Disclaimer: All hail to my personal god, Aaron Sorkin, from whose genius provides me with such fascinating characters to play with. Imitation is the highest form of flattery. Please donít sue me.
Authorís note: Iíve played around with the chronology of the ending of the episode, The Short List, to suit my purposes.
He strode purposefully down the hallway towards her office. His initial enthusiasm of the Presidentís decision to name Mendoza as his nominee for the United States Supreme Court was beginning to wane. He couldnít help but feel an overwhelming sense of pride and patriotism as the Presidentís booming voice announced ĎMr. Justice Mendozaí to the loud applause of the gathered crowd of West Wing employees outside the Oval Office. This was the right decision. Mendoza was the right choice. God, it was going to be one hell of a fight.
ĎItí s going to be an excruciating battle, but one I have no intention of losing,í he had told the judge. Twenty minutes later, the veracity of his statement was hard to ignore as his mind started cataloguing all of the obstacles this particular decision came with.
Getting Mendoza past the Judiciary Committee was going to age him at least 20 years, he figured. And then he would have to face the illustrious assembly of narrow-minded, long-winded fools, most commonly known as the U.S. Senate. Unanimous out of committee; 90 senators. Dammit, why did Harrison have to be such a hard ass moron?í
Not to mention that idiot, Lillenfield, going on national television and claiming one in three White House Staffers regularly use drugs. That was exactly what he needed.
First things first, however. He had to concentrate on the official announcement of Mendoza as the Presidentís nominee for the Court. Despite the unexpected switch of nominees, he was still determined to keep it scheduled for Thursday. Public support was essential. They had to get a favorable view of Mendoza out there before their opponents could try to tear him down.
At least his mind could rest easy about the press. They were so convinced Harrison was a guaranteed lock for nomination, they werenít working too hard to discover otherwise. His mood improved slightly as he imagined their surprise when the President announced Mendoza. His mouth twitched, as he mentally pictured the smug look on Danny Concannonís face being replaced by utter confusion. Well, he had found the silver lining of the day.
He turned the corner into the anteroom to her office. Out of the corner of his eye, he noted that Carol was not at her usual position behind the desk. His attention, however, was focused on what was ahead of him. He slowed his pace and stood silently in the doorway. His heart broke at what he saw.
She tried her hardest; she really had; but in the end, she could help but burst out laughing. Danny stood in front of her holding a small glass fish tank with a goldfish swimming happily around in it. It was the hopeful look on his face that pushed her over the edge, though. His expression was so child-like. She couldnít help but remember when she was younger and her brother, Jack, had a crush on their baby-sitter. He would wear the same hopeful look on his face that she now saw on Danny.
He was so sweet... and kind, funny, smart. And he made no secret that he was attracted to her. He wanted her. So why couldnít she just feel the same way? She liked Danny. She really did. She enjoyed his company. He just didnít send her heart racing. His touch didnít send volts of desire coursing through her body.
But she had had all that before and where had it gotten her? Broken-hearted and alone. That stuff was for dime store romance novels. In real life, that didnít work. At least, not for her. The more she thought about it, the more she thought that Danny was exactly what she needed. There were no risks, all she had to do was say yes.
Still she couldnít take that step. Something held her back. Instead, she retreated back to the familiar flirting that had defined their relationship for the past several months. That was her solid ground, her oasis. Setting the bowl on her cluttered desk, she paused for a moment, then leaned over and kissed him gently on the cheek; as she had often kissed her brothers when they had done something sweet.
As she pulled back, a figure standing in her doorway caught her eye. She felt her breath catch in her throat as she looked at his face. Completely impassive, except for his eyes. For one brief instant, she felt the pain in her heart reflected in his gaze.