Chapters: 001 Word Count: 1577
Character(s): CJ Cregg, Leo McGarry
Episode(s): 6-03 Third Day Story
Crossover Shows: - No Show -
Summary: But it was only now as she cried in silence that Leo got a glimpse of her strength. This woman could move mountains.
Leo opened his eyes, smiling at his wife. CJ returned the smile.
“Hey baby. How long have you been here?” he asked.
“Not long…almost a half hour. You're beautiful when you sleep, you know that?”
“All I can say is that you’ve told me that on more than one occasion. How was your day?”
“As soon as you're better I am going to kick your ass.”
Leo laughed softly, squeezing CJ’s hand. She caressed his face.
“They're springing you from this place this weekend.” She said.
Leo had been in the hospital recovering from a heart attack and double bypass surgery for a little over three weeks. Needless to say, he was chomping at the bit.
“I know. I can't wait to see the kids…I miss them so much. What did you tell them?”
“They don’t understand Leo. I told Tim that daddy was sick and he would be home soon. I couldn’t tell Charlie anything; she cries for you sometimes. I thought we could set you up in the guest bedroom downstairs for now.”
“Separate bedrooms?” Leo asked. He did not like the sound of that at all.
“It is not because I am mad at you like it usually is. You don’t need to be climbing stairs day and night; and you need your own space. There are certain ways you should sleep at least for the first six weeks. I've been talking to Dr. Reynolds about the best course for a full and speedier recovery. For now, it is separate bedrooms and a full time nurse. At the six-week checkup, we’ll talk about other options. They tell me you haven’t been eating Leo.”
“Honestly I have no appetite…my nurses tell me it’s normal after bypass surgery. They give me those supplemental shakes. Will you stay with me, in my separate bedroom, until I fall asleep?”
CJ could not help but smile.
“By the time I get in from the office you will be fast asleep. But I will always kiss you goodnight; that is a promise.”
“Tell me what is happening at the White House?” Leo asked.
“No. You don’t need to worry about any of that right now. Leo, I am not kidding with you. Getting better is your only priority right now.”
“I will not be swayed on the subject so forget it. I know that the President and Josh come in here and talk business with you when you are supposed to be resting, and I won't even get into how much that pisses me off. I'm not going to do it.”
“OK baby, OK.” Leo patted her hand.
CJ took a couple of deep breaths and could not stop the tears. They were quiet tears and made her look so vulnerable that Leo felt ill. How had she managed not to completely fall apart? He knew she was strong…him picking her as his successor had nothing to do with her last name and the diamonds on her hand. But it was only now as she cried in silence that Leo got a real glimpse of her strength. This woman could move mountains.
“I was so scared Leo. I am still scared.” She said quietly.
“I'm going to be alright. They gave me a really good prognosis…we’ll be dancing again in no time. Contrary to how young you are, 58 is still OK health wise.”
CJ smiled through her tears.
“Shut up…you're not old.”
“I know baby, that’s what I’m saying. I'm going to be alright. Focus on that OK.”
“You are going to take care of yourself Leopold. No more working until midnight and living off four hours sleep. OK, I am not going to harass you.”
“Yes you are, but it’s alright CJ. How about we don’t talk about the White House or my formerly bum ticker during our visit tonight? I watched Shadow of a Doubt last night. The part when Joseph Cotten comes out of the shadows on Teresa Wright, you always jump. I couldn’t put my arms around you.”
“I see you’ve been reading a lot.” CJ replied.
She didn’t want to talk about their separation. It had only been three weeks, and it was of course for his health and his life, but CJ missed him so much that she could barely breathe. She reached for him at night; called for him around the house; and sat in his office all day. She looked at the books on the table beside the bed. Graham Greene, John Steinbeck, John Grisham, and Gore Vidal. CJ picked up The Two Mrs. Grenvilles. She looked at Leo with a raised eyebrow.
“Dominick Dunne, Leo?”
“The nurses are reading it for their book club…Connie gave me a copy. Between you and I, it’s reasonably good for drabble. The President brought the rest of the books over. When I am confined, I like to read. Usually I am too busy to do it. Connie told me I might like An Inconvenient Woman. If I am here until Friday I will finish it when she brings it to me on her shift tonight.”
“I'm glad you're relaxing.” CJ said.
“No choice really. Getting better and getting back to business is my number one priority, remember?”
“You're not even allowed to visit the White House until the doctor gives you a clean bill of health. I mean it Leo.”
“Stop it Claudia Jean. No talk about the White House or my heart remember?”
CJ sighed, looking at her watch.
“Its after ten. I should go so I can kiss the babies and get some sleep. You need to rest too.”
“I love you CJ.”
“I love you too.” Her voice caught.
She leaned and kissed his lips softly. Tonight she didn’t want to leave. She wanted to crawl into bed with him, listening to his soft breath as he slept and the thump of his heartbeat. Leo sighed in his sleep; and he would pull her close to kiss her face in his dreams. His skin was warm and comforting…right now it was clammy and cool.
“What's the matter baby?” he asked.
He turned her hand over in his, tracing a finger along the lines of her palm.
“I don’t want to leave you here anymore. I miss you so much.”
She didn’t cry, but she bit down on her lower lip so he would not see it trembling. Leo took a deep breath.
“By the end of the week we’ll be together again.” He said.
“And I’ll be so busy at work I won't have the time…”
“Shh.” Leo put his finger on her lips. “Every night when you come home I will be there. I'm out of the woods CJ; I'm not dying on you yet.”
CJ nodded, not sure she could believe him.
“Don't make me promises like that. I know you mean well, but please don’t.”
“Fair enough. You wanna stay tonight?”
“Leo, I can't. Connie will come in at midnight to check your blood pressure and heart rate and have a stroke. If I am just going to sleep on some uncomfortable cot I may as well sleep in my bed. I’ll be OK.”
CJ nodded, leaning once more to kiss him.
“I’ll be back tomorrow.”
“I'm not going anywhere. Have sweet dreams Claudia Jean, and give the babies extra kisses for their daddy.”
She stood, pushing the chair back into the corner. Grabbing her briefcase and purse, CJ walked out of the room without looking at Leo again.
“Goodnight Mrs. McGarry.” A few nurses gathered at the nurses’ station waved.
“Is Connie here?” CJ asked.
“Her shift doesn’t start until midnight. Can I help you, I’m Yvonne.”
“Yeah Yvonne. How are you supplementing his lack of appetite?”
“We usually get him to have breakfast…he always seems to be hungry first thing. The rest of the day is Ensure, though we always serve his meals in case his appetite returns. This is typical of bypass patients.”
“For how long?” CJ asked.
“The first four to six weeks. Sometimes it can go for eight but any time after that it becomes a concern. He is right where he needs to be recovery wise.”
“He could be home this weekend.”
“Yes ma'am, as long as there are no major setbacks we think it better to release him. Patients are more comfortable in their own homes with their families. Mr. McGarry is doing really well.”
CJ nodded, taking a deep breath. She went back into Leo’s room. He looked up from The Two Mrs. Grenvilles.
“I thought you'd be in the parking lot by now.” He said.
“I just really need a hug. Is a hug OK?”
“Of course it is. C’mere.”
CJ sat on the side of the hospital bed and Leo wrapped his arms around her. She did not want to hold him too tight but her hands gripped his pajama shirt and held on for dear life. He kissed her neck and they clung to each other for a few minutes. CJ pulled away first.
“OK, this is goodnight for real this time.” She said.
“Yeah. Call me tomorrow baby.”
CJ walked out of the room and GW Medical Center without another word.