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Date in Calendar: 4 December 2006
Fandom: The West Wing
Pairing: CJ/someone (I’ll let the reader decide)
Summary: Abigail Bartlett’s angry and hurt: only the foolish or the very brave continue to do battle with her. CJ thinks she’s foolish, Abbey learns that in fact, her husband’s Chief of Staff is anything but….
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Archive: ONLY with author's permission.
Disclaimer: The characters are not mine, but are the property of Aaron Sorkin and the other gifted creators and owners of the West Wing. This is a small piece of ‘day dreaming’ written down for nothing more than fun…and certainly not for profit.
"God he's a bastard...." The startled exclamation from the corner of her office surprised CJ out of the focused concentration she'd managed to sustain for the last couple of hours.
"Jed....perfect bastard..." This time, the rephrasing, coupled with CJ's attention, helped identify who the unexpected arrival to her office was.
"Cut the crap CJ, I'm no more Ma'am to you than you are to Zoey..."
"Ok..." Uncertain what else to do, CJ took off her glasses and closed her file. It was obvious that Abbey wasn't leaving.
"Did you know about the trip? Wait, you probably scheduled it..." Abbey didn't let CJ get a word in edgeways, but instead continued her ranting monologue, "...bet he didn't tell you about my sister coming to visit though, or that he's managed to be out of the country for every visit she's made to the East Coast in the last twenty years?"
"Abbey?" CJ stood up and closed the door to her outer office - whilst it was nearly midnight, the former Press Secretary was never complacent about unwanted eavesdroppers....especially when Abbey was ranting.
"CJ...did you know your Boss was a bastard?"
"He's made me wear a Notre Dame cap and sing to the Press Corps..." She'd not been a good Press Secretary for nothing.
"I'm not hearing agreement CJ..."
"You never liked 'yes men' Abbey..." reminded CJ gently, crossing to close the door that Abbey had come through, the one that opened onto the Oval Office.
"Why does he do it?"
"Do what Abbey?" asked CJ, settling down onto the couch that Abbey had dramatically slumped on.
"Cut me out? Ignore me?"
"He doesn't ignore you...." corrected CJ gently, preparing to mount a rather tricky defense of her boss to his obviously tired and cranky wife.
"But he does cut me out....do you tell him to?"
"No....I've never told him to cut you out...."
"He just never tells you to 'cut me in'?" guessed Abbey, looking at CJ, challenging her to wriggle out of the answer.
"Abbey, what constitutional authority do you have?"
"Have you been elected to Office? Appointed by the President to an Office? Or did you just arrive on the arm of a man you married over thirty years ago, because the will of the American People had said he was to be the Leader of the Free World?"
"CJ..." Fire blazed in Abbey's eyes - she'd never liked being sassed, and since becoming First Lady, she'd liked it even less.
"No, seriously Abbey - when did you get a job that meant you were in the loop?"
"CJ...." Few people were still foolish enough to be taking that tone with Abbey when they got to the second speaking of their name in that cold, hollow tone that was full of warning. Few were brave enough to push past it and unleash the fire.
"Abbey, you're his wife, not his advisor....you don't get a say in stuff like this. You didn't give him a say in your surgery, he doesn't give you a say in international diplomacy....it's not your job...."
"Abbey, if you wanted a second opinion or an assistant on a surgery, you went to another surgeon, because that's the way it works. When your husband needs a second opinion or an assistant for his job, he goes to his Chief of Staff....it's the way it works..." CJ, whose tone had been hard and scathing, as if she was slicing deeply into the Press Corps, lacing her words with angry venom, suddenly changed her tone as she changed her posture; rather than sitting upright in the corner of the couch she leant forwards, reaching out to take Abbey's hand which, whilst not welcoming, wasn't snatched away either.
"You're his wife....I'm his 'go to gal'..."
"I used to be his 'go to gal' CJ...."
"And you will be again...but only when a part of the job description is removed..."
"Which part's that?" asked Abbey, her earlier fire being soothed by the light caress that CJ's thumb was automatically tracing on her hand, not sexual or sensual, just caring...instinctively caring.
"The part which says someone could go to prison...it's not pretty, keeping the world stable...and neither are Grand Juries..."
"You don't mean that!" dismissed Abbey, deciding CJ was being melodramatic.
"Abbey, it's in my job description...it's what I do, what we all do..."
"It's that bad?" asked Abbey, suddenly shrinking to a smaller, scared woman that CJ hadn't seen for a long time, not since the night she'd sat up late listening as Abbey got her head around the idea that he husband had just become the leader of the free world.
"It could be, might be...won't be, maybe not today..." CJ half smiled as she remembered all the days they had done something when it could have been...Qumar, India & Pakistan, Korea, China...so many days.
"And he's gone to London, just like that..." breathed Abbey, beginning to understand something.
"No, he's left the States, just like that..." corrected CJ, deciding Abbey could know something.
"But he's gone to London?"
"Yes, he's gone to London, because it was an invite we had that meant he wasn't here for the next couple of days..."
"And it matters that he's not here?"
"I can't tell you that..." CJ's tone was full of regret, regret that Abbey knew from her eyes was sincere.
"But he's safe?"
"Completely - he's not here for political reasons..."
"You've got to do something..." guessed Abbey, understanding that, even now she was Chief of Staff, CJ was still the best spinner in D.C.
"And it could get nasty...."
"So you've got him away so if it goes wrong you take the hit?"
"Abbey..." The questions were getting harder to answer, but Abbey knew enough.
"I'm sorry CJ...."
"Don't be..." Smiling tightly, CJ gave Abbey's hand a reassuring squeeze, before standing up, knowing the conversation had to stop now. Not quite understanding where the inspiration came from, nor why it felt 'right', CJ pressed a brief and gentle kiss on Abbey's furrowed forehead, before gently extricating her hand from Abbey's grasp.
"You should try to get some sleep Abbey..."
"What about you?" Ever the doctor, ever the mother.
"There's a thing..." reminded CJ obliquely.
"Of course...." Feeling a little foolish, a little girlish and a lot calmer, Abbey got to her feet and headed towards the door to the Oval Office. By the time she'd opened the door, CJ was already reading her file again. Pausing on the threshold to the Oval Office, Abbey was struck by a sudden question,
"Does he know, that you're getting hit?"
"No Abbey, it doesn't work like that...."
"Ah..." As Abbey turned to leave again, she didn't notice CJ's other office door open as someone, who'd obviously not expected CJ to have company, who'd obviously been expected by CJ, prepared to enter CJ's office, brought to a standstill when they saw the shadow of the First Lady.
"Promise me one thing..."
"Abbey...." This did make CJ look up.
"Promise me one thing..." repeated Abbey seriously, her voice growing thick as she finally comprehended exactly what this woman would obviously do for her husband, what by extension, her husband's staff were doing for her husband. "....Promise me you aren't alone if you're hit...."
It was as Abbey said these words that CJ became aware of the other figure standing in the shadow of her other doorway, concealed from Abbey's line of sight. Sharing a quick glance with that person, whose face was currently revealing nothing and yet so much, CJ managed to find the ability to stand up and lock eyes with Abbey, knowing she was needed elsewhere.
"I promise Abbey...I promise...." before turning towards her outer office, leaving Abbey to contemplate what had and hadn't been said…
CJ had promised not to be alone when she was hit, not that she wouldn't be hit....
"Oh CJ..." The sob of realization was said to an empty room....CJ had already gone.