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AFTER 

Author - Angela Churm

Email – churm5@hotmail.com

Title – ‘After...’

Character – Jed/CJ

Category – Post episode ‘In the room’ season 6.

Pairing – Jed/CJ

Rating – CHILD

Summary – A troubled CJ and her President share a quiet moment.

Author’s Notes – After watching ‘In the room’ and before watching the next episode I had to make it turn out the way I wanted it to, and I just love these two characters... so here it is.

 

AFTER...

CJ moved around the desk and sank into the chair.  She couldn’t think of it as her chair, the shape was wrong bearing as it still did the impression of Leo’s body.  There was a reason she hadn’t had the place re-decorated.  It didn’t seem right.  Her eyes fell on the naval painting on the opposite wall, it had, she remembered, been the first thing Leo had brought in.  She breathed out a heavy sigh and swung to face the window.  It was Leo’s office, it always would be.  The best she could do was keep it going for the last few months of the Bartlett Presidency.  And that wasn’t going to be easy.  Since his last major MS attack on the plane to China the President had been withdrawn.  He wasn’t talking, not to her, not to anybody. 

She rubbed her eyes ignoring the tears that threatened to come.  She was tired.  Was this what seven years in power had brought them to?  The two men she believed in, the two men she depended on were both ill and death was no longer something abstract.  Only a few weeks before she had worried what she might do once the President’s second term was over.  Now she longed to have only that to trouble her.

“It’s a little late for daydreaming?”

CJ swung around at the sound of his voice and hastily swallowed the tears.

“Mr President...I thought...” she shook her head.  “I thought you’d gone to bed.”

“May I?”  He indicated the comfortable sofa, Leo’s sofa, she nodded and watched as he sat down.  There was no trace of pain in his movements. He had made a remarkable recovery, but she knew that it wasn’t over.  MS was like that.  She moved to the armchair next to him tempted to kick off her shoes and put her feet up, it had been a long day, but she resisted.

“Do you know what time it is?”  He asked.  His tone was gentle, coaxing, caring.  CJ shook her head surprising herself when she realised she genuinely had no idea.

“It’s two in the morning,” he said.  His eyes were kind, because CJ thought, his spirit shone through them.

“I....didn’t know,” she smiled.

“You want to talk about it?”

Her gaze met his.  There were times when she felt out of her depth with this man but tonight the barriers were down and that scared her a little.

“I’m not sure sir.”

He nodded but leaning toward her he frowned.  His hands clasped together wrestling with himself.

“CJ...Claudia....can we...can we leave the President in the other room for now?  Tonight I just want....we’ve been through...I just want it to be us ok?”

CJ breathed through her nerves.

“I don’t know if I can...leave him, you...the president in....”

“For five minutes? Then he can come back....but I need for you...If Leo were here but, no I didn’t mean...” He swallowed hard and CJ almost reached out to him but stopped herself unsure what the boundaries, the new rules were here.

“Five minutes,” he said quietly.  Slowly CJ found herself nodding.  There wasn’t a lot she could refuse this man and two in the morning with just the two of them there was as good a time as any to let protocol slip.

“It frightened me,” she whispered.

Jed Bartlett smiled.

“Yeah...it frightened the hell out of me too....”

“I thought that was...well...”

“Yeah...”

“I thought I was losing you,” she said suddenly.  Jed looked at her and time seemed to stop.  There really was just the two of them now.  His hand covered hers and held it.  She felt the gentle pressure as he squeezed her fingers.  It was both reassuring and her undoing.  The tears ran down her cheeks unabated.  The fact that a matter of weeks before on Air Force One he couldn’t even hold a pen with that hand wasn’t lost on either of them.

Jed lifted his other hand to wipe away the tears and she turned her face into his palm comforted by the feeling of life in his touch.  Somewhere a clock that Leo had left in the office chimed softly and CJ suddenly realised where she was.  Reluctantly she started to move, intending to pull away but instead found herself in his arms, the fear and helplessness she had felt in the past few weeks released in the tears she had fought to hide.  She allowed herself a moment to relax into him, grateful for the strength in the arms that held her.  Then slowly she sat up and brushed back her hair.

“Me too,” he said.

“Sir?”

“Jed...”

“Sorry ssss....J..Jed.” She couldn’t help but stumble over the name.  She’d never said it before.

“You thought you’d lost me I know that and I thought I’d lost everything, but I didn’t.  Not yet anyway and I’m thankful for that.”

CJ took a breath recovering some of her composure.  She opened her mouth then hesitated.  Jed waited seeming to sense that there was something else she had to say.  Something that they both knew would not be said again.  CJ swallowed.  If she didn’t say it now she never would, and after what had happened she had to.

“Have you any idea,” she began.  Her shoulders dropped and she looked at him.  They both laughed.  Suddenly this was funny and her nerves disappeared.

“I love you so much and I try to show that in ....you know I’d do anything....and I can’t even think about you not being...not having you in my life.”

Jed’s smile was soft and carried with it the warmth of his feelings and CJ knew.

“Me too,” he said.  “Me too.”

 

/end

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