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.
"I'm doing Ellie Bartlet a favour. I'm not really here," CJ told Kate when she stepped into her office.
"NSC just got a call. There's a China-Russia-Kazakhstan thing." Kate announced.
"Okay," CJ turned to Kate.
"My office is to send up the briefing," Kate offered. "It's not here yet."
"Let's go for the nutshell," CJ said.
"Tarimov just booted a Chinese government delegation out. He's "
"Acting president of Kazakhstan," CJ stated.
"Installed after Issetov was assassinated." Kate remarked as the two women sat at the desk. "They were negotiating a China-Kazakhstan partnership making plans for a pipeline from Kazakhstan to China."
"And Issetov called it off." CJ offered.
"Tarimov," Kate corrected.
"Tarimov did. Issetov's dead," CJ corrected herself.
"Yes," Kate confirmed. "Issetov wanted to deal with the Chinese. Tarimov, the Russians."
"He killed China's oil deal, and China's pissed," CJ said.
"Exceptionally," Kate stated.
"Margaret," CJ called.
"Sorry, I was golfing," Kate said.
"You golf?" CJ asked, not knowing this.
CJ nodded, wondering how after a year of being together she didn't know this, but it's too late and the two of them were moving on.
The two women sat in silence as they waited for Will.
"I was summoned?"
"You were," Kate said, "Talk to Ellie about whatever problems you're having with her music."
"Now?" Will asked.
"I was to be in there, but Kate happened," CJ answered. "I thought you could help."
"I was working," Will complained.
"I was golfing," Kate offered out of guilt.
"Mini," CJ interjected.
Will looked impressed, "I've mastered the windmill shot."
"It's a hard one," Kate stated.
"Hole in one," Will boasted.
"Five minutes, then I'm out of there," Will said and left the office.
Kate watched him leave, and CJ noticed the look, recognising it as a look of attraction and it hurt. But they were moving on, and she had no right to hold Kate back.
"This is good, isn't it?" CJ said as she covered the mouthpiece to prevent the Chinese diplomat on the other end of the phone hearing her.
Kate raised an eyebrow and CJ continued, "Working together, solving world issues."
Kate smiled and nodded, "Not that we're getting anywhere."
"That's a valid point," CJ stated. "I mean "
"I know what you mean," Kate smiled.
"Will as a wedding planner?" Kate laughed as CJ closed the door after her office became vacated. CJ looked at the woman she remembered at the beginning of the affair. The light-hearted, joking, refreshing woman that CJ stifled.
"Yeah," CJ nodded, "I thought I'd give him a head start on possible future careers."
"Ah," Kate nodded smiling, "That's very good of you."
CJ nodded smiling, realising that what they say about loving someone enough to let them go is true. She knew she was killing Kate and now, Kate could be happy.
"You look good," CJ said, not realising she was thinking out loud when she said it.
"Thanks," Kate said and paused. "Anyway, I better go to change into something that screams less I have a life and more I am a prisoner in my own job."
CJ nodded, "Yes, God forbid anyone was to find out about your golfing."
"Ha ha," Kate said as she left.
"Is there something you need?" Will asked, feeling embarrassed at being caught watching himself at the press conference by Kate.
"I need to look at the seating chart," she said, enjoying the embarassment.
"Sure," Will said, reaching for them.
"Peau de soie?" Kate asked, hoping to continue the humiliation.
"Apparently it's soft, yet supple. Oh and it drapes beautifully," Will said, not falling for the trap.
"Yeah," Kate laughed as she took the charts from Will who sat down next to her.
"Who put the British royals at the table with the German ambassador?" She asked as she studied the plans.
"Still smarting over the World Cup match?" Will joked.
"That and the devaluation of the pound," Kate commented.
"Right." Will said, "How about we swap in the Swedish ambassador?"
Kate shook her head, "The Queen and the Swedish ambassador had a thing."
"A thing?" Will asked curiously.
"A while back but still," Kate answered.
"Do you mind if I take this for a while?" Kate asked.
Will nodded and watched her leave, admiring her from afar.
Within hours, she was back with the charts in hand, pen in mouth.
"Just about. Wanna take a look?" Kate offered, spreading the sheets over his desk.
"Sure," Will said.
"Canadian prime minister won't mind the corner?" Will asked.
"It's for the best. He's grabby." Kate said matter-of-factly.
"Really?" Will asked with amusement.
"Brings a whole new meaning to 'O, Canada.'" She joked.
"KH plus one?"
"That's me. President wanted someone from NSC." Kate answered.
"Smooth over any international incidents?" Will offered.
"Prevent," Kate replied. "You're not going?"
"Wasn't invited. I was concerned it might have to do with my encounter with the couple but I hear it's a small affair," Will answered with a smile.
Kate smiled back at him thinking about moving on from CJ, the woman who still haunted her dreams. She obviously was thinking for too long when Will spoke again, "Is something ?"
"Do you own a tux?" Kate interrupted.
"I was just gonna go stag but if you're not busy later and don't have anything to do " Kate said, suddenly shy.
"Sure," Will grinned.
Kate grinned back and left the office quickly.
"You look nice," CJ said as she saw Kate walking towards he. She looked gorgeous, CJ admitted to herself, her hair tied back loosely, the long black dress flowing to the ground, letting her smooth shoulders enjoy the air.
"Nothing says international crisis like stilettos," Kate joked as she walked towards her. She couldn't help but notice the red dress on CJ and tried to keep thinking about business.
"You know what's going on?" CJ asked, trying to refocus.
"I just got paged," Kate answered
"Yeah. You really look nice," CJ said again as she fell in line with Kate's pace. She suddenly felt grateful for the champagne she just had.
"Starting to think you're hitting on me," Kate joked again, suddenly feeling uncomfortable at CJ's gaze.
"I'm serious," CJ said. "The makeup, the hair."
"I try to impress," Kate replied with humour.
"Who's the guy?" CJ asked jokingly.
"What makes you think there's a guy?" Kate asked.
"The necklace, neckline, earrings, back." CJ stated, admiringly.
CJ really hoped there wasn't a guy, but wanted an answer.
"Okay, okay. I have a date," Kate relented, not wanting to lie to her former lover.
"Really?" CJ said, trying to hide the pain.
"I think you'd call it a date," Kate answered. "I kind of invited Will to the wedding."
CJ couldn't help but be stunned.
"Dark hair, just got a promotion "
"Will Bailey?" CJ asked, desperately trying to hide her inner turmoil.
"We were talking, and " Kate tried to find an excuse.
"You asked Will on a date?" CJ asked, unable to hide her shock anymore.
"I just invited him," Kate looked at CJ and couldn't understand her.
"Yeah, I'm gonna " Kate gestured the Situation Room, hoping for escape.
CJ waited before following to recollect herself. Kate has moved on, and it hurt, but it meant she had to as well.
"Classified." Kate answered as she walked with Will up the stairs.
"Have elections been rescheduled?"
"In Kazakhstan?" Kate asked.
"That's our subject," Will spoke. He enjoyed hearing a lilt in Kate's voice.
"Also classified, but for the life of me I can't imagine why," Kate answered.
"You're enjoying this," Will turned to her as they stepped into his office.
"Not really, no," Kate answered with a gentle smile.
"Have the parties agree to UN monitors in the election that may be rescheduled?" Will continued with the questions.
"Classified," Kate said with a smirk
"You're just playing with me now," Will responded.
"Honestly, I'm not," Kate said defensively.
"Is the subject of monitors being discussed?" Will asked.
When Kate didn't answer, Will looked at her, "It's in the papers."
"They didn't hear it from us," Kate answered.
"So it's being considered? Debated? Negotiated?" Will asked as Kate stepped towards him. "Anywhere by anyone?"
"I'm so sorry," Kate said with a gentle smile.
"Makes you feel powerful. 'I am woman, hear me withhold.'"
"It's not like that," Kate denied.
"A little?" Will ventured.
"At moments," Kate admitted.
"This moment?" Will asked as he stepped closer to her.
"A bit," Kate said as she looked at him.
"It's disturbingly compelling," Will spoke with obvious admiration.
"What's that say about you?" Kate teased.
"Nothing good," Will answered.
As she left his office, she couldn't help but grin. Will was obviously different to CJ, and this wasn't a bad thing. He wasn't afraid to show his admiration for her, and he obviously liked her. He was gentle with her and never pushed her. He was exactly what she needed, refreshing and unlikely to trample over her heart. And she embraced it willingly.
That was until she saw CJ. She sighed, knowing it would take time.
She decided that Will was worth a shot.
The following day, she stepped into the bullpen seeing Will there.
"What are you doing here on a Sunday?"
"No life. You?" Will answered as he glanced up from the computer. "Wait, let me guess. You can't tell me."
"You're getting good at this," Kate smiled.
"Coffee?" Will offered as he walked to the machine. "You know, it occurs to me, if you ever used, and the fact that you haven't earns you cliché-avoidance points, the "I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you" trope you probably actually could."
"With my bare hands," Kate answered.
"Again, alarmingly alluring," Will said with a smile.
"You do have issues to work on," Kate smiled, "Which I tend to find compelling, to my continual misery."
"Really?" Will asked, looking at her.
"Dismayingly so," Kate admitted with the lilt Will loved to hear. "Anyway I just came by to say you acquitted yourself well at yesterday's briefing."
"Apocalypse Maybe," Will joked.
"Nimbly done," Kate commended.
"Don't change the subject," Will pleaded.
"The end of the world as we know it," Will stated.
"I can assure you, Armageddon, not necessarily imminent," Kate promised.
"May I communicate same to the White House press?" Will asked.
"I can't think why not," Kate replied.
"You have the thanks of a grateful communications director."
Kate smiled as she made her exit only to be interrupted by Will.
"Though the prospect of the world ending did have one upside."
Kate turned to Will and listened as he continued, "It gave me license to ask whether you might have dinner with me before we and the planet went up in cinders."
"Well, that is an opportunity lost," Kate said, "Though I said it wasn't imminent not that it was out of the range of possibility."
"So then ?" Will asked with a smile.
"How's tonight?" Kate smiled back at him.
Of all the possible places to have dinner, Kate didn't expect it to be in Will's office eating takeout while watching the vice-president debate. In that hour she saw Will for who he was, a politician, and she knew that their jobs would never cross, so maybe this would work. That was what destroyed CJ and her, well that amongst other things.
Kate stepped into Will's house with nerves attached. She wasn't sure why she agreed to go back to his for a nightcap, but she didn't want them to be at hers nor was she ready for the night to end. She just didn't want to share the space she had shared with CJ for so long with anyone else. Will offered her a drink, and Kate gratefully accepted.
"You okay?" Will asked her gently.
Kate nodded before placing her glass down on the table. "Will, please just kiss me."
The urgency in the blonde's voice was not one Will was going to argue with. He kissed her tentatively, before adding some tenderness to it. He placed his hands on her hips and pulled her closer as he deepened the kiss. When they parted he studied her, and knew he shouldn't pry in the sudden sadness that danced in her eyes. She smiled at him and kissed him again, kissing him with a sense of promise.
She woke up to strange surroundings, and took a moment to decide whether to kill whoever was next to her. She looked over and saw Will fast asleep next to her. She slid out from under the covers quietly and started getting dressed. He roused from sleep and studied her.
"Where are you going?"
"Hey, sorry just wanted to go home and get some different clothing, you know "
"Kate, do you regret am sorry, has this will you consider I am so bad at this," Will admitted. "Was last night "
Kate knew she had to step in, "Last night was wonderful." She smiled when she saw Will smile.
"So again?" Will asked, his voice laced with hope.
Kate nodded before leaving the bedroom.
CJ knew that if Kate was moving on so should she, and gratefully accepted Danny's invitation to dinner.
"What's up?" CJ asked as she looked at the menu
"What's up?" Danny asked with surprise.
"Why am I here?" CJ looked at him.
"You really want me to ?"
"Cut to the chase. I do." CJ nodded her head.
"All right, well " Danny continued. "I'm having a bit of performance anxiety here."
"Well, get yourself together. I'll look at the menu," CJ offered.
"I wanted to see you," Danny admitted.
When CJ heard those words, she knew she was being offered a companion that she had missed having since Kate left her. Yet, she wasn't prepared to believe it just yet. She wanted him to continue and he proceeded to do just that, and but had ended up getting into a heated argument about politics, leading him to tell her about the president's son in law.
"I think he may be banging the nanny." Danny announced.
"What?" CJ said with shock and let Danny continue to give her details.
She knew she was blowing him off, but part of her felt as if she was being unfaithful to Kate and she didn't know why.
Kate and CJ discussed the latest in the Kazakhstan issue as they walked into the chief-of-staff's office, before turning their conversation onto that of Sudan.
"What do we know about the attacks in the Sudan?" CJ asked as they stepped into the office.
"The refugee camp in Darfur?" Kate asked.
"Janjaweed warriors attacked the camp along with government troops out of Khartoum."
"That is new, right?" CJ asked as they sat down.
"Attacking the camps is." Kate confirmed.
"Directed by the government in Khartoum?" CJ asked.
"African Union says Janjaweed and the Sudanese government are the same thing. Government helicopters were part of the assault." Kate informed her, "There's rape trauma, there's amputations. All the men are dead, we've seen it before."
CJ turned up the volume on the television that she was suddenly distracted by and watched the report on Doug Weston, the president's son-in-law. Kate turned to the screen also.
"Looks good," she commented.
"Peacekeepers are overwhelmed," CJ returned attention to their conversation.
"Yeah. The minute it gets too dangerous the humanitarian groups pull out and we have genocide on smack." Kate stated.
"Let's move on this." CJ spoke with determination as she walked over to her desk.
"Really?" Kate asked with surprise.
"We can get a resolution through the UN. There's a Security Council meeting." CJ suggested.
Kate stood and joined her at the desk, "Yeah, next week."
"Let's chop the financial balls off these bastard in Khartoum," CJ demanded.
"How?" Kate asked, excited at this prospect.
"We sanction their oil revenues," CJ responded.
"But we agreed ?" Kate began
"To sit on our butts?" CJ interrupted.
"China would veto," Kate argued. "But we never tried it before."
"China needs us now," CJ argued back. "They need a broker to make sure this election in Kazakhstan is legitimate."
"Is this coming from the president?" Kate asked.
"From me," CJ answered. "I'm gonna see what I can get and then take it to him."
Kate pondered, "If we assure that their flow of oil is secure they may be willing to sacrifice something."
"They give up what they're getting from the Sudan and get it from Kazakhstan," CJ reasoned.
"Don't wanna jeopardize neutrality," Kate offered.
"They can't know it's coming from us," CJ stated.
"We find a proxy," Kate said, feeling the rush of excitement she used to get when she worked with CJ.
"France and Germany want us to let them sell arms with China again." Kate suggested.
"Margaret?" CJ called and waited for her arrival, "I need the French ambassador."
"He's over at State," the red head replied. "Will's here."
"Will?" Kate said without thinking and CJ glanced at her.
"Send him in?" CJ answered.
"I'm gonna take off," Kate suggested not wanting the awkwardness.
As Kate made her way back to her office, she couldn't help but think about the rush of feelings she felt in those ten minutes with CJ. She tried to focus her attention on her new relationship with Will, but
couldn't help grinning at that excitement. The excitement that only CJ made her feel.
Her thoughts returned to Will. Will was everything CJ was not, and that was safe. She wanted safe.
"When do you get an answer from the Chinese?" Kate asked as they walked up the stairs.
"Sometime over the weekend." CJ answered.
"It's worth a shot," Kate stated.
Kate turned to go up the next set of stairs but CJ gestured her to come down into the corridor. "Hey, come here a sec."
"What's up?" Kate asked, not really prepared for what may come out of the other woman's mouth.
"I need to tell you something," CJ said with some urgency.
"You all right?" Kate asked with concern.
"Yes?" Kate was thrown by the topic.
"Doug Westin had an affair with his nanny," CJ admitted.
"Get out!" Kate exclaimed.
"It might break, it might not," CJ whispered.
"Is she cute?" Kate asked
"Who cares if ?"
"I spent my life surrounded by men in uniform."
CJ looked confused.
"Biology kicks virtue's ass, in my experience." Kate explained.
"She's 26," CJ offered.
Kate made a face, "Okay, so she doesn't have to be cute. That's disgusting."
"Yeah" CJ agreed.
"He should die," Kate argued. "The bastard should just be dead. Did Liz leave him?"
"I don't think she knows," CJ answered.
"Sic Special Ops on him. Make him a tragedy she can cry over," Kate was outraged.
"I made him withdraw his request to appear with the president next week."
"You're telling me because " Kate was confused at the sudden confiding.
"I don't know if I should "
"Tell her?" Kate offered. "No. No. Now's the time everybody looks at her funny till she figures it out."
"I know." CJ agreed. "I just don't know if I owe the president "
"Sorry. Liz Westin's in your office. She needs to talk to you."
The two looked back at Margaret who had interrupted them.
"Good luck," Kate smiled at CJ before leaving.
"Want to get some food?" Kate offered after telling CJ about a success with the Security Council about the Sudan.
"I can't. I have a date," CJ answered.
"You do not." Kate looked surprised.
"What? I have a date." CJ verified.
"With whom?" Kate asked, her curiosity getting the better of her.
"A guy I used to go out with."
"I'll walk out with you," Kate offered.
"You go ahead."
"Yeah, we're moving on," Kate said quietly as she walked out of the office. Margaret looked at her with sympathy and Kate just shrugged, "Night"
"I don't know if I want to be a reporter anymore?" Danny stated as he played with his food.
"Really?" CJ asked with surprise
"Doug Weston's libido broke the camel's back," Danny informed her.
"What do you want to do?"
"I don't know. Can I ask you something?" Danny asked.
"Why did you come here tonight?"
"Because you made me promise to," CJ answered
"Why'd you come?" he persisted.
"I wanted to see you," she said quietly making the man opposite her smile widely.
"Yeah," he exhaled as he moved the tables out of his way and thanked the waiter for clearing them away.
"You gonna do a magic trick," CJ joked
"I'm going to fly a little blind here," he said as he took her hand. "I'm halfway through my life, and I'm never quite sure if I'm doing anything right until I'm completely done doing it wrong."
"Work with it," CJ encouraged.
"So this may not come out right."
"I forgive you," CJ said gently.
"And incrementalism is not an option. I'm forced into a heroic posture."
"Heroic can be good," CJ nodded.
"Feels funny," Danny admitted.
"You can do it."
"Okay," Danny took a deep breath. "We're both about to fall off a cliff. And I don't know what I'm gonna do with the rest of my life except I know what I don't wanna do. On Inauguration Day, you're gonna be released from that glorious prison on Pennsylvania Avenue with "
"No human skills?" CJ interjected.
"Seems to be."
"I should punch you in the face," CJ stated.
"That's what I'm talking about."
"Keep going," CJ said apologetically
"So if I'm gonna jump off the cliff and you're gonna get pushed off the cliff why don't we hold hands on the way down?"
CJ's pager interrupted her response.
"Oh My God!"
"Go! Go!" Danny urged.\
CJ walked into the White House with urgency and found Kate outside her office amongst many others.
"What's happening? Did the Chinese invade?"
"Kazakhstan is stable," Kate said quickly.
"What is it?"
"A nuclear accident."
"Oh, Lord. A weapon?"
"A power plant," Kate explained.
"Is it Russia?"
"San Andreo, California. They think it might blow up." Kate informed her.
CJ saw two bottles of beers standing at her doorstep when she returned home that night.
"Thought you could do with them," Kate spoke out of the darkness.
CJ grinned at the blonde, "Just blew Danny off again I know well you know."
The two women sat on the stoop and opened the beers.
"So who cheated on you?" CJ asked.
Kate looked at her, and CJ continued, "You spoke with rage earlier."
"Oh husband no. 1 with the boss's 18 year old daughter."
Kate nodded, "Yep. You?"
"Never," CJ admitted.
"No?" Kate said with surprise.
CJ shook her head, "They never lasted long enough."
"And Danny?" Kate asked with interest.
CJ sighed and looked at Kate, "I don't want to talk about it."
Kate nodded, kind of relieved by this. The two women were building a friendship and she knew this.
"I am glad you did this," CJ said. "I missed this."
"Me too I miss being with you," Kate admitted.
CJ nodded, "So Will?"
"If you're not talking about Danny, I am not talking about Will."
CJ laughed without feeling, "That's just awkward talking about them, isn't it?"
"Yep so you think Santos may win?"
"He has a shot after the whole nuclear fiasco," CJ said.
"True," Kate agreed, "I'll miss it working for the president. He is an incredible man."
"You'll be working under the next one I'm sure that sounds so bad, doesn't it?"
Kate spat out her beer with laughter as the phrase just dawned on her. "Just a bit but I mean President Bartlet you can't help but respect him and be in awe of him."
CJ nodded, "Yeah."
"What about you? Any ideas yet? Of what to do next?"
"Oh, I'm moving to Kazakhstan hear it's the safest place to live."
Kate laughed, "I'm going to head off "
CJ watched the smaller woman stand up and nodded, "Thanks for this I really needed it."
Kate smiled, "So did I."
Kate woke up with a start, gasping at the intensity of her dream. She dreamt that CJ was with her in bed and doing the wonderful things she used to do with her tongue. She glanced at Will's sleeping form and sighed, "Shit"
She climbed out of bed and wandered into the large antique living room and again realised how wealthy her 'boyfriend' was. She sat on the couch and pulled her robe tighter around her. She knew she was using Will in hope that he would help her get over CJ. She liked him, he made her laugh, he was a tentative lover, and he obviously was adoring of her, despite his quirky awkwardness. She sighed whe she thought of CJ, and she knew that CJ was in bed with another man.
"You okay?" Will asked as he gamboled into the living space, his boxers and t-shirt clinging to his lean frame. Kate smiled at him and again was reminded of why she liked him, he was safe. She nodded and waited for him to sit next to her. He did what he always did when he got out of bed. He turned on the news before offering coffee yes, he was safe, she reminded herself.
CJ kissed Danny softly as she dressed and he watched her. He grinned as she laughed.
"Why don't we stay at yours? Would mean an extra hour in bed? Or bring clothes here? Again, another hour"
CJ laughed and didn't want to explain that until she bought a new bed, no one was going to sleep there with her. It had the faded smell of Kate and she dreaded the thought of it going away for ever. She wasn't ready for that just yet.
"I got to go," CJ said as she kissed him again.
"Will see you tonight?"
CJ nodded, knowing that she had just replaced Kate with Danny. She stepped outside and saw her Secret Service waiting for her.
She looked at the man she became familiar with since her promotion with and looked at him, "Am I a terrible person?"
He looked at her and shrugged, "What do you mean ma'am?"
"You know what I mean?"
"Ma'am it's none of my business."
"Are you called the Secret Service because you can keep a secret?" CJ asked, remembering the question Kate asked so long ago.
He didn't answer, and CJ frowned as he reported that he had flamingo.
"Hi," Will said as he walked into CJ's office.
"Hi," CJ answered.
"And you're here," Will said when he saw Kate.
Kate nodded, "Yes"
"Should I come back?"
"No," CJ ordered. "I've asked reps to come so we can get everybody on the same page. You should work that out."
Kate offered, "I'll do a backgrounder, he can adapt into "
"Talking points to share with the press," Will interrupted.
"Which won't be the whole story," CJ concluded.
"Sure" Will said
"Great," Kate agreed.
CJ studied the two of them and sensed the awkward tension in the room
"What?" she asked
"What?" both Will and Kate said at the same time.
"Is something weird happening?" CJ asked
"No," came the simultaneous response.
"I feel like a heroine who doesn't know there's a guy behind the refrigerator with an axe," CJ joked.
"Maybe it's the weather. People feel that way when it's damp," Kate offered, not believing her own explanation.
"Thank you both," CJ said with a smile, getting a morbid satisfaction from watching her former lover squirm.
Will whispered as he left the room, "We're really bad at this."
"Really bad," Kate stressed. She knew CJ knew about them. She also knew Will hadn't a clue about their history. She also knew that she and Will didn't want them to be public knowledge. And she hated CJ knowing, and more so that CJ seemed okay with it. It felt like a dagger in the heart knowing that CJ found it so much easier to move on than she had.
"I told Donna about us inadvertently," Will said as he sat next to Kate on the couch.
"You did what?" Kate said with anger.
"Not who you are, but that I am seeing someone I called you Classified," Will said with surprise at the outburst, "I don't think she could figure it from that."
"I hope so," Kate said as she calmed down.
"Would it be so bad for people to know?" Will asked.
"Yes!" Kate almost yelled and relented as she saw Will's face, "I mean, if we tell people it's just, it means there is a definition to what we are and I'm not ready for that, if that makes sense."
Will nodded, "That's okay I am not proposing just yet."
"And after two divorces, I am not saying yes." Kate joked. She pretended she hadn't noticed the hurt expression Will just showed.
Kate passed CJ a beer, "Still want to move to Kazakhstan?"
"Hey there," CJ took the beer that Kate had offered. "We're going to be alcoholics by the time this finishes."
"Yep," Kate nodded as she sat opposite CJ, "How are you?"
"Not long left until I officially can sleep in late," CJ commented.
"Will you just be able to walk away from it all?" Kate asked.
"I don't know," CJ answered. "Will you stay?"
Kate nodded, "If I'm asked."
CJ studied her as she drank from her beer, "Then I hope I can walk away from it all Kate, I have to go."
CJ left her office quickly leaving a stunned Kate in her wake.
CHAPTER TWENTY ONE:
"Have you voted?" CJ asked Kate as she stepped into her offiice.
"Yeah, before I came in," Kate answered, surprised at the sudden aggression from her superior.
"Good, that's my job done," CJ nodded and looked at the surprised expression waiting for her. "Josh just phoned to tell me to ask the next person I see that, and you happen to be the next person hence "
"Hence indeed," Kate smiled, "I was just walking past and thought I'd drop you the briefing from my office."
CJ took the files being handed to her, "How many trees do you think the White House have chopped down a year?"
"CJ, are you ok?" Kate asked, unsure of the odd mood coming from the chief-of-staff.
CJ nodded, "Not enough sleep or coffee I think."
"I have Danny on line three," Margaret said as she walked in.
"I should go," Kate said and left quickly, still struggling to get her mind over CJ. Maybe CJ was right, about them needing to be far apart to move on.
CJ felt the tears shred their way through her body as she sat alone in her office. She didn't hear Kate knock on the door or move close to her and pull her into a hug. She didn't hear Margaret close the door, giving them privacy.
She sobbed hard into Kate's chest, and felt comforting hands caress her hair.
Kate didn't know what to say, or what to do. She only knew that on hearing about Leo McGarry's death that there was one place she wanted to be. She had seen the televisions filled with the news and the White House come to a halt. She knew at the moment she had heard the words "Leo McGarry is dead" that she disregarded every person who was in her company, and ran to CJ's office.
"CJ, I'm so sorry," she whispered as the tears subsided.
CJ nodded and pulled back from the embrace and saw tears glistening in the dark eyes looking at her. CJ rubbed her eyes, and watched Kate. She felt a pull towards her and followed it, and just as she was about to reach the lips before her, the door knocked and the two women jumped apart.
"CJ, I came as soon as I heard," Danny announced as he came in. "God!"
Kate slipped out quickly not wanting to be in that awkwardness.
"Hey," Kate said as CJ answered her door. "I didn't want to interrupt but I haven't seen you all day and just wanted to see how you were doing."
CJ gestured for her to keep quiet as she stepped into the apartment. "I have Donna here. She needed a place to crash and well, I was available."
"Danny not here?" Kate whispered back.
CJ shook her head, "Donna spoiled those plans are you ok? Want some coffee?"
"I'm not staying, I just wanted to see how you were." Kate repeated, "Will said it was a beautiful service."
"You weren't there?" CJ hadn't even noticed.
"I wanted to be, but someone needed to monitor the Kazakhstan thing," Kate explained.
"Oh, I see," CJ nodded.
"So you're ok?" Kate asked before sighing, "That's a stupid question I meant "
"Why are you here?" CJ interrupted.
"To see " Kate sighed before looking into the blue eyes watching her carefully, "To see you."
CJ nodded, "I'm okay how are you?"
Kate smiled, "I'm okay he was well a giant."
"Yes he was am really going to miss him," CJ said softly.
"I know you are," Kate watched as more tears escaped down CJ's cheeks and impulsively she brushed them away with her thumbs and before she knew it they were kissing feverishly.
When CJ moaned, it startled Kate back into reality, "Shit I am so sorry."
CJ watched as Kate nervously stepped backwards, "I am sorry too I don't know why I did that I "
"CJ, it's okay I was there too," Kate replied. "I should go "
"Yeah," CJ said and watched the blonde leave unaware that there was another blonde watching in shock.
"Jesus! Donna!" CJ screamed when she saw her staring at them agape. "You scared the crap out of me."
"Oh sorry I heard something and you and Kate?" Donna asked with shock.
"Please Donna, don't," CJ pleaded.
"Okay is there any alcohol?"
CJ pointed to the kitchen and Donna fished out a bottle of wine. She sat down on the couch and looked at CJ, "Okay, spill "
CJ looked at her in surprise, "Why?"
"I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours," Donna offered.
"There's nothing to tell," CJ said and knew Donna didn't believe her. "There was something, but it ended months ago and she's with Will and I have Danny "
"Oh, so she is Will's Classified girl that makes sense," Donna stated, "Danny, when did that happen?"
"A while ago," CJ answered, still thinking about the kiss she just experienced.
"CJ, you don't kiss someone like that when it's over," Donna spoke softly.
CJ looked at her, "It is over it's very over and we're not talking about it anymore."
Donna nodded, "Okay "
"What's your thing?" CJ asked suddenly after a long silence. "You said you had a thing too."
"Oh Josh," Donna answered.
"Of course it is tell me more," CJ demanded, desperate for a distraction.
"Hey," Kate said as she walked into CJ's office.
"I think I may have just overwhelmed the next first lady," CJ said as she walked to sit behind her desk.
"How you manage that then?" Kate asked as she sat opposite.
"Showed her the residence," CJ looked at her.
"Yep, that would do it," Kate smiled. "CJ, about the other night?"
CJ sighed and looked at Kate, "Can we forget it, and put it down to emotions?"
Kate nodded feeling a sense of relief. "That sounds good to me."
"So we how was the G8?" CJ asked, wanting to desperately change the subject.
Kate looked at her pager which just beeped. "I hate flying. Have I ever told you that?"
CJ laughed and watched as Kate left her office.
CHAPTER TWENTY TWO:
"All right, I'm bailing on dinner," Danny yelled as CJ returned to the bathroom.
"I'm sorry, this week is just " CJ called back
"No worries," Danny cut her off
"I feel bad. I'd love to meet you sister," CJ continued as she returned to the bedroom pulling her sweater on as she did so.
"You would," Danny concluded, "She's like me, but with bigger teeth."
"This week is just " CJ continued with her excuses.
"No is a perfectly acceptable answer," Danny told her. "You gotta be able to ask, right?"
"I just feel bad saying no all the time," CJ said as she finished her ritual of dressing. "It makes me feel like a heel."
"So I shouldn't ask?" Danny sulked. "I should sit by the fire and wait for my booty call?"
"Of course not," CJ glanced at him.
"It's okay, I'm not turning it down but it's limiting."
"You make it sound like I'm trying to avoid you," CJ stated.
"I didn't sat that," Danny argued.
"I don't make booty calls," CJ was deflated.
"You don't make any calls. That's kind of how it works out," Danny counteracted.
"What?" CJ surprised by the turn of conversation, recognising its traits.
"You're elusive. Part of the draw," Danny claimed.
"You know what? It's too early for this," CJ sighed.
"Hey, I'm kidding," Danny knew he had hit a sore spot.
"Are you?" CJ turned to him
"Yeah" Danny looked at her, "Everybody take a breath."
"You're right it'll all be easier in two weeks." She bent down to kiss him as he sat on the bed. "It really will"
"I'm heading over to DCCC" Will told Kate as they walked through the corridors.
"They're making you an offer?" Kate asked.
"I think so," Will answered.
Kate was impressed, "Will Bailey, executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Sounds pretty good."
"Could be. Nice place to work. I get my hands in a lot of races without the water torture of any one race. And I'd stay in Washington, which is nice." He spoke as he turned to her.
"Yeah. I mean, no pressure but I like the idea of giving the future an opportunity to unfold of its own accord." Will said with meaning.
"Our future?" Kate asked
"I like that idea too," Kate grinned.
"There are supposed to be 30. This is only three." CJ said to Margaret.
"More to come," Margaret promised.
"Is yours in this pile?" CJ turned to Kate who was waiting for her.
"Not yet. Soon," Kate swore.
"What exactly is the problem?" CJ yelled stunning Kate. "You may be asked to stay on, you may not. You may get promoted. Other people are coming in and need to know where to find the pencils. They need to know what your staff was up to or finishing or starting. They need to know how to do what you do. This is an important part of governing. We're still governing. Why is this like pulling teeth?"
"You'll have it by the end of the day," Kate promised still surprised by the outburst.
CJ walked to the couch and sat down and Kate watched her, unsure of her mood. She walked closer, "Are you okay?"
"I think I just got an offer I can't refuse from Matt Santos," CJ said quietly.
"That's great," Kate offered still unsure by her former lover's behaviour. Seeing that CJ didn't think so, she spoke again, "That's not great."
"You've been here two years. It looks different on the far side of eight." CJ explained.
"Still. Nice to get the offer," Kate said as she sat down.
"They'll be approaching you soon, I'm sure," CJ reassured the blonde.
"Sure," Kate tried to sound hopeful.
CJ sat upwards, "What do you think happens if I ask the president to commute Toby Ziegler's sentence?"
"Are you gonna ask him?" Kate asked in surprise.
"I don't know," CJ sounded frustrated.
"I'm asking for your opinion."
"My opinion is he compromised a crucial defense-department program. He undermined the president's authority. He committed a federal offense. He goes to jail," Kate answered defiantly.
"He's got young children who for the next five years will look at him in an orange jump suit across an aluminum picnic table." CJ defended and seeing Kate shake her head in disbelief. "And don't get me wrong, I.. I'm furious at him. I wanna kick him in the stomach a few times but I don't want him to rot in the federal pokey."
"It's not your decision, it's the president's." Kate reasoned. "If he wants to pardon him, he will."
"So I don't even bring it up?"
"If you want to, bring it up but I don't think this slipped the president's mind," Kate responded.
"Yeah," came CJ's quiet reply.
"Did Toby apply?" Kate asked.
"No," CJ said
"He may not wanna put the president in a position." Kate concluded.
"I'm sure he doesn't. Still " CJ drifted off.
"You should talk to him at least," Kate suggested. "No matter what you do, give him a call"
CJ sounded subdued as she answered, "Yeah"
"Have you spoken?" Kate asked noticing the loss in the brunette's face.
"To Toby?" CJ looked up at her before standing. "No. Not since he left."
"Hi." Danny announced as he walked in.
"Hi," Kate answered.
"Bye," Danny said to her.
"Yes," Kate responded taking the hint and leaving quickly.
"The Santos people offered NSA advisor to Glen," Kate said as she closed the door to Will's office.
"Really?" Will looked up at her. "And he's saying yes?"
"Yeah." Kate nodded
"Damn," Will sounded disappointed for the woman he was growing attached to.
"I know. I knew it was a long shot and I'm young for it, but still " Kate said dejectedly as she sat down.
"You wanted it," Will offered. "They'll offer you something else."
"Not under Glen. He can't stand me."
"He's probably scared of you," Will said hoping to cheer her up.
"Whatever," Kate smiled. "He's not giving me a job."
"It sucks a lot." Kate admitted. "How'd it go at D-Triple-C?"
"Nice offer, but it could be a little crazy-making," Will answered. "It has already monopolised my whole day. I got stuck on this one race that they think can't be won and I do."
"Which one?" Kate asked.
"Oregon 4th," Will answered. "I thought if I could find the right guy, they'd get behind the idea but as it turns out, there's a real dearth of ballsy Oregonians."
"Open it up. Find somebody good. They can establish residency in Oregon," Kate suggested.
"Sure, they buy a house 180 days before the primary and they're in." Will said. "But then we're running a carpetbagger against a 15-year incumbent."
"Yeah, but it's better than nothing," Kate argued. "What if Oregon weren't a factor?"
"Place needs a fresh face. Somebody smart, but not so wonky that you can't put him front of the TV camera."
Kate continued with her suggestions, "Don't worry about that. Find someone you like. You can always coach them through talking on the camera. After the press-secretary stint you have that down."
"More or less," Will reasoned.
Kate knew the idea was brewing in her head and she knew it was her way out so she ploughed ahead, "God knows you know all there is to know about policy and campaigning. You could push a monkey through the process. Between your Washington experience and your local-politics experience " And then the idea came blasting through the process and she looked at him and Will recognised that look.
"No. That doesn't make any sense," he said as he stood up.
"Yeah, it does," Kate argued.
"It doesn't," Will replied. "I'm not moving to Oregon, for one thing."
"Of course you are," Kate looked at him.
"I'm not. We're "
"We're what?" Kate interrupted. "You'll win. You should run."
"No, I won't "
"It's the right thing," Kate continued to interrupt.
"You'll win," Kate sounded determined.
Will watched her in silence and he knew what was happening but wanted to try his luck all the same. "You could ?"
"What?" Kate asked. "Move to Oregon?"
"I don't know," Will said, feeling nervous.
"I'm not moving to Oregon," Kate said determinedly.
"I'm not moving to Oregon either."
"No, I think you are," Kate argued as she stood up and walked towards him, kissing him softly. "You are going, and I am staying."
CJ walked quickly ahead of Danny and Danny was desperate to slow her down.
"Sorry, I wanna get there, so we can eat and get back," CJ explained.
"There's no place. There's a vendor up the block," Danny told her as he caught up with her. "We'll have a hot dog."
"Great. So, what was so important?" CJ asked.
"You said it was important."
"It's this. The walk. The day." Danny told her.
"That's it?" CJ asked surprised.
"You're locked up in that building all day. It was gorgeous out here," Danny offered. "I thought you should see it."
"I have a packed day," CJ stopped him. "That's really sweet, but today is not the time for it."
"Okay, sorry," Danny apologised, disappointed.
"No, it's okay."
"I thought it might do us good to see each other in the daylight," Danny stated. "We're together from 11 to midnight or 5 to 6am. We're both half asleep. It leads to a lot of tension that's probably unnecessary like this morning, for example. I thought it might be a healthy 20 minutes. You can tell me about your day."
"My day?" CJ said, surprised at Danny's behaviour though she knew she shouldn't be.
"Franklin Hollis showed up in my office with the most attractive offer I think I've ever heard, which I believe I'll have to turn down because I had a meeting with the president-elect and it looks like I'm gonna work in the White House a couple more years."
Danny stopped walking, looking visibly upset.
"I don't see a guy with a hot dog," CJ said, before she noticed Danny was no longer with her. She turned around and looked at him.
"Did you say yes?" Danny asked.
"To Santos? Not yet. Probably tomorrow." CJ answered.
"That's great. Just wow!"
"What?" CJ asked.
"Did you consider talking to me about it?" Danny asked as he approached her.
"Are you serious?" CJ was surprised at Danny's change of pace.
"Yeah, I'm serious."
"No, I didn't"
"We don't have that kind of relationship yet," CJ told him.
"Apparently," Danny reacted.
"What made you think you should be making decisions about my career?" CJ asked, confused.
"One, I'm not, I'm trying to be a part of a conversation about them. Two, if we don't have that kind of relationship, what kind do we have?" Danny asked.
"I don't I don't wanna answer that question right now," CJ responded, "We agreed to discuss this after the inauguration."
"Not if you're working for Matt Santos," Danny accused.
"You know what ?" CJ interrupted and let Danny rant about how they should have a relationship, and she should choose it.
"I know that if we have some sort of future together, I'll be Mr. CJ Cregg, and I'm fine with that. But you don't even see me in the picture, do you?"
CJ couldn't even bring herself to answer and watched as the man who had adored her for years heart broke.
"Thank you. That was useful information." He walked away, feeling pain throughout his body
Kate knew she should stop thinking about CJ, but since Will's offer of commitment she couldn't. Here was someone giving her everything she wanted from her former lover and yet she was thinking about her former lover. It was time for her to be honest.
CJ frowned as she watched Danny walk away. She knew it was the right thing to do, but she knew she was destined for loneliness all over again. She just couldn't get the blonde NSA deputy out of her mind and it wasn't fair to offer commitment to the man who was offering her exactly that.
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
"Excuse me," The secret service agent made his way into Kate's home, who looked at CJ in surprise. She could tell the taller woman had been crying and she wanted desperately to comfort her but instead stood back as the agent left and CJ entered.
"I know it's too late and I know you're with Will," CJ spoke quickly. "I know I have been the world's greatest idiot, and I know I hurt you so much. And I know nothing I can do or say will fix anything that has happened I am just so bad at relationships, that I don't trust them, and with you it's more complicated because, not because you're a woman, even though that is complicated, but because I am so completely in love with you. And I am fighting hard everyday just to breathe without you, and today I broke Danny's heart for the same reason this inability to commit to him except I didn't want to, because I because I can't ever stop loving you."
CJ breathed loudly and tried to read Kate's expression, which was unreadable.
"I'm not with Will," Kate spoke softly. "I sent him packing to Oregon."
"Yes, I think he could get elected there."
CJ nodded, "And you're not going?"
Kate shook her head, "I couldn't."
"Oh okay, did you get an offer here? I heard about Greg."
Kate shook her head again, "No, I just couldn't go with him."
"Oh okay," CJ said quietly.
"There's just too much past, I don't think I can go through it all again," Kate said softly. "That pain it hurt too much, and the trust you couldn't trust me. Think you can trust me now don't answer that. I just can't do it and I'm tired of feeling for you, and God, I wish I couldn't feel for you, but no it's too late."
CJ nodded, fighting back her tears. She turned to leave, "I'm sorry."
"You going to stay at the White House?" Kate asked, stopping CJ in her steps.
CJ turned to her, "I really don't know Franklin Hollis offered me $10 billion to fix the world."
"Wow," Kate said.
CJ nodded and before she could speak again, she felt lips on her own. The kiss was tentative, loving and soft. She kissed back with all the feeling she could muster, not wanting this moment to end. When air was needed the two women parted.
"I thought you just " CJ said with immense confusion.
Kate took a deep breath and stepped back. She saw vulnerability in CJ's face and she reached out to take her hand, "It doesn't matter how much I try, I just " She felt tears spring to her own eyes. "I just can't stop loving you and I don't want to stop loving you."
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