Yes, this is the very last story. I want to thank everyone who's given me such
nice feedback, it's really been great. And I've got a new series coming up soon.
:)
~Cara

"Now and Forever"
Rating: G
None of these characters are mine except Eleanor, and she's sort of based on
things that aren't mine. All others copyright Aaron Sorkin, John Wells, Tommy
Schlamme, etc. Not writing for profit or copyright infringement. It's called
*fun,* people.
Title/lyrics copyright whoever owns Richard Marx's catalog.
This one's for you Norma. =)

The reception is a madhouse, but it doesn't seem to affect C.J. at all. She
gazes around the throng of people, of whom more than a fourth are secret service
agents, and reflects. All those years ago, catering to those movie slimeballs.
And then Toby walked back into her life, and this is where she winds up. Married
to a wonderful man, and dancing at her wedding.

Her eyes sweep over the crowd. There is her mother, on Leo's arm despite the
shocked stare of Jenny McGarry, who was invited out of courtesy. They look quite
happy, and even though she still thinks it's weird, C.J. has to smile. Her
mother is grinning at Abbey Bartlet, no doubt sharing some embarrassing story
that C.J. will regret later. Well, no matter. Her mother and Abbey both deserve
a little happiness. And Leo looks better than C.J. has seen him look in quite
some time. Evidently Eleanor's company agrees with him. He's told C.J. that he
is proud of her, and proud of the man she married. They are like children to
him, and it is obviously a source of filial pride to him that she has found
love. And even though his daughter has come out the loser in the fight, Leo
still acts like a gentleman.

Mallory herself is standing against the wall, quite composed. C.J. was so
frightened that she would not 'hold her peace' during the ceremony. But Mallory
has behaved perfectly, to everyone's collective relief. Still, C.J. has treaded
lightly around the younger woman. After all, if she were Mallory, and Mallory
still carries a torch for C.J.'s husband, would C.J. want to be at the wedding?

Josh stands with Donna in a corner, politely chatting to Toby. C.J. smirks to
herself as she sees Toby fiddle with his tie for the umpteenth time. Still, she
appreciates the sacrifice he has made – she knows weddings aren't his favourite
affairs. They remind him of another, long past. Josh and Donna look closer than
ever. He has his arm around his assistant's thin shoulders, and she is leaning
into him. Earlier C.J. laid a bet with her fiancÚ that they would be attending
Josh and Donna's wedding before long. Judging from the way they are acting
tonight, C.J. will win that bet.

Ainsley has found an odd audience: Mrs. Francesca Seaborn. The two stand
together, chatting animatedly. C.J. finds the picture a bit strange, but is
forced to smile. Her new mother-in-law is an intelligent woman, and since Mr.
Seaborn's defection has become a forceful proponent of women's rights in every
aspect. To watch her with the woman who believes the ERA redundant is an
interesting thing.

And last of all, there stands her husband. Sam is off to the side, by the main
table, chatting with President Bartlet. He makes a joke; the President laughs.
It's all so free and easy. C.J. smiles. It's still so funny the way he has won
her heart. One day in Maryland pushed both of them over the edge. Recently Sam
told her that he'd harbored a crush on her since the minute they'd met at the
start of the campaign. She couldn't say that to him, but she knows she would not
trade this for anything.

She goes over to him and takes his hand. It is a touch of calm and unity; they
are in this together. He responds very warmly, yet not being rude enough to take
his attention from the man who is speaking to him. When President Bartlet
finishes he congratulates them both. He calls them wonderful people, and says he
is blessed to have them. They respond as they must, but the newlyweds both know
there is more in their thanks than they could ever express tangibly. Had Josiah
Bartlet never decided to run for President, they would never have been together.

They owe him everything. They owe Leo everything, for pushing him. They owe
Abbey everything, for being there. They really are blessed.

But C.J.'s eyes pick up a new element. Standing quietly against a pillar of the
White House's East Room, a red-haired man watches her. They lock eyes and the
man raises his cup in a respectful salute. Still his mien is one of resignation,
not acceptance. Danny Concannon has lost this match. It does not mean he is
content with the results. But he will not challenge the ruling. His heart melts
with her happiness.

Sam's eyes do the same, only the effect is far worse. His eyes lock with a young
woman. Brown-haired and brown-eyed, she stares at him with a look often found on
the demonic minions of Hell. He pales and lets C.J.'s hand drop to her side. He
moves over to her to say hello and be nice.

But Lisa Worth doesn't want to be nice. She wants to make Sam miserable.

She moves towards him quickly, eyes narrowed. C.J. can't hear what she's saying
– she's had the sense to keep her voice down. But it's clear that Sam looks
absolutely abashed. He puts a hand on her arm, in a placating gesture, but
Lisa's having none of it. In an impulsive gesture she puts her hands on the
sides of his face and kisses him – a long bombshell that smacks C.J. in the
face.

She's over there instantly. Without a word she separates her husband from the
angry, hurt young woman. She recites the facts. Lisa has given up her claim. She
never had a claim to begin with. Betrayals that stretch as far back as Gage
Whitney Pace have nothing to do with the present.

From his corner Josh watches his friend defend herself as well as her husband.
He is aware, as she is not, about the political gossip surrounding this
marriage. And he is proud of her for handling this the way she has. She's the
real bulldog; not him. Watching her protect what is hers makes him realize this.

Sam is also proud of her. Lisa is his enigma, but she has shown that his enigmas
are also hers. Their demons are shared along with their angels. Though he wishes
she hadn't come, and wonders how she got here, he all the same thanks Lisa
silently. She has helped him realize once and for all how right this decision
really was.

Once Lisa has walked away C.J. turns to her husband. There are no words. She's
asking a thousand questions. What happened? Why did that happen? Why does she
believe what she does?

Sam knows what to say. It's an exercise in devotion as well as simply telling
her the truth. He's wanted to do this as soon as he proposed. Now that she is
his wife it is an irony so fitting that another moment cannot pass.
He speaks to the singer of the band. The young man nods and cues up his friends.
Without words Sam summons C.J. to his side. Through the usual fanfare of the
couple's first dance and all the crowd watching the newlyweds, the groom takes
the bride into his arms to the strain of the song that says so much. They all
watch, wanting to fly. Eleanor. Leo. Francesca. Josh. Donna. Ainsley. Jed.
Abbey. Lisa. Mallory. Danny. Even the young singer smiles as the words come out.
Only the couple can fly. Sam and C.J. C.J. and Sam. They are each other's wings.
"Whenever I'm weary from the battles that rage in my head
You made sense of madness when my sanity hangs by a thread
I lose my way, but still you seem to understand
Now and forever, I will be your man...

Sometimes I just hold you, too caught up in me to see
I'm holding a fortune that Heaven has given to me
I'll try to show you each and every way I can
Now and forever, I will be your man...

Now I can rest my worries and always be sure
That I won't be alone anymore
If I'd only known you were there
All the time,
All this time.....

Until the day the ocean doesn't touch the sand
Now and forever, I will be your man...

Now and forever,
I will be your man."

THE END

 

 

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