CJ stopped in mid-sentence just to see if he was really listening. Toby didn't even look up from the papers on his desk. Well, she'd have to admit that discussing regulations concerning rural septic systems wasn't a very hot topic, but he could at least pretend.
She sat down on the couch and waited. He finally looked up.
"So, what's wrong?" she asked.
He still looked remarkably glum and distracted, so she decided to ignore his first response.
"Okay, let's try this again. What's wrong, Toby?"
"I have no life."
"Of course you have a life. You're an influential man in a prominent White House position. You're a counselor to the President, for Pete's sake. You have a great life. There are people who would kill to have your life."
Toby drummed his fingers on the desk and frowned. "No need for violence. They can come in and take over any time they want."
CJ frowned. "You really are depressed."
They sat in silence for a few minutes. Just when CJ was ready to give up and leave, he started to speak again.
"I don't have a sex life," he said sadly.
"Oh, is that all?" She grinned and waved a hand in dismissal of his complaint. "Welcome to my world."
"Wow, thanks. I feel so much better now," Toby said sarcastically.
Silence fell on them again, broken only when Toby admitted, "I don't even remember how it feels."
CJ laughed. "Sure you do."
"I'm being extraordinarily candid with my feelings here, CJ. I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't minimize them."
"I'm not dismissing them, Toby, but, on some level, you do remember. You just don't know that you remember."
He looked unconvinced. "If you say so."
She leaned forward, anxious to reassure him. "Listen, it's something called 'cellular memory' and it's an instinctive response that some human cells have to external stimuli. The reaction is always available. You just have to jog your memory, so to speak."
He looked skeptical. "Did you get this crap from Bartlet?"
"It just sounds like some off-the-wall theory he'd know all about," Toby said.
"I remember reading it somewhere; I don't know just where. But there was good authority for the theory." If pressed, CJ would have to admit she was winging it here. She knew there was such a thing as 'cellular memory', but she had no idea if it had anything to do with human sexual response. But, if she could make Toby feel better, what the heck?
Toby was rubbing his beard, obviously considering her words. "How do I jog my memory?"
She smirked. "I hear Sam's got porn. Tapes, I think. Maybe he'd share."
"My VCR's broken."
Ever helpful, CJ reminded him, "There's one in Leo's office."
"Thanks, CJ, but I'd prefer to keep this a little private."
"Then I guess you'll have to do it the old fashioned way," she said.
Toby thought that's what they had been talking about. It was the most old fashioned way he knew. He could remember doing it when he was about fifteen years old, when he had discovered that his penis was not only functional, but entertaining.
In the dark of night, he would huddle under a blanket, armed with a flashlight, a box of Kleenex, and a copy of Playboy that he had snagged from his father's secret stash in the garage. He would stare at models who flaunted their impossibly perfect breasts in seductive and teasing poses. He had been like a kid with a new toy. A toy that hadn't come with instructions or an owner's manual. But he learned quickly that he could get hard without warning, and that it took only minimal stimulation to send him over the edge.
Turn the page and do it again. It was the epitome of instant gratification.
But those glorious nights had not come without a pitfall. For an entire year, his mother had worried constantly about him having a cold, based on the amount of Kleenex he was using. After a while he got smart and started using hand towels.
He turned his attention back to CJ, as she rambled on. "The old fashioned way, without video. You'll just have to fantasize."
"What?" Toby asked in bewilderment. He had rather lost the thread of the conversation.
She shook her head at his innocence. "Fantasize. Create a mental image of yourself in an intimate situation with a woman. A very intimate situation."
"What woman?" he asked.
"Any woman, Toby." She shook her head again. "Work with me here. She can be someone you know, or someone you don't know. It doesn't matter."
"So, I have to pick somebody?"
"Yeah. It works best that way."
He seemed lost in thought for a moment, then he asked, "Can I pick you?"
She stared at him in disbelief. "Well, I would rather you didn't, but, since I don't have to actually be there, I guess it's okay."
Toby's brow furrowed. That had sounded like a personal insult. She didn't want to actually be with him? Then he remembered. That was his basic problem. No woman wanted to actually be with him.
"I guess I can try it," he said.
CJ was walking out the door. "Knock yourself out," she said, and disappeared down the hallway.
Toby stood in the doorway of CJ's office, looking uncomfortable. She looked busy. She probably didn't have time for this. But it was her fault that he was even thinking about it.
She looked up. "What's going on, Toby?"
He let a pause fall before answering. "I need to know what you look like naked."
"Because, if I'm gonna do this fantasizing thing, I need to know what you look like."
She pretended to seriously consider his request. "What do you want me to look like?"
"Like you look, I guess......" he dropped his eyes and directed unwarranted attention to the toe of his shoe. "......maybe a little......rounder."
She raised an eyebrow. "So you want me to have bigger boobs?"
He looked up quickly, then back down again at his feet. "If that's okay with you."
"Fine by me. I can be shorter, too, if that works for you."
He didn't even meet her eyes this time. "Yeah. Great. Thanks."
She watched in amusement as he turned to go. He got almost to the door before he changed direction and came back to stand in front of her desk.
"Yeah," she prompted.
"Do you know what Margaret looks like naked?"
She rolled her eyes in complete exasperation. "Yes, Toby, I do. She looks absolutely great. Margaret has a bumblebee tattooed on her left breast and a scar on her right thigh about this long." She raised her fingers and indicated a space of about three inches.
"How'd she get it?" he asked.
"How'd she get the scar?"
CJ was ready to explode. "Hell, Toby, I don't know. I was making it up. How would I know what Margaret looks like naked?"
"I was just asking......"
"Get out!" she ordered.
He started moving toward the door. "I'll just use my imagination."
"Yeah, Toby, you do that. Knock yourself out."
After he left, she found herself grinning from ear to ear. This should be interesting, even if it did have 'train wreck' written all over it.
The next morning, CJ wandered into Toby's office, trying to seem casual.
"Hey. How's it going?" she asked.
"Fine." He glanced up briefly, but quickly returned his eyes to the papers on his desk.
"You don't look fine. What's wrong?"
He didn't look up, but he did answer. "Same thing as yesterday."
CJ smirked. "I thought I helped you with that little problem."
Toby finally gave up hoping that she'd go away and rocked back in his chair. He might as well tell her.
"It seemed like a good idea, but, when I got started, I couldn't decide whether to use you or Margaret, and then I just got stuck and didn't do anything.
CJ approached the desk and looked down at him in mock dismay.
"You missed the whole point, Toby!"
Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Sam hovering in the doorway. A little jolt of glee ran through her. This would be even better with an audience.
She adopted her most serious tone. "You didn't have to choose, Toby. You could have done both me and Margaret. At the same time. And Sam could have watched."
Toby slammed his fist down onto the hard surface of the desk.
"Go away, CJ. I don't want to think about this any more."
She didn't budge. "But, really, you could have......"
"I mean it, CJ," Toby yelled.
She grinned and headed for the door. As she started down the hall, Sam followed her. At the door of the press room, she turned and looked at him.
"What is it, Sam?"
He started off tentatively, "Back there......in Toby's office......"
"You really would let Toby do you and Margaret at the same time?"
Sam swallowed hard. "And I could have watched?"
CJ grinned at him. "Of course, Sam."
She went into the press room and closed the door behind her, leaving Sam standing shocked in the hallway.
Finally he turned to walk back to his office, mumbling under his breath.
"Damn. I miss all the good stuff."