Title: Five Resolutions
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Feedback: Never say no…
Date in Calendar: 29 December 2006
Fandom: The West Wing
Pairing: CJ Cregg/Kate Harper
Status: Completed special commission for the Winter Calendar
Series/Sequel: Standalone one-shot
Summary: For Kate Harper, resolutions are for keeping.
Warnings: None, once you’ve cleared the hurdle of lesbianism….
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DW06
Disclaimer: As per all my work – not mine, no money whatsoever, just some writing fun and hopefully reading pleasure….they are all actually the property of someone else like Aaron Sorkin, except for Winnie the Pooh – that was written by A A Milne….
Notes/Spoilers: If you know that in Season 7 CJ Cregg is made Chief of Staff you’re good to go……
"I hate the waiting..." observed CJ, coming into her office, her tone and comment somewhat at odds with her Vera Wang evening dress and glass of finest champagne.
"I know..." agreed the blonde, once again dressed in her dark business suit, although the diamond necklace around her neck hinted that her earlier costume had perhaps been more elaborate.
"I think I hate the waiting more than the deciding..." continued CJ, taking a distracted sip from her champagne flute before dropping bonelessly into her desk chair.
"Is that champagne?" asked Kate Harper, not looking up from what she was reading, her question instead being triggered by the distinctive sound of a crystal glass being deposited onto a table top.
"Yes, didn't you get any?" asked CJ, trying to recall when she'd last seen Kate at the Dinner, uncertain it had been before or after the toasts at the end of the reception, before the dinner began.
"No, I never made it to the dinner..." explained Kate, turning the page. They'd both had to go meet an 'old friend' in the Situation Room moments after they'd arrived at the reception the President was hosting in honour of something or other, Kate could no longer remember who or what it had been for. When it became apparent that a decision was going to have to be made and military action potentially taken, Kate's evening had ended, with the Deputy NSA taking a five minute breather from the Sit Room to change out of her ball gown and back into the suit she'd changed out of only an hour before: it had been one of the few pieces of advice Dr McNally had given her when the global situation had indicated that Kate would probably have to assume most of the Sit Room work - never advise the President to send soldiers into danger in an evening dress, you'll only look an idiot. As advice went, it was slightly unconventional, but then Kate had never been in need of the conventional advice, finding the unconventional often suited and served her far better. Unlike CJ, whose face was expected at such functions, Kate had subsequently remained in the Sit Room, updating CJ and the President whenever they'd stepped out of the reception and subsequent banquet.
"Have you eaten?" asked CJ, studying her lover with concern. Whilst she rarely remembered her own dietary needs, she had become exceptionally good at worrying about her lover's needs, despite all their other distractions, like trying to run the United States.
"The Mess sent a tray..." Again, the pages turned. Whatever Kate was reading, she was moving though it at a pace.
"Oh...Did you want some champagne?"
"Did you bring me any?" asked Kate kindly, looking up at her lover, who suddenly looked guilty.
"No...should I have?" Collecting the glass of champagne had been a reflex action by CJ as she drifted from the end of the party, knowing that there was little point to her staying when her mind was consumed by the events that the Sit Room staff were currently monitoring, events that no one in Washington could influence now until the Seal Team Leader made contact again in three hours. Unable to focus on making small talk, she'd slipped from the room, intending to camp out in her office, flicking through the TV channels if briefing books didn't hold her attention. Instead, she now found herself wanting to flirt with her lover whilst sipping champagne...only her lover seemed far more interested in something else....
"What are you reading?" asked CJ, intrigued by what was holding Kate's attention, completely unable to fathom what could possibly distract the Deputy NSA from their current latest crisis.
"The House at Pooh Corner..." CJ was used, after all her years in media and the White House Press Room, not to mention this her latest role as Chief of Staff, to hearing some strange answers to her questions, even giving strange answers to questions, especially from the enigmatic and fascinating woman she could privately regard as her lover, but this? This had to be the strangest....
"Pooh Corner, it's a book..."
"About bears and honey, I know it..." recalled CJ, deciding that this conversation, which was obviously one Kate was content to have whilst still reading, was probably going to be more successful if CJ conducted it within distracting distance. Abandoning her champagne and high heels, she padded around her desk to sit on the couch next to Kate, in a position that enabled her to look at the pages as her lover read them.
"So why the question?" asked Kate, turning to look at CJ quizzically, confused by CJ's questioning - if CJ knew of the stories, why the conversation?
"Because I didn't expect you to be reading it sweetheart..." explained CJ kindly, reaching out to wrap her hand around Kate's elbow in preparation for snuggling up against her lover.
"Why not?" It was such a simple, and valid question, and one that CJ suddenly found far harder to answer than any others she'd been asked so far that evening, including whether she thought they should send in the Seal Team to a situation that the 'experts' were predicting had a minimal survival rate.
"I'm not sure..." began CJ, watching her lover's face change as Kate considered CJ's initial answer, her eyes revealing how dissatisfactory she found the answer to be. Unlike so many people in the West Wing, who found comfort in either rambling or shouting, Kate was the complete opposite, quite happy to think at length before she spoke, formulating her conversational strategy much like she'd considered her military and CIA mission strategies - at length and from all angles before moving decisively, not then stopping until she'd achieved her objective. It didn't matter if she was deciding what to have for lunch, chatting with CJ in bed, or negotiating with the Israeli Prime Minister - every conversation was the same, with Kate thinking carefully before she started her side of the conversation. It did often mean, particularly with CJ sometimes, that she never actually spoke her side of the conversation, with CJ interpreting from her thoughtful preparation what was coming next, ensuring that the former Press Secretary actually conducted their conversation as a rather animated monologue, "...but it's not the book itself, more that it's, well, a book, and not something more..."
"Topical or Political?" suggested Kate, smiling at CJ's smile of relief when she realised that Kate was understanding CJ's perspective.
"Something like that..."
"Have you ever kept a New Year's Resolution?" Not breaking eye contact with CJ, Kate carefully marked her place in the book using the dust cover of the hardback book and placed it behind her on the arm of the couch, before relaxing back into the couch, taking CJ with her.
"Of course, every year...who doesn't?" asked CJ, relaxing into a more reclining position, leaning against Kate and curling her legs up onto the couch, no longer fazed by the tangential topic shifts her lover brought to conversation. She was almost as bad as the President at that, but far more endearing in CJ's opinion, but that quality was almost certainly due to other factors....like where Kate's hands were currently drifting, making CJ's already scattered concentration even more fickle.
"I said keep, not make..." corrected Kate gently, easing CJ gently into a more comfortable position against her chest.
"Ah..." CJ paused to consider what her last resolution might have been, deciding eventually that, if she couldn't remember the resolution, she had almost certainly not kept it, "...no, I don't think I have..." she concluded, wanting really to look at Kate, but knowing that she couldn't turn around without elbowing her lover, so settling instead, for starting a light, fingertip caress of Kate's hands.
"This was my resolution..."
"To read a Pooh Bear book?" asked CJ, surprised.
"To read a book, actually, to read five books this year..." explained Kate, catching CJ's fingers in her own and starting her own caress.
"Your resolution was to read five books?" CJ was struggling to grasp why it needed to be a resolution, they were always reading stuff...
"Yes, five books in a year....this is my fourth..."
"What were the other three?"
"Winnie the Pooh, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland..."
"They're children's books..."
"They're books..." corrected Kate gently, unsurprised by CJ's reaction. To Kate, the selection was perfectly logical, but she recognised it might take some time for her lover to grasp it.
"But why not something more...."
"I wanted to make myself read something enjoyable, that wouldn't make me think of work..."
"But children's books?" "I did pick classics..."
"But still...why not something different?"
"I don't know..." CJ stared at the ceiling in an attempt to think of inspiration, "...travel writing?"
"Reminds me of missions and briefing packs..." explained Kate softly, reminding CJ about all the places Kate had been, either as a spy or a sailor, not to mention the hundreds of pages of intelligence briefings she had to read each day.
"Ok, not travel...." agreed CJ, understanding why it would be difficult to relax with, "...fiction?"
"All of it?" CJ was disappointed at how easily fiction was dismissed by her lover, prompting Kate to attempt a more in depth analysis.
"Crime and thrillers are too much like my career..." began Kate, her fingertip caress shifting from hands to collarbone as CJ fidgeted again, kicking her feet over the end of the couch, stretching out her legs.
"Can't stand it..."
"Not really my thing..."
"Romances?" asked CJ, only slightly seriously.
"Wasn't comfortable with the Secret Service searching my Amazon order and finding those..." admitted Kate honestly, blushing slightly at the thought of the agents who she, like CJ, had to tolerate at the edges of her life, "....not to mention it seemed better to use what time I did have in practical experimentation rather than research..." whispered Kate, pressing a kiss into CJ's hair, the tender gesture and heartfelt teasing making CJ shiver with something that definitely wasn't climate related.
"Ok, no fiction...biography?"
"Too political... when did you last read a biography that hadn't first had the index highlighted for you with relevant entries?"
"Children's literature works..." decided CJ suddenly, her brain struggling to come up with more forms of literature as Kate's caresses and kisses became increasingly intimate, making CJ suddenly glad of the increased protection the current situation was forcing her to endure. It was very useful having a Marine and Secret Service guard on your office door when your girlfriend wanted to make out with you on the couch...
"And it's quick to read..." muttered Kate, wondering how mad CJ would be when she discovered how near to undressing her Kate was getting.
"What's the fifth?"
"Huh?" CJ's question stilled Kate's movements as she failed to find its context.
"You've read three, that's your fourth book. It's New Year's Eve in two days...so what's your fifth book?" asked CJ, no longer distracted from her thinking by Kate's kisses.
"Green Eggs and Ham..."
"You've never read it?"
"My mother hated it..."
"It's a classic!"
"So's Winnie the Pooh..."
"You've not read that before either?"
"No..." By now, CJ was sitting up more, enabling her to turn around to face Kate.
"Didn't you have stories when you were a kid?"
"Not especially, I was more likely to be climbing something..." admitted Kate shyly, reminding CJ that, for all her current skill at her current job, Kate was primarily a woman of action and probably the ultimate tomboy and outdoors kid...
"Or camping out?" guessed CJ, suddenly comprehending the true meaning of some of her lover's past - it was easy to forget that Kate hadn't always been the suit-clad advisor helping the President give the order, she'd actually been the one being ordered too...
"Yeah..." Kate had managed to cope with interrogations and debriefs all around the world without breaking into much more than a light sweat, but now, sitting on the couch with her lover, trying to explain why it had felt important to keep her resolution to read five children's classics by midnight on December 31st, Kate found herself fiddling with her watch strap, eager to be anywhere except held in CJ's loving but searching gaze.
"How long until we're needed again?" asked CJ, reaching across Kate for the discarded book, her earlier loathing of a waiting time virtually gone.
"Two hours or so..." speculated Kate, glancing at the clock above the door, wondering what CJ was thinking, though it was obviously involving them staying on the couch, judging by how comfortable CJ was making herself again.
"Plenty of time then..."
"For what?" asked Kate, even as CJ placed the book in her lover's lap.
"For us to keep your resolution..."
"You want to read this?" asked Kate, startled by the idea of the Chief of Staff reading about Winnie the Pooh, it just seemed so...unexpected.
"Sure...you're right..." began CJ, opening the book carefully and turning back a few pages so they were back at page 1 - it had been a very long time since she'd read about Pooh Bear's adventures with his friends, and she couldn't remember how it began.
"Right about what?" asked Kate as she obediently helped CJ find the start of the book.
"Right about reading - I haven't read any books that haven't had a memo about the index since, well, I can't remember..." admitted CJ, settling comfortably against Kate, waiting for the story to begin.
"Ah, ok..." Uncertain quite what to do next, Kate waiting what she considered a decent interval before turning the page.
"Hey, what are you doing?" asked CJ, surprising herself as much as Kate.
"Hadn't you finished reading it?"
"I've not got my glasses..." confessed CJ, gesturing towards the floor where her glasses had been dropped, the soft carpet ensuring that, as long as she watched where she put her feet, they'd come to no harm.
"You want me to reach for them?" asked Kate, preparing to hook them closer to her with her foot.
"Can't you just read it aloud?" asked CJ genuinely.
"Seriously...I like your voice..." admitted CJ quietly, wondering how Kate would react to the revelation and strange request.
There was a silence as Kate thought about it, before she responded in the only way that felt comfortable. Pressing a kiss into CJ's hair and wrapping her arm around her shoulders, Kate settled back into the couch, enjoying the warmth and weight of CJ resting against her body as she held open the book.
"One day when Pooh Bear had nothing else to do, he thought he would do soemthing, so he went to round to Piglet's house to see what Piglet was doing. It was still snowing..."