Author's Note: I just wrote this story today, so I really don't know how good it's going to be. I'm about half-asleep here and I'm really not sure why I'm just sitting here typing. Brain won't shut off, I guess.
Anyway, this just sort of came to me. But, since I'm half-asleep, I'm not sure how intelligent the whole thing will be. Hope you like it! Please review!
Summary: What if CJ hadn't been able to say no to Danny? What if something started way back during the campaign trail? Then what would election night have been like?
Rating: PG-13 (or whatever equivalent)
Disclaimer: Own nothing. I swear!
If The Whole World Would Stop Looking
She smiled at the reporter. "What?"
"Can you come with me for a moment?"
Her smile became somewhat baffled, but she turned to her companions and said something to them. Danny waited with his hands stuffed in his pockets, rocking on his feet. He waited, watching her as she smiled, laughing with her friends and co-workers. He wasn't really supposed to be in there, but there he was and no one was saying anything.
CJ walked over to him, stepping around him and through the doorway. Danny fell in step easily behind her as she walked him to a more private area. She glanced around, and Danny looked back over his shoulder to make sure no one had followed them out, before CJ pulled him into her hotel room.
She closed the door, turning the lock unnecessarily. "What's up?"
Danny was still looking deeper into the room. He had been there before- they had been at the same hotel for nearing four days. It had only been once- CJ was busy and he understood that. He had been busy too. And then, his hotel room one floor down was identical to hers.
"Danny?" He turned at the sound of her voice. He could feel his insides shaking. He knew his hands were. He took a calming breath, worried that she would notice his nerves. "What's up?"
"Um…" His eyes clipped closed for just a moment, opening to find CJ barely a foot away from him. "Uh… yeah… I wanted to ask you something."
"Ask me something? This isn't work related?"
"No," he said too quickly. "No," he said slower, shaking his head. He looked down at his feet, because if he looked up in her eyes then he wasn't sure he would be able to do what he wanted to do. "I also… have something to… to give to you."
"A present?" she said with a smirk. He had looked up at her words, smiling at her smile. "For me?"
"Kind of." He took another steadying breath, catching her eyes. Slowly, nervously, he pulled his hand from his pocket. "I want you to have this."
CJ's smile faltered when she saw the small velvet box he held in his hand. Danny held his breath as he watched her reaction. She looked back at him. "It's a box… Danny… it's a box that one normally finds jewelry in."
"Yes. Yes, it is."
"Danny…" her voice trailed off when she looked down at it. She took it carefully, as if expecting it to vanish before her eyes. He watched her, smiling tentativelyas she opened it. Her face lit up in a smile she saved for him. Her eyes glanced at him before going back to the ring. It was silver- he wasn't a fan of gold rings. He thought silver suited her better. He didn't get her a diamond either. He thought an emerald was more appropriate.
"Danny…" she looked back at him. He decided that he loved the way she said his name. The way it rolled off her lips. The way she made it sound so seductive without trying. "It's beautiful."
He blushed, hoping that she didn't noticed. He didn't know what else to say. "I want you to marry me, Claudia."
She smiled at her name. He never used just her first name. He also knew she didn't like it when people called her that. But he had noticed she let it slide some times- with some people. He was one of the few- one of the brave.
But her smile wasn't only for that. He suddenly found himself staring into the depths of her green eyes. They were so deep. So wonderfully green. He could spend an entire day- an entire year- simply staring contently into her eyes.
He knew she had expected the question the moment she had seen the box. But he also knew that, at that moment, she was shocked to hear him actually ask the question. He wasn't offended. He knew it was to be expected. But he had to ask. He had to do it. He just didn't know what he would do if she said no.
Her tongue rolled over her lips, wetting them. She seemed hesitant and looked back down at the ring. Danny felt like he might panic and found him doing something he didn't do often: he started to ramble.
"We don't have to get married immediately- I mean, I know we can't. I know we can't be married while you're in office- Barlet's in office. You know what I mean. But… but I- I thought we could after."
"After?" she said quietly, almost like a sigh.
"Yeah. In four… or eight… years when you're out of office. Then we'll get married." He forced in a deep breath. "I don't need a piece of paper and a big ceremony to tell me we'll be together forever… I don't. I can wait. I will wait." CJ looked up at him with tears welling in her eyes, lips curved into a smile. "But it would make me feel a lot better if you said yes."
Her smile widened, morphing into a sweet laugh. CJ's hand wrapped around his neck, pulling his lips to hers. She smiled into his mouth, pulling away too soon for Danny's liking. "Yes," she breathed, tickling the sensitive skin around his lips.
Her lips grazed his again, Danny's hands resting on her hips, holding her to him. He knew the moment would end, but he was afraid of it. He knew it would happen, so he clung to her for those precious minutes.
"CJ?" He pulled away and CJ rested her forehead against his.
"If you look in the box… there's a… a silver chain in there. I know you can't really wear an engagement ring while… while you're working. So I thought you could wear it around your neck instead… unless-" he stopped talking when CJ's lips descended over his again.
"You're too good to me, you know that?"
"Yeah, well…" he honestly didn't know what to say, so instead he returned their attention to the box cradled carefully in CJ's hand close to her stomach. "Let me see that."
"You don't know what it looks like?"
He grinned at the banter. She offered him back the ring and Danny pulled from nowhere- from CJ's perspective- a silver chain. She watched his delicate fingers as they carefully unclasped the chain and pulled the ring from box. CJ's eyes fell back on his face. She smiled at the look of concentration. She was intrigued how it was it was the same focused, devoted look he wore while he both working and making love to her.
She cocked an eyebrow, but smirked and turned, pulling her hair out of his way. She tipped her head down. His breath warmed her skin, sending waves of fire down her spin, suddenly mixing with the cold metal touching her skin.
After a moment, he brushed his lips over her neck, nuzzling his face in her hair, hands moving to rest on her stomach. CJ set her hands over his, squeezing them as she leaned back into his embrace. She felt safe- oddly enough, she did. She felt content and comforted- it was simply right to be there.
She could feel his chest as it rose and fell against her back, the hot air tickling her neck. She closed her eyes, letting herself be absorbed in the moment. Letting the steady rhythm of his breathing comfort her. Suddenly she smiled, feeling the rhythm change.
"Just thought of something," he said softly, his mouth right by her ear.
"Yeah? What?" She turned her head just so, able to catch his eye a little.
He smirked, his tone of voice the only reason she knew not to be worried by his choice of words. "Well, if you ever have any worries about this marriage, just know there will always be one upside."
"Oh, yeah?" She said with a smile, knowing that he wasn't truly worried about something, "And what's that?"
"At least you won't have to change your initials." She laughed, eyes falling closed as she did. Danny found it exquisite. Her body shook slightly and he knew, if he could see her eyes, they would be dancing with the sound of her laugh.
"I'll sleep better tonight knowing that."
"Good." Danny paused before asking, "CJ? Can I stay here tonight?" She didn't say anything. Instead, her eyes stayed closed and she simply nodded. She smiled just slightly at the sensation of his scruffy beard scratching her cheek as they rubbed together. "Okay… you should probably get back." He didn't want her to leave- didn't want to let go- but he knew he had to. He knew that, if they didn't, soon he would start to kiss her and that would lead to other things. And he knew that soon, just as those other things started, someone would come looking for CJ.
"Yeah… don't wanna go."
She sighed, leaning farther into Danny's chest. After a time, she groaned and, slowly as she could, moved out of the embrace, turning around to look at him as she did. Danny glanced down, wanting to see how the ring looked on her. She was stunning, as she always was, face half-serious, half-smiling with her hair disheveled. He wanted to kiss her, to step closer to her, to touch her, but he couldn't. He knew if he did, he wouldn't stop. And that, he had already decided, wasn't something they could do for the time.
"Come by whenever- I'll be back… eventually," she finished by rolling her eyes, a smile enveloping her face. Danny smiled and made up his mind. He took her hand, taking barely half a step closer, and brought his lips to hers. She didn't seem taken aback, though he thought she might have been surprised for just a moment before responding.
Finally they came up for air, breathing ragged. "Okay… I'm… gonna go now… before… someone comes."
"Okay." She stepped away from him, though he was still holding her hand. He suddenly realized that it was her left. He knew how stunning she looked with her ring hanging around her neck, catching the light. But he knew how much better it would look when he was finally able to put it on her ring finger.
"See you later."
She smiled, squeezing his hand before releasing it. Danny watched her walk to the door. He had never figured out if it was a better idea to leave together or separate. Together placed them both in there, separate made it look like he had been alone in her room.
Danny shook his head, smiling in time for her to turn and give him a flirtatious wave. Then she slipped out the door and back to a world where she was the Press Secretary to the President of the United States and he was the Senior White House Correspondent.
/-/-/ Four Years Later: Election Night /-/-/
CJ gave a start at the voice. She had been sitting staring out of her office window for hours. She wasn't even sure any more how long she had been sitting there.
She didn't want to turn around and look at him. She didn't want to know by his look whether or not they were loosing. Because she didn't know what she wanted.
People had been voting for hours. States were being won- whether by them or Ritchie, she didn't care.
She wanted to win. She wanted her job- she loved it. She loved her press corps and her friends and everything the White House had offered. Because the White House had brought her challenges and fun and excitement and stress and everything she thrived on. But, most importantly, it had brought her to Danny.
But the White House had also kept him from her. They had found their ways around that, but she hated it. She loved her time with him, but sometimes- most times- it wasn't enough. Loosing gave her him.
"So we, um, got-"
"I don't want to know."
CJ's eyes fell closed and she felt the stray tear stream down her cheek. "I… are we winning?"
She could hear Josh sigh behind her. "Yeah."
Suddenly she laughed. A deep hearty laugh. She had no idea why. "We both still have our jobs for the moment and we sound so depressed."
CJ couldn't stop laughing, even as she spoke. Suddenly Josh joined her. They laughed, shoulders shaking and laughter echoing throughout the room.
"Josh?" she said after a while when she was finally able to draw in breath.
There was a long silence. CJ continued to stare out the window; for some reason she didn't feel like spinning her chair around. She knew he was watching her carefully, perhaps waiting for her to crack or maybe to just say something. He had known for years- since not long after Danny proposed. He hadn't really figured it out- she didn't think he was bright enough to do that- but he saw the ring and she had told him weeks before that the necklace had been given to her by Danny. Amazingly even Josh could piece that puzzle together. Not amazingly, he had been stupid enough to start sputtering something about it in the hall. She had simply shut him up and pulled him into the closest private area- which had ended up being a closet. Oh, if only someone had witnessed that one!
After that day, Josh had been an ally of sorts. He had managed to get CJ out of work to spend time with Danny and had acted as a distraction if they needed one. Josh, combined with Carol, kept the affair hidden from world- and, more importantly, the West Wing.
"I've been thinking…" she trailed off, continuing to gaze out her window. Before Josh had entered, she had been engaged in attempting to figure out how many guys with big guns were hiding out there. That and pondering how they managed to switch shifts without anyone noticing them. "I-" She cut herself off.
Taking a breath, she knew Josh wasn't going to interrupt her. She knew he wasn't going to say anything to rush her. But she wished he would because, otherwise, she wasn't sure she would be able to say it.
"I… if we win this thing… I don't think I'm going to stay the whole run."
"You mean… a year or two?"
"Yeah… yeah." CJ ran a hand over her chin, suddenly realizing that it was damp. "I can't keep… I can't keep sneaking around with him. I- I want to have- I want to be with him."
"I understand, CJ. I can't- I can't imagine what you're going through with this. I can't possibly try to pretend like I know what you're feeling right now." Josh sighed. CJ nodded to herself, eyes falling from the slowly darkening sky.
It made her mind run away from what she was currently talking about, centering itself back on the men hiding outside. Just as Josh couldn't understand what she was feeling, she couldn't imagine having that kind of loyalty. Laying in the dirt and bushes all night long, in the cold, frigid air watching for someone trying to kill you and everyone around you.
She was far more amazed by the agent whose job was to jump in front of the bullet for a man they hardly knew. For the President they might not have even voted for.
It struck her then that she didn't even know how many- if any- agents were Republican. She didn't know what Ron Butterfield was. But it didn't matter to her. She respected them all, because she knew she could never do what they do.
"Probably should be doing something right now, huh?"
Josh sighed. "Yeah. Probably."
"I think I'm supposed to be doing something."
"You think?" CJ smirked, nodding slowly. "Yeah, actually Leo asked me to come check in with you. We haven't seen you around."
"Yeah?" CJ resisted the urge to turn and look at him. She didn't want him to see the cheerless smirk that had formed or the tears in her eyes. She didn't want him to see the exhaustion in her eyes. But she had a feeling that he had heard it all already.
"Yeah. So… I think he wants to see you… or, at least see you doing something."
"Yeah… okay. I'll be out… doing something in a couple of minutes."
"Yeah…" his voice was soft and CJ was suddenly grateful he knew. There had been times throughout the four years that she hadn't been. Now she was.
Had it truly been four years? Had she resisted slipping the ring onto her finger, walking into the Press Room and announcing that she and Danny were to be married as soon as possible for that long? She had certainly considered it many times. Some mornings she had walked into work, slumped into her seat, and stared at her ring. Some days it was sexual frustration building up after days or weeks without Danny that made her feel that way. Others, it was simply the morning after a perfect day with him and she wished for the feeling to never go away.
CJ heard the door click closed and knew Josh had understood why she needed the extra minutes. She dabbed her wet cheeks, drying them both. Taking a deep breath, she thought a moment about standing. But then she didn't.
CJ pulled on the chain, exposing the ring Danny had presented her four years before. She watched it, as she had hundreds of times, thinking about the adorable red-headed reporter. He was somewhere near-by, but she was hesitant to go look for him. She wasn't sure what she might do or say.
Instead, she observed the way the light reflected off it. A light smile played on her lips, a light growing in her eyes. It wouldn't be long. Two months, perhaps. Two years, at most.
She hadn't put the ring on yet. Never had. She wanted Danny to do that the day she was no longer the Press Secretary.
After a while, she hid the ring once again. She didn't like to think about it like that, however. It was closer to her heart, as she had once explained to Danny. She didn't necessarily believe it, but she said it.
Checking her make-up, she took a deep breath, calming herself, and standing. Carol smiled supportively at her as she went by. CJ had never said anything to her, not directly, but she was sure Carol had known for years, if not at the beginning.
"Leo came by earlier."
"Yeah, Josh mentioned that. Does he want to see me?"
"Helpful. I'm gonna… go… do something."
CJ nodded and continued on. TVs with different faces speaking the same things. Barlet was winning. She was amazed how disappointed she was to hear it.
CJ turned at the new voice, watching as Toby fell in step with her. She wasn't sure where she was going, so she simply let him lead her.
"Where are you going?"
Plan ruined. "Ah… in this direction. What's up?"
"Just… you disappeared for a while there."
"Yeah. Um… Anything else?"
"Kay, well," she glanced to her right, quickly figuring out where the hallway led. "I'm going this way."
"Something to tell the press?"
"No," she said quickly. "Just… ah, I have to… talk to Danny about something." Toby gave her a look and she released she shouldn't have made such a production about the word 'talk'.
Toby had figured out the hard way that something was going on nearly two years into the administration. It was just after the Roslyn shooting. She was still scatter-brained. Danny had been there for her after the briefing. Toby had come in for the same reason.
She had been embarrassed, but far more preoccupied with other things. Toby had understood why she never told him, despite their friendship. He agreed he would have fought hard to keep her away from Danny, but he never did anything after he discovered their relationship. She hadn't asked at first, thankful that he hadn't told Leo, but curiosity took over her and she had eventually asked. He said he had been amazed that, after almost three years, no one had heard a word. Some were suspicious- she wasn't surprised- and even he had quirked an eyebrow at them before, but he hadn't thought it was going anywhere. It had been the engagement part that had swayed him against saying anything.
Toby gave her a smirk and a wave, leaving CJ to wandering towards the Press bullpen. A couple of them gave her a wave or a smile. Chris nodded, the phone pressed against her ear as she chatted a mile a minute. She slipped into Danny's office. On a normal day, she might have been just slightly more secretive- she didn't want to be seen going in too often. Regardless of their friendship, some of the reporters out there would have started to ask how many tips she was giving him.
But that night, she didn't care. That night, no one would care if she had wandered in there. She had a feeling that some of them might have already suspected how important this day was to them.
It amazed her, when she thought back to it, that almost all of their arguments had revolved around a story. Some, of course, were stupid, couples' things. But most had to do with work. They tried to keep that out of personal life, but they had known the first day they started something that that was impossible.
Some times it was Danny jealous over her choice of reporters to leak stories to. He got most of them, not because he was Danny but because he was the Senior Reporter.
There were other times that he got his hands on a story that hurt the White House. She knew he had to write it and had to print it, but that didn't mean it didn't hurt and didn't mean she wasn't upset that she had to contain the story. She knew it wasn't like Danny to drop a story, so it didn't surprise her that he had written many of the stories that he had. She still wasn't sure if it surprised her when he buried a story that was about her.
Then there were the few times CJ had lied to Danny. It had been few times. Very few, but that didn't mean it hadn't happened. Sometimes it was because Leo hadn't told her- which pissed her off. It pissed her off more when Danny didn't seem to buy the excuse. Most of the time, she called on someone else so she didn't feel like she was lying to Danny. It hurt when she had looked him in the eyes and lied that one time. He was right, she could have called on any one that time, but she had picked him. She didn't know why. She just had.
Danny was sitting with his head buried in his notes and laptop. He hadn't heard her walk in. She carefully closed the door, trying not to make any noise as she did so. But she didn't move any farther into the room. Instead she stood near the door, arms crossed comfortably over her stomach and she watched him work. She loved to watch him write. So focused. So devoted. He always had that air of gentle caring when doing working with something he loved. Writing and CJ high in that category.
It took him a while before he realized he wasn't alone. Took a bit longer before his hands stilled on the keys and his head tilted to the side to see her. His eyes lit up- she had a feeling they hadn't all day- and a smile spread over his lips.
Her stomach did flips and butterflies fluttered. He still had that damn irresistible charm, even after all their time together. Still had the ability to make her go weak in the knees and become as giddy as a schoolgirl. It was one of the things she loved about him.
"Hey." CJ's smile broadened. He tilted his head in that adorable gesture, beckoning her over to him. CJ took a few slow steps closer to him. He put out a hand to her. Her arms dropped, one reaching out to take his. She took the final few steps closer to him and Danny pulled her onto his lap.
"Hey," she whispered back. "We're almost there."
So… hope you liked it. It's cute right? Um, I'm thinking about writing more (which would be stuff that happened on the campaign trail) but again, I'm half-asleep so who knows what I'll be thinking in the morning.
Well, I'm off to bed. I hope you're off to review. Thanks a bunch!