DISCLAIMER: The television series and its characters do not belong to me.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This installment is set the day after "An Khe" ends. It is a little different than the other installments as it is four separate scenes during the course of the day, including a scene not featuring either of our two ladies, which is a first for this series. Thanks, as always, to rysler and janevok, who are both patient, helpful, and kind.
SERIES: The eighth part of the Repetition series following Broken Record, Habit, Deja Vu, Deja Vu Again, Consistent, Another, Over, Again, In Addition, After, Say It Again and Come Back.
SPOILERS: "The Stormy Present" (5.10), "The Benign Prerogative" (5.11), "The Warfare of Genghis Khan" (5.13), and "An Khe" (5.14). See Notes for more info.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Abbey glanced up, a delighted smile replacing the frown wrinkling her brow as she noticed the woman standing in her doorway. "C.J."
"Good morning, ma'am."
"Amy, we'll finish this later."
Amy looked from C.J. to Abbey and back again, an argument dying on her lips when Abbey put her hand on Amy's arm, guiding the younger woman toward the door.
"I guess we'll finish this later," Amy said. "Hello, C.J."
"I hope this visit has nothing to do with the new reform bill I've been working on."
"No need to be suspicious, Amy. This is purely a social call."
Amy recognized the warning tone in Abbey's voice. She just nodded and walked out, with Abbey watching her until she was no longer visible from the First Lady's office. Finally, Abbey turned to smile at C.J.
"So, what do I owe the pleasure?" she asked.
C.J. took a step forward, forcing Abbey backward, pressing the shorter woman up against the closed door, their bodies molding to one another's easily.
"Like I said. A social call."
"You're feeling bold today," Abbey said.
"I had a good yesterday."
"I saw the show. You gave a heroic effort defending my honor."
"It's what I do," C.J. said.
"And here I was thinking you wanted to corrupt my honor." Abbey smiled teasingly.
C.J. laughed. "That's the other thing I do." She leaned down, kissing Abbey softly before deepening the connection. Abbey's hands rested on C.J.'s waist, pulling her closer, and C.J. smiled into their kiss. "Miss me?" she asked.
"Yes, but I was wondering if you missed me what with your ranger vying for your attention."
"He doesn't stand a chance against you."
"I don't know," Abbey said, moving away from C.J. and sitting on the couch. "According to Carol, he's been persistent. Maybe you shouldn't ignore him."
"Where is this coming from?" C.J. asked, taking a seat next to Abbey.
"Just something to think about."
"I'd rather not. Abbey, are you having second thoughts?"
"It's not that, C.J. It's just not fair to you. You should be in a relationship with someone who can be in a relationship with you."
"And it's my decision who I spend my time with, and I want to spend my time with you." C.J. tugged on Abbey's hands until the older woman met her eyes. "What's brought this on? You're bringing me down."
Abbey laughed, but then she leaned forward, brushing her lips across C.J.'s. "I just want you to keep your options open. You know mine aren't."
"Where is everyone?"
"Josh is working on the thing. Toby is putting the finishing touches on your speech."
"She's in the East Wing with the First Lady."
The President glanced at his COS over the rim of his glasses before turning his attention back to the documents in his hands.
"They've been spending a lot of time together since Abbey's return from Manchester."
Leo said nothing, uncertain what he could say. He and Abbey had barely spoken in the months after Zoey's abduction and subsequent homecoming. Personally, he knew the First Lady was purposefully avoiding him. Professionally, he knew C.J. was the administration's best hope of closing the rift between the two wings. For some reason, the women had bonded beyond the normal riggers of their offices. Leo could not explain his reckoning, but he believed Abbey and C.J. had a more complicated and intense relationship than anyone suspected. Even the President seemed off balance lately when it came to his wife and his press secretary.
"C.J. is putting a positive spin on Abbey's decision to work for the free clinic."
"Is it going to be a problem?"
"C.J. can handle it."
Jed looked up again. "I...yeah. Okay. What's next?"
Carol appeared in her doorway. "You're back. Leo called."
"What did he want?" C.J. asked, looking up at Carol, her smile vanishing.
"Just to make sure you had the numbers for the Reco bill for your morning briefing."
C.J. nodded and turned her attention back to the open files on her desk. "Do I?"
"Yes. Ben said you should call him." C.J. ignored her. "Are you ever going to talk to him?"
"Did he show you the picture? I used to look great in a bikini."
"He thinks you still look great, and he'll be back to prove it."
"I wouldn't dare wear a two piece now. At least, not like this one in the picture."
"It's really hard for me to find a bathing suit that looks good."
"It's because you're tall."
"You think?" C.J. said.
"Why are you so reluctant to talk to him?"
"The past is the past," C.J. said flippantly.
"Until it reappears as a ranger and wants to take you out."
Toby walked further into the room, shutting the door behind him.
"You've come to ruin my mood," C.J. said. "I can tell."
"What was that about on the show?"
C.J. disregarded him. "I have secret powers of observation," she said instead.
"You seemed to be taking Taylor Reid's attack personally."
"How would you have taken it? I put a'whumpin' on Reid. I should think you'd be what passes as happy for you."
"I re-watched the tape."
"You've been spending a lot of time with the First Lady."
C.J. glanced up from the phone messages in her hands.
"What do you want, Toby? I did my job. I did it well. You said so yourself yesterday."
"Just remember that you don't work for her."
"I know what my job is, Toby, and the last time I checked protecting the First Family was part of it."
"Yes, but protecting Abbey Bartlet from herself is not."
"Get out. I have work to do."
"C.J." He waited until she looked at him. "I like it when you lose your cool."
As he walked out, C.J. smiled, but it faded as she remembered her conversation with Abbey earlier in the day. She looked down at the phone messages still in her hand, Ben's number on the top of the stack. She hesitated but then reached for the phone.
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