THIS TIME AROUND 

by Tige

Well, we're here, folks. The end. Again, I must thank Lida for going over all of my mistakes, minimizing the opportunities for me not to make an idiot out of myself. And responses, they are very wonderful things. They can brighten days.

See other disclaimers in part I.

*****

Danny Concannon had changed out of his rumpled office wear into a new suit, shirt, tie, and suspenders. For the last two months, discreetly, Danny's appearance had changed. All around, he looked trimmer. He didn't expect CJ to really notice, based on the fact that she was busy 24/7, and had no time to pay attention to hardly anything beyond the work in front of her. But she did mention a compliment of approval when Danny went back to his half beard, and cut away at his mane of wild red hair.

The new physical mold of the White House reporter walked gallantly into CJ's apartment building. After walking to the third floor, and gathering a composed state, Danny found the door to her apartment. After knocking on the door with one hand, while waiting with a single yellow rose with a ribbon tie in the other, Danny's apprehension grew to epic proportions.

CJ had been quietly making the rounds around her apartment, checking on its appearance, and to pace in her nervousness. This night was full of so much undefined expectations. The wait for these few hours outside of the office, enjoying company beyond the status of Press Secretary and Senior Press Correspondent, was almost comical… and pathetic. But is was a symbol of true caring and patience for the other. They had lingered for this-for each other. Whatever was to ensue was going to be glorious.

There was a series of knocks on the door to CJ's apartment. Exhaling a sigh, CJ made her way to the door with mixed feelings of excitement and anxiety. With the door wide open, CJ smiled at the person before her.

"Hello, Danny." CJ said with a softness in her voice, and a smile on her face.

"Hi." It was all Danny could muster. The goddess in the flesh stood in front of him, gorgeous as always, wearing a dress highlighting every feature of CJ's body. His eyes traveled over her once, and caught himself, realizing his gawking demeanor. "You look absolutely beautiful." Daniel finally said, his eyes glancing over her lightly, again.

He moved towards her, taking one of her hands, and kissed CJ on the cheek. The hand that held the rose moved to stroke CJ's other cheek with the soft petals. "A rose for a rose." He said, backing away, smiling back at CJ.

"It's beautiful, Danny." She said sincerely taking the yellow rose in her hand. "Let me go put it in a vase, come in." CJ quickly scampered off to her kitchen, to find a small container for the delicate flower.

Danny quietly waited just inside of the door. As Claudia walked back in the room, he observed the classic, black dress that clung to CJ. He could not get over CJ's wealth of beauty. "I'm going to be saying this all night, I don't care, you just look, ravishing."

CJ lightly blushed, and was to do so all night if he kept his compliments up. She never could quite figure how to take a praise in the right way…blushing ended up being part of the equation. "Thank you." She replied, simply. "Well, are you ready?" CJ asked.

"If you are." Danny answered. He offered his hand to the brunette, and they exited the apartment.

*****

Leo McGarry answered his ringing telephone. "McGarry. Hi baby, how are you doing? Good. Listen, I'll meet you at the place in fifteen minutes. See you then. Bye, Mallory."

As Leo hung up his phone, and began to stack up his papers for the night, Sam Seaborn stopped at the Chief of Staff's door threshold. "Hi, Leo."

"Hey, Sam. I'm just about to head out for the night. Mallory and I are having dinner together. Do...would you like to come along?" Leo asked, forcing the hospitality in his voice.

"No, but thank you. I know how much Mallory likes spending time with you."

"What did you need?" Leo asked, remembering Sam probably had a purposeful visit.

"It can wait. Bye Leo, say hi to Mal for me."

"I will. Bye, Sam." Leo was left to gathering up his stuff when Sam left.

*****

The night thus far, had been a fairy tale. As CJ and Danny were led to their table in a five star French restaurant, the Press Secretary was turning heads with her exquisiteness. Danny beamed as he walked with her. She was a deity-but with the human touch.

Dinner was rich and lavish, and the conversation was lively. It was an abandonment of all the working personas. At many points, humorous anecdotes from CJ and Danny's childhoods were shared, and they shared a good hearted laugh. In CJ's bright smile, sighing from all of the amusement, Danny had no reason to have any eyes for another. And his fixation upon Claudia was clearly evident to all who were in the restaurant.

Talking well into their espressos after dinner, they moved from their beautiful surroundings for a little stroll. CJ began to shiver, and Danny offered his coat. He wrapped his arm around her waist, as they eventually headed back to the car. The twosome turned silent on return to CJ's apartment. It was apprehension-the question was when will this heavenly night end? Every few moments, CJ and Danny would glance absentmindedly over at the other, just wondering. The cut on CJ's dress revealed part of her thighs, and Danny appreciatively brushed over them with his eyes.

Soon they arrived at CJ's apartment building, and Danny helped CJ out of the car. They began to slowly trudge up the stairs.

"Penny for your thoughts?" Danny asked.

"Hmm? Oh. Sorry, I guess I stepped out of myself for a little bit."

"It's ok. You seemed a little preoccupied." He said as they reached the third floor and neared CJ's door.

"I know it's kind of late, but would you like to come in? Tomorrow has to be a slow day."

"If it's not I'll make it one." Danny declared, and CJ smiled lightly. They settled into the living room. The redhead complimented CJ on her beautiful apartment.

"Would you like anything to drink?" CJ asked, becoming the hostess.

"No, thank you." Danny answered as he got comfy on the couch. CJ sat down next to him.

"For curiosity's sake, what have you really been doing with yourself for the past three years? I mean I've known all the work stuff, but off-work things."

"Kayaking. I kayaked a lot. Mountain Climbing. Anything to keep my head clouded with all encompassing tasks for a vast amount of time."

"Why?"

"If I hadn't done that, I would have gone insane. You can only go for so long thinking about someone beyond your reach for every moment of the day and not loose your grasp of things."

"You mean..?"

"You had your work to think about, non stop. It had you swamped, in the zone of work. Being a reporter does not take that much immersion. How could I not think of you all the time?" He asked.

"Just because I had a never ending stack of paperwork to surmount doesn't mean I didn't have time to think of you any chance I had." CJ quietly confessed. Their eyes locked, silent information passing between them. Loyalty, compassion, yearning. Knowing that the subject was such a large issue to be joyously discussed over the course of time, Danny left it at that. They were both thrilled to hear the other's thoughts.

"So was that what were you thinking about in the car?"

"No. I was thinking about the past few years. How my personal life took off-somewhat, while the administration was stuck in neutral, then swapped roles. I wonder what will happen now?"

"You've turned over a new leaf. Are you worried about how the administration will be...if this leads..?" CJ nodded her head. "You need not worry about things at the White House. You guys are doing great. Your momentum will last you far beyond your stay at the White House. And as for this," Danny said, with emphasis. "I know you can conquer the world, and together we can be insurmountable."

"But the gossip, it wouldn't be good for President Bartlet." CJ said, her business manner leading before her heart.

"Screw the gossip, CJ. Dwelling on `what ifs' is futile. President Bartlet is a good, decent guy. He cares for each and everyone of his Senior Staff. Especially you, CJ, because he told me so. And he likes to see his comrades happy."

"You're sure about us, aren't you?" CJ asked with a hint of uncertainty.

"You are, too, down deep." Danny replied, with a knowing look on his face. "You were sure when you were leaving the pub on Monday."

"A cloud of doubt and logical thought has sat in my office since then, I guess. I forgot that logical reasoning doesn't work with you, though." CJ playfully spat.

Danny moved nearer to CJ. He was smiling at her, and he knew things were going to be ok between them. CJ moved in to kiss her favorite reporter. They kissed with promise, joy, and hunger. Danny rested a thumb on her lower jaw. CJ crept her hands about Danny's shoulders.

"If I don't start to leave now, CJ, I'll never be able to sleep." Danny said after their lips separated.

"Alright." CJ sighed. They rose for the door, their hands intertwined.

"I had a great time Danny."

"So did I, CJ. And you really do look beautiful tonight, as you always do."

CJ smiled. Maybe she could get used to Danny's complimentary side. He made her feel like the only woman standing on the face of the earth.

"Goodnight." Danny said. They had to kiss goodnight. Taking each other's lips in, they kissed passionately.

"Night." CJ exhaled, smiling broadly at Danny as he turned to head out of the apartment.

"You can conquer anything, CJ. You've already conquered me." Danny's hands were clutched, and crossed, to show he was a prisoner to her.

CJ closed the distance between them, and caressed his face before he turned and walked away from the apartment with a smile. Things were just starting to improve.

#####

 

The End

 

 

 

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