Title: The ex, the date and the new girlfriend
Series: Stand alone
Archive (if applicable): National Library
Feedback: The good, the bad and the very ugly it's all appreciated.
Summary: Jenny has a date, and not everyone is happy.
Disclaimers: As always I 'Take only photographs and leave only footprints'
sort of thing, King Aaron still reigns.
"Leo?" The Communications director tries to decipher exactly what's eating
at the Chief of Staff, other than the latest polling numbers.
"We're not happy today." Margaret answers as if Leo was unable to explain
"What's wrong?" Toby shifts in his seat directing his question to the red
"Jenny has a date tonight." Her head bobs as she hands Leo the next thing
he needs to sign.
"MARGARET!" He roars.
"We're not to happy about it." She whispers like he's not right next to
"OUT." He bellows and she gathers the paperwork making a hasty exit having
touched a raw nerve.
Toby smiles into his lap as the scene plays out in front of him, Leo
muttering something about the woman on the other side of his door, probably
"What, your ex-wife doesn't date?" He says incredulously noticing the wry
smile on Toby's face
Toby doesn't reply, flicking through the paper he's bought in with him for
the staff meeting.
"Boy you really did a number on her." Leo mutters, putting his glasses back
on to continue reading.
"Actually I offered to chauffeur." Toby mumbles avoiding eye contact.
He gets the expected chuckle from Leo. "What is she 16, when's her curfew
Toby?" He shakes his head.
"What are we talking about?" Josh struts in, falling gracelessly into Leo's
"Nothing." The two men reply in unison.
"Hey CJ, you wanted to see me?" From the Oval Leo finds the Press Secretary
waiting in his office.
"How you doin' Leo." She towers over him as he falls into his chair
flipping through the phone messages Margaret has left on his desk.
"I'm good, how are you?" He looks up at her for a moment before putting the
paper slips in order of importance to call.
"What can I do for you CJ?" He leans back deeper in his chair, looking at
her over her glasses.
"So here's the thing..." She starts sitting down.
"Yeah." He encourages glad she's finally getting to the point.
"I thought you might like to have dinner with me tonight." The words tumble
confidently from her mouth, but her uncomfortability factor rises however
as he looks across the desk at her like she's growing a third eye.
"Margaret said Jenny had a date tonight and you weren't taking it so well."
"I'm fine, CJ." He laughs, going back to moving paper around his desk.
"Are you sure because it's no hassle, I'm not doing anything."
"I'm sure CJ, I can handle the fact my wife has a life and I don't." He
"Go." He says good-naturedly.
"Well if you change your mind..."
"I'm fine, CJ."
Outside the closed door she whispers 'Ex-wife' and cringes as she hears him
bellow. "MARGARET." She says a silent apology to the young assistant.
"Hey Leo." CJ looks up through her glasses later that night, they smudge
the image standing in her doorway but not enough that she can't decipher
"Is it too late to change my mind?" He sits opposite her as she pulls off
"About dinner?" She guesses, muting the TV in the cabinet next to her desk.
"No, not at all." She starts shuffling paper into piles, packing up for the
night. "You know a place?"
"I'll be back in ten." He says standing up.
She nods, wondering after he'd gone, what had changed his mind.
"Your kind of place?" She drinks in the decor as they're lead to their
"Someone will be with you in a minute Mr. McGarry." The maître d' says
pulling out CJ's chair for her.
"A regular." CJ smiles when they're alone, the smile is wiped when she
looks down at the menu. It's one of those restaurants where she can only
afford a side salad next to a glass of water without selling a vital organ.
"Tonight is on me." Leo smiles, noticing CJ pale to the same white as the
napkin that was placed across her lap.
CJ has yet to order her main when Jenny McGarry...or O'Brien, as it
probably is now, enters her field of vision above Leo's right shoulder. On
her arm the second term Republican congressman from Louisiana. CJ wonders
why she's plucking from the same basket again, perhaps somewhere in her
mind the difference in political persuasion has her hopeful for a better
outcome than her relationship with Leo, or maybe it's the different section
of government factor.
Regardless, CJ cares little to be around for any potential disaster which
may erupt in and around the vicinity of her table. She snaps the menu shut,
handing it hastily back to the waiter having ordered an overpriced beef
dish and excuses herself to go to the ladies.
She counts to two hundred, locked inside a toilet stall, wanting to bang
her head against the wall. By two fifty, she hopes Jenny has had enough
time to pass Leo by...or not at all. At this point any fireworks ensuing
from CJ being seen with Leo in a social setting is worse than a thousand
questions from the press core in the morning.
The door swings open as someone else enters the room and CJ flushes the
toilet for good measure rather than be subjected to any strange looks when
she unlocks the door.
Jenny O'Brien is applying another coat of a warm grape tone to her lips in
the mirrors that cover the opposite wall. CJ doesn't make eye contact
washing her hands two basins down.
"CJ Cregg?" The soft voice asks and CJ inwardly flinches. "Jenny O'Brien."
She places her spare hand over her chest in a do-you-remember-me gesture.
"McGarry." She corrects, reading CJ's expression as confusion.
"Oh hi, it's nice to see you again." CJ smiles warmly, her uncomfortability
factor rising quickly.
"How are you?" The ex- Mrs. McGarry seems intent on conversation.
"Good, you?" CJ grabs at the paper towel, drying her hands quickly.
"Good, fancy running into you here are you on a date." CJ wants to turn and
"Yeah, I ah, should get back." CJ smiles apologetically.
"Sure, it was good to see you."
"You too." CJ is barely still in the room when Jenny finishes.
"My ex wife is here." Leo informs CJ when she gets back to her seat.
"I was just talking to her in the ladies."
"That's more than I got." Leo mumbles as their entrées are placed in front
CJ looks up to thank the waiter, the congressman catching her eye. She
surveys, in dismay, the direct path Jenny has to walk past their table to
get back to her own.
"I should go..." She trails off.
"Hide, CJ." He finishes. "Screw it, we're not doing anything wrong."
Neither makes eye contact as Jenny O'Brien passes by them, CJ thankful that
she has her back to them, but she's regretting describing tonight as a
Usually, the Chief of Staffs door is slammed by an irate Senior Staff
member, this morning it's an irate daughter who barely stops to greet
Margaret, let alone check is her father is free.
"CJ Cregg, Dad." She launches in. "She's half your age and twice your
height." Mallory's hands fly around as she yells loud enough to draw the
President into the room.
"And good morning to you Mallory. Nice to see you." Leo replies, refusing
to be drawn into a shouting match.
Surveying his watch, he counts twelve hours since Jenny had seen CJ and
himself at the restaurant last night...He thought that was slow, surprised
Jenny hadn't picked up the phone the moment he had left with CJ and Mallory
hadn't called him as soon as he got back last night.
"Dad." She whines.
"Mal." He mimics back.
"This is serious." She counters.
"So is this...why aren't you in school."
"Why are you dining with CJ Cregg in expensive restaurants?"
"CJ and I were having dinner, that's it." He assures her, then calling for
Margaret and files relevant to his next meeting.
"I had some time owing." Mallory says indignantly, crossing her arms.
"And this is how you use it, harassing your father." He pauses then adds.
"So you mother can date, but I have to live like a monk?"
"No...but CJ Cregg, dad."
"Hey Mal." Margaret says cheerfully, handing over the blue folders.
"Hello." Mallory replies shortly and Margaret escapes as fast as she can
not wanting to be around when Mallory dynamite explodes.
"We're not dating Mal, despite what your mother might have told you." Leo
"I don't believe you." She comes to stand as imposing as she can over the
"Mal, I'll go into that Press Room right now and make a statement, I'm not
dating CJ Cregg." He scribbles on the margins making notes for himself.
"I'm supposed to believe that!" She continues dubiously.
"I guess there's no point lying.' He sighs with the slightest of mocking.
"We are seeing each other and we're going at it like bunnies." He grins
down onto the notes before looking up to capture her priceless look.
"Aagghh." Mallory cries, hauling open his door and nearly bowling over
Margaret who was listening at the door on her way out.
"My lips are sealed." Margaret whispers pulling the door closed, currently
on the end of a warning look from Leo.
"Heard you had a visitor today." CJ doesn't look up from her computer as
Leo sits in her visitors chair.
"Women can talk!" He mutters remembering Margaret's pledge to sealed lips.
"Actually, Sam told me. He was outside in Margaret's office, waiting to see
you." She flips down the screen but doesn't switch off the laptop.
"Something about bunnies and the Press Room."
"He didn't come to see me till just then." Leo says suppressing a smile at
the conversation with his only daughter.
"I think Mallory all fired up scared him off." CJ grins across at him.
"Yeah well..." Leo starts.
"What'd you tell her?" CJ leans back in her chair.
"I used reverse psychology when she didn't believe me when I told her I
wasn't dating you."
"What were your exact words of this reverse psychology." CJ's eyes narrow,
not wanting to hear the answer.
"I told her we were doing it like bunnies."
"Leo!" She laughs shortly.
"It's only over my dead body will you ever stand at my podium, let alone
use tactics like that,"
"You don't think it'll work." He says in a mock of innocence.
"She's repeating your exact words to your ex-wife right now." CJ informs
"Who cares." A careless hand waves in the air. "It's nice to have a life,
even if it's not real."
"Nobody asked me." She laughs.
"Ok, I'll ask right now, what are you doing tonight."
"I am not having dinner with you again." She says good naturedly, getting
up to shut her door.
"Your choice this time." He offers.
"Swing by when you're ready." She accepts.
"That was good." CJ comments as they exit the little Italian restaurant.
"You didn't like it?" She asks reading the expression on his face.
"What did you like about it?" He clicks his fingers, trying to signal a
"Well, I didn't run into any irate members of your family, there were no
photographers lurking around and I didn't have to pledge my first born to
pay for the meal." CJ states cheerfully as a cab slows and pulls into the
"And here I was thinking you were going to mention my good company." He
teases opening the door for her.
Everything about her is soft, that's the first thing he notices. Her ginger
hair weaves through his fingers, the ends gently tickling his palms. His
thumb glides along her cheek evenly, there's not a blemish in the road. The
pads of her fingers massage gently on the back of his neck, her other
fingers entangling with his. Her lips taste like the peppermint lip gloss
she applied before they got up from the table, they drift across his with
grace. Her tongue carries the taste of the cannelloni she'd just eaten,
exploring every crevice of his mouth till it finds his favorite spots,
stroking them till it attains the desired sounds of approval.
"Hey buddy, getting' out or getting' off her." The cab driver growls having
pulled up outside CJ's place, bringing them not so gently back to reality.
"You want to come up." She asks, forehead still locked with his, unable to
resist kissing him again.
"This isn't the love tunnel ride." He grumbles going to press the heal of
his hand to the cars horn.
"All right." Leo fumbles out a twenty for a six dollar fare, throwing it on
the front seat and following CJ outside.
"What do we do now?" Leo asks watching the cab drive away into the darkness
without so much as thanks for the big tip from the driver.
"I don't know.." CJ melts her lips to his again. "We could go upstairs..."
"And go at it like bunnies." Leo finishes, lips still pressed to hers.
CJ takes his hand and leads the way.
"CJ, CJ." In a few cruel moments CJ considers asking the press core to call
her by her full name from now on, she'd enjoy watching their tongues battle
around her full name in the clamor to get her attention and have their
"John." She picks out from the crowd.
"CJ, you were seen the night before last coming out of an up market
restaurant with Chief of Staff Leo McGarry, do you care to comment on the
nature of your relationship?"
"We don't have a relationship, John, we just had dinner." So much for
"CJ, you were also seen coming out of a small Italian restaurant last night
with the Chief of Staff, care to upgrade the status of that relationship?"
In the depths of the Press Room, Leo moves to the top step, watching the
"Alex, I'll give the same answer to you as I did John, we don't have a
relationship, we just had dinner."
"Katie...this one's not about me right."
The blonde reporter looks down at her pad, later it would become clear to
CJ she was re-wording her question.
"CJ, Chief of Staff Leo McGarry was seen getting out of a cab last night,
with a tall red headed woman who looked a lot like you."
A ripple of laughter runs through the seated journalists.
"Are you in a romantic relationship with Leo McGarry?"
From the back of the room Leo raises an eyebrow, tilting his head to the
side, suggesting she say what she thinks appropriate. Some of the Press
members follow her gaze to Leo who in return is smiling, neither are
distracted by the flashes going off around the room.
"Yes, Leo McGarry and I are in a personal relationship." She turns her
attention back to Katie.
"That's it!" She calls and Leo disappears, the world knows now. "I'll see
you bunnies at the next bwiefing. Don't work too hard."