Title: Looking So Hard
Author: A.j.
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Seasons 1-6, but nothing specific. CJ and Toby stuffs ahead.

Summary: They really had to stop drinking in the dark.

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They really had to stop drinking in the dark. It smacked of too much melodrama. It looked bad. It reeked of troubled minds, guilty consciences, and seven years of weight crushing down.

Toby sighed and poked the plant next to his chair. It sucked when reality was exactly what it seemed.

"You know, this would be less depressing if it took more than five beers to get me even slightly buzzed anymore." CJ is stretched out to his left; her legs kicked over the arm of a plush chair, still in her suit. The coffee table in front of them is littered with the remains of two six-packs of Sam Adams.

"I think I'm at seven."

"That's because you're an overachiever and drink the hard stuff."

"Can't argue when you're right."

The loud snicker pretty much said everything.

"We probably shouldn't have left." They'd been in the middle of... something. God, he thought. Maybe the alcohol is working. He was damned if he could remember what had been so important and had such little importance that they'd actually left. To come to CJ's apartment and drink. In the dark.

"Whatever." Yeah, that pretty much summed it up. It was a bit shocking to think that the idea of legislating and running the United States of America was becoming old hat.

It wasn't, exactly. Just. Old.

"Yeah." He sighed and contemplated CJ's ceiling. "Andi has the kids this weekend."

"Yeah?"

"Yes."

"How's that going, by the way?"

He knows what she means. She's probably one of the only people on the planet who's right to information, this information, he doesn't question. CJ's been there longer than almost anyone else. She'll be there after all this ends. It's the only constant he can count on.

He rubs a hand over his beard and bites his lip. "It's going."

"I'm sorry." She is. He can feel her sorrow at this, for him, down his back and across his cheeks. He shrugs and they drink.

They are quiet for awhile, both a little lost. Tired.

CJ surprises him when she finally opens her mouth. Makes him pause and turn to look at her, if only to look for an outward signs that she's completely smashed. "Maybe all our relationships are 'the one'."

It's her though. This change in conversation. CJ being CJ and working with what she's got. On more than a little alcohol. "What?"

She stretches a little and straightens, swinging her feet to the floor. He can see the dark green polish under her nylons. He likes it.

"Maybe we're always where we're supposed to be. Every relationship and attachment changes us. Makes us different and more something else than we think we are. Sitting here like this, being this with you right now wouldn't have occurred to me twenty years ago. Hell, two years ago, if someone told me I'd be sitting here, slightly drunk and rambling about relationships and reality with you, I'd have laughed them out the door."

"How does that have anything to do with all relationships being 'the
one'?"

"Because life is a series of moments, my friend. Bits and pieces here and there. From moment to moment we're inconsistent. We feel different things in different situations. Romance and sex and love are the same thing. Moments strung together with emotions attached. Think about it. Love is such a freaking process. We meet someone, we try and figure out how to feel about them and how they feel about us. We build it up, although how long that takes varies from person to person. We have all this... anticipation about it. And then it happens. And in that one single moment, it's everything it's supposed to be right then. Whether it's fucked up sex, or a moment of perfect friendship, or staring down at someone who's just made you scream for god. There's that single instant of connection and rightness. And even if you never feel that with that same person again, it still happened. It was still there. So, yes. I think every relationship I've ever had was 'the one'. They were just different 'ones' for different people. Hell, right now, you're my one."

"Okay, you need to stop with the beer." He made a fake grab that she evaded before setting her beer behind her on a low table.

"No, seriously. At this exact moment, you, the person sitting right there looking at me like I'm from Mars, are 'the one' for me, the woman sitting here, expounding on sexual philosophy" she drew herself up with her words, her whole body getting in to the argument, the persuasion. She was beautiful like this, he thought. Movement and personality colliding and making her more than the sum of her parts. Hands drawing gestures into the air, eyes alive.

"Because this moment is perfect?" He raised an eyebrow.

She stuck her tongue out at him and slumped back into her chair, spent, her body suddenly lax, eyes and demeanor tired. Because this moment is perfectly us right now at this moment. And because you're smiling at me and that hasn't happened in weeks."

He nodded, conceding the point. "Finding joy in small victories these days?"

She smiled back, all teeth and defeat, then saluted him with her beer bottle. In the distance he could hear the nine o'clock church bell, and thought it suited the moment. Gave it a type of gravity. Though why they needed more gravity, he wasn't quite sure.

"It's better than nothing at all," she said and drained the last of her beer.

That hurt to hear. He said so.

"It hurts to say, Toby." The line of her body slumps a little bit lower, making her seem small. "We did this to change the world. Make it better. I don't know that we have."

"We're burned out. We're tired. We have no perspective on this or anything else because none of us have slept in four years, or had a real vacation in longer." The chair was hard against his back. He'd been sitting for too long again. That seemed to be happening more and more often. The sigh was long and sad. "We don't know what we have, huh?"

He shrugged and swirled the liquid still left in his bottle, the condensation making his fingers slippery. He wanted to make this better for her. Fix it somehow.

He couldn't. Even if he'd been good at it, there was nothing he had that could change this... disintegration.

But he could try.

"That's not entirely true." His companion blinked, staring over at him confused. He shrugged a shoulder and smiled at her. At her. Not at the situation or her dark apartment or even at the beer in his hand. At the woman who'd just called him her 'one'. Which is the nicest thing anyone's said to him in months. "We have moments, CJ."

Her smile was slight in the dim ambience of her desk lamp, but it was a smile. He leaned over and clinked his bottle against her empty one. "To small victories."

-fin-