Chapters: 001 Word Count: 1131
Character(s): Abbey Bartlet, CJ Cregg
Episode(s): 3-01 Manchester I, 3-02 Manchester II
Crossover Shows: - No Show -
Summary: "God, I feel like Sampson."
Author Notes: I am admittedly the most un-religious person you will ever meet. I have all my bases covered, though, with bibles and a menorah and Hindu statues, but am not very religious. My favorite story from the Bible is and has always been Sampson and Delilah. Women are very crafty creatures, and men aren't the smartest by far. Never has a story so clearly depicted our true nature. It occurred to me that Abbey Bartlet did something very Delilah-like when asking Jed to bench CJ, so I thought I'd write about it.
CJ is sitting on her hotel bed, hair in a pony-tail, glasses perched on the end of her nose, wearing a CCNY shirt she stole from Toby and underwear. CNN is on mute and she’s studying the next day’s schedule, files spread all over her un-made bed. A knock on the door makes her jump, dumping papers on the floor. Taking only a second to wonder who could be knocking on her door at one-thirty in the morning, she shouts to her visitor, “Just a second!” She jumps up, the papers in her lap joining the others on the floor, and she quickly uses her foot to scoot them under the bed, trying to gather the folders on her bed and find her jeans at the same time. With a sigh she gives up on both the papers and her jeans, deciding that whomever is bothering her probably already knows she’s not the neatest person in the world and, because it’s probably Toby, has seen her in much less clothing.
She opens the door and peeks her head into the hallway, seeing the familiar face of one of Abbey’s agents. She steps back, allowing the man to enter the room and then takes a moment to smooth back her hair, glad that the t-shirt is long enough to offer her at least some modesty. The agent, deciding that all is clear, steps back into the hallway, letting Abbey enter the room before closing the door. CJ lets her eyes wander up and down the woman in front of her, liking the way the older woman looks in her tight jeans and Bartlet for America t-shirt. “So, my husband tells me that you tried to quit today. Is that true?”
CJ leans against the wall, knowing that this isn‘t a social call. “Yeah, I did, Abbey. I’m not doing anyone any good right now, and it felt like the right thing to do.” The older woman sits on the messy bed, pushing aside the papers so she can get comfortable. “What do you mean you aren’t doing anyone any good, CJ? We need you!” CJ shakes her head. “That’s not true and you know it. Everyone has lost faith in me. I’ve even lost faith in me. No one needs me around, because if they did they never would have benched me.” Abbey pats the bed in front of her, hoping that CJ lets down her wall long enough join her on the bed. She doesn’t, but instead remains standing. “CJ, no one has lost faith in you. It wasn’t even Jed’s idea to bench you, I talked him in to it.”
CJ slumps into a near-by chair, the wind knocked out of her as if she’s been punched in the stomach. “Why would you do that? What good could it have possibly done?” Abbey sighs. This is not the way this visit was supposed to go at all. “You were running yourself ragged, CJ. It’s no wonder you misspoke. I’m surprised you haven’t collapsed behind that podium. You needed a break, and no one else was going to speak up for you. You certainly weren’t going to, so I did it for you.” CJ’s eyes flash at the first lady’s words. “For me? No, Abbey, you did this to me. Do you know how much damage you have done? You took my legs out from under me with the press. I have lost all credibility, and it’s going to take me forever to get any of it back, if I ever do. I could have fixed my mistake, taken the heat for it and that would be it, but then you go and bench me and everyone in that press room knows that no one thinks I can do my job. How could they possibly believe anything I tell them after this? I’m on the outside looking in now, and they know it.”
“It’s not that bad, CJ.” The press secretary jumps up again, her anger making it impossible to sit still. “No, Abbey, it’s worse. I would expect to hear this coming from Leo or the President, but never from you. God, I feel like Sampson. At least he had the benefit of knowing that Delilah was looking for the source of his strength. He had three chances to wise up and prepare for battle. You came at me from out of nowhere. I was blind-sided. And I can’t even exact revenge. I tried leaving, but that would hurt me more than anyone else. My job is all I have.” Abbey crosses the room, trying to put her arms around CJ but the younger woman steps away. “Your job isn’t all you have, CJ. You still have me. Us.” CJ shakes her head.
“No, see that’s where you’re wrong. That’s my little victory in all of this. There is no ‘us.’ I let you seduce me before, with your eyes and your voice and your confidence. I let your curves worm their way into my heart and my bed, but no more. I will not give you the chance to tie me to a chair and cut off my hair again. That ship has sailed. You only get to burn me once. I can’t quit my job, but I can definitely quit you. So, please, leave me alone. Get out. Go back to your husband.”
Abbey puts her hand on CJ’s arm, trying not to cry as the younger woman jerks away. With a nod, Abbey walks to the door and turns the knob, turning back to her lover before opening the door. “I really did think I was doing you a favor, CJ. I would never intentionally hurt you. I hope you know that. I will always love you.” CJ can’t bear to look Abbey in the eyes, knowing that if she did she would be right back where she started- a foolishly trusting Sampson in love with a temptress who knows her true source of strength and how to take it away. She can’t let herself go back to the late-night make out sessions and stolen moments behind closed door. There can be no more secret rendezvous, because she’s afraid she’ll confess more than she plans to for the love of a beautiful woman, so she doesn’t meet her lover’s eyes, doesn’t turn to look at her. When CJ doesn’t respond, the first lady walks out the door, closing it behind her and hoping that no one can hear the sobs of the woman she’s hurt so badly.