Pairing: CJ/JL, CJ/SD and JL/Amy
Spoilers: Post 'Posse Comitatus'
Disclaimer: Aaron Sorkin, Warner Brothers Television and NBC own everything West Wing. Lyrics to 'Daydream Believer' belong to John Stewart. I own my imagination. Don't sue.
They're in a bar in Illinois. The jukebox is playing a cheesy love song from the 80s, about a woman whose man has left her. Josh looks at her; she's busy making configurations out of her martini cocktail sticks.
"C.J.?" he says.
"Hmmm?" she murmurs, fully focused on her task.
They're both drunk, snuck away from the conference on economic re-growth hours ago when Bartlet started one of his oh-so-fascinating trivia monologues – this one was about the importance of lettuce to American trade and industry.
"So, there's this thing… a talk I'm supposed to do about the Communications Department," he begins.
She gives up on the cocktail sticks and turns to face him.
"I think they could benefit from your expertise and experience, it's much more your sort of thing - I could use you," he says.
She grins. "You certainly could and I could use another drink."
He hails the barmaid and orders another grasshopper, he's worried about how much she's been drinking lately. Then he remembers that night… He'd rushed to the office when he heard about Simon and he was with his girlfriend when he heard, when he should have been with C.J. and he feels culpable for that. An image of C.J. slouched at her desk, still wearing the black Vera Wang, looking drained and remote haunts him and he wants to help, but doesn't know where to start.
C.J. touches his arm as she asks. "When is it?"
"When is what?"
The barmaid places the grasshopper in front of the Press Secretary and he watches C.J. give a wry smile in exchange. The light catches her hair and decides he can't be around her much longer without touching her.
"We should go back," he suggests.
She nods and quickly finishes her drink.
As they walk back to the hotel she stares up at the sky. "Isn't it beautiful?" she asks.
"You'd think a fish bowl was beautiful right about now."
"Are you inferring something, Joshua?"
"What are you inferring? I'm too drunk to think clearly."
"I'm inferring that you are too drunk to think clearly."
"Oh," she smiles at him. "You have great skin, do you moisturise or expholiate or something?"
Josh laughs. "You've seen my bathroom, C.J., did I have any moisturiser or expholiating stuff there?"
"No," she pauses. "But you did have a giant rubber duck – what's that about?"
"That was a present from Amy, it was a joke."
"How is Amy?"
"I don't know… we kinda, sorta… we haven't seen much of each other lately. Work and stuff," he hesitates, then admits. "We broke up."
Amy had been difficult to be around, difficult to fall in love with but she broke his heart easily. Too easily and he thinks maybe it was still broken after C.J. The infallible Press Secretary who has never needed him and he thought he'd come to terms with that, thought chasing after Amy was a sign that he had moved on.
C.J. stares back up at the sky. "If you could be any day of the week, what day would you be?"
He looks at her, bemused. "You are so loaded!"
"I'd be Thursday, I like the sound it makes. Thursday. Thurs-day. It has a nice ring, don't you think? It's my favourite day," she studies him for a moment. "I think you'd be Friday or Saturday – those are more frivolous kind of days."
"Okay," Josh laughs.
In the hotel lobby she trips and he catches her, then in the elevator he props her against the wall but when he tries to move away she has hold of his arm. She tugs at his suit collar and pulls him into a kiss and it's odd because she hasn't kissed anyone since Simon.
The elevator reaches their floor, he takes her hand and she follows him as he leads her to his room. Once inside, they kiss and he tells her how long he's waited for this but she doesn't want his words, she just wants to feel.
In the morning, he wakes first. He finds her curled into him. He gazes at her, afraid to move in case he wakes her and she leaves. He studies her face; he's seen her asleep many times – in the car on the way across states on the campaign trail, at his bedside after Rosslyn, at the White House when they pull an all-nighter and she's managed to grab a nap on her couch.
He gazes at her shoulder, bare skin exposed; tanned and vulnerable. He can't resist – he kisses it. Her eyes flicker open. For a moment, she looks confused, then sees him smiling at her.
"Morning," he says softly.
She closes her eyes again and covers her face with her hands.
Josh slips his hand across her bare midriff and caresses her skin, his fingers slip down her abdomen, along the outside of her thigh and he says softly. "Claudia-Jean…" then circles his hand around her knee and up along the inside of her thigh. She shivers.
Josh leans over her, gently pushing her hands away from her face and pinning them against the mattress. She gazes into his face and he leans forward and kisses her lips. "Morning," he repeats.
She studies his face for a moment, then raises her head and kisses him back. He releases her arms and she folds them around his neck. Carefully he moves on top of her.
"Morning," she whispers into his ear as he enters her.
It's their last night in Illinois, at a karaoke bar she stands between Charlie and Toby.
"Well I thought the President made some interesting points about the lettuce export tax," Charlie defends.
"Yes, all twenty-six of them. I particularly enjoyed the part where he broke down every tax regulation alphabetically," Zeigler replied gruffly.
C.J. grins and is about to speak when a pang of recognition hits as the voice now singing reaches her: it's Josh.
"Oh, you once thought of me as a white knight on a steed…" he croons.
She freezes, then slowly turns to see Lyman standing on the karaoke podium, microphone in hand, gazing out into the crowd. He spots her and directs his words at her. "But now you know how happy I can be."
The others turn their attention to the Deputy Communications director.
"He's not bad!" Charlie exclaims.
Toby rattles the ice left in his glass and says in dispute. "I don't know, sounds like an assassination attempt on a perfectly defenceless song."
C.J. watches Josh closely. She should feel mortified or something, but it's mildly less embarrassing than when he stood in front of the press in her place and reported that the President had a secret plan to fight inflation.
"Cheer-up Claudia-Jean," Josh ad-libs. "Oh what can it mean to a daydream believer and a homecoming queen…"
She smiles to herself. Maybe this thing between them can work. Maybe he is her knight, receding hairline and all.
And now Josh is the last person she's kissed and she thinks of Simon, of what could have been and she realises that she can't stay trapped in her grief. Simon was easy to be around, easy to fall in love with, easy to break her heart over but he doesn't have her future: Josh does and maybe that's just the way it was meant to be.