DISCLAIMER: We've heard it all before but in case someone wasn't listening, they don't belong to me. I wish they did but they don't. I'm just borrowing them so they can have a little fun outside of the politics of D.C.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is after TFGKY (2.20) and Manchester (3.2/3.3) but before Dead Irish Writers (3.16).
SERIES/SEQUEL: The first part of the Repetition series.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
It's another late night with more work to complete than hours in the day. The bullpen is quiet, an accomplishment in and of itself, so I can hear the tapping of my fingers against my keyboard as I type the last of my briefing notes. What I don't hear is the scuffling of shoes on the floor or the soft knock on my door. My mind is too focused on my work to bother noticing these seemingly insignificant things. When my name is softly uttered, however, my senses snap to attention. It's not really my name that grabs me but the voice that seems to bring the two simple letters to life. How can anything be so smooth and sultry at the same time?
"C.J.?" she questions gently. I stand automatically and pray that the surprise I feel isn't turning my face red. Considering my career choice, I'm embarrassed at how easily she can turn me into a stammering fool.
"Ma'am?" I ask quickly, glancing in her direction. She's standing in the doorway of my office, hidden in the shadows; the only light comes from my computer screen and desk lamp.
"It's late. What are you still doing here? Most everyone has gone home for the night."
"Had some things left to do. We had a hectic day and I didn't have the chance to work on it." I hesitate only briefly. "What are you doing down here, ma'am? As you just pointed out, it's late."
She steps further into my office, into the light, and I can finally see her face. "Couldn't sleep. I was going to take a walk but it's too cold outside, so I came down here." She shrugs. "Just making rounds." I smile at the pun. "Are you very busy? I don't want to keep you."
"No, no, you're not. It can wait."
"C.J.," she begins in a stern voice. "If it could wait, why are you doing it tonight?" Caught. She moves toward the door. "I'll go. Let you finish."
"No!" Okay, that was a little too loud. She stops immediately. "Don't go," I almost whisper, hoping to make up for my outburst. "Stay." She seems to be studying my face, and I can almost feel the blush that's about to rise to my cheeks. Sam says it makes me appear younger, but I think it makes me appear ridiculous. She finally smiles and fully enters my office again. I motion to the couch and she takes a seat. I sit down beside her, she on one end and me on the other. I turn to face her. "We don't have the chance to talk much anymore. I miss that."
There's that smile again. It's a rare occurrence, saved only for friends and family in the most private of settings.
"Me, too. You should stop by the residence more. It's not like it's that far." I chuckle almost silently.
"It's hard to keep up with you."
"I'll have my people get in touch with your people so they can set up a time and switch schedules," she deadpans then laughs. I join in; it's nice to hear her really laugh, not the fake laugh reserved for parties or fundraising events. It's a wonderfully melodic sound that I hear every night in my dreams. The sound of her happiness, however brief it might be, is always welcoming.
"I'll have my people tell their people to be prepared for when your people's people call."
"I can't believe you got all that out on one breath."
"It's in my job description."
"Tongue twisters and riddles? Must be right under working long hours and being a smartass."
"Gotta have at least three talents to stay alive in this world of fast paced politics in which we live."
She just nods her head in agreement, a wry smile tightening her lips. She rests her head on the back of the couch and closes her eyes. I can see the tension in her shoulders and the tiredness in her face. We sit in comfortable silence for a moment longer. "Abbey?" I finally venture.
"Are you okay?" I ask as she rolls her head so she can see me.
"Yeah, just having trouble sleeping tonight for some reason." She returns her gaze to the ceiling then closes her eyes. "Happens to the best of us from time to time." For the moment, I'm happy to just be with her, to sit and watch her as she relaxes, so obviously comfortable that she lets her guard down. I trace the curve of her throat with my eyes then take in her appearance from the white t- shirt she's wearing down to the jeans and tennis shoes that very few get to see her in. "I'm very glad tomorrow is Saturday," she says suddenly. "I'm hoping to get a few hours off to enjoy the weather. It's supposed to warm up a bit."
"I heard that on the news awhile ago. I hope you get to enjoy it as well. I hope I get to enjoy it." A half-smile.
"What's on your agenda for tomorrow?"
"More of the same. It shouldn't be as bad as today. I might even get home early." She glances at me.
"Tell you what. If the weather holds, I promise we'll both get to take advantage of it. Except, of course, in case of a national emergency. You and I both know they can't live without us for very long. How does a picnic sound?"
"Sounds wonderful." She sits up and takes a deep breath then lets it out slowly.
"It does, doesn't it? Okay, then it's settled. Meet me at the residence around one. Tell the guys not to expect you back and to not page you unless the sky is falling. We're taking the afternoon off."
There's that fire in her eyes that I so love. She's got me pinned with that look now, waiting for my approval. I simply nod, giving myself time to get my thoughts in order.
"Sounds wonderful," I repeat.
"Broken record, C.J.," she says playfully.
"It's in the job description," we finish together and then laugh. The silence descends once again.
"Go home C.J. Get some sleep," she tells me as she stands.
"Is that an order, ma'am?"
"From your first lady, your doctor, and your friend. Take your pick which one you want to listen to."
"I appreciate the choices, Abbey, and though I admire, respect, and cherish you for all the positions, I'm happiest about that last one." The genuine smile I receive is worth the late hour. In fact, it's worth the rest of my life.
"I'll see you tomorrow, C.J."
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