Title: '00:05'
Author: Anna Rousseau annadelamico@yahoo.co.uk
Ficdom: The West Wing
Genre: CJ Cregg/Sam Seaborn
Rating: U
Set: S1 #14 'Take This Sabbath Day'
Last Episode Seen: 'In The Shadow of Two Gunmen' Part I
Spoilers: Only the first few minutes of 'In The Shadow of Two Gunmen' Part I

Summary: Late night, in the White House. Follows directly on from 'Take This Sabbath Day'. Sam and CJ share some deep and meaningfuls that might have some consequences.

Notes: Don't tell me off (please) I've only seen the first season, since I'm on UK terrestrial! This is my first West Wing fanfic as I have recently turned to the 'Dark Side' as some die-hard ER fans say (though I fell TWW is the best thing I have seen on TV for years)...so bear with me, I don't know what style you guys like, or what you reaction to this idea is- this was my mind going off at a tangent when I saw the shooting. Also I'm not from the US so if the politics are off- apologies.

Disclaimer: No, I don't own the West Wing- though I wish I did-, and I don't own any of the characters, even Sam.


CJ Cregg had just received the call.

She had just given President Bartlett the note. She had just shut the door to the Oval Office and now she had just stopped halfway back to her office down the corridor and leant on the wall.

CJ closed her eyes against the unnatural light that shone in these corridors 24 hours a day. Sophia. His mother's name was Sophia. In her mind, that man had signed his own death warrant the moment he started trafficking, the moment he had killed someone. But his mother, this Sophia, couldn't have known what would happen to her son.

How could you protect anyone in today's society, CJ pondered with an air of distress. In the end the scum rises to the top and devours the naive. You saw it all the time on TV, on the news, even in the White House. Homophobics stoning a teenager to death. Gangbangers shooting a police officer without a second thought. Hoynes' less than admirable attitude to the vice-presidentship. But execution is not the answer, she knew it, but a part of her condoned it. That frightened her.

Everything was not as simple as it seemed. Even at this stage in her life, CJ was torn between her conscience which preached the ethics of repentance, and the part of her that'd rather believe the 'eye for an eye' doctrine.

She looked up at the ceiling then let her eyes fall on the scene around her. Even five minutes past midnight, there were a considerable amount of staff in the West Wing. It was like a hospital in that respect: open all hours for emergencies however great or however insignificant. Her eyes wandered and she saw the door to the press room and didn't want to even contemplate going anywhere that held the possibility of bumping into Danny. Their relationship seemed as well defined as a foggy November night in DC at the moment, lots of fumbling around with anxious uncertainty. Today she was even doubting whether to bother continuing down that path with a member of the White House Press Corps: even though the Grab-And-Kiss strategy had worked for a few days, problems were bound to occur.

CJ turned slightly and looked through the glass, shuttered wall realising for the first time that her back was leaning on the window to Sam's office. She peered into the room through the slats of the blinds and did a double take as she saw Sam at his desk. CJ hadn't expected him to be in so late, then again she hadn't expected him to be at work today nor expected to find Josh stumbling around half drunk in fisherman's overalls all day. It had been an eventful day, to say the least.

Pushing off against the wall, CJ walked forwards then spun on her heel, pausing in Sam Seaborn's doorway for a moment. She brought a hand up and tapped her hand against the open door.

"Do you have a home?"

Sam looked up from some papers in suprise and took his feet off his desk, pulling his glasses off and dangling them in mid-air by an arm. It was dark in his office, just one angle-poise giving the room illumination.

"Do you have one?" Sam replied good-naturedly.

CJ's lips moved upwards slightly and she raised her eyebrows, "Touché."

There was a pause, CJ wasn't quite sure why she was there. Well she did know. She was avoiding Danny.

After a moment that was strangely unawkward, she turned and started off for the press room, her self-confidence momentarily taking a turn for the better.

"Sorry about your weekend, Sam. See you tomorrow," CJ stepped into the corridor and back into the intense light.

"Wait," Sam got up and made towards the door, his foot meeting his sports bag on the floor in a predictably Sam fashion.

There was a thud and a monotone exclamation.

"Ow! My nose."

CJ rushed back into Sam's office and looked down at the floor from where Sam was trying to get up, "You OK, Sam?"

Sam scrambled off the floor and drew himself back to his full height, which was not saying much when he stood next to CJ.

"That's not the first time,' he replied with embarrassed flippancy.

CJ broke into a broad smile, 'Klutz.'

"You wouldn't say that if you'd seen Josh ice skate," Sam said as he sat on the sofa, "he has stolen my claim to the King of Klutz crown many a time."

CJ sat down next to Sam and laughed, "Josh and you skated?"

"In college, we did, a lot...there were these girls who skated, and naturally we wanted to impress them."

"Did you?"

Sam nodded, "I think our dazzling display of landing on our asses every five seconds would impress any girl."

"Agreed," CJ replied with a wry smile.

"Yes, well, ice skating was a past-time Josh and I revived this winter, for personal pleasure, not to impress girls." Sam rubbed his ankle, "Thinking about it now, I guess we might have not been entirely 'with it' when we instigated a trip down that particular part of Memory Lane. Y'know that two thirds of us White House staffers use drugs."

"Do you believe in capital punishment?"

Sam looked taken aback. He took a brief pause and sighed, putting his glasses on the table.

"You mean, do I think that guy today should've been executed?" Sam asked, reaching for a cup of coffee.

"Yeah," CJ replied, pushing her glasses up her face and into her hair.

Sam leant back into the cushions, spilling some of his coffee over his hand, and looked at CJ for a long time. It was strange, them talking like this in the middle of the night. CJ usually got cut off from the camaraderie of the main communications offices of the West Wing leaving Josh, Toby and Sam to have these midnight discussions. She realised that she hadn't really seen Sam out of a suit, as she watched him absentmindedly wipe the coffee from his hand onto his jeans.

After a few moments of contemplation Sam opened his mouth and his answer came out, "You feel very strongly about this, don't you."

Well, it wasn't really an answer.

CJ gave a slow nod and rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand, "Yeah. I feel, like...I feel guilty."

Sam's forehead furrowed, "What d'you mean?"

CJ stared blankly across the room, into the gloom and out of the window where the permanent rush hour traffic of DC flowed past the White House. "I don't know. I really...don't..."


She interrupted him just as he got the nerve to voice his views, "Do we have a right to kill people, even if they've done something terrible. Doesn't it make the State as criminal as any gangbanger?"

Sam tried to focus on the same thing CJ was as she perched apprehensively on the sofa. "CJ," Sam replied, squinting at her through the half-light as he touched her elbow, forcing her to face him. "CJ, it's out of our hands."

CJ looked at him in desperation, "Not when half of me really believes that these people should be killed, when I know I shouldn't."

"It's human nature CJ, there are things we just can't control," Sam said placing the coffee mug on a coaster. "Even thoughts."

"I know," CJ whispered with a note of annoyance, "I just wish that I could."

Sam nodded and they sat for a moment, not talking, until there was a knock at the door.

"Excuse me," they looked up at Donna who was standing with a cup of coffee in the doorway. "I thought you might know where Josh is."

Sam got up and rubbed his neck, "Ah, no. Tried the floor?"

"That's where I expected him to be," Donna replied with concerned look. "I'm just worried about him, he can't take alcohol at all."

"I know, even funnier is watching Josh drunk and ice skating," Sam said pointedly to CJ who gave a small smile as she stood up from the sofa and put her glasses in her pocket, smoothing out her hair.

"Bet that really impressed the college girls."

Donna looked confused, "I haven't heard this one."

"Long story, I'll tell you one day when we're on Air Force One and the President starts talking about National Parks," Sam promised gesticulating with his glasses, crossing the room and picking up his sports bag. "Oh and also ask him about what happened after graduation."

"I'm intrigued," CJ said as Donna left the room.

"Well, I'll tell you, but you'll have to have a drink with me," Sam replied as he pulled on his jacket, "I need one."

CJ grimaced, "I don't know, I really- the last time we went out for drinks you didn't even want everyone else to be there, it was just an opportunity for you and Mallory McGarry to have a flirt fest."

Sam shook his head quickly, "That is not true."

CJ looked at him in disbelief, "Yeah right. Anyway, then you and Josh made fun of me, which was not the nicest thing to do to someone who set you up with The Chicago Tribune's Senior White House Correspondent, out of the kindness of her own heart."

"OK," Sam said shortly with a grin. "Order all the Grasshoppers you want, but I'm sticking to bourbon."

"OK then, I need a drink anyway."


"Another Grasshopper, 'Claudia Jean'?" Sam asked with a slight slur.

CJ nodded slowly as she stabbed the ice in her fourth empty glass with a plastic stirrer, snapping the implement in the process, shrapnel ricocheting off Sam's chest onto the floor, "Oops, sorry 'Norman'."

She burst into uncontrollable giggles, "Sam, Sam, Sam!" CJ bent double her head resting on his shoulder. Sam found himself laughing too. He didn't think that he had seen CJ this drunk before during the two years or so he had known her, or seen her this giddy. CJ pushed him away suddenly with a playful punch and then ruffled his hair, picking up his drink and finishing it off for him.

"CJ, CJ, CJ...I think, in the forward...the future," Sam took a breath, "I think only three drinks for you is...enough."

"Your fault. Your damned drinking game."

It was nearly closing time and the bartender was looking at them suspiciously: besides a business man downing his seventh Budweiser, they were the only one left in the downtown DC bar. The bartender brought CJ's drink and set in down cautiously next to her, taking the stirrer out, just in case she was going to attempt murder on some other poor ice cube.

He cleared his throat, "Ma'am, have I seen you on TV?"

CJ sobered up for a moment as she started to drink her next Grasshopper, "I don't think so."

CJ briefly thought about the consequences that this drinking game might have if word got out. But they were very brief thoughts, as she was loosing and Sam had drunk a lot less than her. She stopped and looked at Sam whose eyes were half open. But if he was drunk that would make her extremely drunk since he had drunk only a couple of drinks.

She stopped thinking, it made her head hurt.

Sam's head reeled slightly as he started to stand up, wanting to go sit in a booth before he fell off the stool. He decided against this and instead closed his eyes momentarily. CJ would finish her drink then, just for fun, they could ring Toby and get him to pick them up. Sam then remembered that this was Toby Ziegler they were talking about, the one who called Laurie 'That Girl' and the one who would probably not appreciate this situation, however funny Sam thought it to be.

"Sam?" CJ started in a subdued whisper.

"Yes CJ," Sam replied, swirling the ice cubes around the bottom of his emptied glass.

"The last time... in this bar, with Zoey and Charlie, Josh and Mallory-"

"I wasn't flirting with her," Sam protested automatically, jumping to his own defence.

"Yes you were, but that's not...not the...the thing," CJ gulped down half of her glass. "Y'know, the thing is, when Zoey wassat the bar and you and J- Josh get the Secret Service in...they'd all take a bullet if Zoey wassin trouble."

"Zoey's the first daughter, CJ," Sam said paying the tab. "We'd..we all would."

"I know. But today, today got me thinking Sam." CJ continued looking into his eyes, "Would anyone do that for me...cos I'm just as likely to get in the line of fire as any of you, like Zoey...but me, I'd...I would be dead."

There was an tone of doomed resolve in CJ's voice.

Sam shook his head, regretting the pain it that shot across his forehead as a result, "No, no...you wouldn't."

"I would."


"Would too," CJ argued with an air of finality that accompanied a sense of melodrama. "I'd be dead. I'm going to die, let's face it."

Sam opened his eyes fully an laid a hand on CJ's shoulder, "CJ, we're all gonna die someday."

CJ shook her head and turned to her glass again, "I'm gonna get shot, no one's gonna take the bullet for me. And there'll be nothing. Just death. For ever and ever and ever and ev-"

"CJ, CJ look at me." Sam gently tipped CJ's chin up with his index finger, forcing her to look at him, "Look at me."

"What, Sam?" CJ asked wearily, gazing at him with tired, red eyes.

"If there's a bullet, with your name on it," Sam said, trying to get all the right words out of his mouth in the right order. "I'll take it for you."

CJ smiled slightly and then put her arm around his waist before patting him on the head, "That is so sweet."

The bartender was now glaring at them.

Sam smiled as he extricated himself from CJ's arm a moment later and helped her off the barstool, "My pleasure. And it's a promise. If you get shot and die, you are allowed to come back and haunt me for the rest of my life. Deal?"

CJ pulled on her suit jacket and nodded as Sam steadied her. She looked into his eyes and was sure that beneath all the joking, he wasn't kidding, "Deal."

"Come on," Sam said with a smile as he put his wallet in the back pocket of his jeans, "Let's go home."

CJ nodded with a small smile and grabbed onto Sam's arm as she started to sway to one side, "Let's."

4 Months Later

CJ straightened her back as her hand clasped around her folder which laid in the sparkle of broken glass on the ground, and saw the smashed window of the black presidential saloon.

That'd been the bullet, the one with her name on it. Some one had pulled her down. CJ put her right hand to her head where her cut was starting to ooze thick, warm blood again. Where had it all gone wrong; it was supposed to be a simple address to an assembly of students, and it had ended up like this. Police cars and ambulances packed into the forecourt amongst the wounded, no-one really knowing what had happened. There were a million thoughts going through her head: was the President dead; who shot at them in the first place;...who pulled her down-

"You all alright?"

CJ turned around and saw Sam looking at her with concern, "What?"

Sam had to shout over the cacophony of sirens and screams, "Are you alright?"

CJ squinted at him, her mind elsewhere, "Yes. Where's the President?"

He took a breath, "He's on the way back to the White House, so's Zoey...they just got Leo in the car-"

Sam put his hand on CJ's left arm and looked into her eyes, "Are you alright?"

There was an anxious note of concern in his voice that CJ hadn't really noticed before. She nodded a little as she took in Sam's less than cool composure, she had never seen him this ruffled before. It had shaken them all.

CJ took a breath and her voice wavered, wanting to know the answer to the question she'd been asking herself ever since she had hit the floor of the forecourt.

"Someone pulled me down," CJ stared at Sam, trying to decipher his expressions. He just stared back at her, his breathing as deep as hers, and gently let go of her arm with a slight nod.

CJ reluctantly broke her concentration as Sam called out to Zoe's personal agent, "Gina!"

"Can't talk right now," was the dismissive answer from the agent.

Sam turned back to CJ as she gazed around the surreal surroundings that felt like no more than a nightmare she would soon wake up from. She still wasn't sure of what had happened earlier: maybe it had been a secret service agent, or any number of the police that were present that night.

But as she turned back to face Sam, she had a feeling-

"I need a doctor!" They both turned, suprised to hear Toby shouting, shocked even to hear his voice above a barely audible whisper.

"I need help!"

CJ looked at Sam, saw the fear in his eyes, her heart pounding deafeningly in her chest. She grabbed his elbow and started to lead in the direction of Toby's voice.



Please archive if you would like, that would be an honour. First e-mail me as I would like to find more WW fic sites annadelamico@yahoo.co.uk

Feedback appreciated.