Warnings/spoilers/etc: see pt 1
Feedback: samwest5@hotmail.com

Eleanor Cregg = mine. Everyone else = Sorkin's.

Note: This is really my first attempt at a Danny characterization, and I haven't seen him too much (I started watching at WKODHIB). Please be gentle and have mercy on me. :)
C.J. rose early the next morning, careful not to wake her sound asleep fiancÚ. She watched his chest rise and fall rhythmically, peacefully immersed in some happy dream, by the small smile on his quiescent face. He looked his most innocent when asleep.

She couldn't resist reaching out to gently stroke his hair as she thought of last night. She had paced and snapped and yelled. She had let loose every one of her concerns. Eleanor had worked late, so she could speak freely. The commission. Danny, who'd made things far worse. Her mother and Leo. The wedding. And she hadn't missed the opportunity to yell at him for not coming home the previous night. Everything had come pouring out, and Sam had listened to all of it. How tired he must have been, C.J. thought grimly. But he had never complained; just perched on the arm of the couch and listened. And when she had finally exhausted her supply of frustration and flung herself onto the couch, fully immersed into what she joking called her nineteenth nervous breakdown, Sam had offered no recriminations. He had just sat down beside her, offered his arms and held her close while promising that things would work out. Somehow, she believed him.

God, just when she thought she'd strangle Sam he did these things to remind her how much she loved him.

But for now she was going for a run. It calmed her and helped her to think a bit outside the box, which was what she needed.

She wrote a quick note for Sam, then stepped outside into the cool air. She needed to get away for a while. Especially after last night.

It was strange. For something she so wanted to forget, she could recall every detail, from the slight whirr of the air conditioner to the noises in the background when she'd called the Post. She hadn't wanted to do it in person. He still made her nervous, after all this time. But every moment she had to wait for Danny to come on the line was another moment she thought of dumping the responsibility on Simon, her deputy. In the end she'd waited it out. "Concannon."

"It's C.J., Danny."

He'd sounded almost bored. "What can I do for you, C.J.?"

"How about waiting on the Fenton story?"

Danny snorted. "You're kidding. Next question?"

C.J. blinked. "That's it?"

"What do you mean?"

"You're not even going to let me attempt to persuade you." C.J. felt her headache return. "Where the hell do you get off, Danny?"

He didn't answer for a moment. Then he came back, fire in his voice. "Where the hell do you get off asking me to hold it, C.J.?"

C.J. had been shocked to find herself already getting angry. She hadn't envisioned that. Trying to calm down, she said in measured tones, "Danny, this could ruin Fenton if it gets out."

"So?" Danny had possessed a lot of fire for someone who was supposed to be objective. "So he's into money laundering. Why not expose him?"

"Because it isn't true."

"You know this?"

"Yes." C.J. hadn't missed a beat as she spoke, but her heart still quaked with the gamble she'd taken. They had in fact gotten documents that night that proved Fenton's noninvolvement. He'd sold his controlling interest some time ago, in fact. But that fact didn't deter Abramson from publishing the connection, or still claiming Fenton knew of NSCorp's illegal activities. Danny was the only reporter she knew with the probity to treat the story appropriately.

He'd been very shocked, then suspicious. "Is this on the level?"

"Of course! You think we'd outright lie to the press?"

Danny hadn't answered, but she'd caught his mutter. "I'm not so sure you wouldn't."

C.J. was still proud of her response. She turned it over in her head as she rounded the block. "Excuse me, Danny." she had said acidly. "Whatever problem you have with me, is with me. If you don't trust me talk to Toby. He knows it's on the level." It was high time she started to stand up to him.

Danny had sighed, trying to buy some time. "C.J. – no offense, but I think I might."


"It's not that I don't trust you. That was uncalled for."

"Damn right."

"It's just that it sounds a little hard to believe."

"I know." C.J. had found herself chuckling, which she now kicked herself for. That was the effect Danny had always had on her. "I just got it today, which made a terrible day a little bit better."

"What happened?"

Now she couldn't believe she'd answered, but she had. "Oh, nothing really. Wedding problems."

"Wedding problems." Instantly she'd felt the phone line chill. "Oh."

C.J. sighed. Why the hell had she said anything? But she'd opened her big mouth and spoken. "Danny, you need to move on."

There was a stunned silence, as though she'd said she wanted to kill the President. After a while, though, Danny had answered. "C.J., you overestimate yourself. I'm fine. I have been fine. In fact," he said, allowing a hint of arrogance to creep into his voice, "I have a date tomorrow night."

"That's good." C.J. had heard every bit of his reply. And she knew with every fiber of her politically tuned mind that he was lying through his teeth.

But what could she say? "So you'll wait."

"Yeah, I guess. I need to check this new information." Danny had sounded relieved to turn the conversation back to business. C.J. reflected cynically that he'd never been very good with emotions, unless it was expressing his wish to take her out.

"Fine. Feel free to run it any time after Friday."

"Is that an order?"

C.J. growled. "Don't be a smartass."

"Bye, C.J."

"Bye, Danny."

She'd hung up the phone and stared at the opposite wall for a full thirty seconds. Danny still had a crush (or something?) on her. Carol had told her so, but this was kind of the final straw.

Damn it! C.J. thought as she headed back inside the apartment building. Carol! What would she do about Carol? Honestly, the problems kept appearing out of nowhere.

But most importantly, what would she do about her mother? She hoped she'd have Sam's help on that one, because honestly she was at a complete loss.

*Oh, well,* she thought as she hit the elevator button. *Today can't be any worse than yesterday.*

Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown - 12



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