weather does to my knees, I really prefer to relax in my chair. Hello Toby.” Jed held out his hand.
“Hi sir.” Toby shook it. “Which room are we going to stay in? It’s probably better to take the suitcases upstairs now.”
“You're in Ellie’s old room.” Abbey replied. “I put Huck and Tori in the back room. They're not going to mind staying together, are they?”
“I don’t think so.” Ellie shook her head. “He’s a pretty laid back kid. Did you get everything from the car, honey?”
“Are you sure carrying all of that won't be a strain?”
“I'm fine. Excuse me.”
Toby went up the stairs and Jed started walking back to the den where cookies and cocoa was waiting. Ellie looked at her mother.
“How are things?” Abbey asked, sliding her arm into her daughter’s.
“Wonderful. I've been busy but Toby has the month off from Columbia.  When we get back home Molly will be with us for a few days so we will be doing Christmas again.”
“Toby’s not uncomfortable with that?”
“No. We don’t have a Christmas tree or anything. It’s mostly just a gift exchange for the kids.” They walked together to the den. “He is willing to do Christmas. Tori and I celebrated Yom Kippur for the first time this year.”
“Have you considered converting?”
“I have thought about it but have yet to discuss it with Toby. Let me say this mom, I think my conversion might be one of the only things daddy and Toby might agree on. Neither would probably like it. Hey everyone.”
Ellie passed hugs and kisses around before joining her father on the couch.
“Huck tells me that he’s good at chess.” Jed said.
“Oh he is, and getting better.”
“Let’s see if he can enjoy it with me. I'm playing again…my doctors think its good for me.”
“Where is Toby?” Charlie asked.
“He wanted to take the bags upstairs. He will be down soon.”
Toby made his way downstairs, asking for coffee instead of cocoa. Annie went to the kitchen to get him a cup.
“Where are Doug and Liz?” he asked, though he certainly did not care. Tori climbed into his lap and he engulfed her in his arms.
“They will be here for brunch tomorrow before flying to…where is it Abbey?”
“Philadelphia, to Doug’s parents.”
“I can't wait.” Toby replied.
Ellie pulled him into a kiss. She wrapped a leg around her husband’s waist as Toby rolled them on the bed. The comfortable, if squeaky, bed. The tee shirt went over his head.
“Are you alright, Professor? Are you going to be alright?”
“I'm not sure. It’s been a while…too long.”
“Well, we had to let you heal.”
“I know. I just never took into account that I would have to heal with the most beautiful woman lying next to me every night.” He kissed her again. “Do we need a condom?”
“How many times have you jerked off in the past five and a half weeks?” Ellie asked.
“Language.” He covered her mouth as they both laughed.
They tried to stifle their laughter, remembering what time of morning it was. Charlie and Zoey were next door but if they were lucky, the Youngs were too busy having sex to hear Toby and Ellie doing the same.
“I'm going to use a condom.”
“I have some in my bag.”
“Don't move.”
Toby kissed her nose before jumping out of bed. He unzipped Ellie’s bag, found a smaller toiletry bag, grabbed two condoms, and made his way back to his wife’s arms.
“Mmm, Toby?”
“Yes sweetheart?”
“I'm not wearing any panties.”
“This is shaping up to be a very good birthday.”
Ellie pushed his pajama pants down while he lifted her nightshirt up. The former Communications Director was on fire…he wanted her now. He ran his hand down her body, smiling when she trembled. She had also missed their intimacy, even though the couple found many ways to express their feelings while Toby recovered from his vasectomy. It had been five weeks and dammit, he was going to make love on his birthday.
“I want you on top.” He told Ellie as they rolled again.
“You're sure you're OK?” she checked again as she straddled him.
“I'm just fine. I need you to get on this thing.”
She laughed, sliding onto his erection. Toby groaned as he gripped her hips. Ellie started to move; her husband clenched his eyes shut.
“You like that, Professor? You like the way I ride it?”
“Oh God, oh Ellie, yeah, yeah, yeah.”
“I love it.” she bent to kiss him as Toby thrust.
They both lost themselves in the feelings. Toby cupped her breasts; Ellie leaned into his hands. She whimpered when her clit rubbed against his rough skin.
“Yeah, oh yeah. I love you, I love you, beautiful.”
“I love you too. So much, more than anything.”
Toby knew it was easier for Ellie to climax in missionary so they rolled one last time. The bedsprings complained underneath them but they did not care. Ellie certainly did not when she felt herself falling. She gripped her husband’s shoulders, biting her lip hard so as not to lose it completely. With a few more thrusts, Toby was able to let go. Sliding his fingers between hers, he kissed her passionately.
“So perfect.” He whispered. “Every moment with you.”
Ellie caressed his face as he fell over on the bed.
“Any more birthday wishes?” she cuddled close as Toby cleaned himself up. 
“That was an excellent start.”
Tori came running out onto the sun porch where Toby read a Harlan Coben mystery. Jed was across the room doing brainteasers on the computer.
“Yes baby?” he put his finger in the page.
“Wanna come with us to see Christmas stuff?”
Ellie came into the room carrying her daughter’s jacket.
“We are going to town to see all the Christmas displays.” She said. “Huck has never been so we thought it would be fun. It will give us a chance to do some last minute shopping and have some lunch.”
“Do I have to come?”
“Is he going?” Abbey asked, walking in.
“I'm tired, but you guys go ahead.” Toby smiled. “Have a great time.”
“We will bring you something back.” Tori said.
“I’d like that.”
“What are you going to do then?” Ellie asked.
“Take a nap. I didn’t sleep too well the last couple of nights. Its probably just uncommon surroundings. Come upstairs for a minute, Ellie. You um…”
“I need my gloves.”
“You don’t have to leave the room to make out.” Abbey said, helping Tori into her jacket and winter gear.
“Yes they do.” Her husband replied.
Upstairs Ellie did grab her gloves, as well as her wallet.
“Have a nice nap, honey.”
“How much better would it be if you were having it with me?” Toby slid his arms around her from behind. Brushing Ellie’s hair aside, he sucked the nape of her neck.
“I know.”
“I want you to stay.”
“Your children are downstairs waiting for me.” Ellie caressed his hands. “I have to go. Get some rest; there will be a dinner in your honor tonight.”
“Oh no.”
“Yes, and you are going to enjoy yourself.”
“I am?”
“Mmm hmm.” She turned and kissed him. “I’ll see you later.”
“I love you, Eleanor.”
“Love you too.”
Toby did not know how long he had been asleep but he woke up feeling rested. The house was so quiet; he was able to fall almost immediately. When his cell phone rang a few minutes into his nap Toby thought of ignoring it but didn’t. Family men did not ignore their cell phones; it was a simple fact.
“Hello.” He muttered.
“Oh my God, did I wake you?”
“I'm going to say kind of, since I was half-asleep. Hey Donna.”
“Happy Birthday! See, this year I called you on the day.”
“Anytime you call is just great. Thank you for remembering. How is California?”
“Very sunny. We’re used to seasonal weather so it’s definitely been an adjustment.”
“It can't be good for Cliff’s curls.”
The blonde laughed.
“You're right actually. Did you get your gift?”
“No, I'm in New Hampshire for Christmas. It should be waiting for me when I get home.”
“Cliff and I are in Providence visiting his parents. I'm just happy to be wearing a coat. How are Ellie and the kids?”
“Everyone is good. It’s been a good year.”
“I am so happy for you…it was a long time coming. You should go back to your nap. I just wanted to make sure that I called you.”
“Thanks Donna, you know how much it means to me. Merry Christmas, and tell Cliff I said the same.”
“I will. Bye Toby.”
Flipping his phone closed, Toby put it on vibrate before placing it back on the nightstand. He threw the blanket over his shoulder and closed his eyes.
Now he was awake, making his way to the bathroom to freshen up. There was a knock on the bedroom door so Toby told them to come in.
“Are you awake, dad?” Huck popped his head in.
“Yeah, I'm just washing my face. What time is it?”
“Almost six.”
“Uh huh. Grandpa Jed wants you to come downstairs.”
“Alright. Did you enjoy the Christmas thing?”
“Yeah.” Now Huck stood in the bathroom door, a few feet from his father. “Dad, does liking Christmas make me a bad Jewish person?”
“Absolutely not. There are so many other ways to be a bad person; you are just fine.”
“Are you sure?”
“I'm positive. Religion can be complicated Huck. Never should you let a dogma change the person you are. God will love you because you are a good person…I promise.”
“OK.” he smiled, which made him look more like his father. “C'mon dad, Tori bought you cheesecake.”
That sounded delicious. Toby towel-dried his face and headed downstairs. Halfway down, he heard the hubbub.
“I really hate surprises.” He mumbled.
“You'll like this one dad.” Huck replied.
She stepped out from behind the door wearing a smile.
“Happy Birthday, Tobus.”
They rushed to each other, meeting at the bottom of the stairs in a tight embrace. Both exhaled when they were finally in each other’s arms. He acknowledged Danny’s presence and as soon as he could let go of CJ for more than a few seconds, the two men shook hands.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, stroking her face.
“Well, firstly today is pretty important. Secondly, we have spent many Christmases with Danny’s family. As much as I always enjoy it, I thought it was time to spend one with mine.”
“It is so good to see you. Did the President…?”
“No, it was Annie. She figured your first Christmas with the Bartlets might be an awkward one. So she called early last month to invite us.”
“She is something, isn’t she?”
“What is with your uncanny ability to get women to want to love you so much?” CJ asked.
“I have absolutely no idea and that is probably for the better. Where are the kids?”
“In the den. Come with me, there are more surprises in the dining room.” she slipped her hand in his.
“I'm not sure I can take anymore surprises.”
The table was set for a lovely dinner. Toby immediately found Annie, pulling her into a hug.
“You're one great girl.” he said, kissing her forehead.
“Happy Birthday Uncle Toby.”
He took the time to hug and kiss his godchildren. Faye was quite ecstatic to see Uncle Whooby again; Leo getting tall to be not quite five years old. He really wished he saw more of them. Tori was going to be the first child Toby would actually see grow up with his own eyes.
Zoey brought out two meatloaves that smelled heavenly. One was actually turkey; made from an old Barrington family recipe. There were potatoes, corn, macaroni and cheese, and string beans. They opened bottles of wine, with iced tea for the kids. CJ took some time to ooh and aah over baby Jed. He was 15 months old now, the perfect combination of his parents.
“His head is shaped like his daddy’s.” Zoey said giggling.
“There is absolutely nothing wrong with the shape of my head, woman.”
“Let’s just say childbirth was no picnic in the park. I pray the next time will be a bit easier.”
“When is the next time going to be?” CJ asked.
“Probably June 17th, of course we know they have a way of coming whenever they are ready.”
“You're having another baby?” Jed dropped his fork.
Zoey nodded. Charlie rolled his eyes.
“I knew that she would not be able to keep it in. We were going to surprise you guys on Christmas morning.”
“Sorry for stealing your thunder, Toby.” Zoey said as for just a little while she became the center of the universe.
“Don’t worry about it. Congratulations.”
Ellie was happy for her sister and jealous at the same time. She was still unsure if she and Toby should pursue other avenues of having children. A part of her thought it was unfair to spring an infant or toddler on a man approaching 60. He was content in the life he led; being with Tori, Huck, and Molly when she was there satisfied him. Ellie still heard her clock ticking though. She pushed all those thoughts aside, hugging her beloved sister and brother-in-law. Neurotic would be waiting for her in the New Year…it could not have her tonight.
“What are you doing out here alone? Everyone is enjoying themselves in the den.”
Jed Bartlet came out to the sun porch where Toby was smoking a cigar. The hour was turning late; all the kids were in bed. All but Huck who convinced his stepmother to let him stay up late and listen to the adults talk. He enjoyed sitting in Jed’s big leather chair, soaking up memories of the White House.
“I didn’t want the cigar smoke to bother anyone, especially Zoey. Here sir, you should sit.”
Toby moved over on the couch and the President sat down.
“Why do you keep calling me that?”
“You told me to call you that.”
“Firstly, you never listen to me. secondly, I was just kidding around.” Jed replied.
“I really don’t think you were.”
“Nah, I don’t think so either. Doug calls me dad and I really don’t like him. Every time I hear it, I cringe. Charlie calls me dad and I feel proud.”
“Am I supposed to fall somewhere in the middle?” Toby asked.
“Ellie loves you very much.”
“I love her too.”
“How? I just…I want to know what you two talk about. What is your life together like?”
“Quiet. We work, spend time with the kids; see friends a few times a month. It’s altogether possible that we are boring, but I'm OK with that.”
“She told me that um, you two were acquainted while I was still President.”
“She told you that?” Toby looked at him with wide brown eyes. “I did not seduce …Ellie…Jesus.”
“I don’t know the details and I definitely do not want to.” Jed replied.
“So you bring it up simply to unnerve me?”
“I didn’t think of that; that’s a good reason. Look Toby, we’re family now. We have been for a long time.” He stood with less trouble than he thought he would. “Come back to your party, and call me Jed.”
“Yes sir.”
“I need to run something by you, Toby.”
Ellie was in the bathroom, doing what women do before they go to bed at night. He sat in the chair going through his birthday gifts. It was a nice variety…he would have a field day with the $150 gift certificate to Barnes and Noble from Charlie and Zoey.
“My parents want us to join them for Mass tomorrow evening. It’s a Christmas Eve tradition but I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable.”
“I'm not uncomfortable. I want to be with my family.”
“Are you sure?” Ellie poked her head out. Toby grinned when he saw the blue face mask she wore. She made quite an adorable Smurf.
“I'm sure. CJ and I are having lunch in town. What time is church?”
“Seven o’clock. It’s not weird, being in a Catholic church?”
“No. I was talking to Huck earlier, it was funny, he asked if loving Christmas made him a bad Jewish person. I told him never to let a dogma change the person he is. I love you and our kids; I will compromise and go to Mass tomorrow. You came to Temple for Yom Kippur. We are an interfaith marriage.”
“Sharing that with you was an amazing experience.”
“That’s how I feel about Christmas Eve Mass.”
“Tonight is pretty important too.”
“It is still my birthday.”
“And one year ago tonight something pretty magical happened.” Ellie said.
“What was it for you, Professor?”
“Come out of the bathroom.”
Ellie walked out and Toby liked what he saw. His wife wore a red satin nightgown that left just enough to his imagination. Their morning romp caused him a bit of discomfort; they would have to find another way tonight. Toby was confident that would not be a problem. He held his arms out and Ellie climbed into his lap, kissing his forehead.
“A year ago today, I grabbed hold of the softest, most beautiful, extraordinary woman in the whole world.”
“Oh yes.” Toby caressed her face, kissing her softly. “Its you Eleanor Millicent Bartlet-Ziegler. I remember lying in my bed with you…you felt tingly.”
“I was in love with you then; petrified that I was alone in my feelings.” She said.
“I could hardly contemplate that it might be real.”
“Do I make you happy?” she slid her arms around his neck. “Toby nuzzled close to her, inhaling the fresh scent of her skin.
“Jubilant.” He kissed her neck. “Ecstatic, overjoyed, quite pleased…”
“I get it.”
“I don’t know; there may be words that have not been invented yet.”
“Well I have another surprise for you.”
“It’s in my bag.”
Ellie got up, grabbed her purse and took out some papers. She handed them to her husband. Toby opened them as she sat back in his lap.
“Is this for real?” he asked.
“Of course. We have been talking about it for a while and you are definitely her daddy. Its not a smite to Vic but if anything ever happened to me I don’t want Tori to lose her family. All you have to do is sign.”
“I need a pen.”
There was one on the nightstand table. Toby looked through the papers, signing on three different lines. Ellie smiled.
“How do you feel?” she asked.

”Very good. I love you.”
“I love you too, Toby. What a year this has been for me. A few years ago I would’ve never believed it.”
While he did his best to maintain the quiet life of an Ivy League professor, the new adventures he found everyday as a husband and father were a wonder to him. Here he was, five years after leaving the White House in disgust and disgrace, back with the family again. Jed Bartlet still loved him and they did a slow walk to deeper understanding. Toby was sure if not for his relationship with Ellie, he would have never found CJ again. With that closeness, a certain balance returned to his life. 
In Annie Westin, he found the perfect addition to his new family. At first unsure of Ellie’s young niece moving in with them, she quickly proved to be someone whose company Toby enjoyed. She was like Zoey without the…well Toby wasn’t quite sure. He could only take the youngest Bartlet daughter in small increments. The oldest he could hardly take at all. Yeah, that was family all right.
“You’ve got too much on your mind.” Ellie whispered.
“How do you know that?”
“Because I know you. Let it go.”
“Are you going to help?” he asked.
“Mmm hmm.” Ellie chuckled, getting to her feet and taking her husband’s hand. “I am going to take you to bed and you’ll go on a little expedition to find out just where I'm tingling. Then I will pay you in kind.”
“I may have overdone it this morning.” Toby replied.
“Don’t worry honey, I'm a doctor. I have the magic touch.”
“Yes, you definitely do.”
They slid under the covers together. His tee shirt was the first thing to go. With his birthday drawing to a close, Toby knew the next hour or two would put the perfect seal on a terrific day.
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