DISCLAIMER: I'm pretty sure that The West Wing belongs to Aaron Sorkin and/or John Wells. Either way, I'm not the one who owns it and I'm certainly not making any money off of this.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Many, many thanks must go to MasterKay for beta'ing this with her red pen of doom.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The Chief of Staff froze and turned to see who had called for her. She smiled as she saw Zoe Bartlett trotting towards her down the West Wing corridor. Her Secret Service agents were keeping pace with her and CJ's smile widened at the sight of the four grown men trotting down the corridor with her.
Zoe slowed as she approached CJ and then thrust out the hand that held a large yellow balloon towards CJ. Discretely their Agents turned their back to give them at least the illusion of some privacy.
"For you," Zoe said, as she tried to catch her breath.
CJ raised an elegant eyebrow at the young woman in front of her.
"For your birthday," Zoe clarified, her pale skin flushing red.
CJ couldn't hold in a startled laugh. She took a moment to examine the balloon more closely and then her eyes flicked back to Zoe's.
"Thank you," she said, "It's very cheerful. But don't you think it's a little bit undignified as a gift for a woman of my age and the Leader of the Free World's Chief of Staff?"
Zoe shrugged, "Maybe not. But I think it's the perfect gift for my friend CJ."
"So when you think of me, you think of a bright yellow balloon? I'm flattered."
Zoe shot her a glare. "No," she said slowly, "Actually when I think of you, I think of doing this." She took a quick step towards CJ, cupped her hand behind her neck and kissed her squarely on the lips. It was a light kiss, but it left no doubt of her intentions.
Zoe stepped back and grinned at a still stunned CJ.
"Happy Birthday, CJ," she called over her shoulder as she sauntered away.
CJ stood in the middle of the hallway, her fingers touching her lips. She knew that she should be walking, talking, thinking, and working. She had a meeting with the President that she had already been late for. But she couldn't bring herself to move.
Zoe Bartlet had given her a yellow balloon and kissed her. And she had enjoyed it.
Vague horror was her first thought the idea of the President ever finding out. CJ shuddered. The lectures, the threats - and that was just from the President. Kissing the boss's daughter hadn't been on her to do list.
It was still the best damn kiss that she'd had in a long time. CJ couldn't hold back a grin.
Deciding to think about it later, and still somewhat dazed, CJ tried to pull herself together and headed towards the Oval Office once again.
Debbie ushered her in quickly and she took a deep breath as she entered. "I'm sorry, Sir," she apologized immediately. "I was-" kissing your daughter in the corridor "detained for a moment," she concluded.
He barely glanced up from the work on his desk. "Not a problem, Claudia Jean. I've been a few moments behind schedule all day." He finally looked up and pulled his glasses off. Carefully setting them on his desk, he leaned back in his chair.
"Besides I asked you to come in for purely personal reasons."
CJ froze. It took a moment for her to remember that the President had asked for this specific meeting long before his daughter had kissed her. She started breathing again.
"I believe it's your birthday today," he queried.
"Yes, Sir," she repeated. "It is."
He smiled fully. "Excellent." He gestured to the Marine that stood outside the Oval Office. The Marine stepped back quickly and opened the door.
CJ only had a moment to wonder what the President had done when the Marine stepped back to reveal Zoe.
She grinned and held a small plate out to CJ. Her eyes danced with mischief as she repeated. "Happy Birthday, CJ."
CJ blinked. She didn't make any move to take the small plate and its contents out of Zoe's hands.
Zoe grinned. "It's a muffin instead of a cupcake," she explained.
"Abby insisted on baking them for you," the President continued. "She said that they were healthier than cupcakes. The rest of the batch are in the Residence. She insisted that you come up to pick them up on your way out tonight."
CJ forced herself to find words. She was CJ Cregg, former Press Secretary. It had been a while since she'd been rendered speechless.
"I Thank you, Sir." She took in the single candle on the muffin. "It looks delicious. I'll be sure to thank the First Lady for them personally."
Zoe held out the plate again.
With a glance at Zoe that promised dire, if unspecific retribution at a later date, CJ took the plate from her. She shivered at the way that Zoe casually let her fingertips drift across the back of CJ's hand as she took it.
CJ ate her birthday muffin. Zoe grinned and watched her.
A moment later Debbie came in with the President's next appointment. CJ quietly excused herself and slipped through the door that connected to her own office. Zoe came in behind her.
"Aren't you supposed to be off at school," CJ asked desperately.
Zoe shook her head endearingly. "Not today. It can wait." She hesitated. "Are you really angry?"
For the second time CJ was at a loss for words. There were so many reasons why she shouldn't be doing this. Kicking Zoe out of her office would be her fastest and smartest move. She couldn't do it.
She cocked her head, and stepped out from behind her desk, setting down her muffin plate on the edge. "Angry? No." She barely repressed a smile at the look of relief on Zoe's face. "I do think it's unfair."
Zoe looked confused. "Unfair," she questioned. "How so?"
CJ gave her a grin of her own. "You've been teasing me all afternoon and I haven't had a chance to pay you back for it yet."
"Oh." Zoe seemed slightly less certain of herself.
With a laugh, CJ leaned forwards and kissed her, slowly, deeply and thoroughly. When she pulled away, Zoe sighed.
"I think I should tease you more often, if I get a kiss like that!"
Return to The West Wing Fiction
Return to Main Page