Title: Reaching Out Author: Sam Singing Wolf Email: SngngWolf@aol.com Rated: PG Warnings: Angst Spoilers: The Women of Qumar Characters: Mostly Jed and CJ. Toby and Abby also appear. Summary: Missing scene(s) from The Women of Qumar Disclaimer: I can only wish they were mine. No infringement is intended.

Archive: I'd be honored. Please just drop me a line so I can visit your site. Also at www.nwwwc.8k.com Feedback: Is really very nice. I respond to all notes and letters. Constructive criticism is also appreciated. Notes: This starts during the episode "The Woman of Qumar" when Toby and President Bartlet are discussing the sale of weapons to the Arab country of Qumar, where women have absolutely no rights and whose laws allow men to beat and kill the women for any reason they wish.
***

"CJ's gonna be cool with this, right?"

Toby looked surprised. "CJ's the one you're worried about?"

Yeah, dumbass, it's CJ I'm worried about, Jed thought angrily. He looked closer at Toby's face. He looked honestly confused. Toby might be insensitive to a lot of things, but with CJ, he was different. Shit. He doesn't know.

Without even a moment of hesitation that might have caused suspicion, he shrugged. "I'm just saying, she knows who the good guys are, right?"

"Yeah."

"Okay, thanks. What's next?"

"Mr. President, we feel that."

Jed's attention wandered. *I'm sorry, Governor. I- I came to see Abbey.* He blinked and tried to listen to the Secretary.

".We can get the votes, sir. Congressman Rowan is wavering and Congressman Thorne is."

*I'm sorry Governor. I- I came to see Abbey.* Jed took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. God. Not now.

*I'm sorry, Governor.*
***

----Three Years Earlier----

"CJ?"

"I'm sorry, Governor. I- I came to see Abbey."

For the first time since Jed had met her, CJ sounded uncertain, shaken. Her wide eyes were slightly unfocused and wouldn't quite meet his after a brief, surprised contact when he had opened the door of his hotel room.

"Come in." He stepped back to allow her to enter.

After a brief hesitation, she stepped just inside the door then stopped, her expression uncertain.

Jed closed the door and waved toward the couch, feeling a little uneasy himself. "Take off your coat and have a seat. Can I get you something to drink?"

She shook her head dazedly. She made her way to the couch, her steps slow and faltering. He watched her sit on the edge of the couch, his concern growing. She stared down at her clasped hands. She hadn't removed her coat.

He filled a glass from a water pitcher and took it to her. She didn't look up at his approach. He cleared his throat softly. "CJ."

She looked up sharply. "Oh. Thank you, sir." She took the glass and stared into it.

Jed sat beside her. "CJ, what's wrong?"

"Is Abbey here?"

"She went out to the pharmacy. We're out of aspirin."

CJ looked around. "Oh. I should go." She started to rise.

"CJ." Jed put his hand on her wrist. She jerked away, the glass slipping to the floor. Her eyes finally met his and he nearly recoiled at the fear in them. He pulled his hand back.

She stared at him a moment longer, then dropped her gaze. "I'm sorry." She leaned over to pick up the glass and gasped.

"CJ? What's wrong? Are you sick? Should I call someone?"

She wrapped her arms around her abdomen and lowered her head. Her hair shielded her face from him and swayed as she shook her head vehemently. He watched her carefully as she took several slow, shallow breaths. Finally, she relaxed and sat up straighter. He gently took her hand.

He opened his mouth to ask her again what was wrong, when he looked down at her hand in his. Her finally manicured nails were broken and ragged, and when he looked closer, he saw the edge of a bruise peeking out from underneath the edge of her coat sleeve.

His mouth went dry. "CJ?" He looked up to meet her startled gaze.

She was staring back at him, and her eyes filled with tears.

"What happened?" he asked, his voice barely audible.

She shook her head and looked away.

"CJ, please. Are you hurt? Let me help you."

"I was just. I just went- I just went for a walk."

He waited a moment, but she didn't continue. She shivered, her hand was icy in his own.

"Why don't you take off your coat? I'll get you a blanket." He stood before she could object and went into the bedroom for a thick comforter. He lingered for a moment, attempting to calm his thoughts.

When he strode back into the sitting room, he stopped suddenly, his attempts at calm lost. "What the hell happened?" he asked, his voice hoarse with a combination of concern, worry and outrage. He crossed the distance between them in a few long strides and this time she didn't pull away. She sat back down heavily.

She had taken off her trench coat, revealing a torn, dirty blouse and skirt. Her hose were in shreds, and he could see the angry bruises on her legs, her arms. her throat. He gently placed the blanket around her shoulders his arm followed in a comforting gesture. "CJ, what happened?" he asked again, his voice softer this time.

"It was beautiful out tonight. I- I went for a walk." Her voice shook. "It was beautiful."

He rubbed his hand gently up and down her arm. She relaxed, just a little, at the comforting touch.

"I didn't see him. I didn't." Tears welled up in her eyes as she looked at him, imploring to believe her, to absolve her of the irrational guilt she felt. "I fought back, I tried all the moves they taught me in the self defense classes. I tried!" The tears fell. "He was so big, so heavy-" The tears turned into sobs, great aching sobs that sounded as though they were ripped from her. Her cries tore into Jed's chest, and broke his heart. She collapsed into his arms, seeking some feeling of safety.

"Shh, shh. It's okay. It's okay. You're safe, CJ. I won't let anyone hurt you. Nobody's going to hurt you." He swallowed his own tears. This woman, she was so strong. Yet she felt so small and vulnerable in his arms. He was nearly overwhelmed by equal parts intense worry for her and overpowering anger at her attacker. He considered himself a peaceful man, but at this moment, he could have committed murder without thinking twice.

He continued to carefully rub her back, mindful of any injuries. He wished Abbey would get back. He worried that CJ was in shock, not to mention her physical injuries. He brought his hand up to stroke her hair. Finally, her sobs abated and she relaxed against him.

He leaned back on the couch, bringing her with him. He continued to murmur nonsensical words of comfort and he felt her relax further, until he was certain she was asleep.

The door opened. Abbey froze in the doorway, the shock at seeing another woman in her husband's arms clear on her face. A thousand scenarios must have flashed through her mind, he knew his wife well. It didn't matter. His gaze locked with hers and she, as she always could, read his emotions there. She looked closer at CJ and paled.

She opened her mouth to speak, but Jed silenced her with a look. She nodded, understanding and closed the door quietly. By the time she had reached the couch, her doctor's professional mask had settled into place, compassionate and strong.

"CJ?" she whispered. She touched the other woman's arm.

CJ jerked awake at the feel of a hand, so different from the hands from the hands that had hurt her and so different from the hands she had found solace in tonight. When she saw her friend, she relaxed again and tried to calm her ragged breathing.

"Abby-"

Abbey smiled. "Hi, sweetie."

"Oh, God." The tears started again and Abbey enfolded the younger woman in her arms. She sat beside her, so that CJ was between them, protected. Her eyes met Jed's over CJ's head. She nodded slightly.

The tears he had held back glittered in his eyes again. He reached out and touched his fingertips to the back of CJ's head, lightly running them over her hair.

"It'll be all right," he said. "I promise it will."

***

----Present----

I promised you, CJ, and I failed you. Jed sat heavily in the couch in the Oval Office.

A knock on the door interrupted his thoughts. "Yeah."

Charlie opened the door. "CJ's here to see you, sir. Do you have a moment?"

"Yeah, send her in."

He didn't have to wait long.

"Good evening, Mr. President."

"Hi, CJ." He waved to the opposite couch. "Have a seat. I saw your briefing, you did good."

"Thank you, sir."

The silence stretched between them.

"Sir, I wanted to tell you that I don't hold this against you."

He shook his head. "CJ, I swear to God, if I could base all my decisions solely on what I, myself believe is right."

"I know. It just."

"Yeah."

"It hurts."

"I'm sorry, CJ. I wish things were different. I wish we could force the whole world to behave in a civilized manner. I wish I could change things."

"And that means a lot to me." She reached out a hand.

He looked at her hand, her perfectly manicured fingernails smooth and even. He reached out. Her hand was warm in his.
End