A/N: Hey guys, remember this story that I haven't updated in almost two years? No? It's okay, I wouldn't remember it either.
I'm really sorry, you guys. Take this sad excuse for a chapter as compensation.
I love you all! (Even if you hate me a little bit right now)
I'm a jealous wreck.
I'm sitting here, pregnant, large, and hormonal, watching other people be happy. Really, I should be happy as well... It's not as though I've got good reason not to be, the reason we're all celebrating is a pretty damn good one. I should be happy. But I'm not. As aforementioned, I, Amelia Gardner, am a jealous wreck.
Josh proposed the night before last. We all saw it coming miles off, of course, but there you have it. He proposed to her in the bullpen, the place they'd really fallen in love, he got down on one knee and gave a whole spiel and yadda yadda yadda. She said yes, they'll live happily ever after, you get my point.
It was actually pretty touching, but let's blame the tears on hormones.
And so, for this mass event (or so it rapidly became, much to Josh's feigned annoyance), of course there were accomplices. I was a minor player, really, thrust out of the limelight by right-hand-Sam and mopey Toby, the Batman and Robin of speech writing (though they didn't actually write his little speech, try as they might've), and, you guessed it, Miss Claudia Jean Cregg. That's right. The band came back together.
She flew in on Wednesday and helped him pick out the ring ("I just don't trust your judgment, idiot boy, it's nothing personal.") and generally helped orchestrate the whole thing, which went off without a hitch on Thursday night during a prestigious banquet (that's right, tuxes, champagne, and glamour). I've gotta hand it to her, the whole thing was pretty spectacular.
It is now Saturday morning, and here I sit, in Josh and Donna's apartment (where CJ is staying for another couple days), across the room from the source of my seething, petty jealousy.
Claudia Jean Cregg.
Oh, you thought I might be jealous of Donna? Friends, she can keep that man-boy of a politician. She's just about the only one equipped to handle a lifetime of him.
No no no. I am jealous because currently, and for the past two days, I've been entirely on the outskirts of Donna's happiness. Why? Because instead of sharing it with me, she's fawning over her old pal CJ Cregg. And really, I can't blame her.
They haven't seen each other in a few months, and though you would think they've had ample time to catch up, they're still finding stories to swap and changes to relay. CJ is, as always, incredibly entertaining. She acts as a sage older sister figure to my (relatively) new friend, and they have boundless affection for one another. She is poised, sophisticated, hilarious, kind, and everything one could desire in a friend. Imaginably, I'm left looking a bit lack-luster. She's even more pregnant than I am.
My one last defense, the hey-I'll-have-a-baby-in-few-months-let's-fawn-over-it card, has been stolen. I am four months pregnant. She is six. Her belly is rounder. Her sonogram pictures actually look like a person. She knows the sex of the baby and his name.
In my own logic, a brand unique to the pregnant and unhappy, she is better than I in every way imaginable, and Donna loves her more.
I'm a jealous wreck.
"Do you want Josiah to have red hair?"
"Oh, I don't know. You know Danny does."
"It'd make him more interesting, I suppose."
"CJ, there's no doubt in my mind that any kid of yours will be highly interesting."
"I'll take that as a compliment."
"Well, that's up to you." Donna replies with a slight smile. The two of them are opposite me, on the sofa, and Donna's slumped down against CJ, cheek resting lightly atop her swollen abdomen.
"Do you think you'll change your name, when you get married?" CJ asks idly, her arm around the shoulders of our shared pal.
Donna snorts. "No."
CJ raises her eyebrows. "Well, that sounded pretty adamant."
"Was there any doubt in your mind that you wouldn't be Claudia Jean Concannon?"
CJ smiles. "I guess not."
"There you go."
This is the sort of idle chit chat I've barely been party to for the past hour, as we attempt to summon the energy to do something with our day off. Donna had invited me over with the hopes of making it into a fun outing; alas, we've just been lazing around as I drown in feelings of inadequacy.
"Amy?" I jerk back to the present to find CJ watching me from the couch.
"What about you?" She says it slowly, as though she's repeating herself. I guess I've been pretty out of it.
"What about... Did I think about changing my name?"
She nods, gaze unreadable.
"To Amy Gardner-Granger? Not a chance."
They both laugh, and I settle back with relief. Within moments, they've turned their attention back to each other. I almost sigh.
"Are Josh's hours too bad?"
Donna shrugs. "Not really. There are late nights, there are early mornings, and there are very poorly timed phone calls, but we make do. He makes such an effort, really, it's endearing. And a little disconcerting, given past evidence."
"I can imagine. You know how much that's gotta mean, to mitigate the workaholic in a guy like that. He was practically schooled in the ways of Leo."
I think both of their expressions darken a bit, after that. "I don't know. He was, but... I think Leo taught him a lot about family."
"I think Leo taught us all a lot about family."
Do you want to know how awful of a person I am? I'm envious that I can't share in that loss. I'm upset that, as it always was with the Bartlet clique, I'm on the outside looking in.
I wish I'd had Leo McGarry to teach me family.
We turn at the sound of the door opening, and a moment later Josh bounds into the room, breathing heavily. He looks around at us, perhaps registering the fact that we haven't moved since he left, and flops down decidedly against his fiancée.
She lurches upward to avoid all of the weight falling on CJ, and feigns annoyance. "Ick, you're all sweaty."
"I just ran four miles. You expected me to come back dry and smelling of lavender?"
"I suppose no man is perfect."
"But I'm the cream of the crop."
"Or the bottom of the barrel."
"Hey, you're marrying me."
"But you'll never know my reasoning."
"Either way, you're mine for eternity. So that's a pretty good deal."
"For one of us. But-"
"For which one, I'll never know. Yeah, yeah, I got it."
Donna smiles with self satisfaction, and CJ rolls her eyes at the pair.
"You two are sickening."
"We love you too."
"Despite the fact that you're staying in our house the weekend that we got engaged."
CJ cocks an eyebrow at Josh. "Was that a jab, mi amor?"
"Oh no. Not at all. I'm going to go have a shower."
Upon his standing, Donna leans back down against CJ. "Huzzah."
"You could join me."
Smiling, she sends a well aimed kick at his midsection without looking.
"You see this? This is what I've got to live with, until my dying day. I'll see you all shortly."
"I'll miss you so dearly."
"But you'll ache in my absence."
"I ache each moment you're here."
"Is it the intensity of your affection?"
By the time he snaps the door shut behind him dramatically, CJ is quaking with laughter. "Sickening, I tell you. But adorable."
"Well, I am."
"So, what do you say? Weren't we going to go out somewhere?"
"Oh yeah. Brunch."
"Brunch. Now that's something I can get behind." Now there's one thing we agree on. "Should we wait for Josh?"
"I don't know." Donna says slowly. It's obvious she wants to.
"How about this, I'll go stretch my pregnant self out and try to ease some these aches with a walk, and you can go join Josh in the shower."
"We all know you want to. Amy, care to join me?"
"Hm? Oh, yeah, sure." I hoist myself up and head for the door. Anything to get out of this room.
"Then we can all head over to brunch. Just flag us down, we'll be circling the block."
We leave as Donna's protests die down in the face of CJ's knowing smirk, and by the time we're out the door we can tell she's happy with the arrangements. We had crashed her engagement weekend, after all.
We descend the front steps in awkward silence, and it's not until we've rounded our first corner that CJ finally turns to look at me. I'd been avoiding her gaze, hoping we could enjoy some sweet silence as I bask in the inadequacy she makes me feel.
"You're not still in love with him, are you?"
"I'm sorry... What?" If I had a drink, I'd choke on it.
CJ shrugs. "You've been sulking all morning. I was just wondering if it was because you still had feelings for him."
"I don't." I say firmly. "None whatsoever."
CJ gazes at me for a moment longer before nodding. "Okay. I believe you."
"Should that matter to me?" Ugh. I didn't want to be hostile. But it's sort of my go-to.
"I guess not." CJ say carefully. "It's just that he's really happy. And she's really happy. And I wouldn't want you meddling in that. That's all."
"Like you're around often enough to stop me."
"You have a point."
"I'm not in love with Josh." I say pointedly.
"Then what's your problem?"
"I don't know what you're talking about." I mumble.
"Okay, fine." CJ says stoically, folding her arms across her chest. "You know, I was kind of curious when Donna told me that she was friends with you."
"Oh yeah, and why's that?"
"Donna sees the best in people. You must know that. I don't like seeing that abused."
"What are you trying to say, CJ?"
I wonder what this must look like to passers by. Two pregnant women, out for a stroll, glaring at each other and hitting passive remarks back and forth.
"I'm trying to say that you were never very nice to her, Amy."
"I was dating a guy that was in love with her. I was supposed to feel good about that?"
"Well, no. But you didn't have to condescend to her the way that you did. It wasn't very feminist of you."
Oh Jesus. If she hadn't tacked on that last bit, we would've been okay. I would've simmered down. It would've been fine. But she'd pushed the right button. "I'm sorry, I wasn't aware that being a feminist meant I couldn't also be human."
"What's your angle, Amy? Why do you want to be friends with her?" She pushes.
"Because I like her." I say flatly. "Because as hard as it may be for you to believe, I don't always have an angle. I get it. The Bartlet clique hated me. You always thought I used Josh. Plus I jeopardized the precious bets you'd placed on him and his assistant, I'll remind you, which was totally inappropriate for you guys to have been invested in. You were protective of your own. And I get that. I do. But I never had that. I never had my own. A circle of friends like that. Hell, I didn't even have that many friends. And that's what I wanted from this administration. That's what I want from Donna. It's that simple."
I'm breathing heavily. I was so tired of everyone implying that I was heartless. I knew I wasn't exactly nice. I knew I drawled more than I actually spoke to people. I knew that I was stiff, and could be cold, and at times am too sarcastic and biting for my own good. But I'm a person. A multi dimensional, fully realized human being. Not the floozy in the red dress following Josh from room to room. Not the hard ass going toe to toe with heavyweight politicians, and coming out seemingly unscathed. Not the petty, jealous woman Donna had pretended to like all those years. Not the jerk who'd asked her if she was in love with him, when it had been so painfully obvious.
I am all of those things, sure. But I'm hell of a lot more than that, too.
"I'm sorry, Amy."
I don't look at her. "It's okay."
"It's not okay. I judged you too harshly, and I'm sorry. We all did."
"Thank you for saying that."
"And, in truth? I've been a little jealous."
I look up in surprise. "Of me?"
"Yes. I left all my friends in DC, and when I heard that you and Donna were growing closer... I felt left out."
I almost laugh. "CJ, the reason I've been sulking all morning is because I'm jealous of you."
"No. You left all your friends in DC, but... I'm the one that's with them now. And Donna has so much history with you, and she loves you so much..." I trail off.
CJ smiles softly. "That's very nice of you to say."
We walk in silence for another half a block. Eventually, she says, "I think we should be friends."
"I'm sorry we got off on the wrong foot, just now."
"We'll probably both end up being in the bridal party, so we really should learn to get along."
I grin at the thought. "We'll have babies by then. Can you believe it?"
She shakes her head, smiling. "Hope we don't ruin the bachelorette party, running out every ten minutes to text the nanny. Or in my case, the Danny."
"You kidding me? I'll be ready for a drink."
She laughs. "You know, she asked me, when I told her that I was pregnant, why I didn't wait to have kids until we'd been married for a 'a year or two.' A year or two, can you believe that?
I shake my head in sympathy. "Like either of us have the luxury."
"I knew I should've made friends my own age."
We continue this discussion, which trails off into motherhood and ageism, somehow, for a good ten to fifteen minutes. I realize that I actually quite enjoy her company. I'd admired her during the Bartlet years, and liked her when I spoke to her, but it had never gone far beyond that. Now, I'm wishing it had.
Eventually, Josh and Donna catch up to us, fresh faced and holding hands. CJ and I share a smirk.
"I saw that, you two."
Donna rolls her eyes. "Let's just go to brunch."
"Brunch is such a dumb concept."
"Not this again."
"I mean, think about it." Josh argues seriously. "It's combining breakfast and lunch. Two meals into one. So basically, you're being cheated of a meal."
"You're such a guy."
"...Isn't that what I'm supposed to be?"
"Can it, idiot boy. Food is food. You're lucky we're letting you tag along."
"I feel like you're the lucky ones, actually."
"Okay, you egomaniac, don't get too..."
I grin at CJ as she continues to bicker back and forth with Josh in a sisterly way. I no longer feel resentment at the fact that she fits in so well with them. Because, as I've discovered, I fit in well with her. She was now another object-of-my-jealousy-turned-friend.
Not to brag, but I really am getting quite good at this.
It ain't a feminist story without everyone's favorite Berkeley-shiksta-feminista :) Hope you guys enjoyed!