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 fourth part of the Repetition series following Broken Record, Habit and Deja Vu.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Deja Vu Again
"Abbey? Are you ready?" Jed asks, his voice floating in from the bedroom to where I stand in the bathroom.
"Coming," I answer after giving my appearance the once over. He whistles wolfishly when I step into his line of sight.
"Wow. You look beautiful." There's a knock on the door interrupting any further comments and a second later Leo emerges to announce it's time to go.
"We don't want to be late, sir."
"No, we wouldn't want that," my husband retorts before offering me his arm and leading me to the ballroom. As we enter, the music stops and applause erupts. Jed begins his speech and I listen half-heartedly. Instead, I search the room looking for a familiar form. Spotting C.J., I allow my eyes to wander down her body for a second before reluctantly turning my awareness back to the crowd surrounding us.
After I glance in her direction for the hundredth time tonight, I know I must get away before my lack of attention to our guests is noticed. I make my excuses and head out the double French doors onto the balcony. I need to put my thoughts in order and for the world to stop turning for just a moment. The cool air is refreshing as I step out onto the terrace. I tell my Secret Service escort to stay inside, promising to remain in his line of sight. I lean against the railing and look out over the sleeping flowers. The clear night sky and the full moon offer plenty of light to see the garden. Before I get any further with my silent musings, I hear someone slip quietly through the doors and I know it's her. I can't stop the smile that seems to materialize whenever she's near, so I don't turn to look at her. I'm afraid the urges I'm fighting to contain will reappear at the sight of her. She hesitates before taking a few steps forward.
"Penny," she says conversationally.
"They're not worth much, are they?" I ask in the same, light tone.
"Don't tell Sam that. He fought very hard to save that particular variety of currency." She moves to stand beside me, yet I still don't look at her. "I didn't think you were supposed to be here tonight." It's not a question and she's not requesting an explanation, so I don't offer one.
"Sorry you had to find out through the channels. It was a last minute decision."
"Anything to do with why we're standing out in the cold?" I shake my head automatically but then face her, intending to tell her the truth. As soon as I look at her, I lose my nerve.
"I just needed air," I say instead as I turn away from her. "That's all." We allow the silence to descend. Suddenly the memories of our recent conversations hit me and I laugh softly at the repetitiveness of them all. "Déjà vu," I whisper.
"Excuse me?" she asks, her voice barely masking her surprise.
"Lately, it seems we only have conversations under the cover of night." The thoughts that have been occupying my mind recently start to swirl to the surface and I speak before my control can take over. Without permitting her to respond, I face her and continue with my rant. "Do you realize we haven't had a decent talk during daylight hours in almost a year? Before then we talked every day."
"Things are different. We're different. Time is..." She doesn't finish her explanation. I didn't expect her to. Neither of us seems to understand what really happened to force the change in our relationship, so we offer excuses in way of truth. I accept her words with no argument, knowing there's nothing I can really say right now.
"Why are you bringing this up now?" she asks but I can't answer her.
"No reason." I study her for a long moment before turning away from her again. I decide a change of subject is in order.
"I enjoy stargazing. I used to stand on the roof of whatever hospital I was on call at and watch the sky. It was peaceful and soothing, the opposite of what was usually going on inside."
"They're stable. That's what I've always loved about them." I feel her gaze shift from the sky to me and I wonder briefly what she's thinking. But her fingers are suddenly touching my skin and I can't stop the gasp that escapes my lips. Coherent thought disappears as I place my hand over hers then interlace our fingers. I allow myself to enjoy the contact. It seems like a simple gesture but I've come to realize that whatever C.J. and I have is anything but simple. After a long moment, I release her hand then turn to face her knowing that, once again, our time together must be cut short.
"We should go in before they come looking for us." She nods then meets my eyes.
"I know it's part of the problem," she says softly as she motions around us, "but I'm always here." Her words hit me much harder than they should and all I can do is smile slightly and offer the only truth we'll have tonight.
"I know and you're right. It is a part of the problem." I shake my head sadly. "I wish it weren't but, for now, there's not much either of us can do about it." I smile gently then walk away from her toward the light inside. "C'mon. We don't want you to get sick. You're not an easy person to deal with when you're sick. Almost as bad as Josh," I tease, hoping to gain my equilibrium back before entering the ballroom. The Secret Service agent waiting just inside opens the French doors and I wave her in. She stops and looks at me for a moment before making her second appearance to the party for the night. I follow her but quickly disappear into the crowd before I can convince myself to finish the conversation we started outside. Déjà vu again, I think, as I take my place next to my husband and allow the world to turn once more.
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