All the usual disclaimer information...yadda yadda yadda...I don't own them...I never will, but I can have fun now and again.
Danny looked up expectantly. The slight frown that crossed his face would only have been detectable to those in the room who knew him very well. This was the first time that CJ had been late for a press conference. He really wondered about her this morning. He had caught a glance at her as she strode down the hall this morning. She looked shaken and vulnerable, as if catastrophe upon catastrophe had come her way recently. He grimaced slightly. And indeed it had, and he knew that he had been the instigator of at least one of those catastrophes.
As much as he wanted her to realize that he had just been doing his job, a part of him still regretted the pain he had caused her. Dammit…. He should have known how the rest of the senior staff would have reacted to what they perceived as a major blunder on her part. Her conversation with him in the office the other day confirmed that for some reason she was still in the dog house long after Mandy was out of it. He wondered if that was only because the fact that CJ was so obviously strong and capable that they were looking for any reason not to let her into the club…because she belonged there more than some of the boys who were already in it. Someday CJ would make an awesome president, if enough people would believe that a woman was competent enough to run the country. After all, there were many countries around the world that had capable women as prime ministers or leaders of the opposition. Even Canada had beat them on that one…although that one wasn’t elected, but took over as head after the current leader had resigned.
He shook himself back to the here and now as CJ entered the room, walking briskly to the podium. None of the earlier vulnerability was present in her demeanour now. The Press might be fooled, but he knew better. Something was very wrong today. And He was going to find out what.
The press briefing was the usual…nothing new, but the same old blather that each of those assembled would try to find some new way to dress up for the morning news. CJ fielded a few questions expertly. At one point she looked right into his eyes, and he was shocked by impact one small glance could have to the centre of his soul. She quickly glanced away to answer the question of a reporter from the Chicago Daily. As the conference ended Danny tried to make his way to the front. "Hey Danno…" said a reporter from The Post, "We’re all hitting Riley’s pub…want to join us" "Maybe later guys…. there’s something I need to do". He realized that if he wanted to be discreet about talking to CJ he would have to wait until the majority of his colleagues had vacated the premises, so he walked out the hall to the water cooler.
Oh Man! There she was! He took a deep breath of pleasure just from being in her presence. "Hey." He said gently, "What’s up?" She looked up at him distractedly. "Not now Danny!" she said brusquely. "Hey…. you seem a little on edge today. Not that many people would notice. Can I help?" "She almost snarled her answer, cutting him to the quick. "I think you’ve already done enough to help!" Danny winced. "Are we back to that again!?! I was only doing my…."he stated. "My office NOW" CJ interjected.
In the office she walked around the desk, and faced him. She leaned forward placing her hands on the desk. "Do you realize the hellish week I have had because of you?" she exclaimed. "I’m being kept out of the loop. My opinions are discarded like yesterday’s trash."
"CJ…that article was a month ago. It can’t still be affecting your life here! Danny paused "Can it?" he said, quietly, pain evident in his voice. CJ looked up sharply, deep into his eyes. What she saw there was a deep regret. "You’re sorry you wrote it"" she asked. "No." He said firmly. " It was a good piece. It was honest. You read it. You know it was well done. I could have made it a lot worse. I’m a reporter. The information was scooped, not leaked. It was a good story." Danny took a deep breath. "But I am sorry it has affected your life so much. I wish I could give a good punch in the mouth to some of the jerks that have been making your life miserable this month. You are a good, capable press secretary…better than a lot I’ve seen and I’ve been here a long time."
CJ grimaced. "Thank you…I think. Who was better?" Danny looked flustered. "ummmmm…I mean. …The best. Yes, the best!" He gave that charming little boy grin at her, full of hope and the possibility of joy. CJ smiled back. "Thank you Danny. She said. "I needed to hear that today".
"Uh.…You know I haven’t had lunch yet. We could grab a bite if you were hungry too." Danny said hopefully.
""Oh Danny." CJ almost laughed, then she grinned. She opened her desk drawer and took out a roast beef and tomato sandwich. "If you’re hungry I could share. Have half of mine. She handed it to him, her hand gently touching his as the exchange was made. They both appeared affected by the brief contact CJ’s hand held onto the sandwich a moment, prolonging the contact, before she turned away. She was slightly flustered. "Now you’d better go. I’ve got a world of work to do, and this is just the start." She looked up, into his eyes, and stated. " I’m going to come out of this Danny. I’m good at what I do, better than they think, and someday they’ll realize it. You know the old adage. You have to be twice as good to be considered half as good. Funny thing, though. I thought these guys were different. I thought I had already proved myself to the world. I didn’t think I had to prove it to my friends."
"You have proved yourself!" Danny said. "The Press love you. We trust you more that we would trust anybody else on the stage, except maybe Bartlett". They both grinned.
"Say goodnight Danny" She said. "Goodnight Danny" he repeated. "And goodnight Gail" he looked at the little goldfish. "Be a good girl, and don’ t give CJ any hassles." He paused at the door briefly, smiling back. Her answering smile lit his heart with hope, and as he strode down the hall away from her office, he thought, "someday CJ you’re going to take on this world on your own terms, and win. And God willing, I will be with you. I will be with you all the way".