by: Rhonda Dossett
Disclaimer: Not mine and never will be.
Summary: Post episode story to "The Long Goodbye"
Spoiler: Everything up to "The Long Goodbye."
She looked exhausted. Clearly the thirty-six hour, see-Dayton-like-a-native, vacation package tour hadn't been much fun. Wearing a black v-necked sweater dress, beige trench coat, and three-inch heels, she didn't appear to have dressed for traveling comfort. "Must of been what she wore to give her reunion speech," Danny thought, wondering if she'd even had time to unpack before the White House had demanded her return.
He pushed away from the wall that he'd been leaning against and waved to get her attention as she followed a woman with a screaming baby though gate 24's open door.
"Hey." Danny grinned at her, reaching out to take her carry-on bag. "Did you miss me?"
CJ gave him a tight smile and the heavy bag. "Daniel. What are you doing here?" Looking at his smiling face, a lump of something that felt suspiciously like guilt settled in her stomach. She hadn't expected anyone to meet her plane, especially him. In fact she hadn't thought about him at all since she'd left D.C. She certainly hadn't thought about him when she'd been in that motel room with Marco.
"I'll answer yours if you'll
answer mine." Somehow he'd envisioned her being a little happier to see
him. Josh had mentioned that her father wasn't well. Maybe she was
just worried about him.
"I was only gone a day and a half." She
tried to give him a smile, but the muscles in her face refused to
cooperate. Damn it. She was not going to feel guilty. It
wasn't like she and Danny were really involved. He'd been gone for almost
two years. If she wanted to sleep with someone, an old friend, even a
stranger, then she'd...a stranger. Marco was a stranger. She'd... Damn it. What had she been thinking?
"So that's a no?"
His natural charm wasn't having much of an effect. He had seen her on
Friday, before she left for Dayton. They'd had lunch in the Mess and he'd
joked with her about the perils of attending high school reunions. The
woman who had left on Friday wasn't the woman standing in front of him
now. Something had happened.
"You're a very perceptive man."
Too perceptive, CJ thought as she pushed her hair back behind her ears and
started walking towards the terminal exits. "I need to get to the White
"Those shoes look uncomfortable. Are you in pain?"
He'd noticed that she was limping a little, like she was getting a blister on
the back of at least one of her heels.
"Like I said, you're a very
perceptive man." She stopped and grabbed his upper arm. Holding on
for support, she raised first one foot, then the other, taking off the new shoes
and exposing angry red marks where the stiff leather had rubbed on the
nylon-covered skin of both feet.
Carrying the two-hundred dollar torture
devices in one hand, CJ continued down the almost empty corridor, with Danny
alongside, pulling her suitcase and hurrying to keep up. At four-thirty in
the morning, most of the thousands that would pass through the airport during
the day were still in bed, most of the facility's restaurants and shops were
"How's your father?" Danny tentatively asked, as she slowed
down to avoid a maintenance worker running a vacuum over the carpeted
"Not good. I shouldn't even... He's... He's getting
old." She sighed and glanced at him. The knot in her stomach was
growing. She felt guilty for leaving her father without resolving his
situation. She was going to have to go back next weekend, no matter what
was being blown up. Time was not on her father's side. Next time she
saw him, he might have forgotten her name. Now in addition to her guilt
about her father, she also had this uncomfortable feeling that she had cheated
on... They weren't even... What was Danny to her anyway?
"CJ?" Danny made a mental note to find out what was wrong with her
father. CJ's expression led him to surmise that the problem wasn't just
Realizing that she was standing still, staring at him, CJ began
walking again. "You never answered *my* question."
"I thought you'd figured that one out by now. Besides being perceptive,
I'm a very nice guy. I'm just here to give you a ride." A ride
and maybe some breakfast, he thought, fantasizing about the two of them sitting
around in bathrobes eating waffles and snitching bacon off of each other's
"How did you know what flight I was on? Hell, how did you
know I was coming back tonight, or this morning, or whatever time it is
"I knew they would call you back, what with the bombings and
the threat of more to come. So, I just called up a friend who knows
someone, who knows someone with the airlines."
Following airport signs
she no longer really needed, CJ turned to the right and started down an
escalator, calling over her shoulder, "But I rode stand-by from Chicago.
Even Toby isn't expecting me for another two hours."
Lifting her suitcase
so it wouldn't catch on the moving steps, Danny responded, "Toby's no
investigative reporter." Reaching the bottom of the stairs, he set the
case back down on its wheels and pulled it after him. "By the way, Toby
also sucks at being a Press Secretary."
CJ suddenly stopped speed walking
just outside a ladies restroom. She jammed her feet painfully back into
her shoes. "Give me a minute," she groaned, pushing through the door and
leaving him standing outside with her
Since he had never known any woman to take
less than fifteen minutes in a bathroom, Danny found a seat where he could see
both the ladies room door and one of those ceiling mounted televisions.
The news clips were still showing the bombing of the U.S. embassy in
Bangkok. The sound was muted, but the closed captioning indicated that no
further threats had been received and no more bombs had gone off, yet.
was watching a rerun of Toby's press conference when she came out of the
Before he could get up, she limped over and sat down beside
him, saying, "I've got another pair of shoes in my case."
He stood and
set the bag on the seat he'd been occupying, laying it on its side, so she could
She unlocked the case and pulled a pair of black flats out of an
When she continued to just sit there, Danny put her
high heels in the case and closed it, setting it down on the floor and resuming
his seat. "Tell me about your father."
Slipping on her shoes, she
paused a moment to gather her thoughts. So softly that he had trouble
hearing her she answered, "He's writing a math book but he's forgotten how to
pay his bills. He can remember the grade he gave an old student twenty
years ago, but can't remember what street to take to get to the grocery
store." Her voice broke.
Danny reached over and took one of her
hands captive. Not speaking, he waited for her to continue. A flight
was called and more travelers began walking past them, the world was waking up
"Sometimes, he doesn't remember me," she confided, her head bent
forward, her voice thick with tears. "I need to make some arrangements for
him, but he won't let me."
He squeezed her hand, responding, "Have you
talked to your brothers about this?"
Still not looking at him, she shook
her head, indicating a negative response. "They have their hands full with
their kids and their jobs. They can't handle him."
what she wasn't saying. He understood that her assigned role in the family
was "fixer." She was the one the family was depending on to make the
hard decisions, to take on the responsibility and pain of dealing with
"I know you mentioned a stepmother last week. What does she
"She's moved out of the house, says she can't handle seeing him
this way. I'm not sure she'll be around when things get worse." She
rocked forward, one arm wrapped around her stomach, sarcastically adding, "And
the one thing his doctor is sure of is that things are going to get
"You're in no shape to deal with it now. You need
some sleep and some food." Danny calmly announced, releasing her
hand and putting her arm around her shoulder. "I know some people who can
help you get some options together for your family to consider. You can't
do this on your own; your brothers are going to have to step up and help
"Danny?" When his arm had gone around her, her head had ended
up resting on his shoulder. Right now she didn't have the energy to move
"Are you still checking flight
"Yeah. No luck so far, there are lots of flight schools.
Could take a long time."
"So, you're going to be around for awhile?" she
asked, her fingers smoothing down the front of his lapel.
"Like I told
you, I'm back. Count on it." He grinned at her as she glanced up at
She hid a smile against his jacket, but he felt it.
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