Absolutely Beautiful

by: Montiese

Character(s): The Senior Staff
Pairing(s): CJ/Leo
Category(s): Humor, Romance
Rating: YTEEN
Summary: "CJ is statuesque and witty."

"What's it feel like to be beautiful?"

"I beg your pardon?"

It was a chilly rainy Wednesday, the first briefing of the day. CJ was trying to knock out school lunch, medical spending, roving satellites, and the visiting Polish President. Now was not the time for games, especially since the President of the United States took a censure just three months before for lying about his MS.

"What's it like to be beautiful?"

"I don't know…ask Jennifer Aniston." She replied.

There was laughter in the pressroom.

"Seriously, CJ."

"Oh come on Steve. It is nine thirty in the morning and there are more pressing things on the agenda."

"She hasn't seen it." Janet muttered.

"What?"

Some reporter held up an issue of People Magazine.

"See," CJ said. "I told you to ask Jennifer Aniston. She is on the cover of the 50 Most Beautiful People issue. Now back to business."

Janet opened the magazine, flipped some pages, and held it up again. She had a full page spread, wearing that apple green Donna Karan dress.

"Oh lord." She mumbled.

"CJ McGarry, America's favorite mouthpiece." Steve said with a smile. "So, how does it feel to be beautiful?"

"Honestly, I really don't know. Come on people, focus. Next Monday the Polish President…"

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CJ rushed out of the pressroom and down the hall. There were a few catcalls and she did her best to ignore them. Larry and Ed walked by; Ed whistled.

"We didn't need People to tell us CJ." Larry said.

"Thank you."

She went into her office. Carol came in with briefing books and more news from the wires.

"You couldn't have warned me Carol." She said as she fed Gail and sipped coffee.

"I didn't know until after you went in. The picture is fantastic."

"I feel weird. I didn't talk to People."

"You did…a few months ago."

"Did I? Oh, whatever."

Josh walked into the room with a smug look on his face.

"Statuesque, witty, sharp as a tack, take no prisoners in the pressroom." He said. "They compare you to Katharine Hepburn."

"Katharine Hepburn is incomparable." CJ replied. "I sure that you got the heckle train rolling Joshua."

"It's the least I could do. We need something to distract us from the heavy workload around here. The picture is hot…I always loved that dress."

"Get out."

"Read up on tobacco; it's on your desk. When everyone gets over the beautiful thing I am sure there will be questions on it."

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"I'm just a tall, gawky girl from Dayton." The President read aloud. "Very self-deprecating CJ."

"I did not realize I was going to be a beautiful person when I said it sir. Anyway, it's true."

"I can vouch for that sir." Toby replied.

She shot him an icy glare that he ignored. Josh and Sam laughed a bit but Leo said nothing.

"OK, we are done harassing CJ. Let's talk about the Poland state dinner."

"The speech is nearly finished." Toby said. "Maybe CJ can add some superior wit to the rewrite."

The boys laughed again. There was a light tap on the door and Nora walked in.

"Sorry I'm late sir. I was with McCafferty on the medical spending budget for HIV/AIDS research and testing. They don't want to budge and the CDC has nearly reached PBS status…they're ready to get an 800 number and some musical acts." She sat on the couch beside CJ. "What did I miss?"

"CJ is statuesque and witty." Sam said.

"Comparable to the incomparable Katharine Hepburn." Josh added.

Nora looked at the Press Secretary. She looked thoroughly embarrassed, hoping to be eaten alive by the floor.

"Duh." Nora replied. "Anything valid to the running of the federal government."

"On that note, let's start this meeting sir." Leo said.

"Of course. You look nothing like Spencer Tracy you know."

"Maybe around the eyes some." Josh replied.

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"Just because we are battling big tobacco does not mean we have to smoke over by the dumpsters like crack addicts." CJ muttered.

She and Nora stood under the largest black umbrella either had ever seen.

"I was thinking more Cheech and Chong." Nora replied. "You are so Chong."

"I have been known, in my time, to exhibit Chong-like qualities. Bill is a dead giveaway that we are government officials."

"I thought smoking by a dumpster made that obvious. Isn't that Congressman Pearson over there?"

Nora pointed to the dumpster across the street and CJ laughed.

"I don't like being the center of attention Nora."

"I know. You are a beautiful 6-foot tall woman that is on TV every night. I wonder what took them so long to notice. Is this about the boys?"

"I don't know."

"They love you to death; that's why they pick on you like they do. They're like 4th graders…don't know how to act around girls they like." Nora said.

"I don't care…we all do our share of joking. I just feel, oh this is dumb."

"Spill it. We're out here so we may as well talk."

"So I'm in the 50 Most Beautiful People and they just make fun of me. Do they not think that I can be beautiful?" CJ asked.

"You don't really believe that?"

CJ shrugged. She thought the whole thing was preposterous, and it pissed her off because now suddenly something she never thought about weighed heavily on her mind as if it were the most important matter in the universe. All she knew was that Leo had been the only one not to joke at her expense. He told her how beautiful she was all the time.

"I say don't worry about it." Nora said. "You are a busy woman…it's flattering but it is not top priority by a long shot."

"Yeah. You're right."

"Still, you'll let it fester."

"Probably."

"C'mon Chong, lets go back in. We have work to do."

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"I left the article on your desk." Carol said.

"What article?" CJ asked.

"People. Though article is strong…it's just 2 pictures and an extended blurb really."

"Two pictures?"

"Yeah. There is one of you and Leo at the DNC dinner last year where he was honored. It's a good shot…you're wearing that purple dress."

"Plum." CJ replied.

"Yeah OK. Anyway, I left the article on your desk."

"Thanks. Carol?"

"Yeah?"

"Do you think I'm beautiful? I am not asking the vain way, I am asking out of a sense of absolute paranoia and self-doubt. People's never said so before…people never say so."

"Of course you are. Not just physically CJ. You're funny, and fun to be around, and you're tough. Some of the rigors of this job would have melted other people…men even….but not you. You go into the pressroom and give 120% every day. Even the hardened journalists like you. When you add the fact that you're actually pretty to the equation; you're a winner."

CJ was stunned into silence. No one had ever said anything like that to her before. Her quiet thanks seemed ungrateful. Carol smiled.

"No problem. If you don't believe me, ask your husband. Or that redhead kid in the mess…he has a real thing for you. Everyone knows you get your bagels half-price."

CJ smiled, walking into her office.

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CJ stayed at the White House until 9:30. They were all still strategizing on reelection and the State of the Union, but she could not take it another minute. They were all still ribbing her too, and though she understood because precious little had been funny the past few months, she did not want to hear it all night. Bypassing the idea of taking any work home, CJ packed her bag, put on her raincoat, and grabbed a cab.

Once home, she poured herself a glass of Merlot, stripped naked, and took a few deep breaths. She walked around her bedroom without clothes, and it felt fantastic. Rummaging through her CD collection, she settled on Queen. The melody to I Want to Break Free started and CJ sang along before going to run a bath.

She grabbed the Dream bath oil and put in a liberal amount. Then she lit the candles in all four corners of the tub. When she slipped into the tub, Queen sang These Are the Days of Our Lives. Sighing deeply, she let the body relax completely under the warm water. The long day was finally over…if only her husband would come home.

Leo had until 11:30 and he would have to wake her to make love. CJ was not an easy person to wake up. But who wouldn't want to make love to one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World? She laughed just thinking about it. This life never ceased to be astounding.

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"Hey baby."

Leo walked into the bedroom at quarter to eleven.

"Did the President kick you out?" CJ asked, looking up from her Spenser novel.

Leo leaned and kissed her softly. He liked it so much he did it twice.

"Something like that. I'm tired."

"Wow, Leo McGarry admitting exhaustion. Let me gather the press."

"Ha, ha. I have a surprise for you Claudia Jean."

He walked over to the closet and began to undress. Queen had been replaced by Anita Baker and Leo loved it.

"Is the surprise under your clothes?" she asked.

He looked at her. She had the mischievous grin and the cocked eyebrow. Leo wanted to devour her when she looked at him like that. He never remembered Jenny looking at him like that. It made his throat dry and filled his loins.

"Oh I have a surprise there too baby. But this one is downstairs."

"Downstairs? I am tired." She whined.

That only made Leo smile more.

"Considering how much energy we are going to exert when we get back in this bed, you can walk down the stairs."

"And back up again." CJ said, throwing off the covers.

She only wore a green tee shirt that looked about as old as she was, with white panties. Leo threw on his pajama pants. Taking her hand, he led her out the room and down the stairs.

"Where is this surprise?" she asked.

"In my study."

As usual, his study door was closed. He told CJ to close her eyes; she gave him one of her famous CJ looks. He said please, squeezing her hand. She did, and he opened the door. She felt herself being turned around.

"Open your eyes baby."

She also opened her mouth, but nothing came out. She stared at a 24x30 picture of herself. The Donna Karan dress, a black leather lounger, and CJ spread across it in a sexy pose. She remembered the photo shoot…she laughed so much that day. She hated having to do sexy junk. It was not in her nature.

The photographer, Roger LeBlanc, asked her what she did to feel sexy. CJ told him that Cassandra Wilson and red wine helped. He put on the music, got the liquor, and she relaxed enough not to feel dorky taking the photos. She turned and looked at her husband.

"Why?" she asked.

"It's a beautiful photograph…absolutely beautiful. Who the hell knows why it took them so long to see what I see every single day. I want it up on the wall in case I was ever foolish enough to forget."

CJ smiled, wrapping her arms around him. They shared a passionate kiss.

"Thank you honey." She whispered.

"You don't ever have to thank me for loving you. It's a joy to me…its everything."

"You can lay it on thick McGarry." CJ replied laughing.

"I can be quite charming when I want to be. I love you Claudia Jean."

"Mmm, I love you too. Let's go upstairs and get to my second surprise."

"I thought you would never ask."

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