DISCLAIMER: The characters, dialogue in italic, settings, stories, the lot belong to Aaron Sorkin, and I make no claim on them whatsoever.
SPOILERS: From the end of season five until the end of the show with the exception of the final episode. HUGE SPOILER ALERT! All dialogue in italic are directly imported from the show.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Two Beers
By Soricha



The tension was incredibly high, the argument heated and the two old friends frustrated. C.J. turned to Toby and sighed, no matter how angry this man had made her he was still a close friend. Toby looked up at her.

"And you? They must be flocking."

C.J. nodded, "Yeah."

"Well. That's got to feel good."

"Frank Hollis made me an offer."

Toby interested, "Yeah?"

CJ felt tears spring to here eyes "And so did Matt Santos."

Toby stated matter-of-factly, "He has to."

"No, it's a serious offer." CJ said as she sat down, "He made me an offer. He made Arnold Vinick an offer... Secretary of State."

Toby obviously surprised "He did not?"

CJ nodded, "Impressive, huh?"

Toby states with a slight hint of awe, "That might be the smartest thing he has ever done. You'd be a get too. You gonna do it?"

CJ could feel every part of her quaver, "Probably I... I don't know it's complicated."

Toby looked at his old friend and gently asked "Why?"

CJ could feel the tears come back to her eyes. She could feel the weight of the world on her shoulders. She was so tired, so emotionally drained, so lost that all she wanted to do was sleep. She felt everything of the previous years come back to her, over-whelming her. She looked up into the kind eyes opposite and felt her hands tremble, her voice quiver as she spoke quietly

"Kate Harper."



The blonde Commander didn't know what to do with herself in this situation. She had just explained to Leo that she was one of the 'boys' when in the Navy, but here in the White House, she didn't feel like one of the 'boys'. She understood their grief and anger, as their friends had been killed or injured, but she was trained not to show such emotions. She watched as more people joined her and Leo in the outer office to that of the president's and listened as they discussed one of their colleagues, Donna's injuries. She watched the tall press officer CJ walk passed her and lean against a desk next to her. She had always known of CJ, had seen her on TV, but in her weeks at the White House as the NSA deputy she had never been this close to her. The first thing that struck her was the woman's height. She listened as they discussed their response to the attacks in Gaza, somewhat amused by Will's authoritive stance and Toby's open irritation.

She listened as CJ answered Will's question about regime change. "Take out the chairman." Kate had always thought a Press Secretary would be someone who is told facts, not someone who had already facts. She was impressed. She hated the Israel/Palestine debate because there was no clear solution and she could hear that some of her colleagues had an underlying protest to the Palestinians, when there was so much more to the issue than just Gaza.

"Israel is not the problem," stated Will with defiance. CJ responded quickly, "The settlement, the wall…"

"Israel didn't just blow Americans up," Charlie interrupted angrily. CJ reacted quickly, "I'm not saying there's equivalence."

"Israelis don't talk about driving Palestinians into the sea," Will argued, and Kate had enough of listening and intercepted, "Some do."

Will looked at her in disbelief, "Oh, come on!"

CJ looked at him, "Ever heard the phrase 'Greater Israel'?"

Leo looked at her, "Not from anyone serious."

Kate continued with her view, "One reason some people say nothing can happen till these guys are gone is the feeling they both may be stuck in old attitudes or assumptions. There was a time when Palestinians and all Arabs wanted to drive Jews into the sea, but some would argue that time's past."

She was frustrated with the little confidence her colleagues had in her view and despite the quick remarks she received, she continued, "I'm not sure any credible Arab leader truly expects Israel's demise anymore, not even the Chairman."

Leo looked at her with doubt, "Don't be so sure."

Kate saw this as a chance to further her point, "Well, there's a view that…" only to be shot down by Will.

"Don't keep saying 'some argue' and 'there's a view'. Can we restrict it to your view?"

Kate felt hurt and outcasted yet again but her stubbornness made her continue, "Okay… Palestinians are no longer fighting to destroy the Jewish state. They're fighting for a state of their own, a revolutionary struggle against an occupying force, and revolutionaries will outlast and out-die occupiers every time."

Will looked her with disbelief, "I don't know if that's more simplistic or naïve."

Kate hid her hurt, and in that moment of waiting she missed the 'boys' from the Navy. She listened as the others continue to discuss how to deal with the aftermath of the attack. She was amused as to how the men in the room wanted to retaliate and it was she and the tall press secretary who disagreed. CJ believed a retaliation would make the Americans appear as combatant and Kate believed that it could be used as an opportunity to discuss peace in the region. She responded to Leo's attitude that they had attacked which allows the US to retaliate.

She spoke calmly, "Or we use this as an opportunity. Employ the moral authority to reengage in pressing both sides for peace."

"We Need to Kill Them!" Josh shouted at her.

If she had not had years of training she would have physically jumped at the attack. She could hear him deride her idea as she followed the others into the Oval Office. She felt very alone in such a busy atmosphere.

She chose not to speak unless spoken to while in the president's company. She was afraid of being attacked. When allowed to leave, she wanted to run away, but walked with pride.


She looked around and saw CJ standing. She walked towards her and waited. CJ smiled gently at her, "They're not always like that." Kate raised her eyebrow and CJ laughed softly, "Okay, they are always like that… anyway, I just wanted to say welcome to the White House. I haven't had the chance yet."

Kate smiled, "Thank you… I better be going."

CJ nodded and watched her leave, thinking that it was about time another woman was within the circle.

When Kate had returned to the White House, she was overwhelmed with emotion and was trying to hide it desperately. She wanted to be somewhere quiet, and have a few moments just to reflect on what had happened. The president had learned of her relationship with Admiral Fitzwallace and rewarded her with respect, by allowing her to accompany him to Mrs. Fitzwallace's home. She listened quietly as the president and the mourning widow discussed the great admiral, and once again was grateful that he had been one of her mentors.

When she returned she wanted to hide, but she knew she had to work, to find out more after the Israeli attack on Gaza. She had to listen in on the Palestinian phone call. She had to listen to the President's address. She had to find ways of avoiding further retaliation. She had to just hide for a moment. When she left the Oval Office, she walked quickly. She saw an empty office and dived into and allowed herself to weep for a moment. She had not realised she had dived into CJ Cregg's office, and was startled when the tall woman walked in.

"Oh sorry… I'll leave," Kate mumbled quickly as she made her way to the door.

CJ stopped her, "It's okay Commander. It's been one of those days…" CJ studied the tears on the younger woman's face and her heart went to her. "Are you okay?"

Kate nodded before shaking her head and let a small sob escape. CJ wrapped her into a hug. The taller woman had no idea what to say or do. Kate pushed her away after a moment. She cleared her throat and straightened her back. She was obviously embarrassed and smiled slightly.

"I'm sorry… it's just Admiral Fitzwallace… I knew him… and hadn't a chance to… think," Kate spoke with hesitation. She never liked being one to show her emotions. CJ smiled understandingly.

"I'm sorry for your loss, Commander."

"It's Kate," Kate quickly added.

CJ nodded, "Kate."

The two woman stood in silence for a moment before Kate's phone rang and she walked to the door mouthing to CJ, "I better go" as she answered the phone. CJ nodded.

Kate firmly believed that peace could be found and in that Situation Room, she felt she was struggling against every man there, who were wanting retaliation. However, she knew she had the President's attention. Maybe he wanted what she wanted, a chance to make peace in this violent area. On been given her orders, she returned to her office and couldn't help but be distracted by CJ in the press conference. She admired how the other woman could retain authority, respect and yet sensitivity while up at that podium.

CJ felt the pressure of the day, and night as she stepped down from the podium. She wanted sleep, but today that didn't look like an option. The sun would be out again, so it was going to be one of those never-ending days. And it was one of those days where she felt the pressure of being in government, but not amongst the people. She knew that the country wanted the president to bomb the Palestinians. She knew her colleagues wanted the president to bomb. She knew the press wanted this. Everyone she spoke to wanted the bombings. She didn't want the bombings and she felt she was alone in this. She sat at her own desk and sighed before yelling to her assistant, "Carol! Coffee!" She felt incredibly frustrated by the combatant opinions of her colleague. She wanted someone to say the same as she is. She thought of someone who could, and she left her office walking past her assistant who had the requested coffee in her hand.

Kate slammed her files off her desk and felt the urge to scream. She took a few deep breaths, yet, couldn't get Leo's words out of her head. He accused her on enforcing her own agenda. She wasn't, was she? And even if she was… what was the problem with going after peace?

"Argh!" She yelled.

She turned startled at the gentle tap on her door and saw CJ standing in the doorway, with a concerned expression on her face.

"You okay?" She asked gently.

Kate nodded, "Yes, it's just the boys be boys attitude! It drives me crazy!"

CJ was amused by the blonde's tirade and let her rant on about the need to blow things up.

"Seriously, if they are so desperate to have explosions, why don't they rent a movie, or play with fireworks… ARGH!" Kate slammed more files onto the desk, before realising where she was. She looked up at the smiling taller woman, and felt her cheeks redden. She apologised sheepishly before sitting down.

"So what can I do for you?" She asked the taller woman who stepped into the office.

CJ shook her head and laughed, "Nothing. You've already done it."

Kate raised an eyebrow and CJ continued. "I just needed to know that someone else thought there was an alternative to bombing, other than me."

Kate smiled. "Was I too obvious?"

CJ nodded and was about to speak when the phone rang.

Kate answered, "Harper. Yes, put him through." She looked up at CJ who pointed at the door. Kate nodded and waved before spinning in her chair, "Hey Josh… flowers?"



"Hey, you got a second?" Kate said as she tapped on CJ's door.

CJ looked up at the blonde who was dressed in sombre black, and nodded. "May even have four seconds. How was the funeral?"

Kate nodded, "It was nice. The president said a nice reading."

CJ smiled, "He has a knack at speaking."

"And putting his jacket on in an unique manner." Kate added.

CJ laughed, "So tell me Commander Kate, are we bombing?"

Kate sighed, "It's why I came over… we still don't know."

CJ growled and Kate raised an eyebrow, "Easy tiger."

"Everyone keeps saying we need to bomb, and now is the time to do it."

Kate nods, "Yeah, I know… anyway, I had over four seconds of your time. Thought I'd give you a heads up."

CJ smiled and watched the younger woman leave. She was pretty sure Kate had no need to come and tell her that. She was sure that Kate just wanted a friendly face to see. She frowned when she had remembered that Kate had just buried a mentor, and cajoled herself for not saying something. But now was not the time, as the hounds of the press were waiting for her.\

Kate felt that she had made an enemy out of Leo, and despite her efforts, she didn't see relations improving. She really wanted to prove herself as an asset, and here in the Oval office was a chance. President Bartlet was asking for any idea to make Chairman Farad and the Israelis sit in a room together, and every idea had been shot down. Kate knew the president didn't want to bomb.

"Really stupid ideas?" Kate asked tentatively.

The president looked down at her, "Yes. Absolutely."

"We ignore everything that happened in the last 24 hours. Yesterday, Farad was cooperating with us, planning to arrest Nasan and other perpetrators. Then Israelis surrounded his compound in the West Bank. His people in Gaza refused to arrest Nasan, right?"

"Yeah? So?" Will asked

Kate could feel inward frustration at no one being on her thought path and continued turning to Will, "So we hold Farad to his earlier promise. Tell him if he wants a summit, he has to arrest Nasan. Show that he's serious about punishing terrorists."

"How's he supposed to do that when his compound is surrounded by Israeli tanks?" Toby asked.

Kate, ready with answers, could feel passion inside her as she felt she was onto a good plan, "Farad was never gonna do it himself. The Palestinian Authority was waiting to proceed."

CJ looked at Kate, and Kate could see hope in CJ's eyes. Hope that Kate was with a plausible plan. "Israelis turned off his power and cell."

Kate spoke with the optimism that CJ lacked, "Get him a new one. They won't stop the American consulate from giving him one."

Will responded, "They might"

Toby was in disbelief, "A cell phone…"

Kate at this moment knew that she was right, now she had to persuade her colleagues that she was. Yet, with her record to date she knew she had to fight for their belief. "He can use mine if he wants."

Toby couldn't believe his ears, "You're right. It's a stupid idea."

Kate refused to back off, "Why?"

Toby stuck his guns, stating that Farad was not going to punish Nasan, and CJ interrupted, "Tell him to he must turn Nasan over."

Kate looked at her and knew she had her ally, now to get others, yet Will spoke first with his continuous pesimism, "He won't do it."

CJ at this moment joined in the battle and Kate inwardly grinned as she watched CJ turn onto Will, "How do you know?"

Toby answered for his former deputy with his usual temper induced tirade, "His followers think Nasan's a hero for blowing up Americans. He turns the guy over to Satan?"

CJ responded as quickly as Toby had spoken, "If he says no or equivocates, we go public, say we wanted Farad for a summit, we identified the killer, but he refused to turn him over. We look reasonable, measured. He has no one to blame but himself."

Kate was cheering in her head as CJ spoke with strong argument, cementing her original idea. She grinned as she continued CJ's point, "If he does turn over Nasan, we go to the Israelis and say, 'Hey, look. He's serious this time."

CJ looked at the blonde and knew there was something about this woman she wanted to know better. She didn't realise that the other woman was having the same thought about her. When both women had ended their argument, they looked expectantly at the president.

"Can it work?" He asked. Will and Toby replying with a defiant No, but the two women replying with an optimistic Maybe.

The president agreed with the maybes, and orders were given.

CJ waited outside the office for Kate and walked into the corridor with her, not saying a word until their direction was due to split them up. She stopped the blonde by grabbing her arm gently and spoke quietly, "Can it work?"

Kate shook her head, "I hope so."

Kate walked away and continued to hope.

That evening, CJ came through the White House with snacks. She was too distracted from anticipation to sit still, so went in search for Kate. She didn't know why as she barely knew the woman, but thought it to be that they have a common idea in this current situation. She looked into the empty office and sighed. She headed back the direction she came and joined Toby instead. Despite their massive differences and ideas, the highly-strung man was her closest friend and she liked being in his company. They were in mid chat when Will knocked to announce that Farad was on the phone to the President.

CJ knew that there was a skill to mixing professionalism and running, it was walking fast, and she figured that on leaving the White Office she was in with a chance for Olympic Gold for walking, as she beat Toby to the Oval office. She slowed down on entering and saw Kate leaning on the desk, listening intently to the President.

The blonde acknowledged the tall woman with a small smile and thought to herself, CJ looked good in casual clothing. She looked away quickly as if to shake an odd thought from her mind as she returned her attention to the phone call.

Farad was refusing to hand over Nasan to the Americans and the President was struggling to win this argument. Kate grabbed paper from the desk and looked ready to mug CJ for a pen before seeing Will holding one in his hand. CJ tried to see what she was writing but couldn't tell from the distance she was standing at.

Kate knew her first written suggestion wasn't good enough, but she had a second one with which she was more excited about, but had a dead pen in her hand. Seeing one on the President's desk, only to knock over the coffee cup, making the President jump up. CJ went to fix the damage, but couldn't help but be amused as Kate mouthed 'Sorry' to the surprised President and then just continued on writing.

CJ thought that Kate had a very likeable quality about her and wanted to find out more. She listened as the President adopted Kate's second idea, about how Farad detains Nasan, and hands him over to the FBI in secret, so neither countrymen lose face. Intelligence and clumsiness, CJ thought with a smile. Kate had more in common with her than she had thought.

Kate was so fed up with the anti-Palestinian sentiment from her male colleagues that she was grateful to leave the office. CJ stopped her, "Fancy a beer."

Kate looked ready to say no before CJ interjected, "I have a mini-fridge in my office."

Kate smiled, "Lead the way."

"So how you finding the White House?" CJ asked as she handed a bottle to Kate. Kate leaned back on her chair and put the bottle to her lips, drinking a long gulp before looking at the taller woman opposite her. "Different from the Navy, and the CIA."

"How old are you?" CJ asked suddenly.

Kate looked at her with surprise, almost choking on her beer. CJ smiled, "Sorry, I don't mean to be rude, but you seem so young to be here and have all the experience that you have. Was curious as to whether you have found elixir."

Kate smiled and answered, "I was born into it. My dad was Navy, so it was expected, and thirty four."

"Did you like the Navy?" CJ asked, and Kate nodded, "Yeah, but not a fan of unnecessary wars, and the CIA… well, the experience is always great, but some things just shouldn't happen."

CJ knew there was something more there, but didn't push it. She knew without needing to ask that Kate was a private woman. "Don't you miss it… the excitement of it all?"

Kate laughed at CJ's lit-up eyes and nodded, "Being under water in a submarine is not exciting, but I do miss certain parts. I miss being in a team."

CJ knew that the blonde was referring to the less than welcoming attitude of her colleagues and spoke with seriousness, "I think that they just don't understand anything but retaliation. Also, once they give you time you will be fine."

Kate looked at her with disbelief, and CJ smiled, "It's just bad timing to meet people I guess… in the middle of an attack on Americans."

Kate nodded, "I guess… so Miss CJ Cregg, the Press Secretary… how do you do that?"


"Talk to the press everyday without having ripped out a tongue or gouged out an eye." Kate asked.

"Oh secret White House connections… we make people believe reporters have been reassigned when in actuality they're in the basement being reattached to their body parts."

Kate laughed and for the first time in a long time she felt relaxed.



"Hey how is it going up there?" CJ asked as she leaned back on her office chair.

Kate sighed into the mouthpiece of the phone, and stared at the wall opposite.

CJ smiled and switched the phone to her other ear, "That bad, huh?"

"I don't know who is worse, the Palestinians and Israelis, or Toby and Will…"

CJ laughed, "Put a goat in Will's cabin… always shuts him up."

Kate raised an eyebrow, "A goat? Does Will have a weird fetish?"

CJ laughed louder, "Well he could have one… when he first arrived we stuck bicycles in his office, then Toby and Josh told me to put a goat in there."

Kate laughed, "And here's me thinking, you govern or something."

"God no!" CJ smiled, enjoying the sound of her new friend's voice in her ear, "Whatever gave you that crazy idea?"

"I don't know… working in the White House might have persuaded me to believe that."Kate answered, loving how CJ can make her relax for a few minutes.

"Kate!" Josh yelled as he walked in. "You play basketball?"

Kate shook her head, and spoke back into the phone, "I've got to go"

"Okay talk to you soon, and seriously goats" CJ said as she hung up.

Kate grinned as she hit the end button and looked up at Josh, "No I don't… but I'll do some reading while you guys stink up the place."

CJ grinned as she recognised the caller, "Did you find any goats?"

Kate laughed, "No, but did find Josh's sweats to put under his pillow."

CJ laughed out loud, "That's horrible. Funny but horrible."

"Charlie helped," Kate admitted, "So how is the White House?"

CJ laughed, "Charlie is a good ally and it's still here. Have you anything for me?"

Kate looks around and sees chocolate, "I could give you chocolate… don't know how long it's been here." She picks it up to examine it and frowns. "May not actually be chocolate."

"Kate… shut up about the chocolate," CJ interrupted with jest.

"Sorry, we may be getting somewhere, don't know where though," Kate answered

"How helpful!" CJ replied sarcastically.

"I think we may be losing them, it all comes down to Jerusalem," Kate sighed.

CJ nodded sympathetically, she knew how much Kate wanted this to work.

"Oh… I have to go… we are meeting. Call you later?" Kate said hurriedly

CJ smiled, "Yeah sure… even though it is 1am."

"Shit, tomorrow morning then," Kate said, slightly embarrassed at her eagerness.

CJ grinned, "Tomorrow."

The sound of the ringing phone pierced through CJ's brain as she groaned.

"Whoever you are, you better be telling me aliens have arrived, the world is ending in five minutes or I have won a million pounds, because I NEED SLEEP!!!!" She yelled in the phone.

"Wow, sorry… I'll phone back later." Kate said, slightly frightened at the outburst.

"Shit, Kate… sorry… late night… hang on," CJ put the phone on the night-stand and climbed out of the bed, only to stub her toe into the same nightstand. "OW!" She wandered into the kitchen and put coffee on. She ran back into her bedroom to grab the phone. "Hi, you there?"

Kate swallowed a laugh, "Yeah, not a morning person?"

CJ mumbled as she grabbed a mug out of the press. "Will be fine once I have coffee… so why are you phoning? Not that I don't like it."

"We got a deal," Kate said simply into the phone only to here a crash of a cup hit a floor followed by explicit language from the tall woman. "CJ! You okay?" She heard another cup being placed on the counter and sat patiently while waiting for the press secretary to regain her focus.

Two minutes later, CJ was nursing her coffee and hearing the details of the new Israeli-Palestinian deal, before being interrupted by her pager. "Kate, think I have Josh wanting to tell me everything you just did so have to go and face the gaggle. But yay you… am really happy you pulled it off."

"We did," Kate stated.

"I did nothing other than take credit for your good deeds, well, will be taking credit," CJ said as she pulled a suit out of her closet.

Kate laughed softly, "You helped in the Oval Office that day… none of this would have happened if you hadn't backed me up when you did."

"Well now I can take credit without feeling guilty." CJ joked, "When will you be back?"

"Tonight I think."

"Beer?" CJ asked.

"You have just woken up… and you're thinking about beer." Kate asked amused.

"I know I'll want one," CJ stated before adding, "But would prefer your company"

Kate grinned, "Then beer it is."



Kate walked into CJ's office as Josh walked out, and CJ looked at her, "If you are here to tell me about needing statements from the security council, I am already on it."

Kate shook her head, "No, but that's not a bad idea… any news on Leo?"

CJ shook her head, "Nope, he is receiving surgery now… and am trying to persuade Josh to be healthier, but that's like talking to a monkey."

Kate nodded, "You ok?"

CJ looked up from her papers and smiled, "Yeah, it's just going to be a really bad day."

Kate nodded, "Well I've got to go back and sort the peace deal arrangement… I just wanted to see how you were doing."

CJ sighed, "It's Leo, you know?"

Kate nodded, "I never got on his right side."

CJ laughed softly, "No, you didn't but he respects you. Leo likes to be challenged."

Kate raised an eyebrow, "Makes me feel like the dog's dinner though"

CJ smiled, "I know that feeling."

The two caught each others eyes in that moment, and just gazed before being interrupted by Carol, "CJ, it's time."

"Right… I have to… go," CJ said, feeling her cheeks heating up.

Kate nodded and turned to the door, "Yeah, so do I… peace and all."

And with that the blonde was gone.

"Are you ok?" Kate asked, surprised at being at the taller woman's front door. CJ looking overwhelmed and frazzled stepped aside to let the blonde in. Kate studied the pacing woman as she sat down on the couch.

"CJ… you're making me dizzy" Kate spoke gently.

CJ stopped and turned to the blonde, "Sorry that I called you… I needed to talk to someone, and you, well you're not one of the guys… I mean you are, but not the White House, you're the NSA, you're not one of the others… it's late, maybe I shouldn't have called."

Kate looked confused, "CJ… what's wrong?"

"Do you want drink? I have wine… I'll get the wine." And CJ was in the kitchen. Kate stood and followed her and grabbed CJ.

"CJ, what's wrong? Is it Leo?"

CJ shook her head, "He's ok… do you like red?"

Kate didn't leave go off the taller woman and looked into her light eyes, "What is wrong?"

"I'm the new Chief-Of-Staff…" CJ stepped loose of Kate's grip and poured wine.

"Wow," Kate responded and took the glass offered to her. "Well, that's something."

"You don't think I can do it?" CJ asked nervously

Kate shook her head, "God no," and saw CJ's hurt face, "I mean, I think you will be great."

CJ looked at her doubtfully and Kate stepped in closer, "You will be great."

CJ looked down, "I am so scared"

Kate put her glass down on the counter and lifter the taller woman's face gently with her hand whispering, "You will be great" She then stepped in closer and kissed her softly on the lips. It was when she felt a response to the kiss that she backed away.

"Woah… I am so sorry CJ… I should have never done that… I'll go… you will be great. I am so sorry. Let's pretend that never happened. Shit! I'm going."

Kate was out the door before CJ could respond. She lifted a finger to her lips still sensing the warmth of the kiss. She was stunned. She was convinced that with any more surprises she would be Leo's neighbour in his hospital room.

CJ despite her confusions, overwhelm and frustration couldn't help but notice that Kate wasn't anywhere to be seen. She was almost tempted to ask Nancy where her deputy was but knew that this was certainly not the time or place to ask. She wanted to be in the blonde's company and rant about her hatred for the Secretary of Defence.

She had no control over anything now, and she hated that. She hated not being in control and she wanted to smack Hutchinson in the face hard. If she hadn't had so much to do, or even try to do, she would have phoned the NSA deputy but she couldn't help but think about that kiss. It was all she thought about during the previous night, and provided a nice distraction from her new role in the White House. If she was honest, she would admit that she missed the younger woman, and if she were to be even more honest, she would admit she liked the kiss. However, the reality and chaos of her day was making any rational or personal thought impossible to focus on.



Kate was so desperate to avoid CJ that she would take on any task, no matter how mundane it may be, and mundane it has been for the last week, that hearing about Josh's driving incident or rather his totalling of a Prius with a SUV. She thought this was her highlight of her week, and that just proved how mundane her time had been. She thought about the tall woman again and sighed as she hit her forehead on her desk and growled.

CJ was thankful she was being kept busy in her new role, but she couldn't help wondering where Kate was. She knew the NSA Deputy was in the building and swore that she would make the time to find her before the day was over.

Kate knew she was dawdling when she was offering her help to Donna. She had hoped that Donna would have taken her up on her offer, just so she could continue her path of CJ avoidance. She knew there was a surprise party for Charlie and opted to avoid it as she knew CJ would be there. She returned to her office, taking the long way so to avoid any possible contact with the woman she couldn't help but think about. She glanced at her cell and saw a voice message waiting for her. She listened and smiled when she recognised the voice she missed.

"Hey… haven't see you… since that night, and was hoping you're okay, or that we're okay… I am okay with forgetting all about it if you're okay with that, now count how many times I said okay… I miss you"

Kate grinned as she replaced her cell in its holder, and swore she would find the courage to see CJ before the end of her day. She was interrupted by the phone ringing and she answered before thinking with a gentle, "Hey"

"Hey to you too," Will answered, confused by the tone.

"Oh Will… thought you were someone… it doesn't matter, what can I do for you?"

"Security briefing for the Vice President… he needs educating in Foreign Policy," Will asked.

Kate glanced at the tedious paperwork she had volunteered to do and thought the Vice President would be a great distraction from the ennui. "Sure… are you in the mess?" She asked recognising the sounds of clattering plates.

"Yeah," Will answered.

"Will meet you there." Kate said as she hung up.

CJ opened the door into her office from the Oval Office slightly impressed that she now understood chess slightly better than beforehand. She found Kate sitting on her couch, reading through her paperwork muttering to herself.

"Hey," CJ said, surprised at her visitor.

Kate jumped and looked up at her, "Hey… was trying to make sense of the notes from my meeting with the Chinese… which actually had no purpose whatsoever."

CJ smiled, "So that's where you've been? In pointless meetings for the last week?"

Kate looked down in guilt, "That and avoiding potential humiliation… CJ, I am so sorry about that night… I don't know what came over me… Can we just forget it? I miss your company."

CJ smiled and sat down next to her, "I have no mini fridge in this office."

Kate nodded, "I saw that… so came prepared." She pulled out two bottles of beer from the side of the couch. She handed one to CJ and took a gulp from her own, "So how is the new job?"

CJ nodded, "Crazy… but getting there. Discovered Hutchinson is an asshole."

Kate agreed with a murmur. "Yes he so is… I discovered the Vice President doesn't know the difference between Iraq and Iran, or Sudan and Somalia for that matter."

CJ laughed, "You're kidding… I learned that his mother was a strong woman so he feels he could work well with strong women."

Kate laughed, "He is a strange man… why is he Vice President?"

"Oh we had no choice in the matter… Congress," CJ stated as if that explained everything.

"Right… so, how is Leo?" Kate asked as she pulled her feet under her.

"He looks good… made me play chess with the President."

"Really? You play chess?" Kate asked with interest.

"First lesson tonight," CJ said as she drained the last of her bottle.

"Fancy another lesson?" Kate offered.

CJ raised an eyebrow, "You serious?"

"Yeah!" Kate said a bit over eagerly. "Sorry… I just haven't played in years."

"I don't have a chess set," CJ responded.

"I have one at home… " Kate offered and saw CJ stand up and put on her coat. "I'll bring it in another time." She stood up and put her shoes back on.

CJ turned to her, "Take me to this chess set… I want to kick the president's ass next week."

Kate smiled and led the way to her car.

CJ lay in bed staring at the ceiling very aware of her breathing, and was trying so hard to lie still. Kate opened her eyes and looked at the wall. She rolled over and pulled the covers up to her chin. She glanced at the taller woman next to her, who glanced briefly at her. Kate sighed.

"We could blame the alcohol," Kate offered.

CJ laughed without feeling, "We both know that's not true."

Kate nodded and sighed and felt the taller woman roll towards her. She rolled to face her and found herself studying the face before her. Despite tiredness, CJ was the most beautiful woman she had ever seen. She had not realised that CJ was thinking the same thing, and she welcomed the kiss CJ initiated. She felt hands in her hair, pulling her lips closer. She felt a tongue merge with her own. She felt her hands wrap around the taller woman's shoulders. She felt her hands run across the smooth back. She swallowed the moan she had elicited, and could feel finger tips on her face. CJ pulled back and stared at her.

"That definitely was not alcohol," she said with a gentle smile.

Kate returned the smile, "We don't need to define this… not tonight anyway."

CJ nodded but didn't reply. Kate sighed.

"CJ, there is something here… you can't deny that."

CJ shook her head, "I don't deny it… I just don't know what it is… and I don't want to know right now."

Kate kissed the taller woman gently before pulling her closer to hug her. She heard CJ sigh into her neck. "We don't need to know right now, ok?" She felt CJ nod and within moments, heard the soft gentle snores from the older woman.



Kate opened her door and saw a tearful CJ on the other side. She stood aside to let her in.

"Haven't seen you in a few days?" CJ asked, determined not to let her tears fall.

"I was in Israel… I just got back." Kate answered.

CJ looked surprised, "Oh"

"I was sent over to find out about securing forces, since Lieutenant Godfrey died."

CJ nodded, "You okay?"

"Yes, are you?" Kate replied.

CJ nodded, "Just saw the injured soldiers… just gets to me."

Kate nodded understandingly. Before she knew it, CJ's lips were on hers and she reacted willingly, hungrily even. She pushed CJ into the wall, her hands having a mind of their own, tearing the clothes from the tall, lean body. She felt her own clothes being tugged at, and stood back to discard of them quickly, before pulling CJ towards the bedroom. Within seconds of hitting the soft mattress, their lips were on each other, hands exploring, their bodies entwining.

CJ rolled Kate onto her back and straddled her, looking down into the darkness and desire of the eyes below her. "You're beautiful," she exhaled as she let her fingers wander over firm breasts, and torso. She leant downwards, taking lips with her own, kissing her deeply, before moving quickly over the smooth, silky skin. She flicked her tongues over the erect nipples and smiled as she heard a moan from the blonde and felt the body which she was licking, kissing and sucking writhe beneath her.

"Please," Kate begged, loving every sensation sweeping through her body. She knew CJ was going to tease her and so used her athleticism to switch positions. She could feel the taller woman's arousal against her knee, and heard a loud moan as she pressed her knee inwards. She leaned down and kissed her deeply as she plunged a finger deep inside, resting her thumb on her clit.

"OH GOD!" CJ screamed as she pushed against Kate's hand. She could barely keep her yes open as Kate continued to increase pressure. She lifted her knee hitting her lover's arousal eliciting a low growl. CJ momentarily forgot her own impending orgasm as she pushed two fingers inside the blonde.

"OH FUCK!!!" Kate hissed and searched for CJ's lips to kiss. As they writhed against each other, moaning, touching, simultaneously reaching an orgasm before collapsing on the bed.

Kate studied the brunette, admiring the afterglow, enjoying the smile playing on lips. CJ looked at her and their eyes locked, and in that moment they knew there was more to this than either of them cared to admit at that moment. So instead of speaking, they wrapped their bodies in each others and let sleep take over.

In the early hours of daylight, CJ slowly slipped out of bed, wrapping her body in a throw as she stepped into the kitchen. She turned on the coffee machine and stepped into the joining living area. She liked the open area. A huge stone fireplace against the wall, a television in the corner, book cases covering one of the walls filled with books, cds and photos. She studied the photos of Kate and her family, in uniform and as a child. From habit, she switched the television on to watch the news before returning to the kitchen to pour coffee into the mugs waiting. She felt strong arms wrap around her waist and a gentle kiss against the nape of her neck. She turned and kissed Kate on the lips before studied her bed tousled hair and white robe.

"Good morning," She grinned as she placed a cup of coffee into the smaller woman's hands. Kate grinned, "I could get used to this"

CJ looked at her in an odd manner and Kate spoke again quickly, "I mean… I couldn't… I don't expect it to continue, whatever it is… though I want it to…"

CJ kissed Kate on the lips to stop her talking, "I want it to… but we can't mention it to anyone."

"Obviously," Kate answered, before kissing the taller woman again. She could feel her arousal returning as she placed her hands under the throw onto the warm skin. CJ moaned and pulled away, "I can't… too much to do today."

Kate growled before nodding, "I know… I have to prepare for the Chinese Summit…" She said as she made her way to the bathroom, being followed very closely by CJ, and she knew it was going to be a long shower.

As the two women made their way to the Oval Office, they were doing everything in their power to be as subtle as possible.

"So the Chinese are not happy?" CJ asked, already knowing the answer.

Kate shook her head, "Nope, the guy on the phone very much told them to leave without looking back."

"You understand Chinese?" CJ asked, surprised at learning a new fact about her lover, or whatever she was.

"Mandarin," Kate answered, "Arabic too"

"Wow," CJ responded, obviously impressed. "You going to teach me some?"

"Tonight if you want," Kate offered, looking at her and fighting the urge to kiss her.

"How about dinner?" CJ offered, seeing the surprised expression on the blonde's face. "And by dinner, I mean takeout in my office."

Kate laughed, "That sounds good… Chinese takeout?"

CJ grinned, "And you can teach me everything you know about China." She said before stepping into the Oval Office, "Mr. President."

"Thank God," came the response.

"I have food," CJ stated as Kate walked into her office. Kate grinned and put little flags on the table. "And you brought me little flags," CJ grinned.

"Thought it would help me in our lesson on China," Kate stated as she sat down at the desk, facing CJ. She gratefully took the box of food from CJ and prepared the chopsticks in between her fingers.

CJ glanced around quickly before leaning over the wooden barrier and kissing the blonde on the lips.

Kate grinned as CJ sat back down.

"So tell me about the flags," CJ said as she straightened the little flags upwards.

Kate grinned as she pointed to them with her chopstick, naming each one quickly. CJ nodded her head and picked up the first one.

"So that's the flag we got," She then picked up the second one. "That's China. What's this one?"

She asked as she pointed to the next one.

"Republic of China," Kate answered.

CJ was confused and pointed back at the second and third one respectively, "This is China, that's China"

"Republic of China," Kate corrected, before pointing her chopsticks at the second flag with it's five yellow stars, "People's Republic of China." She then pointed at the blue and red flag, "Banned in China, used in Taiwan," and then returned to the red with yellow stars, "Used in China, banned in Taiwan."

CJ nodded before picking up the fourth flag, "What's this one?"

"Taiwan's majority party" Kate replied

"Which party flies the Taiwanese flag?" CJ asked, determined not to show confusion

Kate looked at her, "The Taiwanese flag, not popular among the Taiwanese."

"They don't change it because…?"

"China would declare war," Kate interjected.

CJ nodded, "Good reason. These things come with a G.I. Joe set?" referring to the flags

Kate responded almost defensively, "I play a lot of Risk."

CJ stored this new information and was about to speak when Josh interrupted.

"Hey you left all of a sudden earlier, are you okay?" CJ asked as she stepped into Kate's office.

Kate looked up and nodded, "Yeah, just sorting out China stuff for the morning."

CJ closed the door behind her and walked towards the desk, "Are you okay?"

Kate stopped her paperwork and looked up and smiled at the concern on the tall woman's face, "Yeah, just suddenly sleep deprived… I wonder why?"

CJ blushed, "Well I will leave you be… night."

Kate had her hand on the door before CJ even noticed she had left the desk and before she knew it, the smaller woman's lips were on hers. The kiss lasted until air was needed, and the two women stepped apart, flushed by the event.

"I've been wanting to do that all day," Kate whispered. CJ nodded in agreement.

She watched as the NSA Deputy returned to her desk and sighed, "You going to be here long?"

Kate nodded, and glanced at the taller woman who opened the door, "I'll wait for you"

Kate couldn't help but grin as she watched the departing chief-of-staff.

CJ watched the blonde get dress, "You are really beautiful."

Kate grinned at her, "So are you… you know you also have to get up."

CJ groaned, "But why!"

"Because you're the Chief-of-Staff at the White House, and I think that Secret Service guy is getting tired of waiting for you." Kate stated as she pointed in the direction of the front door.

"Think that's why they're called Secret Service, because they can keep a secret?"

Kate laughed as she pulled on her jacket, "Think people will notice I am walking the walk of shame?"

CJ smiled and shook her head, "You're face is too beautiful for anyone to notice the clothes."

"Charmer," Kate grinned.

"But you also have great boobs, so who's to know?" CJ continued as she admired the blonde's breasts.

Kate laughed again, before bending to kiss CJ fully on the lips, "Have to go to the Chinese Embassy… see you later?"

CJ nodded and watched the other woman leave.

CJ had settled in the office and informed the president off the demonstrations in Taipei and saw Kate step inside, "How are the Chinese?"

"Things didn't start off that well. It went downhill from there. Of course, if I had known the PLA was dispatching Ming-class subs into the Taiwan Strait due to the demonstrations." Kate responded

"China's deploying submarines?" The president interrupted.

"They're showing their teeth." Kate responded, "I don't think they'll…"

"I get distracted for five minutes at breakfast and China's deploying teeth?" The President interrupted again

"Sir," CJ said in hope to calm him down.

The President stood, "Yeah, I've had enough. I want you on a plane to Taipei immediately." He ordered Kate.

Kate nodded, "Yes, sir."

"Tell President Chen I'm not going to war over a flag. At least not today."

Kate left as quickly as she was ordered, a habit instilled since her navy days.

The president turned to CJ, "Can we get Beijing on the phone?"

CJ distracted by the sudden departure of Kate, responded with rush, "I think so. I'll get Josh." She had hoped this would have given her a chance to say bye to her lover.

"You and I are going to end this right here right now." The president announced, putting an end to her plan.

As soon as the president ended his call with China, she raced to Kate's office and saw the blonde at the end of the corridor. Without a second thought, she dragged the blonde into the nearest empty room and kissed her hard. "I couldn't let you leave without doing that."

Kate smiled as she watched CJ leave as quickly as she arrived. She knew she was going to miss her lover. Yes, that's what they were, lovers.

"Hey you," CJ said, when she saw Kate at her doorway, "How was your flight?"

"Long, and strangely have only been out of the country for 24 hours," Kate replied as she sat in front of the smiling woman, "I really can't follow time zones."

"Neither can I," CJ agreed, "You did good."

Kate nodded and looked around, "You really need a fridge in here."

CJ laughed, "Am on my way home now anyway… you?"

Kate stood up, "I would kill for a bed now."

"Well, let me get you to a bed now then."

Kate raised an eyebrow, and CJ looked at her oddly, "What?"

Kate sighed, "CJ, what are we?"

CJ exhaled before looking back at Kate, "Can we not talk about it now?"

Kate nodded, and followed CJ out.



"He burned a flag?" Kate asked CJ as she walked into the Oval Office. CJ nodded.

"Wow," Kate responded before taking her seat in the office

Kate couldn't understand the sometimes naïve approach to China and North Korea that appeared in the White House.

"They'll only discuss North Korea in the context of regional issues." She argued.

"Don't they understand that North Korea is their regional security problem?" the President retorted. "Fix that, we've saved half the world."

"I made it clear you want to talk about it." Kate responded.

"Tell the Chinese if we discuss North Korea, we don't have to discuss anything else." The president ordered.

Kate too a deep breath and was thankful to be interrupted by someone else. She knew CJ was looking at her and she knew she wanted to look back at CJ but couldn't trust what action would follow. She knew she was wanting something more with the taller woman, but the subject was constantly being avoided. It was frustrating her and she had planned to get an answer by the end of the China summit.

"Shrimp?" Kate thought and was so grateful she hadn't yelled it out in the abrupt manner, but she was roused from her thoughts.

"Is everything okay?" Kate asked as CJ exited the office on the plane.

"I'm not too sure," CJ responded. "Are you okay?"

Kate nodded before pulling CJ to a seat. "Sit."

CJ did as she was told and looked at Kate, "What?"

Kate shrugged, "You seemed out of it." The blonde handed the tall woman a bottle of water and sat down next to her, "Let's just talk about something other than shrimp for a few minutes."

CJ nodded and there was a silence, "What you want to talk about?"

Kate was tempted to say about them but she knew that this was not the appropriate place, "I don't really know… we've been very work orientated lately."

CJ nodded, "I hate long flights. The president can't move his hands."

Kate looked at her stunned, "Oh… is he okay?"

CJ nodded before shaking his head, "I think so."

"Baby, you look tired, sleep for a while." Kate suggested without thinking.

CJ looked at her funnily and Kate realised she had used a term of affection. CJ watched the emotions behind the blonde's eyes and decided not to question it. She leaned back and closed her eyes. She heard Kate sigh, and even though she liked the affectionate term, she didn't want to face it.

Kate looked at CJ and shook her head. She needed answers soon, but right now she was going to work. She resisted the urge to touch the woman she had been sleeping with for months and left.

CJ was dreaming about waking up to Kate wrapped in white satin sheets when Kate woke her gently with soft words, "We've got a situation."

"What?" CJ murmured.

"South Korea," Kate answered just as softly.

She followed CJ into the President's office and watched her with the same admiration she always watched her with, as she informed the President about the latest of situations. She watched the woman she wanted, prepare the phone call with the South Korean government and was in slight awe of her.

"Hold on," The President said, stopping CJ from connecting the call.

"Sir?" She asked

"I can't move."

CJ looked at Kate and saw that her own expression of shock and fear was probably as similar as that of the blonde's.

When they left the President in the capable hands of the doctors, Kate looked at CJ, "He is determined, isn't he?"

"What are the press going to say?" CJ mumbled.

"Who cares… you heard him, this is his last summit and he wants to do it," Kate defended

"He has a profile to keep," CJ stated

"He's been elected, he isn't going to be again… I don't see why we just don't let him do his job," Kate argued.

CJ glared at her and Toby chose that moment to intrude on them, insisting they follow him into the conference room.

Kate listened as the two friends argued, she wanted to interrupt but she feared the reaction of CJ but it was getting ridiculous about the focus on the American public.

"If we cancel now China might not believe us. They'll think it was cancelled because South Korea got caught with nuclear weapons."

"We do a full disclosure" Toby suggested

She had Toby on her side and CJ looked at both of them before turning away. She looked at him and said the President knew this was going to happen which is why he insisted the Surgeon-General accompanied them.

"We are three hours from Beijing. If we turn around, we're gonna have to refuel. Maybe we should let the cockpit start checking their options." Kate said as Toby and CJ absorbed the realisation of the President hiding his symptoms so he could still go to China. Kate knew this was an easier way to get CJ to reach a faster decision.

CJ looked at her and nodded, "Yeah, okay." She was running information through her mind when she was interrupted to be told the president wanted to see the three of them

"He is incredible," Kate stated as they left the president's office.

CJ nodded, "Yes he is… I just wish he wasn't so stubborn."

"What? And you aren't?" Kate interrupted.

CJ looked at her and frowned, "What is your problem? Ever since we got on the plane you've been on my case."

"I've not. I just don't understand why you baby the President. He is elected to do his job, which is what he is doing. Yet, you try to stop him for public image reasons."

"I do not… I do it for him… he is more than just the President!" CJ hissed, trying not to raise her voice.

Kate studied her and shrugged her shoulders after a moment, "We'll be landing soon."

CJ watched her walk away and went to call her name, but nothing came out. Instead she sat down and watched the skies from her window.



The gentle knock on the door woke CJ from a sleepless sleep. She groaned when she saw she had slept for less than two hours. She knew who was on the other side of the door before answering it. She wrapped herself in a robe and answered it seeing Kate immaculately dressed in a suit.

"I don't want another argument," CJ whispered.

"I'm not here to argue," Kate responded.

CJ stepped aside and let Kate in. The tall woman went to sit on the bed expecting the blonde to follow but Kate didn't. She remained standing and watched CJ for a few minutes. She sighed and took a deep breath before speaking.

"I know you don't want to talk about us, and for now that is okay, but I won't wait long. I don't want to be a fuckbuddy… "

"You're not a fuckbuddy," CJ exclaimed.

"Just let me finish this…" Kate pleaded and waited for CJ to stop. "I have feelings for you and they scare me. I want to know more about you but I know very little… I want us to develop and if you don't please just tell me. I know about Tommy"

CJ watched Kate as she opened her heart and swallowed before standing. She stood before the smaller woman and kissed her gently before whispering, "Shit! I didn't want you to find out. It was just dinner. I don't know what this is… I just know you are not a fuckbuddy… I am just not ready to think about it… I don't want it to be found out by anyone. It's why I had dinner with Tommy. I don't want the label. I'm sorry… I'm just not ready"

"Then I'll wait til you are ready," Kate smiled, tears glistening in her eyes before she turned and left.

CJ watched Kate maintain professionalism and admired the intelligence in this woman as she dealt with the Chinese. She had missed the contact with the younger woman and it had only been two days. Last night she had wanted to go to Kate's hotel room but she knew she was expected to have answers. As she lay in bed she tried to find those answers. She wanted to have something with Kate. She enjoyed the feelings she had for her. She loved the sex, the comfort and the contact. But she was scared of emotions and she was terrified of labeling. Maybe, she should just end this before she successfully hurt the woman she had feelings for. But she didn't want to end it.

Kate was also lying awake, thinking about what she had said to CJ and how CJ had never approached her. Maybe it was over. Maybe she had pushed CJ too much but she didn't want to be someone to sleep with. She wasn't ready to be something big, but she wanted an emotional attachment. She wanted to know CJ cared about her. She wanted to know more about this woman.

"Argh!" she growled, "Women are worse than men!"

"Did you say something to someone?" CJ asked Kate urgently when Kate answered the phone.

"What?" Kate asked, obviously confused.

"There are articles about my sexuality… did you tell anyone about us?" CJ asked.

'No!" Kate exclaimed, "Of course I didn't."

"So why are there rumours?" CJ asked accusingly.

"I don't know CJ," Kate answered angrily, "But it wasn't me… and if you think it was then maybe I know my answer to where we're going."

CJ took a deep breath and sighed, "Kate…"

"No CJ, it's okay…" Kate interrupted gently. "It's okay… I understand."

CJ heard the younger woman's voice crack as she said goodbye.

"Shit," she whispered, she never wanted to hurt the younger woman and she has just done that.

Kate watched as CJ picked up the basketball off her desk and was impressed when she scored it into the trash can at the other end of the room. They had not spoken since that night in the hotel room in China. She watched as CJ conducted the meeting with the same poise as she had every other meeting, and tried to stop fantasizing. She knew it was over. She knew it at that moment in the hotel room. She knew before then, when she first found out about this Tommy guy. It had hurt when she found out. Hurt more than she expected, and she refused to be the other guy. But she couldn't just switch off her feelings. CJ didn't know why she was so desperate to have Tommy call her, but she wanted to run from the gay rumours. She didn't even like the guy in any way but as someone to talk to.

"Hang in there," She whispered to CJ as she left the office. She knew it was CJ's greatest fear to be found out and discussed as being gay.

As CJ spoke about Tommy to Leo, she knew she had to be honest with Kate. She knew she had to tell Kate that she could never have a lesbian relationship. She knew she was going to hurt the woman she had been intimate with for months, but she couldn't do it. She wasn't strong enough to live that life.

As CJ walked into the press bullpen and knew she was going to be asked the question

"Are you a homosexual?"

She sighed, "You know what? I've spent the last 14 hours being snickered at by United States senators, being ostracized by the World Wide Web, having my own colleagues question my ability to do my job. And I let it get to me. So I don't think it really matters whether I'm gay or straight or the best damn women's basketball player in Ohio Valley history. No one should be treated this way."

"You didn't answer the question."

"That's right, because it's none of your business."

As she answered, she knew what she wanted.

"Margaret, get Tommy for me." She yelled as she left the press.

Kate sighed as she shuffled through her paperwork, and thought about CJ. She was furious at the accusation that it was she who started the rumours, but she was ready to forget that. She was preparing herself to lose CJ in the way she had her all this time, and it was hurting more than she expected it to. She knew she was more committed than the taller woman was, and she knew she had set herself up for this pain, but she had hoped.

"Hey," CJ said softly as she knocked on the door.

"Hey," Kate whispered as she looked up.

"Josh is leaving… apparently found the next president." CJ offered.

Kate nodded.

"I called Tommy," CJ spoke as she closed the door and stood in front of the blonde. Kate looked at her and waited. "I told him I didn't want anything with him."

"Okay," Kate said, not sure where this was going.

"I can't stop thinking about you… I miss you, and it's not fair to be with someone else when I'm always thinking about you."

Kate sighed and saw CJ looking vulnerable, "CJ… you don't trust me."

"That was a stupid mistake… a really stupid thing to do." CJ whispered.

Kate nodded in agreement, "Yes it was… so what now?"

"You tell me," CJ asked.

Kate grinned, "Your place or mine?"

CJ laughed and watched the smaller woman stand and walk to her, kissing her hard.



CJ rolled over and groaned when she saw the clock. She felt arms wrap around her waist and pull her into a hug. She felt lips on her back, creeping up her shoulders onto her neck. She moaned and rolled back over and met the lips seeking hers. The kiss was a simple tender dance of lips and tongues.

"Morning," Kate murmured and smiled into a new kiss initiated by the darker woman.

"We have to get up," CJ stated without meaning.

"We do," Kate replied with as much feeling, as she rolled CJ onto her back and lay alongside her, her hands caressing the smooth skin.

"No, we do," CJ stated, halting the moving hands, and smiled as Kate groaned into her neck. "Shower?"

"Oh yeah!" Kate growled, practically dragging CJ out of the bed towards the shower.

"You wanted Leo!" CJ practically shouted as she slammed the office door shut. "The man is barely back in the building and you go to him before me about Bolivia… do you think I am that bad at this job?"

Kate jumped and looked at CJ, "No, of course not… I just wanted to get his perspective."

"You really think I am that stupid… okay, so I might not know all the jargon about the military but I am intelligent and I am capable… but you don't think I am" CJ was almost shaking from the hurt and anger she was feeling.

"CJ, calm down," Kate pleaded.

"Don't you dare tell me to calm down! I just don't understand…" CJ looked at her and went to leave.

"CJ! Wait!…" Kate yelled jumping up from her seat and dragged the tall woman back into her office.

"I did it because I'm the one who made an enemy out of him… I am the one who kept coming up with the issues in the Israeli-Palestinian thing… and I am the one who has been carrying this weight for the past months."

CJ looked at her and sighed before kissing her on the forehead, "It's not your fault. The heart attack was not your fault. Honey? Oh God… you believed this?' She watched as Kate nodded and sighed. "It was not your fault, okay?"

She pulled the younger woman into a hug and the two remained like that for a few moments.

"I'm sorry I yelled," CJ said gently as she stood back.

"I'm not… you're hot when you yell," Kate said with a grin making CJ laugh.

"I better get back," CJ responded, "You believe me? It's not your fault."

Kate nodded, but CJ knew she was lying and vowed to return to the matter when they got home that night. She knew there was something else bothering the younger woman and it was frustrating her that she wouldn't tell her what it was.

"Sorry. It's a crappy day. It's my annivorcery." Kate explained after her sudden outburst.

"I don't… what?" Leo asked in confusion.

"Annivorce. The anniversary of my divorce." Kate explained

"I didn't know you'd been married." Leo stated in surprise.

"Couple times."

"Hopeless romantic." Leo confirmed.

"Hopeless anyway." Kate replied with a smile. "You?"

"Yeah," Leo answered, holding up one finger.

"What did you wanna talk about?" Kate asked, feeling calmer now after her involuntary outburst, only to be interrupted by an assistant telling her she was needed in the Situation Room.

CJ wanted desperately to ask Kate what was on her mind. She knew it was more than Leo and she never got the opportunity with each minute providing a new problem. As they left the Situation Room, CJ walked with Kate.

"Will we find them?"

"It's a jungle. They know all the hiding places. We'll need a tip."

"These are tough guys. They can hold out." CJ stated.

"You saw the video." Kate responded. "When you're being held, 10 days is a long time."

CJ watched as her lover seemed lost in thought, and asked, "Have you ever been held?"

"I've held other people," Kate said, not wanting this conversation.

"Kate talk to me," CJ urged.

Kate looked at her, "I should get back to work."

CJ watched her leave and sighed.

Kate put her coat on and prepared to leave and go home when her pager went off. She laughed without humour, and walked to the allocated destination meeting Toby and Charlie in the hallway.

"I almost got to eat dinner," Toby commented.

"You wanna hear something depressing? This disrupts my evening not one bit." Kate stated as she followed the two men. They went into the Oval Office with Annabeth and Will, and Kate felt her heart skip a beat when she saw CJ waiting for them with a warm smile.

"Leo is incredible," Kate enthused as she unlocked her front door, "I can see why you all admire him so much… think we would get all that done in 364 days?"

"Can we just talk?" CJ said as she sat on the couch in Kate's living room. Kate looked at her and took off her jacket. She went to the fridge and grabbed a couple of bottles of beer. She passed one to the taller woman who was looking at her expectantly.

"It's the anniversary of my divorce," Kate said quietly as she sat next to CJ. CJ looked at her with surprise.

"You were married?" CJ asked with shock.

"Twice," Kate answered, avoiding CJ's eyes. "I was young first time…"

"You're still young," CJ interjected.

"Okay… really young then… and it didn't work out, nor did the second time… my work got in the way."

CJ nodded and asked, "Kids?"

Kate looked at her with shock, "No!… not that I am against having kids, It would be nice one day, but there never was the right time and in retrospect, am glad."

The two women sat in silence and CJ looked at her, "Kids?"

Kate studied the older woman, "You don't want any?"

"Never thought about it… There's always work."

Kate nodded, "Yep"

"Maybe one day," CJ said after another silence.

Kate nodded and looked at CJ, "What are we? I know you keep avoiding it… but today being what it is and me being who I am… I just want to know where we're going."

CJ looked at her and thought that this has been going on for months, and spoke softly, "This would constitute as one of the longest relationships I've had which is quite pathetic especially as I know nothing about you… and you know nothing about me, which makes it difficult to think about the future…" CJ watched the emotions dance in the dark eyes studying her, "But that doesn't mean there can't be a future… but I just want to know you, know you… and then deal with everything else."

Kate nodded, getting more than she expected, "So the three things game?"

CJ looked at her with amusement. "The what?"

"I tell you three things and you tell me three things."

"Okay," CJ nodded, and sits and wait for Kate to speak.

"No you first," Kate stated.

"It's your idea…" CJ argued.

"Age before beauty," Kate grinned and received the slap she knew she deserved. "You saying I am not beautiful?"

"You are very beautiful," CJ commented, stroking the woman's cheek. "But you're still going first."

"Okay," Kate laughed, "I was married twice, but you knew that… I used to do a lot of undercover missions, and yes I was held…"

"Oh my God…" CJ moved in closer wanting to make the woman safe.

"I'm okay… am here now, I used to climb trees and throw stones at the soldiers when they were marching when I was a kid… I just wanted to see if they got distracted. They never did though."

"Naughty," CJ looked at her with a grin.

"I first had sex when I was fifteen and it was with a girl in school."

"Really?" CJ exclaimed, "A girl? So I'm not your first…"

Kate shook her head, "I gave you three things… your turn…"

"Not fair!" CJ argued, and pouted. Kate shook her head and gestured for her to speak as she lay on the couch, inviting CJ to lie with her. CJ snuggled against her breasts and smiled as she inhaled the other woman, "Well, you're my first woman… how am I doing at that?"

"The sex is fantastic," Kate smiled into CJ's hair.

CJ grinned, "Good, need to keep my ego in action… my father has alzheimer's and my mother is dead…"

"Oh baby," Kate interrupted, kissing her lover on the forehead.

"It's okay, she died a long time… and my dad, well, I know he loves me and is proud of me… and I used to work in Hollywood, promoting movies."

"How did you get from that to the White House?" Kate asked with surprise.

"Toby… he and I are very old friends, and no we have never slept together."

"I didn't say anything," Kate defended.

"You wanted to though," CJ commented and grinned when she felt her lover nod. "So how many women?"

Kate laughed out loud, "Four…"

CJ sat up, "And?"

"You are the best…" Kate grinned.

CJ kissed her, "This is good."

Kate nodded, "Yes it is…"



"You done?" CJ asked Kate as she heard her answer the phone.

"No… going to be a while yet… go home and get some sleep," Kate answered. She hated nights like this, when she was deprived of a chance to be in bed with CJ.

CJ groaned, "Okay, I'll be at my place if you…" She knew that nights like this meant she wouldn't see Kate.

CJ collapsed on her bed and within moments was asleep and was rudely awoken within three hours by the telephone. When she heard the operator tell her it was Commander Harper wanting to speak with her, she was happy to take the call.

"Tell me you're calling about a guy you met," CJ joked, sleepiness in her voice. On hearing a reply being about a plane disappearing, she knew it wasn't one of those kind of phonecalls.

"Man, I'm fried." CJ said as the two women climbed the staircase.

"Up late last night?" Kate asked with concern.

"Lecture on the future of democracy in Belarus." CJ answered.

"Democracy? The last guy made his political opposition disappear. Literally." Kate commented.

"Why they're asked for help." CJ responded as she went to leave.

"CJ," Kate called after her. CJ turned to the concerned voice. "Prime Minister Graty, she tends to overreact."

"She's a runaway train." CJ interrupted.

"The president likes a heads-up if she's making decisions with international ramifications."

"He'll be awake in a few hours. Make sure I get those updates."

"Yes ma'am." Kate obeyed with hurt in her voice. She knew CJ was protective about her job, and hated to be told what to do. She also knew CJ was bad-tempered when she was without sleep. But it still hurt.

As the two women left the Oval Office, CJ was spouting of orders to Kate and had failed to see Mrs. Bartlet waiting for her. Kate looked between the two women and watched CJ. She could see that CJ was uncomfortable. She hadn't expected to witness a verbal ticking off. She watched Mrs. Bartlet leave and looked back at CJ and wanted to comfort her,

"You okay?" She asked softly.

"No, I'm not! I just want to do my job and I wish to hell that our Commander-in-Chief didn't have god damn MS…"

Kate was startled by the outburst and waited for CJ to calm down before gently stroking her hand, "I'll get the state… you're doing a great job…"

CJ watched her leave and sighed, ready to throw something.

CJ let the flamboyant British ambassador, Lord Marbury I into the Oval Office and saw Kate there. She grinned inwardly when she realised that Kate had never met the ambassador before.

"Mr. President." CJ announced as she opened the door.

"John, thank God," The President said with joy, "Kate Harper, may I introduce…"

Yet, the ambassador interrupted as he walked towards the young, blonde Commander.

"I'm Lord John Marbury, hereditary Earl of Sherborne, great-great-grandson of the former viceroy. I have served as the queen's minister in India and Pakistan. And I am presently the British ambassador to the United States. Oh, and I have an uncle who once performed in the London Opera Company's production of The Mikado in the role of Nanki-Poo"

Kate shook his hand, "It's a pleasure."

"Yes, isn't it?" Marbury smiled.

"John please," The president interrupted as Kate glanced at CJ with sheer disbelief on her face. CJ suppressed a laugh.

As they progressed with the meeting, discussing what the reaction should be to the shot-down British commercial plane by the Iranians, CJ studied Kate and wondered what to do for valentine's. Should she get her flowers or chocolates or something… or take her out for dinner? She realised that they never had dated, the biggest reason being the need for secrecy.

"CJ, I have Secretary Hutchinson for you," Debbie interrupted and CJ excused herself from the room, glancing at her lover one more time. Kate was still watching John Marbury in astonishment.

Kate didn't know what it was about the Ambassador that made her not interrupt his thoughts of bombing, but there was something incredibly unreal about the man, that she felt commanded to just watch and listen, yet felt relief when Mrs. Bartlet arrived.

"Abigail," John said with delight. "Blanket my loins, I'm tied at the stake."

Kate raised her eyebrow at the president who mumbled, "Here we go."

"Lovely to see you, John." Abigail smiled.

John glanced back at Kate and looked at the president, "So many distractions, Mr. President. How do you get anything done?"

"God only knows." The president muttered in response.

"Where's CJ?" Abigail asked.

"With Secretary Hutchinson," The president answered.

Abigail looked at Kate and spoke again, "May I have Kate for a minute?"

She walked away and the president turned back to Kate and signalled for her to leave.

"Tarry not long, gentle courtesan," John called after her.

Kate looked back at him before approaching the president's wife. She just couldn't believe a man like him existed, let alone held an important position.

"Did he just call me a…?" She asked

"Isn't he delightful?" Abigail interrupted.

"Yeah," Kate replied with little feeling.

"The president needs a break," Abigail stated.

"Okay," Kate nodded.

"He was up late last night. He was up early this morning. He needs a break." Abigail said, almost pleadingly.

"Well, we've got the French ambassador, then the Iranian, but maybe…" Kate said as she studied her schedule.

"I mean now," Abigail interrupted.

"Maybe I should just check with CJ," Kate suggested, feeling almost the same fear CJ felt when this woman spoke to them.

"You could do that. Or you could go back in there and get my husband," Abigail ordered.

"Yes, ma'am," Kate obeyed and stepped back into the Oval room to do just that.

"My heart is like a singing bird Whose nest is in a water'd shoot," John was reciting poetry as Kate was nursing an oncoming headache and begging for saving.

'Thank God,' she thought as the phone rang. "Kate Harper," she answered. She saw CJ in the doorway and felt another reason to stop her from shooting the Lord has just arrived.

"Hello," CJ said.

"Thank God," Kate mumbled as she put the phone back in the holder.

"CJ, so good of you to return," John stated as he sat up.

"Where's the president?" CJ asked as she came in.

"Apparently in recess," John replied. "May I use your phone?"

He turned to pick up the phone, without waiting for an answer.

CJ approached Kate, "He went back to the residence?"

"First lady wanted him to rest," Kate whispered.

"Yeah. I guess we can try to delay the French," CJ spoke.

Kate looked at her with concern, "I'm sorry, should I have…?"

"No," CJ offered.

"Wasn't clear on the chain of command," Kate continued,

"It's fine," CJ stopped her.

Kate knew she had made a mistake, but the president wife was a difficult woman to say no to. She could have kicked herself for not going to CJ first, and knew that CJ was still mad with her.

She sat down and continued with the paperwork, as CJ gave orders to other staff. Leo walked in, "You rang?"

"Gerald!" John shouted as he covered the mouthpiece on the phone.

"Sweet Lord in heaven," Leo muttered before looking at the Ambassador who continued, "It's been too long."

"Oh, I don't think it has," Leo replied.

"One moment," John ordered the guy on the phone, before turning back to Leo, "I've trust you've heard out news? Oh, terrible tragedy. But if it means that our paths may cross again well, there is indeed some small consolation in that." He then returned to his phone conversation.

CJ glanced at Kate before looking up at Leo, "Leo, I hate to pull you into this. Toby's plate is full and with Josh gone.."

"What do we got?" Leo asked.

"The president's in the residence, Iranians in the Mural, French at the gate. And then there's Maude," CJ stated, indicating John.

"I really can't believe we still let him in the building," Leo commented.

"Tell me about it," Kate added, shaking her head.

CJ then proceeded to tell Leo about the new Iranian representative before giving the orders, "You take the French, I'll take Chet. And Kat can stay and entertain Lord Flibbertigibbet."

"Good," Leo confirmed.

"Not good," Kate almost yelled as the two left the office. She knew she was being punished and vowed to take her revenge on CJ that night.

"Okay he is the strangest man in the world, and you made me stay with him for the most part of the day… I am sorry for listening to the first lady," Kate said as she opened the car door.

CJ grinned, "I'm sorry about that."

"No you're not… are you okay?" Kate asked when she saw the taller woman become subdued again.

"Just got to listen to a shouting match between the president and his wife…" CJ said as she looked out the window and Kate started the engine.

"Oh… not good… she scares me a bit," Kate said as she pulled out of the parking lot.

CJ laughed, "And me."

"But she loves her husband, and is scared of losing him, and he is scared of not being able to do his job. He is scared of impotency." Kate said as she focused on the road.

"I know… but I don't like listening to it." CJ stated.

"You were great in there," Kate said after a few moments of silence, "With the Iranian situation."

"Mm-hm," CJ mumbled before glancing at the blonde's profile, "Do you really think I can't do my job?"

Kate glanced back at her in surprise, "God no… of course not… I think you are fantastic and to be honest as a soldier, it's an honour to serve for you."

CJ grinned, "As a soldier?"

Kate grinned and nodded, "Yes"

"I think you should wear the uniform for me sometime," CJ spoke suggestively.

"Really now?" Kate laughed as she turned onto her driveway. She signalled to the car behind her. "Do you think we should thank him one day?"

"Who?" CJ said before she looked back at the Secret Service agent, "Jesse?"

Kate nodded as she climbed out of the car. CJ followed her up the steps to her house, and heard the man speak into his microphone.

"Flamingo is in for the night."

"No, I don't," CJ replied and Kate burst out laughing as the two stepped into the warmth waiting for them



"Diplomatic mission to Mali," Kate announced as she walked into CJ's office.

"Bali?" CJ asked.

"Mali with an M," Kate corrected as she noticed the coffee stains on CJ's blouse.

"Not Bali with a high?" CJ retorted.

"No", Kate answered, not being able to remove her eyes from the taller woman's breasts.

"Thought you had a cold. Margaret, cancel my lunch," CJ yelled.

"What happened to your boob?" Kate asked with a straight face.

"Really?" CJ said, looking up at her.

Kate smiled slightly before continuing with her business, and received Charlie as an aide in her new assignment. She followed him out the door thinking about the latest of heated conversations with her tall lover.

"While I am in the White House, I don't want people knowing about us… you should understand, the no ask, no tell policy," CJ stated as she pulled her skirt on.

"I am not in the army anymore, I was recruited by the CIA… and I don't care," Kate argued as she slipped her feet into her shoes.

"But I do…" CJ sighed as she watched the blonde stand. "I need people to not think about my sexuality while doing this job."

"No, you don't want to think about your sexuality!" Kate almost yelled. "CJ, all I want is to be able to.. I don't know… go to dinner with you."

"Can we talk about this late?" CJ asked, "Please, just understand… not now… it is better that we are a secret for now." Kate nodded.

"Right, it's a secret… I'm going," Kate said as she left. CJ watched her leave and exhaled loudly.

"Look at it. Let me know if you have questions," Kate asked as she finished updating Charlie on the situation.

"You have any interest in being fixed up?" Charlie said.

Kate looked at him in surprise, "Not the kind of question I was referring to."

"A guy at the gym. He asked if you were seeing anyone. Guess you're famous," Charlie stated without looking up from his papers.

Kate thought about CJ's desire for a secret and thought with some oddity this may work, "What guy?"

"I don't know his name." Charlie answered.


She listened to Charlie explain how he knew the guy, and kept running in circles with her own thoughts. If she went on a date, then it would deflect rumours, but could she really sit through a date with someone other than CJ.

"This is… No. And you should talk about something else at the gym," Kate cajoled as she left the room. She couldn't do that. It would be wrong.

"CJ… oh wow!" Kate exclaimed as she saw Margaret's jacket with a huge red pin adorning CJ's lean frame. "Something you want to tell me?"

"I do not want to discuss this," CJ said with irritation, "What can I do for you?"

"Have you got five minutes," Kate asked, "For me?"

CJ looked up at her and nodded. She watched as Kate closed the door and waited for the young woman to speak, "Charlie asked me if he could set me up on a date… and I was thinking about it."

CJ looked at her with surprise, "Oh… okay."

"No, not like that… but as a way to ensure this," She explained, gesturing them, "Remains secret, kind of like a deflection."

CJ looked at her and nodded, "Okay, do that then."

Kate looked at her, a flash of emotions passing before her eyes before she opened the door to leave, "Okay then."

CJ watched her leave before throwing a book at the wall, "Shit."

"These are the contacts. You want to touch base with them?" Kate said as she passed a sheet to Charlie.

"Now?" He asked.

"No. Talk about the guy," Kate ordered as she fell in step with him.

"I thought I was done with that," Charlie answered.

"What's he look like?" Kate asked.

"A white guy," Charlie answered vaguely. "Brad Pitt, Henry Kissinger."

"Stop it," Kate ordered.

Will interrupted them asking for Charlie to which Kate got rid of him with urgency.

"Tell me. Tall or short," she turned back to Charlie.

"He's a good-looking guy, smart, got a job, he's not a jerk," Charlie answered, regretting ever bringing this up. "I don't know his favourite colour… but he's got all the teeth and almost all the hair."

"Almost?" Kate asked.

"He's got a high forehead," Charlie offered.

"This is a bad idea," Kate answered

Before she knew it, she had agreed to let Charlie set her up and it was bothering her throughout their meeting on the hill. When they left she was back to quizzing him about her new date. She suggested doing a background check into the mysterious man.

"You do an NSC background check before dates? No wonder it's been slow," Charlie commented.

"I'm not gonna do a check," Kate defended, "I wanna poke around at DOD."

"He doesn't work at DOD," Charlie replied.

"You said he worked with Kagan," Kate answered.

"No, he plays ball with them, works at State," Charlie stated.

"What desk?"

"South America. Maybe Paraguay," Charlie answered.

Kate knew who it was and frowned, "Uruguay?"


"Red hair? Dick Van Dyke nose?" Kate stopped walking.

"You know him?" Charlie asked

"I used to be married to him," Kate said deflatedly.

She felt like an idiot for the rest of the day and wanted to hide.

CJ couldn't help but take her eyes of the blonde Commander in her short black dress. She wanted to approach her and apologise for her stupidity but didn't want the younger woman's conversation with Charlie.

Kate watched CJ from across the room and admired her elegance. She hadn't noticed Will approach her and was pleasantly surprised by his wanting just to stand and not talk. She hadn't wanted to talk. She just wanted to be close to CJ. She looked at Will and wondered if she should just end it with CJ. Maybe they were making it too difficult just to be normal together. She saw CJ doing that thing she does well, seduce people into conversations and make them feel good about themselves. She felt herself getting frustrated and excused herself.

CJ watched as the blonde made her exit and sighed. She wanted to run after her but felt tied to where she was.

Kate turned onto the corner of her street and felt the cool air hit her face. She loved walking in the night coolness. She found it to be comforting and the last two hours of walking had calmed her down enormously.

"Hey," she heard the gentle voice as she approached the steps off her house. She saw CJ waiting on the steps wrapped in a shawl, shivering slightly.

"What are you doing here?" Kate asked, not moving from her stance.

"You look absolutely gorgeous," CJ continued.

Kate felt very self conscious as she looked down at herself before speaking, "So do you."

"I'm sorry," CJ whispered, "For being such an idiot."

Kate nodded and watched CJ shiver again, "God, you're freezing, come inside."

CJ stopped Kate by grabbing her hand, "I'm sorry… I should have said no to the whole dating thing. The very idea of you being with someone else even as a pretense sickens me. I just want to say… I'm sorry."

Kate nodded and opened the door, letting CJ follow her.



"There could be war between Canada and United States," Kate stated as she knocked on CJ's door. "Wow, that's a dress!"

"Thanks, Nobel Prize dinner," CJ answered. "Wait! Did you say war with Canada?"

"Yep," Kate nodded, "Apparently we have a contingency plan to invade."

"We're invading Canada?" CJ asked with confusion. "Canada, the country up there?"

Kate nodded, "Yep, that's my day. How's yours been?"

"Oh the President is picking fights with the guy he split his Nobel prize with," CJ stated. "Quite childish really. Should I worry about Canada?"

Kate shook her head, "So you'll be here til late?"

"I hope not," CJ answered. "Why? Do you have plans?"

Kate grinned, "Maybe"

Kate made her way for the exit knowing CJ wouldn't be far behind her.

"Well done, Commander Harper," CJ said as she walked into the lobby.

"Cooler heads prevailed," Kate remarked.

"All Americans home safe?" CJ asked as Kate continued walking.

"Peace in our time," Kate answered, turning to her before turning to head to the door. She saw CJ wasn't going to follow her out and disappointment hit her in the stomach hard. She walked quickly to her car. She got in and slammed the door without really meaning to. She started the engine of her car and took a few deep breaths. As she was about to pull out, she heard the toot of a horn and lights flash, and looked into her rearview mirror. She saw CJ sitting behind the wheel of her car and smile. Kate smiled and felt the disappointment replaced by butterflies.

Kate watched the taller woman as she slept. This was her favourite time of the day, when it was just the two of them next to each other in bed, in the moonlit darkness, the cool air blanketing their warm skin, and the silence providing comfort. She knew this would not be forever as she knew she was falling in love. Actually she had already fallen. She also knew that if she said those words to CJ, CJ wouldn't say them back and that hurt. Yet, she wasn't ready to end it, not yet, because of these moments in the silence and the darkness.

"You ok?" CJ murmered groggily.

Kate nodded and kissed the woman gently on the lips, "Yeah. Just watching you."

"You know that's what serial killers say?" CJ smiled

Kate laughed, "Sleep, you're nice and quiet when you sleep."

CJ leaned upwards to kiss Kate again. "You saved us from the Canadians. You're a hero."

Kate laughed again, "I think I saved them from us."

"We would have won," CJ commented as she pulled Kate to her.

Kate laughed softly and kissed the skin against her.

"Kate?" CJ whispered.

Kate looked into the sparkling eyes and raised an eyebrow.

"Are you okay? You just seem very distant," CJ asked.

Kate nodded, "Yeah, I'm fine."

CJ didn't push it but knew there was something bothering the woman who was currently performing magic on her skin. She moaned as she felt lips travel southwards and with the power of a tongue, all thoughts were lost.



"Margaret, get me Kate Harper," CJ asked.

"She's gone for the day," Margaret informed her as she stepped into the office.

"Where is she?" CJ asked.

Margaret shrugged her shoulders.

CJ picked up the phone and listened to voicemail click into place. "Kate, it's me. Where are you? Phone me please when you get this message… what the hell is everyone playing at today?"

CJ looked at her watch and saw it was nearing midnight and still no word from the blonde. She reached the voicemail again and was beginning to worry, "Kate, it's me again. Where are you? Call me. I'll be at my place"

Kate listened to the messages and sighed as she put her feet on her coffee table. She was too angry to be with CJ right now. She couldn't separate work and CJ tonight and knew she would get incredibly irate.

She rested her head against the back of the couch and sipped the neat whiskey. She growled with frustration, before pulling the folders from her briefcase.

"Why the hell are you in Cuba, Leo?" She exhaled loudly as she began reading.

Kate saw CJ walking along the corridors and chased her, "CJ, why didn't anyone tell me?"

CJ stopped walking and faced the woman she had lost sleep with worry about the previous night. When she saw the blonde, she was filled with anger. This woman made her wait and she was fine. "Excuse me?"

"I'm the deputy NSA and I don't know Leo McGarry's in Cuba?"

CJ didn't show any emotion with her stance, "Yeah. How did you find out?"

"It's 90 miles away. It's like driving to Baltimore," Kate stated with frustration, "There's 3.5 millian Cuban-Americans…"

"Do you know Senator Framhagen?" CJ interrupted.

"Florida. He is Florida. I knew him when I was stationed there in '95," Kate answered, wondering why CJ was shifting the conversation. "It was my first posting."

"Why would he say to ask you about Castro's health?" CJ asked.

"I don't know. Maybe because he assumed I'd know about Leo's trip," Kate answered with defiance.

"How close is your source?" CJ asked

"Very," Kate replied. "Look, CJ, we don't wanna get stuck in the muck down there again."

CJ studied Kate and Kate sighed, "I'm going back to work."

CJ watched her leave and took a deep breath before returning to the Oval Office. She couldn't stop thinking about the blonde Commander as she listened to Leo and the President discuss Cuba. She hated not knowing things, and having secrets being kept from her.

"Can you get me Kate Harper's files?" she asked Margaret as she returned to her office.

"I can't," Margaret answered.

"Why not?" CJ asked.

"That's top-secret, above my level," Margaret responded.

CJ knew she should drop it there and then but didn't. She ordered a request for those files.

As CJ flicked through the large blacked-out files that was Kate Harper, she realised she knew very little about the woman she had spent a year sleeping with. Kate never talked about her work prior to the White House and CJ never asked.

When she informed Leo that he was in her files, he didn't believe her.

"That's impossible."

"Turn the page," she told him as he flicked through the files.

"Florida 1995," He stated, "But why is it her file? CIA must have been monitoring us."

He handed CJ back the file, "The rest was blacked out. What is it?"

CJ listened as Leo told her about the reunion of the dividing sides of the Cuban issues.

Kate sighed as she left the bar after speaking with her informant. She was being honest, she did miss the excitement of the CIA, and felt vulnerable as she had in those days in Florida.

She walked straight to CJ's office and sat opposite her.

"I'm walking back in here thinking, "This is a building I never thought I'd be in"

CJ looked at her and saw a vulnerable side to the blonde she rarely got to see, "Maybe it's a place you never get quite used to."

"Once, my dad was gone with the Pacific Fleet. My mother and I were left at the Key West Naval Base. There was no housing, so for a while we lived in this boiling trailer with no air conditioning. The wind shook it at night and rocked me to sleep. It's a long way from here."

"Kate, what's going on?" CJ asked with concern.

"Tomorrow, Cuban-American factions are going public with Leo's visit to Cuba."

CJ sighed as she looked at Kate and stood up, and placed her hand on Kate's shoulder, rubbing it gently as she grabbed her phone. "Margaret, call a meeting in the Oval Office please."

She looked down at Kate, "You okay?"

Kate nodded, "Just memories."

"I read your files," CJ admitted as she nursed her glass of wine on Kate's couch. Kate glanced at her and CJ saw a flicker of anger in her dark eyes. "I know I shouldn't have."

Kate nodded, "So why did you?"

"I hate not knowing what's going on, and I didn't know what the hell was going on with the Cuba thing… and I got the files," CJ admitted. "I like control and I felt so out of control. It was wrong."

CJ waited for Kate to speak and saw she wasn't going to, "I am sorry… but what's worries me more is I know nothing about you, even your files tell me nothing as it's blacked out… and we've been together for so long now. And I know nothing."

"It's CIA. It's supposed to be top secret," Kate spoke quietly.

"Do you trust me?" CJ asked.

"Do you trust me?" Kate counteracted.

The two women sat in silence for a long time, before CJ moved closer to the smaller, somewhat fragile woman and pulled her close, "I do trust you and I know I shouldn't have read your files but I want to know you… isn't that a good thing? Wanting to know you?"

"I learned Arabic in Iran. It's where I learned how to speak it. I was captured and held for 3 months. I was beaten in Florida by the Cuban I was spying on. I was tortured in Pakistan and shot at in Bosnia. Do you really want to know all that?"

CJ just pulled Kate in closer and knew the younger woman was crying. CJ always knew there was scars but had associated them with the years in the Navy. She felt naïve for thinking that.



"Do you miss campaigning?" Kate asked CJ as they watched the Republicans campaign on the television.

CJ laughed, "God no… it's exhausting… though really want to see a decent Democrat in the fight."

"Not a Bingo Bob fan," Kate said as she lifted her coffee cup to her lips.

CJ shook her head, "Are you?"

Kate laughed, "I don't know how you guys took him on to be a Vice President."

"I told you… CONGRESS!" CJ jokingly yelled.

Kate's pager rang and she frowned as she looked at it, "I better get this."

"See you later?" CJ asked and Kate nodded.

Kate reached to open the door and CJ pulled her backwards by her hand, and pulled her down to kiss her.

Kate grinned as she left the office. She believed they were progressing since the night of her breakdown as she called it. She had felt embarrassed by her show of emotions but CJ assured her it was okay. She knew they had trust issues, but that was job-related. Kate was convinced that once CJ left the White House they could be normal, or as normal as society dictated.

CJ was walking with Charlie and was getting irate about the elections, as she didn't know why she was getting dragged into it.

"Hey," Kate yelled after them.

"Is for horses," CJ joked without humour, "Thank you Grammy Cregg."

"You can't take a girl out of the Midwest," Kate responded with as much humour. She was good at recognising CJ's moods and this was not a good mood.

"Fast as her little feet could fly, or not," CJ stated.

"Something's wrong with the International Space Station. Losing oxygen," Kate got back to business.

All three stopped walking at that announcement

"Astronauts onboard can't fix it?" Charlie asked.

"Not so far. Got a NASA administrator wants to see the president," Kate answered as she handed CJ the file.

"President's unavailable. Bring him here," CJ offered.

"Now, we can try and speed up repairs," the NASA administrator informed CJ.

Kate interrupted, "The concern would be losing the shuttle crew and station crew."

"Now, that's the civilian shuttle," the administrator interjected.

"Sorry?" CJ asked and looked at Kate.

Kate knew that look, and knew CJ was wanting to know was this yet again another one of her secrets.

"Can we speak with the president?" The administrator asked.

CJ knew that Kate had known about this and she was furious. Every time there was a secret revealed, Kate always knew about it.

Alone in her bed, CJ stared at the ceiling. She couldn't stop thinking about Kate and how the blonde had blown her off to work for the night. She knew there was more to the space issue and she also knew she would be hearing what it was the next morning. She felt exhausted from work, from Kate.

Kate tapped on the office door the next evening and saw CJ working her way through the paperwork. CJ glanced up at her, "Did you know?"

Kate nodded, "But not that long ago… I found out when problems arose with the shuttle. So less than two days, I swear."

"Okay? But you would have kept it secret longer if needed," CJ responded.

Kate nodded, "CJ, that's my job."

"I know it is," CJ answered before leaning back on her chair, "I just can't get it to stop bothering me. And I know I need to learn to deal with it, but it's not easy."

"What's not easy?" Kate asked.

"Trusting you," CJ responded quietly.

Kate sighed and struggled to find words.

"It's okay," CJ, "I'll learn."

Kate nodded and left the office.

Kate jumped when her phone rang. She was lost in her thoughts about CJ.

"Kate Harper," She answered almost disorientated.

"You okay?" CJ asked

"Yeah… was just thinking… about you," Kate admitted.

"Good thoughts, I hope," CJ smiled as she spoke

"Just wondering where you were with us?" Kate decided to be completely honest.

"Oh," CJ surprised at the honesty and decided to venture the same road, "Missing you."

Kate smiled, "Missing me?"

"Yes, I miss you and I miss playing risk."

"We've never played risk," Kate laughed.

"Maybe, we should play tonight," CJ offered. "Kate, I am sorry… I know I have issues with your job but I can learn to deal with it… I know I make this difficult for you, but I can't change who I am. But I know you know the colour of my eyes and I know you have feelings for me and I know I am in a position to hurt you and I don't want to do that… I want to try and get over myself and not hurt you."

"Blue," Kate answered with a smile. "Your eyes are blue. And I'll kick your ass at risk…. Can we go home?"

"Yes, that sounds like the best idea I've heard all day," CJ said, "Meet you at yours?"

Kate nodded, "Yeah." She said as she grabbed her coat, "Wait CJ, there's a problem" Kate watched as her assistant handed her some sheets.

"Toby is here, looking like his unhappy self," CJ said as her old friend walked into her office handing her similar sheets. CJ glanced at it and yelled, forgetting she had Kate on the phone, "You've got to be kidding me!"

"CJ, there's been a leak," Kate stated as she read her sheets.

"I know, I just got them," CJ announced, hanging up on Kate.

Kate was slammed against the wall as she stepped through the front door. Her jacket pulled from her body, a knee jammed between her legs. CJ kissed her ferociously as she leaned onto the small, curvy frame. Kate tore CJ's blouse open, discarding buttons everywhere. She felt fingers tangled in her hair as she was pulled deep into a kiss. Her hands caressed breasts, tweaked nipples, stroked skin, eliciting all sorts of moans from the taller woman. She pushed her hand down CJ's pants feeling overwhelming wetness waiting for her. CJ moaned loudly as she tore her lips away from Kate's and felt the blonde drop to her knees, yanking her clothing away from her. She trembled as Kate's tongue explored her legs, her inner thighs before diving into the wetness. She held onto Kate's shoulders for strength and moaned with pleasure as Kate brought her to a very fast orgasm. She dropped to the soft carpeted floor, looking through the haze into Kate's flushed face. She caressed it softly, smiling as Kate leaned into her hand, before pulling her face in for a deep kiss. She pushed Kate to the floor, lying lengthways with her. . She slowly removed the remaining clothing from Kate, not taking her eyes away from those watching her. She watched as Kate gasp as she plunged a finger into her and caress her clit with her thumb.

She watched as Kate's eyes closed and felt her push into her hand. She lowered her lips to replace her thumb and sucked, flicking her tongue over interval as she pushed her finger in rhythm. She felt Kate's body stiffen against hers before she cried out in pleaure, "Oh fuck, CJ!"

CJ climbed up the length of the blonde's body and pulled her close, waiting for the orgasm to subside. Kate opened her eyes and looked into the blue watching her, "Wow! Barely had the door closed."

CJ laughed and saw where they were, but neither woman rushed to move. CJ sighed, "Tomorrow is going to be hell."

Kate nodded, "Yep…"

"How goes it?" CJ asked as she knocked on the door to the NSA room.

Kate glanced up at her, "You know I can't talk about it."

"Have you got a suspect?"

"You know I can't talk about it."

"Did you speak to Brock?"

Kate sighed and looked up at her, "CJ, you know I can't talk about it."

"I brought you a coffee."

Kate smiled, "Thanks."

"So how is it going?"

"CJ!" Kate exclaimed, "You look tired."

"Am getting it from everywhere? Who the hell did this?" CJ groaned in frustration.

"Baby, it'll be okay," Kate said and smiled when CJ raised an eyebrow, daring her to comment. CJ smiled softly and shook her head, before leaving the office.

"Hey," Kate said gently as she slipped into CJ's office. CJ was at her desk filing through her paperwork and watched as Kate sit on the couch opposite her. They sat in silence as they watched the DNC on the television.

"I hear Matt Santos is stepping down," Kate said.

CJ nodded, "It's what Leo says."

"I like him," Kate said as Santos ended his speech.

"I don't think he stepped down though," CJ added.

Kate smiled as her phone rang. She looked at CJ who nodded and she left the office.

"What's wrong?" CJ asked when she walked into the living room, seeing Kate sitting on the window seat staring out into the night, nursing a cup of coffee.

Kate looked over at her and smiled, "Nothing, couldn't sleep."

CJ wrapped the throw around her bare body and walked closer, "Are you sure?"

Kate nodded, "Yeah, just brain being filled with thoughts"

CJ sat down next to her and looked out into the darkness, "It's late…you should try to get some sleep."

"What would you do next?" Kate asked suddenly.

"Huh?" CJ thrown by the question.

"After President Bartlet leaves office," Kate continued.

"I honestly don't know," CJ sighed as she leaned against the wall, "I really haven't thought about it."

Kate watched the taller woman carefully, "Maybe you should… I mean, not long left in office."



Kate walked into Toby's office.

"CJ's in with Babish," Toby informed her.

"Right now?" Kate asked, a flicker of concern crossed her face.

"Did you talk to him?" Toby asked


"What did you tell him?"

"I didn't tell him anything. I said the FBI thinks there's a trail."

"A trail?" Toby asked in disbelief.

"Yeah, they have a theory…"

"You handed CJ Cregg to the White House counsel?" Toby accused her.

"I did nothing of the kind," Kate answered, insulted.

"Do you have anything that resembles hard evidence?" Toby continued his accusations.

"I'm not handing them CJ Cregg," Kate said angrily. "I'll be in my office."

"Where was I… " CJ asked as she continued her questions with the White House Counsel.

"Kate Harper," Babish told her.

"Yes. She briefed me because she was in sessions with NASA and DOD."

"Do you like her?" Babish asked.

The question threw CJ and she felt a thousand thoughts flood through her mind, "Sure", she answered tentatively.

"She's an achiever," Babish suggested.

"Young for the job, but I think she's earned it," CJ answered with admiration.

"Moving up," Babish continued.

"Nancy McNally trusts her quite a lot," CJ defended.

"Do you?"

"Sure," CJ answered without hesitation.

"So she was your go-to-gal with questions or anything else?" Babish asked.

"For the most part," CJ answered

"Well, what about the other part?" Babish asked, looking up at her.

"No, she was really it," CJ said quickly, realising what she had started.

"You consult with anyone else before you briefed the president?" Babish continued his line of questions.

"I… No, I mean, I had a conversation with Leo McGarry about some of the technical elements that were put in place," CJ answered. "I spoke to Toby Ziegler about it and I had Hutchinson's deputy brief me…"

"That's a bunch of people. Kate Harper didn't have all the information?" Babish asked.

CJ wanted to know why the lawyer kept dragging the questions back to Kate, and for a moment had a fear that her lover was responsible for the leak.

"No, I'm sure she did," CJ responded defending the blonde.

"Think she shared it with Greg Brock?" Babish asked

"She's running the investigation," CJ defended.

"It wasn't my idea," he complained.

"Next time we'll check with you," She said with irritation as she returned to her desk.

"You didn't wanna talk to her," Babish argued.

"It's not that I didn't want to," CJ answered, not wanting to divulge the extent of her relationship to this obnoxious lawyer.

"You went to Leo and Toby," Babish stated. "So let's go back to the earlier question. Do you trust her?"

CJ looked at him and didn't answer, but couldn't help but let the paranoid thoughts enter her head. She couldn't bear the idea that Kate broke the law and faced prison.

"Hey," CJ spoke softly when she saw Kate leaning on Margaret's desk as she returned to her office after refereeing another fight between Toby and Josh.

"Babish is still in your office," Kate told her.

"Yeah," CJ said, wanting any excuse not to go back in there.

"Were you on the call with the Chinese?" Kate asked with some concern as she saw how tired her lover was.

"A lot of yelling," CJ answered sounding drained.

"Shuttle launch is in a few minutes. You should probably be down there." Kate suggested.

Kate followed CJ out and walked with her towards the situation room, "Are you okay?"

"I really don't want to talk about it," CJ answered.

Kate nodded and for an odd reason wanted to punch Babish for making this strong woman appear weak, even for a moment.

"You think the leak came from me?" CJ answered with surprise, staring at Babish.

She felt torn apart and that the world had just collapsed around her ears. She couldn't help but think about how she had thought it was Kate and felt guilty for even thinking it. Then she couldn't help but think of the distance Kate had put between them. Kate had turned down nights together, and when they were together, spoke very little. She couldn't help but think of the contradiction between her behaviour, sex had become tender, it had become love-making yet words were becoming less and less. And in the irrationality that had become her thoughts, she believed that it was Kate who made the White House Council believe the leak was from CJ.

CJ answered her front door and saw Secret Service flanking Kate. She sighed and nodded as the men stepped aside and let the blonde walk in.

"Hey," Kate said gently as she took of her coat. "You disappeared and you weren't answering the phone. Thought I'd see if you were ok."

"They think it's me, the leak, that's it me," CJ told her

Kate nodded, "I know."

"What do you mean, you know?" CJ said with surprise. "Of course you know, you know everything but never tell me."

Kate flinched at the anger, "CJ, please calm down."

"Why should I?" CJ glared at her, "I am being dragged down and accused of a leak that for all I know you caused and transferred the blame to me."

"What?" Kate stared at her with disbelief, "I most certainly did not… is that what you think?"

"I don't know, you tell me."

"Oh my God, I know you have trust issues but that is below the belt. I know I am required to keep secrets but I don't break laws, and I certainly don't go against the country I serve… and of all things I don't subject the woman I love to false accusations… if they're accusing you, maybe that have reason to."

CJ looked at her, "You think they're right to accuse me?"

"I never said that… CJ dammit!" Kate said as she turned to the wall. "I can't do this anymore."

"What?" CJ asked quietly.

"Be with you," Kate said turning back to her with tears in her eyes. "I can't be with someone who doesn't trust me, nor can I be with someone who doesn't love me… I've done that before… and I don't want that pain… I have given you everything I am and you still can't just trust me when I have never done anything wrong, and… you just don't seem to care that I love you!"

CJ sighed, "I didn't do it."

"I know," Kate whispered.

CJ looked up at her, "So this is it?"

Kate nodded as tears streamed down her cheeks, her heart breaking at CJ's unwillingness to fight for her. "This is it."

Kate stood up and put her coat back on. She walked towards the door and looked back at CJ who just watched her. She took a deep breath as she reached for the handle of the door.

"Kate," CJ called.

Kate turned back to her and saw tears in CJ's blue eyes.

"I'm sorry that I… I do… I'm sorry that I can't… I'm sorry that I can't be better," CJ whispered.

Kate nodded and walked away, holding in the sobs she knew were waiting to erupt.



CJ couldn't help but glance at the phone every so often, wanting desperately to phone Kate but knew she shouldn't. She shouldn't hurt the blonde anymore than she already had, but she was missing her terribly, and couldn't help notice how Kate was avoiding her at all possibilities.

"Are you okay?" Margaret asked as she had noticed her boss had not been listening to a word she had said in the last fifteen minutes.

"Sorry… was miles away, what is it?" CJ said as she came out of her daze.

"It's okay… just to let you know I finished at the deposition," Margaret stated.

"Oh… how was it… don't answer that," CJ said, as she stood up and stretched her back.

"I know it's none of my business, but you can phone her," Margaret said.

"What?" CJ looked at her as if she had more than one head.

"Kate Harper…"

"Margaret?" CJ asked, moving closer to her assistant.

"None of my business," Margaret said as she made her way to the door.

"No it isn't, and it's over," CJ said quite deflated.

"On," Margaret said. "I'm sorry to hear that."

CJ watched her assistant leave and couldn't believe that she had kept this a secret for god knows how long.

The first time she had seen Kate in two weeks and it wasn't a social visit. Kate maintained professionalism and dignity as she walked into her office, "We have fragmented reports confirming a suicide bombing."

She grabbed the television remote and switched on the news where reports were telling of a bombing in the Palestinian region, possibly causing the death of Chairman Farad. CJ ended her phone conversation with Leo and looked at Kate.

"What do we do?"

"Brief the president, I'll be in the Situation Room," Kate left as quickly as she arrived.

In the Situation Room as she briefed the president on the latest of events in the Palestinian area, Kate avoided eye contact with CJ. She was grateful for the seriousness of the problems at hand. She needed this in order not to think how hurt she was.

CJ watched her with respect and admiration, noticing that her hair which she loved to comb her fingers through was tied back and no longer loose. It was as if Kate didn't acknowledge her existence and everything they had.

"Kate?" She said as the people were discharged from the room. She walked alongside the blonde, "Can we be civil at least for work reasons?"

"That's the only way I can be," Kate said, looking at her. "I can't be anything else, and I hope you don't ask me for that."

CJ nodded, and proceeded to discuss business with the younger woman.

"What time is Zahavy calling at?" Kate asked as she returned her attention to her Blackberry.

"The President is waiting in the Oval Office now," CJ said as one of her assistant walked past her.

"Vinick," he said.

"Yeah," CJ acknowledged him not wanting to lose walking pace with her former lover. "I got a call from Vinick campaign about a CIA analyst going bonkers in his briefing. Wouldn't shut up about Uzbekistan."

"Uzbekistan?" Kate looked at her.

"Kazakhstan? One of the Stans," CJ replied.

"Remember the agent's name?" Kate asked.

"No," CJ responded.

"I'll look into it," Kate sighed.

"Thanks," CJ said before turning back to Kate, "You okay?"

Kate glanced up from her blackberry, "They're calling me," and disappeared down the corridor.

CJ sighed before stepping into her office.

Kate struggled to maintain herself as she left the Oval Office. She knew the president had mistaken her grief as being associated with the upset to the peace process between Israel and Palestine, but to hear concern in his voice, it shook her a bit.

She wanted desperately to receive comfort for even just a minute, and if it hadn't been for that ounce of self-pride she had, she would have broken down in front of the president.

She felt tempted to quit but knew that would be completely irresponsible. Maybe a vacation, she thought. She wanted time away from memories and from CJ, and everything about the White House was doing the opposite. She also knew that she was expected to give her testimony at the hearing and so couldn't run out on that.

She made her way to CJ's office and waited for Charlie to let her in.

"We need to talk," CJ announced as she stepped into the office.

"I have the name of the analyst," Kate told her softly.

"Frost. I spent 20 minutes with him," CJ answered.

"Here?" Kate said with shock.

"He said some things."

"I'm gonna have his ass," Kate declared.

"Why are analysts under your purview coming to me?" CJ asked her with irritation.

That comment hurt Kate but Kate wasn't going to show it.

"I apologise, and I'll have his ass," Kate spoke defensively.

"Are we sending lunatics to brief Republicans? He said there'd be another assassination."

"In Kazakhstan." Kate said.

"Issetov. He said it was related to Farad." CJ told her.

"We have no intelligence to support that," Kate confirmed.

"I feel so much better," CJ said with a hint of irony.

"Frost is a good analyst. He knows the region better than anyone," Kate argued, "Sometimes he is wrong."

"Is he still briefing Vinick?" CJ asked.

"Not after what happened yesterday. Let me take care of it," Kate said as she made her way to leave.

"He also said that the Vice-President of Unocal was going to be assassinated," CJ said walking over to her desk.

"Yeah," Kate retorted.


Kate stormed out of the office and Charlie came in with the subpoena for CJ. CJ sighed loudly and waited for Charlie to leave before yelling in anger.

Before she knew it, the door was swung open again and slammed just as quickly, "Before you say anything, let me speak," Kate ordered with venom in her voice.

"You broke my heart. You used me. You disregarded every feeling I may have. You saw me as a sex toy. You HURT ME!!!" Kate yelled at her. "So don't talk to me as if it's my fault. And do not talk to me with such disrespect as you just did. I know you're having a hard time at the moment, but do not take it out on me… Because I am struggling not to take it out on you when you know full well I have the right to."

Kate stopped pacing and looked at CJ who was stunned by the outburst, "I just got subpoenaed."

Kate nodded, "I'm going now."

"Kate… I'm sorry."

Kate didn't look back and just kept walking.

"You should go home," CJ said when she was finished being updated by Kate on the latest events.

"We both should," Kate said.

CJ looked at Kate and remembered when they did do just that, and that pang of pain hit her heart as it did every time she saw Kate. She watched as Kate left and Toby walked in.

"I did it," Toby admitted.

In those moments after Toby admitted his crime, CJ realised what she had lost. Her best friend, her comfort zone and the woman she loved. She lost the only person she ever loved and had always been afraid of admitting it and now it was too late to fix it. She looked at Toby with such anger, and in a moment, wanted to kill the man that sat before her. She wanted to scream at him, yell at him and beat him but she knew it would do no good.

Kate saw that CJ was worn out when she sat at the table in the Situation Room, and spoke without thinking.

"CJ," her voice filled with concern.

"Catch me up," she ordered.

"Commander Harper's been entertaining us," Hutchinson said snidly, "Given the hour, I'm not sure entertaining is the right word with her theory on the assassination in Kazakhstan."

"Mr. Secretary, your customary default acerbity which some may characterise as snide, but I never fail to find delightful is now not the right tone for my mood this evening," CJ spoke with weariness and irritation. "Now, would you catch me up?"

Kate jumped in at that moment. She may be angry with the woman, but she never stopped loving her.

"CJ did something break in the leak investigation?" Kate asked as she stood in the doorway of the chief-of-staff's office. "Since I supposed to be heading it…"

"I can't talk about this right now," CJ answered.

"I feel like I owe you an apology," Kate said, not knowing why she should apologise, maybe for CJ's current state.

CJ turned to her, "You don't. And I really can't discuss this right now."

Kate watched her leave and felt this need to comfort her but knew she couldn't and she wouldn't.

Kate pulled her robe closer to her body as she answered the pounding on the door. She stepped back as Secret Service walked through her home, and watched as a tearful CJ stepped in.

"It was Toby," CJ announced. "He was the leak."

Kate nodded as she watched CJ sit on her couch.

"Margaret knew about us and said nothing."

Kate nodded again and watched CJ as she burst into a fresh batch of tears.

"I'm so sorry that I hurt you," CJ spurted out between sobs. "I didn't want to be on my own tonight."

Kate sighed and felt torn between her love and her pride, "CJ, we can't… too much has happened."

"I know," CJ whispered, "I am sorry for disturbing you."

CJ went to leave but Kate stopped her, "Stay and have a drink at least and I'll tell you how freaky Charles Frost is."

CJ laughed softly and sat back down, taking of her coat. She watched Kate step into the kitchen and switch on the coffee.

"It's over," she said softly.

Kate looked back at her, "Yes, it's over."

CJ nodded and smiled, and Kate returned the smile.

Part 17

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