DISCLAIMER: The West Wing, the characters and situations depicted are the property of Warner Bros. Television, John Wells Productions, NBC, etc. They are borrowed without permission, but without the intent of infringement. This site is in no way affiliated with "The West Wing", NBC, or any representatives of the actors.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This piece could have happened in any season after any party where C.J. and Abbey are dressed up. Special Note: The line I'm using for the summary, as well as the inspiration for this story, comes from indigo_inferno. Thank you!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To ceej4[at]yahoo.com
Watching the Watched
The soft breeze alerted C.J. to Abbey's presence before C.J. saw the other woman. Abbey's perfume was carried across the distance, a warning to C.J.'s senses to prepare for the emotions Abbey always brought with her. Closing her eyes, C.J. leaned against the tall oak tree at the back of the rose garden. She tried to convince herself she was hidden, but she knew by Abbey's steady pace toward her she was wishing on a star already fallen to earth.
"Beautiful night," Abbey said when she finally reached C.J.
C.J. sighed but opened her eyes and stood straighter. "Yes, ma'am."
Abbey settled on the marble bench close to the tree, natural grace making her even her jeans and t-shirt seem elegant, and turned her face to the moon, her eyes drifting shut slowly, provocatively.
"You should sit, Claudia Jean. You've been standing against that oak for almost twenty minutes."
"You've been watching me," C.J. said, no surprise to her voice, just acceptance.
"I watch you frequently."
The dim light from the lamps dotting the garden softened the edges of Abbey's profile, and C.J. was content to stare at her. She suddenly felt she had the right.
"Are you not curious why I'm here?" Abbey asked.
C.J. laughed at the breach of silence. "You're here to torture me. I don't have to ask."
"I changed from the dress, C.J. I don't know what else you want me to do." Glancing at Abbey, C.J. tried to school her features into her press secretary mask. "Don't be so shocked," Abbey said. "I know I'm not the only one who watches."
C.J. took a deep breath. "How long have you known?"
Abbey shrugged and met C.J.'s gaze. "A while. You hid it well, so you don't have to panic. I'm the only one who has noticed."
"How can you be sure?" C.J. asked, her voice low, worry making it sound impassive.
"Because you're good at what you do." Again, Abbey shrugged and turned her attention back to the sky. "I know you, and I pay attention."
The silence stretched once again, and C.J. resumed her place against the tree, dejected but calm.
"What's next?" she asked.
"Does anything have to change? You haven't admitted anything I didn't already know. Nothing is different or has to be unless you want it to be."
"What do you know, Abbey? I'm not sure you know anything."
Abbey's laugh broke through C.J.'s anger. The sound was gentle, as was Abbey's movements as she reached a hand out to C.J.
"Come on, C.J. Sit down." C.J. took Abbey's hand and allowed Abbey to tug her forward until she was on the bench, sitting close to Abbey. "I know more than you think. I know how you feel. It's there when you look at me when you believe no one else is paying attention. It's there when you let your guard down. It's there now." Abbey stroked C.J.'s fingers, her grasp tight as they held onto each other. "C.J.," Abbey whispered. "I've been watching.
When C.J. looked at Abbey, her eyes sparkled with unshed tears. Abbey's touch was soft as she caressed C.J.'s cheek.
"I don't know what to do," C.J. said, almost pleadingly. "It's so hard not to I think I'm in love with you, and I don't know what to do."
Abbey leaned forward, pressed her lips to C.J.'s chastely before pulling back to meet C.J.'s gaze.
"You do your job, C.J. Don't worry about any of the rest."
C.J. was listening, but she broke into a million pieces with every word. Still, her lips tingled and her skin burned. She could feel Abbey's breathing, slow and calculated, on her face.
C.J. kissed Abbey, surprising both of them, but Abbey relented and relaxed. C.J. whimpered; her tears finally fell. Abbey wiped them away as she deepened the kiss, C.J.'s hands wrinkling the fabric at Abbey's waist. It was Abbey's tears which caused C.J. to pull away.
"Oh, Abbey." C.J. kissed the wetness on Abbey's cheeks, finally resting her forehead on Abbey's hair.
"I came, C.J., because I couldn't help myself. I came because I wanted to spend more time with you. It never seems enough."
"I know," C.J. said, recognizing the difficulty in Abbey's admission. "I stayed because I knew you would be watching. I knew you'd make the decision. I let you do that. I was too afraid to do it myself. I couldn't Abbey, I couldn't be the one to walk from you. I need you to force me."
"I can't. I've tried to force myself to stay away. I can't do it."
"What are we going to do?" C.J. asked. She kissed Abbey's temple, and Abbey closed her eyes.
"Watch. Watch for our chance to be together. Watch for signs anyone else has noticed. Watch each other like we've been doing for years."
C.J. just nodded. She knew they would be hurting a lot of people, but she also knew she couldn't spend the rest of her career just watching Abbey Bartlet. There had to be more. Sighing, she looked at the stars half hidden by the city lights and the branches of the tall oak she had found refuge under earlier.
Interlacing their fingers, C.J. drank in the scent of Abbey's perfume and tried to slow her racing heart.
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