AUTHOR: Morgan firstname.lastname@example.org
DISCLAIMER: The West Wing belongs to NBC et al. I'm not quite sure why I'm doing this, I just am - but its for entertainment purposes only - no disrespect is intended.
Galileo 5. It was a name to stir the emotions, to conjure up the human spirit in all of
its thirsty, intrepid fortitude - apparently, and who was she to disagree with the
President about that? While she might not share his fascination about the minute details
of the mission, CJ was more than a little curious about what had gone wrong and if there
was anything that could be salvaged from it. There was no other reason to explain why she
would be standing at the window of her office, gazing up at the heavens, waiting to see if
Galileo was lost for good.
Perhaps her reluctance to go home and face her empty apartment was simply the logical
conclusion to a difficult day. Was she more worried there would be a snide, gossipy story
about her statement that she was great in bed or that Tad would try and damage her
somehow? How did the green bean problem and what it said the nature of politics fit in
with Toby's gibes about her intellect and the fact that he was two and a half hours
smarter than she was? Did any of it really matter in the face of a fire in a Russian
missile silo and a missing Mars probe or even a symphony that had moved a President who
thought music no longer had the power to surprise him?
'You were right.' The voice from the doorway was not one she particularly wanted to
hear right now and that reluctance must have fuelled the reproach in her voice as she
'Was I Toby? Shall we issue a press release?' Undaunted he stepped further into the
room and planted himself in front of her desk, where he knew she would have to face him,
if only she'd turn around.
'You were right about the green beans, about Aquino, about the broader theme for the
discussion. You're three for three today - what do you want CJ? A standing ovation, my
'Your respect?' The temperature in the office seemed to drop a few degrees and he
hesitated before responding to that.
'You have that already. That goes without saying.'
'Of course.' She turned away from the window and gave him a tired half smile,
recognising that there really was nothing to be gained from unleashing her demons on Toby.
'I'm serious,' he narrowed his eyes, watching her, trying to track the tumbling,
introspective spiral of her thoughts. 'You know that right?'
'I thought it went without saying.' Suddenly he realised that it might not go without
saying, it was a shock for him to recognise that the process of doing such an important
job at such a high level might actually serve to damage someone's confidence rather than
bolster it. Other people he'd encountered seemed to have the opposite problem, their
position breeding arrogance, a certain disregard for the opinions of others. Or maybe she
was just having a bad day.
'CJ?' She sighed, forced to respond to the question he wasn't about to ask her, even
though the words lingered in the silence between them.
'Sometimes I get tired of being the dumb one, the one who isn't quite as smart.'
'You aren't the dumb one, there is no dumb one. Haven't you been keeping track of this?
Josh invented a secret plan to fight inflation, Sam slept with a call girl. The President
rode his bicycle into a tree, and while I know he had a good reason for not concentrating
on where he was going, nevertheless this country is led by a man who can't think and steer
at the same time.'
The smile was a little bigger, more spontaneous and less something she was doing to
make him feel better. 'I wasn't saying you were right today because it was some kind of
fluke - I was telling you because I gloated earlier and I thought you'd enjoy stamping my
face into the dirt about green beans.'
Of the many possible ways in which she could react to his speech she opted for bemused
resignation, because after all, no matter how difficult her day had been, she really did
believe that he respected and trusted her. But there was no question of letting him off
the hook too lightly.
'So how long did it take you to come in here and tell me that?'
'A while,' he acknowledged with some reluctance. 'I stopped by to see the President who
is hoping that his willpower alone can somehow persuade Galileo 5 to start working again.
He talked a lot about your suggestion for the broader theme, how he thought you were right
that there was still a way to make the classroom event special.'
'Admitting this is really killing you isn't it?'
'Admitting someone other than me is right about something? Absolutely.' He hesitated
and then added, 'but that's not personal, I'd feel that way about anyone.'
'That puts my mind at rest Toby.'
'Also,' and this time he looked distinctly unhappy about something, 'I wanted to say
you look beautiful this evening and I didn't see how I could do that if you were still
pissed at me.'
'Oh,' it wasn't exactly what she was expecting and that explained her less than
eloquent response. This was twice now that he'd complimented her for no real reason, just
thrown out a comment and left her reeling, this time however he chose not to add to the
remark, allowing an uncomfortable silence to stretch until he said,
'How was Tad?' As a change of subject it was as jarring as it was unwelcome.
'Tad was fine.'
'Really? That's unusual - my recollection is that Tad was seldom as good as fine.' She
rubbed a tired hand over her face and sighed,
'Toby - do we have to talk about this now?'
'Judging by how uncomfortable you are? Yes - we have to talk about it now. Bear in mind
that I am not, really, going to comment on the fact that you have lousy taste in men, I'm
going to go straight past that and ask instead, what did he do?'
She, very briefly, considered brushing him off, but knowing Toby there was no way that
he would allow her to get away with that and also, knowing Tad there was no way that he
would believe her dismissal. Bracing herself for the inevitable storm, and ignoring, for
the moment his crack about her taste in men she said,
'He threatened me, he thinks the fact that he and I were, something, once, very
briefly, was the reason I didn't hire him as my deputy.'
'Whereas in fact you didn't hire him as your deputy because he's an oily, treacherous,
self-serving, ego maniac.'
'No, the reason I didn't hire him is because Simon Glasser was better at interview -
possibly because he isn't an oily, treacherous, self-serving, ego maniac. By the way I
appreciate the fact that you aren't dwelling on the fact that Tad and I were, well,
intimate, it makes me feel much better about my life.'
'CJ,' Toby sighed and pushed his hands deep into his pockets, his shoulders slumped, as
though bearing an unendurable weight. 'You don't have to take this seriously, in fact you
can ignore this, we can pretend, you know, that we never had this conversation, but, well,
'Yes, I know, you're in my office.' He sighed, raised his eyes tot he heavens, this was
going to be every bit as difficult as he'd expected. There was a very good reason why it
had taken him so long to get to this.
'Thank you for verifying my location, what are you the global positioning satellite?
That wasn't what I meant.'
'Toby, I'm sorry, its been a long day and while I know its difficult to accept I really
have no clue what you're talking about.'
'There's no way you could make this easier for me?' He held his hand up to forestall
her answer, digging deep within himself, pursuing a course of action that he considered
foolhardy at best. 'We're talking about Tad- we're talking about why you may feel there
are some aspects of your life that aren't exactly as you'd want them to be, and I've been
thinking for a while, that well, if you want to, I mean if you're interested, then well,
Comprehension dawned suddenly - although her first response was to shake her head,
giving her a brief moment of respite from focussing on the man standing before her, who
considering that he had just offered her what she thought he'd just offered, was looking
'Oh God,' and she'd started off so well. With Tad she'd been snappy and witty, with the
President she'd managed a fair degree of eloquence, here and now she could do little more
than summon up exclamations. That couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that
he'd taken the wind completely out of her sails. That the smart, experienced fašade that
served her so well as protection cracked, just a little in the face of honesty.
'Its just something to think about, I don't know.' Had she ever seen him look so, she
wasn't going to call it vulnerable, vulnerable wasn't right, it was something between
hopeful and fearful that the English language appeared not to have a word for.
'When did this happen? When did you start to think that we,' she ran out of words and
waved her arms in frustration.
'I don't know, I just did. Just think about it is all I'm saying, it doesn't have to be
She was fairly sure that it was, in fact a thing, but that wasn't what she was thinking
about right now. She was still taking in this entirely new, completely unexpected piece of
'I'm going to think about it.'
She was being kind, and CJ being kind wasn't something he could deal with right now.
This was what happened when he acted against his better judgement, this was what happened
when he let his heart rule his head and allowed the fact that he wanted to make her feel
better persuade him to tell her things that were best left buried.
'Whatever, I'm going to go now.'
'OK.' Distracted she let him get as far as the door before she said hurriedly, 'So -
I've thought about it.' He paused in the doorway and looked back at her.
'That was fast.'
'I'm very intelligent.' His eyebrow quirked, but with some consciousness of the
importance of the occasion, he restrained himself from further comment, 'its insane, you
and I, together, its insane. It's a complete disaster waiting to happen, we'd argue, we'd
drag our professional lives into our personal lives and we'd make a huge mess out of it.
We would both have to have taken leave of our senses to even contemplate it.'
It didn't help that he couldn't fault her analysis; that he was already aware of all
the points she had just made. It didn't change his feelings - but it did mean that he
understood that there was absolutely no way...
'So, basically I think we should go for it.'
Her smile was rapid and triumphant, it was impossible not to think that however
ridiculous the idea seemed, the look on his face right now made every bit of the gamble
'I said I think we should go for it.'
'CJ, you also said you think its an insane idea - you'll understand that I'm a little,
perplexed, right now.'
'It is a little crazy - but so is sending a probe to Mars, so is worrying about who
does or doesn't like which vegetables and so is thinking that the President talking about
Mars or about how much we can get it wrong, could inspire one kid - everything that we do
here is a little crazy, why should this be any different?'
He was silent for a long moment after she finished speaking. He looked up at her twice
and almost but not quite began to say something, before, carefully looking in her general
direction, but not quite meeting her eyes he said, 'I was going to say something like
that, that was going to be my big, impassioned speech. Only it would have been better,
'OK. That was going to happen when? Once you were safely back in your own office and I
could no longer reply.'
'Maybe I thought I stood a better chance of getting the answer I wanted if I didn't
actually discuss it with you.'
'Maybe you're a complete idiot. What changed your mind?'
'You did. I can't see you lose hope CJ - it's a weakness and obviously I don't want
anyone else to know about it but, I just can't, OK?'
'OK.' Neither of them spoke, but her gown rustled as she walked towards him, coming to
a stop well within touching distance. No one moved, but so close to one another it was
impossible for him not to look her in the eye.
'I should go now.'
'Because you know I have all this,' he broke off, no longer able to concentrate on that
particular thought. 'Are you going to kiss me?'
'No, you're going to kiss me, then I'm going to reciprocate.'
'You're impossible.' He observed, but did nothing to make her think that her analysis
of the situation wasn't entirely accurate.
'So are you.' She shivered as his hand slid up her bare arm, pulling her just a little
'This is never going to work,' he breathed.
'Not a chance,' she agreed, smiling as he moved towards her. 'You realise that the
phone is going to ring any second - don't you?'
'The phone is not going to ring.' The phone didn't ring. He started and finished one of
the softest, most gentle kisses she could remember and then in the next heartbeat pulled
her back into something altogether deeper and more passionate. Her pulse rate soared as
she stood in his arms, lips clinging together and the recollection that they were standing
in an open doorway in the middle of the West Wing did nothing to reduce her enthusiasm for
Falling in love was all about risk, the recognition that they were both taking a chance
with their feelings was a glorious reminder that they were alive. It was that thought that
made her wonder if maybe she had finally grasped a little of what the President was so
enthusiastic about, why he thought that Galileo 5, what it stood for, was so important. Or
perhaps it was just that she was getting a little carried away with an increasingly hungry
kiss. After all this was another of the ways in which humanity displayed its thirsty,