Title: Then love the one…
Category: CJ/Leo and the rest
Series: Quartet: 1. If you can't be… 2. with the one you love…3. then love the one… 4. you're with.
Spoilers: This was written a long time ago, it's basically bits from the campaign - Season 2. Due to this some things may now be incorrect which is part of the reason I'm finally posting it before it becomes totally obsolete.
Archive (if applicable): The National Library http://westwingstories.com/library
Feedback: The good, the bad and the very ugly it's all appreciated.
Summary: CJ and Leo from campaign to AU really.
Author's Notes: Written many moons ago, maybe something's I've assumed which now may be incorrect.
Disclaimers: If I can't be the owner of The West Wing, I'll just have to love the fanfic I write.
CJ makes her way down the West Wing corridors slower than what she usually would; her conversation with Mandy Hampton has left her in a situation she'd rather not be in.
Had she known the dynamic between Leo and herself, CJ doubts she would be the one telling Leo 'his story' has broken on the Internet.
CJ's soft concerned voice makes its entrance when she enters his office... "Excuse me."
"Oh hey CJ."
"What's going on?"
She starts on neutral territory...the health of the President because at this point she's still deciding how to word what she needs to tell him.
"It's going to break tomorrow."
"Yes, it's on the Internet right now." And she is silently grateful he guessed what she needed to say, but for professional reasons she hopes her face isn't that readable. "You'll talk to the press in the morning."
"I'm going to work with you first Ok."
"Ok" He's frowning but she reads it more as concern or stress than anything else.
Reluctantly she leaves when she thinks he has digested the news and there's nothing left to tell, but she has so much she wishes to say, all of which are inappropriate in their current surroundings.
She doesn't like the person she is at the moment; it's the one that is glad he will be up there answering the hard questions. The one that is thankful it's not both of them under scrutiny for their indiscretions.
None of the Senior Staff attend when Leo goes in front of the press the next day. CJ watches in her office as he stands behind the podium and two things come to mind.
He stands alone to face his critics, as he probably has had to do many times before on this topic, not to mention her suspicions that alcoholism and drug abuse are a lonely life as well.
There's more than that, no family is present for support, indicative of his breakup and his own wishes to take the fall alone.
CJ wants to be in the room standing next to him for support, the same way the first lady can be for her husband in public, it's expected of her CJ reminds herself ironically.
As he calmly puts on his glasses CJ notices how much shorter he stands in comparison to her at the podium, the next few weeks and months will only see him cut down further by less than ardent supporters.
The other day in his office as they all stood around after Josh's deposition CJ had given him the slightest of supportive smiles despite her desire to do something as primitive as cry for him because what was about to happen to him was so terrible. She had seen many careers stall and crash at the hands of a scandal and she totally believed in the business saying that you should be nice to people on your way up because you might come across them on your way up again.
When it's over she flicks off the television and fights the desire to go and see him. At this point of the day she has no real reason to need his input on anything and there's a much greater chance of interruption in the height of the working day.
Her desire to hold him in comfort would surely be interrupted by an assistant or Senior Staff member.
Instead she goes back to the paper work pretending the man she loves hasn't just been raked over the hot coals, because she's not supposed to feel the things she does.
For ten minutes CJ sits in her car outside he apartment that night, once she started the engine again to drive off, only to turn it off again and three times she turned the key far enough for the accessory board to light up.
When she started to get cold she decided to go knock on his door.
CJ can hear his heavy footsteps approaching the door seconds after she knocked; she shifts the bag she has bought for them in her hands as the door opens.
Initial surprise written across his face is replaced with bemusement as she ever so seriously says..."I though you might like to get chip-faced."
"I'm sorry?" He says smiling and looking at the bag in her hand.
"Ice cream...Choc chip, Choc mint chip, Butterscotch crunch." She says holding up the bag.
"Chip-faced..." He repeats, understanding now.
"It's much more satisfying than drinking and you feel much better in the morning, unless you can't stomach dairy."
"Well I never get chip-faced alone." He teases opening the door wider to let her in.
"Your in luck, I'm excellent company." She says heading for the freezer.
"Are you OK?" She says seriously once the ice cream is hardening again.
"Why wouldn't I be?" He says getting out spoons.
"Because..." She puts a hand on his arm to gain his attention."...Today must have been horrible and very hard."
"It was one billion times harder to admit it to myself and to my friends and family CJ." He looks up at her.
"I wish you'd let us help you, support you. Josh and Sam..."
"It's not what I want."
"You've said that, but nobody should have to go through this alone."
"I'm not taking anyone with me."
"You won't taken anyone around you, the least we can do is rally around you, you'd do the same for us."
"You are my mother..." He takes a hand in his.
"So sue me if I care about your welfare...I've wanted to hold you all day." Her voice dissipates.
"Please do." He says longingly.
Past weeks fade to insignificance as they hold each other in comforting arms. CJ bends her head to touch her lips barely to his making sure it's Ok. It's only weeks since their Christmas discussion and she wasn't sure if the boundaries had been redrawn.
"Go ahead." He says giving her the green light to kiss him again.
"You get chip-faced very often?" Leo asks scooping spoonful of the butterscotch from the tub and holding it out for her.
"Nyeah." She says engulfing her lips around the spoon and letting the ice cream melt and drizzle down the back of her throat.
"I'm sorry, does nyeah mean sometimes?"
"Mmm-Hmm." She nods her mouth full of choc mint.
"So...and don't be offended... how is it the cameras in the press room don't have to zoom out when you give a briefing."
CJ playfully swats his arm before swallowing the last of her mouthful.
"I eat the non-fat stuff, it's like frozen chalk water."
"Sounds satisfying." He jokes.
"I save the real stuff for the bad times."
"I'm honored, I think..." He grins and if nothing else she loves to see him smile.
"Stick a spoon in me I'm done." CJ says putting the lid back on her tub.
"That's it?" Leo inspects all the left over ice cream.
"I'm bloated and tomorrow I'm going to have to ride the life cycle to Australia and back." She sighs leaning back into the couch.
"What do we do with all this?" He indicated to the left over Baskin Robbins.
"Keep it for next time." CJ tells him as if it's something every man should know, like how to change tire.
"Next time we get sloshed on Mock tails." Leo tells her as she stacks the ice cream in the freezer. She's not sure if she should respond to the 'we' bit or the 'next time' bit.
"I forgot you were the non-alcoholic drink king."
"You've certainly stamped your authority on the ice-cream." He reminds her.
"Can you access the roof of this building?" The question comes from nowhere.
"I think so...why?"
"There's a full moon tonight, I wanted to go have a look."
"We'll take the stairs and then tomorrow you might only have to go as far as New Zealand."
"Who put this up here?" CJ says pointing to the cracked plastic lounge chair.
"The woman on the first floor, she's just moved out from California, I think she's trying to keep her tan."
"Good luck." CJ says getting comfortable in the creaky chair before encouraging Leo to lie against her.
"New moon, it's like a fresh start." CJ says wrapping her arms around him. "Everything from the last phase is gone." It sits low in the sky with a distinct yellow hue.
"I want us to be a comfort for each other in bad times Leo."
"I want that too."
As they lay against each other in the cracking plastic chair neither realize how soon they will be a comfort in bad times again.
CJ Cregg excuses herself from the private room where members of the First family and senior staff have gathered after Josh and the President were bought in. The fluorescent lights are harsh, making her headache worse as she searches desperately for a sign to direct her to a ladies room.
Her interiors are being re-decorated and she has the vaguest sense of disconnection. Disappointment runs rampant for her silent thanks for the safety of Sam, Toby, The President and Leo while Josh lay with holes in him against a brick wall like some silhouetted target practice.
In the mirror she almost feels the need to introduce herself to the face that looks back at her, but there's no need it is hers.
A sudden lurching from within sends her into the nearest toilet stall.
Having received his instructions from The President, and been updated on Josh, Leo goes looking for CJ, he's heading back to the White House for security briefings and she needs to come as well to do a press briefing.
He has ulterior motives as well, he needs to know she's Ok, and he needs to hear it and believe it from her. He wants to put his arms around her and be a source of comfort if she's upset and he wants to tell a little white lie and say everything will be Ok.
Zoey tells him she went off down the corridor without saying much and he figures there can't be too many places a tall, attractive, red headed woman can hide.
He spots her shoe before the rest of her lying haphazardly on the bathroom floor, he grabs the cleaners sign from just inside the door and sticks it out front hoping it will act as a 'do not disturb'. The air is thick with a sickly sour stomach bile smell telling him she's already thrown up.
He flushes away her last meal and bends down where she's crumpled on the cold floor and shivering.
She's staring at the opposite wall and behind her eyes he can see her brain ticking over; her face has yet to be touched by tears.
"Are you Ok?" He asks taking up one hand in his.
"I can't process it." She says as if it is something that simple and she's supposed to be able to with no problems.
"You're not supposed to, you're in shock." He says peeling her up off the floor.
"It's like a puzzle and I don't know where the pieces go or what to even do with them." She says absently.
"I need you to come back to the White House and do a briefing, are you up to it?" He searches her face for any kind of indication that she can pull it together.
"I want to cry, because it seems to be the next thing that should happen, but it's not coming from anywhere."
Leo runs the cold tap encouraging her to splash water on her face. At this point it's ridiculous, each and every one here tonight should be allowed to remain in the private room till Josh comes through, a source of comfort and support for each other. CJ shouldn't have to go back and face a room full of hounds baying for blood, he shouldn't have to go back for security briefings and the others shouldn't have to be weighed down with work matters in the backs of their minds. God knows the psychological connotations of not taking the time to process an incident such as this.
"I need you right now." She says looking at him in the mirror and for those few seconds he knows CJ is still there underneath the zombie like exterior.
"And I need you." He says pulling her into him in a tight embrace, rubbing her back softly as she sniffles just as quietly.
"Let's go back to work." She says brushing small tears from under her eyes; he hopes this isn't it for her, that she won't push it far into her subconscious.
In the privacy of the car on the way back to the White House he lets her sit next to him and mould into him, her head on his shoulder and holding hands. He kisses her forehead because not two hours ago he was being shot at and now with her, he feels safer than he would if the Secrets Service formed a human perimeter around him.
When CJ arrives back at the hospital after her briefing the private room is empty except for the Secret Service agent on duty who informs her of the scattering of the staff and family.
CJ takes the opportunity to spend more time with her thoughts.
Specifically trying to remember what had occurred.
The clock passes an hour and a half after she left the White House when Leo enters the room and it becomes apparent to her that her interpretation of a little while isn't mirrored in his.
"Where is everyone?" The room is scattered with personal effects without personas.
"Toby's in with the first family and Sam and Donna are watching Josh' op." CJ informs him stretching out the kinks acquired from the hard plastic chairs.
He accepts her explanation with a nod and continues to watch her move her neck from side to side.
"How you doin?" He asks studying her and she realizes as well as they know each other, any lie right now is going to be transparent to him.
"As well as can be expected." She sighs. "You look unflappable as usual." Leo doesn't appear to have been the least but shaken by any of this.
"They say you never get used to gun battle, but somewhere along the line you do and I've become desensitized." He says regretfully.
One part of CJ wants to carry the night's events with her forever, the other wants to forget it ever happened and in a cruel ironic twist she is left without specific memories but with the burden of the horror of the incident.
"You know right about now..." She gets up pacing the room slowly. "...I just want to do something good, donate blood, give money to a charity, paint a picture the color of the rainbow...make love not war." She counts of her desires with pointed fingers before slumping into the nearest chair again and as suddenly as she had gotten up, as if she found some energy reserve which hadn't been sapped by emotion, she's down again.
"Look at me." Leo says tenderly standing in front of her.
CJ honors the request giving him the attention of her tear-glazed eyes as he cups her chin with a warm hand.
"When this is over, there's something I want you to do for me."
She waits for him to go on, wondering about the pause.
"Come home with me, I want you in my bed."
Warmth rushes in around her compelling her to answer "I'd like that." Before he discreetly reaches to squeeze her hand and smile.
"You want to kiss me right now don't you." He grins down at her.
"Is it that obvious?" And for the first time her eyes show signs of life.
"It can be arranged." He promises and she thinks maybe he bumped his head as well because it seems like he means here and now, but then Sam and Donna come back into the room and that idea fly's south for the winter.
CJ watches Leo talk to the agent outside who points down the corridor and when he comes back inside and asks her to walk with him to discuss the next briefing she knows there's a plan B.
Room 306 is equipped with 4 beds and a large window that is letting in the brisk night air from someplace. It's just one of the many rooms that would have emptied when the President entered the building and CJ is lucky to notice even this much detail because as soon as the door is shut she launches herself into his warm embrace.
They kiss hungrily till tears take her over and they remain locked together in a mutually beneficial embrace.
When her sobbing subsides he presses soft gentle kisses to her lips like she's trying before she buys and by the time CJ gratefully accepts they're well on the way to satisfying the overpowering desire to be together even more than before, which has sprung from the tragedy of Rosslyn.
Her excuse about Josh for not doing the morning shows is flimsy to say the least, compelling him to ask. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing." A response he places in the category of 'typical female'.
"CJ." He asks hoping she might open up and he thinks if it were anywhere else but the middle of his office in the White House she'd probably confess and rat out her partner in crime as well.
"Nothing." And it's clear she's pulling out all stops and he's not going to get anymore out of her.
He nominates Sam as her replacement and when she's gone he nominates tonight to be the one he sleeps next to her.
Danny Concannon is the last order of the day and CJ doesn't miss his movement out of his side chair, summoned in a way by Leo. The next part of her brief is too important to let her eyes follow him so she misses Danny and Leo watching her from the back of the room. When she's done making her point about guns she doesn't hear Danny say to Leo, "She's good."
"Yes, she is." He replies and he lets a smile go with it because CJ is back, he loves her and she loves him and she doesn't yet know it, but she's going to spend the night with him.
"I've come to collect," he says filling her doorway a half-hour later. She looks up at him pushing her glasses up at the same time.
"I wasn't aware we had a bet going." She looks over at the clock, eight thirty p.m.
"In the hospital, you promised me you'd do something for me."
"That's tonight?" She says in something that resembles disbelief.
"Well, we never made a date, so I made an executive decision." He informs her coming into the room.
"It's eight thirty." She points out.
"Exactly, we should have been home an hour ago."
He doesn't bother with light when he opens the door to his apartment, he doesn't both to do anymore than drop his briefcase on the first available spot inside the door, and he does the same with hers.
He takes her hand and guides her through the minefield that is shin height furniture and finally turns on a light in his bedroom. He sheds his clothing till he's down to undershirt and cotton boxers.
The bed has been hastily made and CJ suspects if he had planned she was coming then he would have made it, a single man living alone only had to please himself.
He opens a dresser drawer full of neatly folded T-shirt and says she can find something to wear in there. She selects the one on top that has special significance as the gentle scrubbing of teeth floats through from the bathroom.
She sits on the side of the bed waiting for him to come back.
"You're on my side of the bed." He laughs from the doorway to the bathroom, it seems they both share a love for the side of the bed farthest from the door, as well as each other.
"The shirt from Christmas Day." He says when she stands up.
"This is against our everything with you not being divorced." She says watching him turn down the covers.
"After...I need to be with you," he says softly coming towards her as they fall gracefully into familiar kisses.
"Come to bed with me...when was the last time you slept an eight hour night?"
"Too long." She pulls at the hem of the undershirt as she follows him to the bed.
He gets in under the bedclothes and takes off the undershirt throwing it in the general direction of the floor. Lying on his side with an arm under his pillow he watches her get comfortable, head snuggled into his chest, lazy arm resting across his hip, the other clenched in a relaxed fist against her chin.
He pulls away backwards for a moment to switch off the bedside light which remains the only illumination in the room and as he goes he feels her pull away from him as well. When they meet again on their preferred side of the bed she has removed the battered shirt so like him she's clad only from the waist down.
He's seen her naked from the waist up before and then there was the time in the Washington Hilton in her room as they were kissing. But he still needs a moment to process the feeling of her warm skin and the gentle rise and fall with her breathing. In contrast her skin to his is smooth and creamy, soft almost like a babies he imagines.
He wraps protectively his other hand around her waist as she moves slightly for comfort, caressing a breast across his abdomen enjoying the pleasant tingling feeling it ignites before whispering "Goodnight CJ, I love you."
"I love you too, goodnight."
It's ten thirty in the morning when he opens his eyes and it's been years since he's gotten up this late on a Thursday. CJ is where she was when he left her last night before he drifted into slumber, her hair is a little messier and her face more relaxed.
Though she doesn't know it they have nowhere they need to be today so he places his lips on the top of her head and closes his eyes willing sleep to join him again.
A gentle shaking him wakes him up and he's met with a panicked looking CJ who has discovered his bedside clock and in the process that it's half past eleven, he quickly does the math and they've been asleep for around fourteen and a half hours.
He reaches out to pull her back to him, back against him and back into the bed.
He calmly explains that everyone knows they won't be in today, now that the shooting and surrounding hysteria has died down, the President has given them each one day off, it's Toby and Sam's day tomorrow.
Her expression softens a little with the explanation and further when he kisses her good morning, something he's wanted to do for so long.
"You can use that line anytime and I'm yours." She says out of the blue and he doesn't understand.
"Come home with me, I want you in my bed." She fills in.
"It wasn't a line it was the truth and I don't think I ever needed a line."
"Your right, the battle was won by you before it even started." She smiles moving in to kiss him again.
"I liked having you in my bed CJ."
"I liked being in your bed Leo."
"I liked sleeping next to you and waking up with you."
"I like sleeping next to you and waking up with you, I liked being close to you."
"I liked being close to you too." His face broadens into a melting smile at their silly game of repeating each other.
"I love being in love with you." She whispers against his neck.
"It's intoxicating." He describes before lifting her head so they might kiss again.
"I should go." She sighs disappointed at the prospect of leaving and rolling onto her back.
"Stay...we have the rest of the day." He moves over to be closer again.
"To do what?" She looks at him suspecting he has the next six hours planned as well.
"We could burn some food, then eat frozen lasagnas while watching old movies, you could wear my shirt and we could fall asleep together again."
CJ looks across at him and he gets a rather large no feeling.
"Is it Toby?"
"No, I told him I was going to visit a friend till tonight."
"It's perfect." She grins before sliding down and capturing her lips with his.
"I'm back." CJ calls taking Leo's runners off her feet and sliding his cap the rest of the way down her head. With her sunglasses and his shirt and shorts there's no way anyone could recognize her. There's something nice about wearing his clothes.
"What'd you get?" He asks from in the kitchen.
"Clear and present danger." She tells him as she investigates the television and video situation.
"Really?" He makes an appearance in the room.
"It's political I thought you'd like it." She says a little disappointed.
"I do, I like picking it's faults, it's CIA, I just thought given one day away from it all you'd get some romantic sap."
"I got enough romance right here." She says wiggling an eyebrow.
"So your not keen on the politics of it, you don't admire the Colombian Cartel, but you didn't just hire it for me...so what's in it for you?"
"Harrison Ford." She answers directly.
"Ahhh, the other man in your life." Immediately after he's said it he realizes the correlation and a dense silence rolls in like a thick fog.
"Funny how we push the immoral things to the back of the line isn't it." She says looking at him, empty video case in hand.
"You want some food for the movie?"
"One serving of you will be more than enough." She smiles.
"I could move the television and we could go back to bed and watch it," He steps closer to her.
"Or we could just bring some of the bed out here." CJ glances over at the mountain of sheets and quilt. "Much easier."
"What are you thinking?" CJ wiggles under the quilt, pulling it up around her neck, as she looks up at him. His warm hands have made themselves comfortable on her stomach under her shirt; equally she is as comfortable leaning back against him.
"It's a miracle he's not dead yet." CJ watches the vehicles getting shot up with hand held rocket launchers.
"It's Hollywood magic, besides, he's the hero, and he can't die."
"What were you really thinking?" She says seeking out his hands with hers.
"That we always come together when things are tough or really good."
"You mean like the campaign, Illinois primary, Inauguration..."
"My separation, Christmas, Lillienfield..."
"Rosslyn." CJ finishes.
"Rosslyn." He repeats.
She snuggles further into him and turns her attention back to the movie, when Harrison Ford leaps from a building onto a helicopter she laughs out loud, the musical tone filling the room; she can't hold it in any longer.
"What are you doing?" She looks up at him, for the past couple of minutes he's been walking his index finger and middle finger around the circumference of her navel.
"I'm running a marathon around your bellybutton." He states simply.
"I think you've had too much sleep," She says kissing his chin.
"You do it to me." He kisses the top of her head.
"Drive you crazy...?"
"In a good way." She can feel the smile in the comment.
"Leo we're there for each other in the good times and bad, that's why we're good together." She says softly.
"I know...and we love each other." He reminds her of the most important thing.
She's asleep in his arms when the movie is over...it's just before lunch.
Leo is hopping out of the shower when she wakes up in his bed for the second time. Under the warm water he'd tried to comprehend just how much he liked having her around, there were something's that the English language obviously couldn't describe.
"Hungry?" He asks sitting next to her.
"Yes and tired apparently."
"Excellent, we're going out."
"Out?" CJ repeats sitting up.
"Out...can you get your hair under that cap of mine?"
"I think so."
"There's this great place around the corner..."
CJ is understandably hesitant regardless of the fact she's wearing his shirt and shorts, his baseball cap with all her hair tucked into it and her dark sunglasses. The only other thing that is hers is yesterday's underwear she put on inside out, after having a shower.
"I feel like a private investigator in a bad eighties movie." She tells him as they get into the lift.
"Relax, if anyone asks you're Catherine - Jane and I'm Lewis McGregor."
"Lewis McGregor." She says leaning in to kiss him forgetting about their baseball caps, which bump peaks before their lips meet and they jump back laughing.
"Ready?" He says as the elevator pings and to her surprise he takes her hand as they exit the building.
"If I didn't know better I'd say we were something of a normal couple." The sunglasses are both practical and good for disguise as they walk hand in hand down the sidewalk.
"I know." He says gripping her hand tighter.
"Is there something you're not telling me?" She stops short of their destination.
"Wait till we get there." He smiles as bright as the midday sun.
"I'm not eating till you tell me." CJ informs him when the waitress stands at their table.
"Can we have a few minutes?" He asks politely and then they're alone again.
"Well?" She says enthusiastically leaning over the table.
"Jenny's lawyer and mine have begun drawing up divorce papers." He leans forward after telling her waiting for a reaction, he gets none, she stays the same.
"Well?" He looks puzzled.
"I don't know if I'm supposed to commiserate or jump you right here right now." She says leaning back.
"The former is polite, but the latter preferable." He leans back grinning at her.
"Ok. I'm sorry and I'm not at the same time." She can't stop smiling and neither can he.
"I didn't want you to get your hopes up...we're not going to be in the pressroom tomorrow telling everyone about us."
"I don't care." She says breezily, obviously overjoyed.
"I love you." He says taking her hands in his.
"And I'm going to celebrate, I could eat a horse." She says grabbing for the menu.
"Your clothes." CJ looks down at herself as she prepares to leave later than afternoon.
"Keep them." He says without second consideration.
"I can't wear them home." She laughs.
"Keep them anyway, wear them to bed or something."
"I can't wear another mans clothes in bed with Toby."
"So wash them and say you just bought them."
"A Bartlet for America shirt?" She reminds him.
"Your not making this easy...are you always this tough to give gifts to?" He mocks.
"I'll keep them somewhere safe." She calls as she goes to get changed.
"Would it be too weird if I asked how it's going with Toby?" He asks after a couple of minutes of silence.
"He's gone off the edge after Rosslyn, he's looking for someone to do something drastic..." She re-enters the living area wearing yesterday's clothes.
"I suspect as much, he did find Josh..."
"I hope he takes tomorrow off."
"He really is decent and different outside of work...he deserves better than me..."
"He deserves someone who can give him what you can't..." Leo rephrases.
"Same thing." She sighs looking glumly at him. "I have to go."
"I know...but stay the night." He knows it's out of the question. " I liked waking up with you."
"I liked everything about the past twenty four hours."
"Back to reality..." He smiles ironically, kisses her longingly goodbye and then she's gone.