Series: Fold in Gently #34
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 4361
Character(s): CJ Cregg, Danny Concannon, OMC
Category(ies): AU, Drama, Family/Children, Friendship, Humor, Post Administration, Romance
Pairing(s): CJ/Danny, CJ/OMC, Danny/OFC
Summary: They happen every day
Author Notes: CJ/Danny, CJ/OMC, Danny/OFC; alternative universe, (or is it?)
Spoilers through end of series; possible spoilers for "Holding Hands on the Way Down"
Not mine, never were, never will be, but they consume my soul
Feedback and constructive criticism always welcome
Friday, August 31, 2018; San Luis Obispo, CA; 8:30 AM PST (the present)
Natasha Montmorency Reeves stood and watched as three full crews of painters and paper-hangers, with three full sets of painting and papering equipment, got out of the three vans and walked toward the house. She wiped the tear that came to her eye and turned toward Paul and CJ.
"We've said it before, but you really didn't have to do this. We could have lived with the colors for a while, until I got the rooms done and Derrick was able to help me."
"And what did I say when you said it before?" Paul lightly reproved his newest daughter with his forgiving smile.
Three Days Earlier
"We've arranged for the closings to take place here, on Thursday," Natasha told Paul and CJ. "The couple who is buying my condo really needs to move in right away. The guy who is taking Derrick's place is driving his stuff in from Portland, so we have until Sunday to get the boxes and furniture. We've got friends lined up to move my stuff in right away and to put Derrick's in the garage. Before the wedding and the accident, we had planned to paint most of the rooms, plus some papering, but that will have to wait for a while."
As CJ whispered something to Paul, a nurse entered Derrick's hospital room.
"I need to check Mr. Reeves' dressings and I'll need everyone except his wife to leave for a few minutes."
Ten minutes later, Paul and CJ returned to the room.
"Derrick, Natasha," CJ said, "I've been on the phone with Sarita Hollis and we've arranged for a crew, actually several crews, to come to the house on Friday and get all the painting and papering done in one fell swoop, So we'll have your friends put Natasha's stuff in the garage on Thursday afternoon and Friday after the signing. We should be able to move it all in on Saturday and get Derrick's stuff in the garage after that."
"Dad, CJ, that's too much, really. Tasha and I can live with the walls the way they are for a while. Please, cancel the painters," Derrick replied.
"Nonsense!" Paul answered, just the way he did four years ago in Seattle when Derrick told his folks that the expensive dinner was Derrick's treat. "It's been arranged. The subject is closed."
"Really, guys, trust me, it's much better this way," CJ said, striking a more conciliatory note and giving her husband a look that implied that Paul was being an utter hard-ass about the situation. "I've painted with furniture having to be moved or covered and believe me, this will be much, much easier. I know that if Derrick's legs were fully functioning, the two of you, and your friends, could handle it, but stuff happens. Please accept this gift from us."
Derrick knew when to accept the things he couldn't change, especially with his father.
"Thank you, Dad. Thank you very much. That's an awful lot of money to spend on us, especially after helping with the wedding."
"Well, it's CJ's money, so you should be thanking her. Or rather, Danny, since it's his royalties. With Sam running for president, there's been an increased interest in the Bartlet years, and Danny's books, especially the little novella he wrote based on how Jed and Abbey met, have been reprinted. The extra royalties have been a pleasant surprise."
Venus (the women's spa)
"Well, will wonders never cease," Alicia confided to Brianna. "Not only is Paul accepting money from his wife, he's admitting it publicly. To his son, of all people. Never would I have expected it. Will miracles never cease!"
"Most men will eventually change for a good woman," Brianna replied. "Surely there are things he did different after marrying you."
"Well, yes," Alicia said. "But they were personal things, between him and me." Her smile implied that the changes were very pleasurable. "For one thing, he did finally stop bitching at me about using his razor."
After a few days' recovery in Vera Cruz, the Hollis jet took Derrick, Natasha, CJ, Paul, Joe, and Natasha's mother back to San Luis Obispo for Derrick's continued convalescence and physical rehabilitation.
Once again, there was a spirited discussion about who would stay in town to help deal with all the things Natasha would have to handle alone. Even nine year-old Pat suggested that he spend at least the fall term of fourth grade in San Luis Obispo so he could "do what brothers do for each other". But this time, it was Joe that won after pointing out that he had no one else to take care of, had no job to do, and that even at his age, he was in excellent physical shape.
So everyone else went to their homes; CJ, Paul, and the kids were back in San Luis Obispo for an extended Labor Day weekend.
Paul laughed as both CJ and Natasha turned to face the approaching crew leader. The man went over the plans, verifying the paint and paper for each room. By sending three crews and starting this early, they would be able to get all the work done by 9:30 that evening, assuming that the electricity was turned on (it was).
"Twelve rooms, counting the half-bath, in one day. It's a small miracle," Natasha said.
It was ironic that Derrick and Natasha, with just the two of them, were able to find the four bedroom, two and a half bath, family room, living room, dining room, study, and kitchen place that had eluded Paul and CJ five years earlier in Berkeley. (Although when Paul commented about it to Derrick, the son told the father that he and Natasha intended on filling two of the bedrooms as quickly as possible.)
"A hundred million miracles," Joe sang and, seeing Pat's confused look, explained that the song was from an old, old musical from the middle of the last century.
"Although a hundred million miracles a day is a bit of an exaggeration," Joe finished.
"Not really, when you think about it. Consider the way everything in the heavens stays, for the most part, in its own place, not crashing into each other. Consider that each of the inhabited planets requires a very narrow window, climate-wise, for its life forms to survive. Consider the miracle of conception, in its myriad methods, throughout the universe. The fact that They put together everything to run so smoothly without constant intervention, there are easily a hundred times a hundred million miracles every earth day."
Michaelangelo watched as the man walked away.
Leonardo was always such a nerd," he confided to Monet. "Being a great painter wasn't enough for him."
The crew chief told Natasha that the wallpapering was done as were the first coats of paint. The guys were going to break for lunch and would be back by 4:00 to put on the second coat.
"There's no reason for all of us to sit around here for the rest of the afternoon," Joe said. "Natasha, why don't you go to the hospital and be with your husband for a while, give him a progress report. Paul, you take CJ over to the Fallières' and be with your girls, make sure they don't feel neglected. Pat and I can keep watch here."
While CJ, Paul, Pat, Joe, and Natasha were staying in Derrick's old condo, Caitlin and Dansha were at Bonnie and Jean-Luc's house, enjoying a multi-night sleepover with Giselle and Erika.
"Are you sure you'll be okay with that, Joe?" CJ asked. Bonnie and Jean-Luc's pool would be very inviting but she didn't want Alicia's father to be stuck in any empty house.
"We'll be fine; I have my laptop and we can watch a movie. The air-conditioning is working. Go."
CJ, Paul, and the girls walked into Derrick's hospital room. Caitlin and Dansha really wanted to see their brother, to make sure that he really was getting better. CJ planned to take Paul to the house after the visit, get her son, then pick up Giselle and Erica and take all the kids for pizza and a movie, to give Bonnie and Jean-Luc some private time together.
It took a while, but CJ sensed the undercurrent passing between Derrick and Natasha. She sensed that something had happened, something that Derrick wanted to share with his father before sharing with the rest of the family, so after fifteen minutes, she suggested to her daughters that they go look at the babies in the nursery. And maybe Natasha would like to go run by Derrick's old place and take a shower?
"Sounds great but, if you don't mind, I'll go see the babies with you before I go."
Ah, CJ thought, whatever Derrick wants to share with Paul, Natasha wants to share with me.
Five minutes later, Caitlin and Dansha were oohing and ahhing over the six infants in the maternity ward window, although Dansha was still calling them "dollies". Natasha quickly looked around then leaned in close to CJ.
"This afternoon, when Derrick and I were alone, we were, ah, having a private moment and he reacted."
"As in?" CJ asked.
"Yes," her daughter-in-law replied, blushing slightly.
"Oh, thank God! That's great news!"
Although the urologist in San Luis Obispo had seconded the opinion of the doctors in Vera Cruz – that there were no physical signs of impotency as a result of Derrick's injuries – there had been no "proof positive" that Derrick's genitalia were functioning normally. That is, until now.
"CJ, you don't know how relieved I am. Not for myself, although I admit that I've come to like having sex with Derrick very much. For one thing, I hardly ever have cramps before my menstrual cycle anymore. In fact, when I got my period right after I went to Phoenix for the wedding, that was the first time I had them in five months.
"But if I had to, I could make do with other measures. The staff has been very understanding, allowing us to put a 'Do Not Disturb' sign on the door handle, just like a hotel. Derrick's been very good to me, if you know what I mean, and I've tried to be good to him, but without any success.
"Now Kyle, Derrick's physical therapist, told us that his body knows it has to heal, knows it has to conserve resources, and to be patient. But Derrick is a very physical person and he does best when he is taken care of regular. I could tell, those three weeks before the wedding when I was in Phoenix, that really took a toll on him.
"I don't know if this is all TMI for you or not, but, for whatever reason, I've never been able to really talk about sex with my mother, and Tiana isn't here, but you are. Does any of this make sense to you?"
CJ was pretty sure she knew why Natasha was uncomfortable talking about sex with her mom and she was pretty sure that Tasha knew the reason also. Well, this was all part of what she signed on for when she said yes to Paul five years ago.
"It makes a lot of sense, honey. Derrick is his father's son in many ways. And, remember, I was with Paul when he was slightly younger than Derrick is now. I know exactly what you mean about the role that physical intimacy plays in Derrick's life because I know what that role is in Derrick's father's life, and also what that role was some thirty-some years ago.
"It's physical, but it's more than physical. The love component, the emotional component, is every bit as strong, every bit as driving, as the physical one. The need for emotional intimacy and the need for physical intimacy are intertwined. And while I know that if you had to, the two of you would have worked out whatever needed to be worked out, I am so grateful that you and Derrick won't have to deal with that."
CJ reached over and hugged her newest daughter.
Natasha returned the embrace.
"I'm so glad to have you as a second mom. You're the best."
For some reason, CJ found herself thinking of her first husband.
You were right, Danny. I am getting good at lots of new things. I'm getting good at this mother-in-law thing, Danny, a lot faster than you or I ever thought.
I never had any doubt about it, babe. The only thing I ever feared was that you wouldn't believe me.
"Well, I'm so glad that your worries are over," CJ said as she kissed Natasha's cheek.
At the same time, Derrick and Paul were discussing the same topic, but with a different slant.
"It's the strangest thing, Dad. I mean, I am glad that I'm able to react, to get hard, but these past two weeks, being alone with Natasha and taking care of her, have been somewhat ethereal. There is something about focusing all my attention on her, with no concern for myself, that makes me realize how much I love her. I don't know if that makes any sense."
"It makes a lot of sense; it will make more sense as you grow older and your recuperative rate is not what it is now." Paul was grateful that he was not in need of any pharmaceutical help to either satisfy his wife's needs or his own, but he was also aware that he was no longer filled with the rampaging powers of a man in his mid-twenties. "A lot of men would disagree with me, but I think that God knew what he was doing when he created men with a sex drive that peaked in the twenties and women with one that peaked two or more decades later. As a couple ages, if you as a man truly love your wife, your diminished reaction time allows you to use your skill, to husband your abilities and your resource, to bring her to the satisfaction that her psyche has grown to accept, to need. It usually takes many years for a man to learn what you have come to realize in these past few weeks. And although I praise God that you are completely capable of being a sexual male, I'm glad that your accident has had some benefits for your marriage."
"Well, as to being completely capable, we don't know that for sure. Yes, I can become engorged, I can ejaculate. But can I give my wife a baby? She's down there at the nursery with CJ and the girls looking at all those newborns. We bought a four bedroom house planning to have two of those bedrooms occupied with at least two kids within the next four or five years. What if I can't produce those children?"
"Then the two of you will figure it out. You'll adopt; you'll do AI or in vitro. The one thing I am sure of, you and Natasha love each other enough to deal with whatever comes your way."
The two mean heard the sound of two happy little girls in the hall. Paul reached down and kissed his son's forehead.
"Derrick, we'll be back tomorrow, sometime, with pictures and everything. In the meantime, I love you; you are my son, my flesh."
Saturday, September 1; 8:30 AM PST
CJ walked into Derrick's condo carrying coffee for the four adults, an orange juice for Pat, and an assortment of croissants and donuts. She called out to let the others know she was back from the breakfast run.
Natasha came out of the hall batch carrying a box, which she set down on the floor before taking the coffee cup labeled "skim milk decaf".
"I think that's the last of it," Natasha said. "Jeff and Mick called; they'll be here in fifteen minutes with the truck. The guys at the house asked us to bring them some breakfast, so I'm going to head out now if that's okay. Do you mind overseeing stuff here?"
Three of Derrick's friends volunteered to "camp out" at the new house overnight. The painters had taken down the doors when doing the painting and recommended that they stay down while moving in the furniture. The crew chief said he would be back with one of the guys late Saturday afternoon to re-hang the doors. The crew also recommended that they keep the windows open overnight to help dispel the "new paint" odor.
Joe and Paul came out of the main bedroom.
"We've got the beds apart. Bless you, CJ." Joe took the cup labeled "Splenda™ and skim milk".
Paul reached down to kiss CJ, smile at her, and stroke the side of her jaw before reaching for the coffee cup marked "black regular". CJ reacted to the smile and signs of affection with those of her own.
Last night, Paul had made love with her with an intensity that, while not uncommon, was not his everyday style. CJ knew that her husband was reacting with pent-up relief that Derrick's ability to be a sexual being was no longer in any doubt. Paul had put on an upbeat, optimistic face for Derrick and Natasha, indeed, for all of them, but CJ knew her husband well enough to know that the outer show of bravery hid care and concern for his son. As a father and as a male, he released that care and concern by exerting his own masculinity and so, after a few minutes of expert and thorough foreplay, Paul entered her firmly and swiftly, whispered many words of erotic desire in her ear, and rode her hard (but not rough) for quite some time, finally taking the both of them to a stormy climax.
This morning, Paul made love to her again, this time gently and carefully. She was a very lucky woman, CJ, decided. And, apparently and the saints be praised, so was Natasha.
Everything was moving like clockwork, CJ thought.
As soon as Natasha had dosed the overnight campers with food and caffeine, they started moving in the bedroom furniture from Natasha's place into two of the three guest (for the immediate future) bedrooms. Natasha made sure that they covered the furniture with the old quilts she had bought at the local Salvation Army store to keep from damaging either the wood or the newly painted walls.
CJ made sure that when the guys came to get Derrick's things, the two bedroom sets were the last things to be loaded. Therefore, when the rented van arrived at the new place, Derrick's king-sized bed and matching furniture, along with the additional dresser that the couple bought right before the wedding was taken up the master bedroom and Derrick's guest room set was taken to the fourth bedroom. Paul and Joe then reassembled the beds while the younger folk carried up boxes for the bedrooms and full baths.
The couple who bought Natasha's place had their own refrigerator. Since Natasha's fridge was bigger, had more features, and fit snugly into the space allocated for it, the couple decided to use it rather than buy a new one. So that appliance was the next thing to be moved into the house and hooked up to the current and the water line.
"The drop-in stove and built-in micro hood are better than what either of us had, so we're okay there," Derrick had told his folks when they had offered to buy new appliances as a wedding gift.
Derrick's living room furniture was assigned to the family room while his dining room set went to the breakfast alcove between the kitchen and the family room.
Both Derrick's and Natasha's desks were nestled into the study, leaving no room for anything else other than two bookcases. Natasha's dining room set was put in the formal dining room and finally, her living room suite was set up in the front formal room.
In a half-hour, the rest of the boxes from the garage and the van were in the house and the rental van was on its way back. Derrick and Natasha's friends relaxed in the back yard area with beer, wine, soft drinks, and snacks while Paul uncovered the pool and Natasha waited for the pizza delivery guy.
By the time that the food had arrived, the painting crew chief had come to re-hang the doors and he and his helper accepted one of the pizzas but said they had one more jobsite to visit before breaking for the rest of the holiday weekend.
After the lunch break and some pool time, the moving crew left to hugs and kisses from Natasha.
Paul and Joe began to install blinds and curtain rods, and CJ watched as the two men gave Pat lessons in being a house-husband. Pat helped with holding the level while one of the other men marked the placement for the brackets. The boy also passed screws, the drill, and other tools with the precision of an operating room nurse.
Mars (the men's place)
"It's the kind of thing I wanted to be able to show him," Danny said as the guys looked up from the Australian Rules football match taking place on the plain in front of their table.
CJ and Natasha unpacked boxes, making beds and setting up the bathrooms with towels and toiletries.
"I'm going to go get the girls," CJ announced. Tonight everyone (except for Derrick, of course) would sleep under one roof.
"Listen, why don't I get them?" Natasha said. "I need two more rolls of shelf paper, so it'll save you a trip."
"Natasha, why don't you take some pictures and go visit with your husband?" CJ answered. "I'll get the shelf paper and the girls."
"If you're sure?"
"I'm sure. Go!" CJ laughed, pushing Natasha toward the door.
That evening, the family relaxed poolside while Joe grilled his famous barbecued chicken.
"I'm just so amazed," Natasha said, refusing a beer. She took a sip of her seltzer water with lime. "There were still lots of boxes to unpack and inevitably, things will be moved around, but the house is essentially livable in a little more than thirty-six hours, except for the kitchen floor. It's a miracle."
"What's this about the kitchen floor?" CJ asked. "It looks to be in good shape to me."
"Oh, we had decided that we wanted something with a grayish tint, with all the stainless steel. The brown fake parquet just doesn't float Derrick's boat, as it were."
Later, when CJ was putting the kids to bed and Joe had also declared himself "ready to hit the hay", Paul told his new daughter that they needed to talk about the kitchen.
"You should have told us, Natasha. We could have arranged for that at the same time as the paint and paper," Paul lightly scolded.
"You've done so much already, Daddy, and it's not as if redoing the floor is a major operation. The only thing that would have to be moved is the refrigerator."
"Well, next time, tell us everything, okay?"
"Yes, sir," Natasha said.
Over the past two years, she had seen Paul exercise his authority over Pat, Caitlin, and Dansha when needed. She had even seen Derrick respond respectfully to a quiet command and pointed look. Now it was her turn to experience gentle criticism from her father-in-law. Surprisingly, it didn't bother her. It made her feel as if he considered her as much a daughter as Deborah, Caitlin, and Dansha.
Sunday was spent quietly, except for church in the morning. In the afternoon, everyone went to visit with Derrick. The patient had good news to report. The doctors, the physical therapist, and the nurses all agreed that Derrick was making excellent progress. In another three weeks or so, he should be able to manage stairs with his crutches, and would be able to go home. He would still have to do PT a couple of days a week, and probably wouldn't be back in the office until after Thanksgiving, but there was an end in sight.
"Well, that's great news for us to take back home tomorrow morning, Derrick," Paul told his son.
"All in all, it's something of a small miracle," Derrick told his family.
Monday, September 4; early afternoon
Natasha entered her husband's hospital room.
"Hi yourself, wife mine. Now put that 'Do Not Disturb' sign on the door and lock it."
"I hear and obey."
When Derrick told Kyle about his newly-recovered abilities, he asked the therapist what and how much he and Natasha could do about it.
The man told Derrick that while "using it" was to be encouraged, it might be best if for a while, they were somewhat conservative.
"For a week or so, you should just relive high school and stop at third base. Then maybe positions with you in a passive role. Although you do have considerable upper body strength, as evidenced by your skill with the crutches. I'll make sure that the staff knows to respect the signs."
After Derrick and Natasha hit a few triples, they settled down into post-"everything but" conversation.
"So, are you settling in okay? Is my grandfather really a help or is he something of a concern? I know my father can be, well, Dad has always been the brightest light of any room, but he means well. I hope that having him, CJ, and the kids wasn't too much for you, sweetheart."
"I love your family, Derrick, you know that. Of course, it is nice to be guest-free, except for your grandfather. And he really is such a help."
"I'm sorry I haven't been there for you, Tasha, sorry that I haven't been able to do the things you would have wanted me to do. I really wanted to work on the 'honey-do list' you had."
"Don't fret, Derrick. In fact, it needs to be a secret for a while, maybe until Thanksgiving, but you've already done one very important thing I've asked of you."
"Now what have I been able to do like this?" Derrick laughed. "And when?"
"This; on our wedding night."
Natasha's smile lit up her face as she pulled the little stick with the blue plus sign from her pocket and handed it to Derrick.
Danny and Alicia hugged each other. They had known, of course, since Derrick and Natasha's wedding night, because they had witnessed the soul's departure and the burrowing when egg and sperm united.
"But we have a secret, too, don't we, Danny? Something even they don't know as yet."
"Yes, we do. And I think we should celebrate and gloat."
Danny started moving in a circle around Alicia and misty walls began to arise.
"A hundred million miracles are happening every day!"