RATING: PG-13 (stressful themes, one really bad word)
DISCLAIMER: I don't own "The West Wing" or anything related to the production
of it. I also don't own the song "Just Older" by Bon Jovi. I'm not making any
profit off of this story. If anyone decided to sue me over this, they'd be
wasting their time. I'm just trying to stretch my writing muscles.
NOTES: I never intended for this story to get this long. I was just listening
to the song ("Just Older" by Bon Jovi, great song!) and I was thinking about
what would happen if someone in the West wing had to go to a reunion (I know
it's been done before, with Leo I think) and if there was someone that was
going to be there that they might be nervous about seeing. This story is my
attempt to write that idea.
Thanks as always to my beta AJ who does her best to catch my stupid mistakes.
I don't know what I'd do without ya, sistah.
SPOILERS: Nothing really. Just general stuff up until the present time.
SUMMARY: CJ's high school reunion is rolling around and she is facing
anticipation about looking back into the past.

It had been another long day and CJ was happy to just collapse into
her desk chair. The sun was still drifting into her office through the blinds
and the warmth made her smile. She tossed her notes and agenda to the side
and leaned forward to sort through her mail. She frowned when she saw a
letter from her old high school and another letter practically stuck to the
back of it. She opened the letter from her high school and winced. Twentieth
High School Reunion. She hated how they felt fit to remind her of how old she
was. It made her like an old fart, actually having lived twenty years of life
after high school. She put it on the desk and opened the next letter. It was
a plain white envelope with her name printed across the middle in a
typewriter style. She pulled out the letter, a simple white piece of paper
and unfolded it. It read:
'CJ - It's been twenty years. A promise is a promise. ~ J.'
CJ smiled weakly, knowing who had sent the letter. Suddenly going to
the reunion seemed ambiguous. She hadn't really thought about it when she saw
the words on the first letter. But with this one, with these ten words and an
initial, she felt nervous. Leaning back in her desk chair, CJ stared at the
letter and thought back to those strange days.

Hey, man, it's been a while
Do you remember me?
When I hit the streets I was 17
A little wild, a little green
I've been up and down and in between


November 12, 1979

"For God's sake, Claudia Jean, if you don't come out here right this
second--" Janie called from the living room. She took a short drag from her
cigarette and then looked up at the hallway. CJ Cregg moved slowly into the
room, a long silver blue dress swinging around her ankles. Janie smiled and
nodded. "You look great. What did I tell you?"
"I look like some tall impish freak." CJ muttered.
"CJ, you'll always look like some tall impish freak. Just get used to
it and accept it as part of your beauty. Twirl." Janie retorted, making a
twirling motion with her index finger. CJ rolled her eyes and then twirled
accordingly. Janie smirked and clapped enthusiastically, the cigarette stuck
haphazardly between her lips. CJ curtesied sarcastically and then pointed at
the cigarette.
"Put that out." She ordered.
"Yes, ma'am." Janie replied, stabbing the cigarette into her cup of
lemonade.
"You're disgusting." CJ grimaced.
"Then why am I here?" Janie retorted. CJ shrugged and then sat down
next to her best friend. "What's going on in that head of yours, Jeanie?"
"I'm going to the homecoming dance soon. I'm going to the homecoming
dance with Mark Cooper. Is this the pinnacle of my life?" CJ asked in a small
voice. Janie laughed sardonically.
"I sure hope not." She said before leaning back against the couch.
"You'll see. In twenty years, we're gonna meet up at some stupid high school
reunion, and you're gonna have made something of yourself, Jeanie. You'll
know then what the pinnacle of your life is, and it won't be this."
"I'm not going to any reunion. I'll be dead in twenty years without a
doubt." CJ retorted. Janie shook her head and stared at the ceiling.
"No. You'll be thirty-eight. I'll be thirty-seven. You'll be some
famous person, probably a public figure of some sort. I'll be a beatnik.
It'll be perfect." She said with a chuckle before looking at CJ. "You'll be
there."
"No, I won't." CJ said adamantly. Janie held out her hand.
"I promise I'll be there if you're there. So promise me you'll be
there." She said. CJ paused. "Assuming you're not dead, of course." Janie
added. CJ laughed and then shook the hand.
"Just wait and see. I mean, thirty-eight! That's ancient!"


After all these years
Can you believe I'm still chasing that dream
But I ain't looking over my shoulder


Present Time

CJ stared at the invitation and thought hard. She was nervous. She
wanted to see Janie again, and yet she didn't. Janie had always been
something of a rogue character. She stood out in a crowd merely because of
her unruliness. She never really respected anyone's authority, and chose
instead to follow her own philosophies. She claimed to have figured out the
secret to life by the age of fifteen, and at the age of seventeen, she had
convinced CJ that she really had done so. Janie MacAvoy had a silent but
strong intelligence about her, a way of communicating her dark ideas so that
anyone could believe them. At the same time, she was a morbid person, and CJ
remembered her as someone that she might have been better off without.
Besides, the very thought of going to the reunion made her feel old.
"CJ?" Toby's voice exclaimed. CJ looked up to see her friend and
colleague leaning in the doorway. The way the light reflected off him, the
way he carried himself, she mused that he too was a dark person she
considered a friend. Was it a trend that she picked Janie as a friend then
Toby? No. Toby had a higher sense of compassion than Janie did, and that was
why CJ found him to be a friend. She must have had a questionable look on her
face, for he frowned and stepped into her office. "Are you okay?"
"I was just thinking." She admitted softly. She then smiled, trying to
cover up her hesitant thoughts, and held up the reunion invitation. "I just
got invited to my twentieth high school year reunion. It's enough to make you
stop and think about things, you know?" He nodded.
"Yeah. I got my twenty-fifth reunion invitation last week. I say be
happy with that one." He said, pointing to her letter. She paused and nodded
slowly. "You don't want to go?" He asked.
"I don't know." She said softly. There was a brief pause before she
looked at him again. "What can I do for you?" Even as he spoke, she thought
back to those times with Janie, when they talked about what they would be
some day. Who they would marry, how much money they would make... However,
CJ had always figured that Janie would be part of the entire equation. Janie
never mentioned anyone in her plans for the future; only a drive to be free,
a dream that CJ thought was strange, for who in the United States wasn't free?
She still had so much to learn, and Janie knew it.


I like the bed I'm sleeping in
It's just like me, it's broken in
It's not old -- just older
Like a favorite pair of torn blue jeans
This skin I'm in it's alright with me
It's not old -- just older


"CJ?" Toby said, interrupting her train of thought. She looked at him
and then smiled apologetically.
"Sorry, I just..." She trailed off.
"You're thinking about the reunion?" Toby asked. She smiled and
nodded. He knew her so well.
"Yeah. Well, not really. There's somebody that's going to be there . .
. I just don't know if I want to face the past again." CJ admitted. Toby
closed the door and sat down on CJ's couch.
"Isn't that what it's for?" He asked, watching her with his soulful
brown eyes. "The past is what we must face in order to move into the future."
"That's good. Who wrote that?" CJ asked. Toby chuckled and shook his
head.
"No one. I just said it." He retorted. CJ feigned shock.
"I never knew you were so clever." She mocked him. He rolled his eyes.
"Yes, because after all, I write newspaper ads for a living." He said.
She chuckled and then looked back at Janie's letter. It was typed, and the
style of the lettering and the way the ink didn't reflect any light told her
that it was a genuine typewriter that the paper had come out of. "Old
boyfriend?" Toby ventured after another long pause.
"No." CJ said. "No, it's a woman."
"Psycho?" Toby inquired. CJ paused, actually considering the
possibility, which unnerved Toby a little.
"I don't know how to classify her." She said finally. "I suppose
psychic might work." She said. Toby raised an eyebrow. CJ chuckled and shook
her head. She got up, walked over to the couch and sat down next to him. She
handed him Janie's letter and shrugged. "It's a long story."


It's good to see your face
You ain't no worse for wear
Breathing that California air


March 11, 1980

"I hate you, you know that?" CJ whined as she rested her forehead into
the crease of her math book. Janie shrugged and took another sip of her
drink. They were sitting at a small table in the Palisades park. It was at
the top of a long row of dusty cliffs, overlooking the ocean and the Pacific
Coast Highway.
"You've told me many times." Janie said.
"We have a test in this . . this foriegn language tomorrow and you're
as calm as a rock. Are you high or something?" CJ asked. Janie shook her head
and leaned forward across the picnic table. The sun shone down on the two
teenagers, and the way the light was hitting them, Janie's sandy brown hair
seemed to glow.
"I'm not high, CJ. I just know that whether or not you fail tomorrow's
math test is going to have no impact on your future. You're not going to be a
mathematician. I told you before. You're gonna find a job where you get to be
the face of the future. I can see it." Janie explained, getting excited.
"People trust you, CJ, and the way you work with words and the way you work
with people, you're going to find a job where you get to do both. Calculus
won't matter in ten years."
"You're always talking about the future, Janie. I'm trying to
concentrate on right now. It's not ten years from now. It's 1980 and I'm
trying to survive my senior year." CJ insisted.
"Why worry about your senior year if you're not going to think about
the future? Why worry about Calculus if you're not going to use it in ten
years?" Janie retorted before reaching for her cigarettes and lighter.
"Don't smoke around me." CJ forewarned. "And in ten years, some guy is
gonna walk up to me and make me prove that I didn't crash into his car. I
learn calculus so that when that happens, I can get out an easel and draw a
big graph with lines representing my car and his car and the distance
traveled and all that stuff and no jury could convict me." Janie chuckled and
tossed the cigarette box into the trash before playing with the lighter.
"Trust me, CJ. That's about as likely as having the 82nd Airborne drop
missiles on the guy's car instead." She said. CJ pondered this.
"It's possible." She said. Janie chuckled and nodded. CJ paused and
then leaned forward. "What about you? What are you going to be doing in ten
years? We're graduating in three months and you haven't even told me which
college you're going to." Janie paused and then looked out at the ocean.
"Maybe I'll be flying that 82nd Airborne plane." She said softly, a
distant look in her eyes. "Maybe I'll be pushing the button."


When we took on the world
When we were young and brave
We got secrets that we'll take to the grave
And we're standing here shoulder to shoulder


Present Time

"She sounds like a mystery." Toby said softly. CJ chuckled
softly and nodded slowly as she traced her finger across the edge of
her skirt.
"She was an enigma. I never did completely figure her out. It
was like she had so many secrets; she couldn't spare any for anyone."
She said. "I remember she used to tell me that she knew what the
exact date of her death would be. She said she just knew it."
"When is it?" Toby inquired. CJ smirked and thought hard.
"June 18th, 2027." She said. "She always said she'd die on June
18th, 2027. She also said that I'd live decades farther than that,
and that after I made a name for myself in the world, I'd settle
down, get married and have lots of children. It's getting to be too
late for that."
"It's never too late." Toby murmured. "Unless you've..." He
trailed off, not wanting to push too far into her personal biology.
"Not yet." CJ retorted dryly. "But I'm pushing forty, Toby.
When I hit that mid-life crap, it's going to happen, and there isn't
even a candidate for children."
"What about Danny?" Toby asked. CJ looked at him in
shock. "Don't look at me like that. I know you have feelings for him
and that the feelings are returned. Just because *I* don't like it,
doesn't mean it can't happen." He added dryly. CJ paused and then
nodded slowly.
"I don't think I want to be in a solid relationship right now.
If Danny truly cares, he'll wait a few years." She said. Toby smirked
and nodded.
"You could always adopt." He said after another pause. "There's
a wonderful organization called Half The Sky that takes care of baby
girls in China and finds homes for them in the U.S. You know about
all that stuff?"
"You mean how the baby girls are left out of society, left to
die and no one takes care of them? Yeah, that would be a nice thing
to do." CJ admitted. She wasn't thinking about children though. She
wasn't thinking about Danny or having a family or baby girls in
China. She was thinking about the life she had led since the day she
last saw Janie. She was thinking about the day she last saw Janie.
She was thinking about the idea of seeing Janie again.

To be continued...

 

Part 2

 

 

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