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Airport Security

by: Rhonda Dossett

Character(s): CJ/Danny
Pairing(s): CJ/Danny
Category(s): Post-Ep
Rating: PG-13
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 House."

"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 closed.

"How's your father?"  Danny tentatively asked, as she slowed down to avoid a maintenance worker running a vacuum over the carpeted areas.

"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 old age.

Realizing that she was standing still, staring at him, CJ began walking again. "You never answered *my* question."

Danny grinned.  "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 plates.

"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 now?" 

"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 suitcase.

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.

He was watching a rerun of Toby's press conference when she came out of the restroom.

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 open it.

She unlocked the case and pulled a pair of black flats out of an inside pocket. 

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 again.

"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."

Danny understood 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 him.

"I know you mentioned a stepmother last week.  What does she say?"

"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 worse."

"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 you."

"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 it.

"Yeah?"

"Are you still checking flight schools?"

"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 his face.

She hid a smile against his jacket, but he felt it.

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