Disclaimer: "The West Wing", the characters and situations depicted are the property of Warner Bros. Television, John Wells Productions, NBC, etc. They are borrowed without permission, but without the intent of infringement. This site is in no way affiliated with "The West Wing", NBC, or any representatives of the actors. This site contains stories between two mature, consenting adult females.
Author's Disclaimer: Abbey, CJ & The West Wing all belong to NBC, Aaron Sorkin and their subsidiaries. Purely for pleasure, not profit. Hide Your Love Away is property of Lennon/McCartney et al.
Author’s Notes: Longer bit, finally. I'm far from happy with this chapter, but c'est la vie. I'm more than a little concerned that I wound up taking Abbey way out of character here, but none of my edits seemed to fix it, so I reverted to the original. I couldn't remember whether "couch" or "sofa" was more prevalent in the States, either, so I used both (we use couch or chesterfield, I've never used sofa unless referring to a sofa-bed). Surprisingly there's no website for proper furniture terms according to region. I also cut CJ's thoughts on the walk from the party to the Residence because they felt really repetitive and pointless, so I apologize for the jump in scene.
Comments, critiques, coupons… All welcome. :D
Oops! Somehow posted this in my personal journal by mistake... So it's a little late. XD
“What are you drinking tonight, CJ?” Abbey asked, walking over to the bar cart and examining bottle labels as she spoke.
“Just the usual. Grasshopper.”
“We don’t have crčme de anything, but we’ve got vodka and ice. Those are the important parts, anyway,” she said, pouring CJ a vodka rocks.
“Ma’am, I think I’ve probably had enou-”
“I do have lemons and sugar packets, though. Body shots?” CJ only blinked in response as she tried to come up with something more evolved than throat noises.
“I was kidding, CJ. I was young once too, you know.” She laughed, making her way to the sofa.
“You look pretty young tonight, Ma’am.”
CJ was not a big fan of her mouth taking off on its own agenda without consulting her first.
Abbey stopped halfway across the room, looking back over her shoulder to where CJ still stood awkwardly just inside the doorway.
“You don’t look half bad yourself,” she said coyly.
“Oh, thank you, Ma’am. I really liked it on the rack, but then I wasn’t sure. The colour’s a bit brighter than I would’ve normally chosen, and the neckline does that swoop thing, I wasn’t sure if-” The First Lady cut her off with a raised eyebrow as she found a seat on the couch.
“CJ, have a drink and take a seat.” CJ did as she was told, choosing the spot on the couch furthest from where the First Lady was sitting. “Personally, I like the neckline.” Abbey winked. “We’ve got nice chests, might as well show ‘em off.”
CJ swore she saw her life flash before her eyes as she choked on her drink.
“You probably shouldn’t put that in the briefing tomorrow. We might come off as a little self absorbed.” Abbey added.
“You think?” Abbey laughed in response. CJ was still trying to wrap her head around the neckline comment - and the wink. Surely it meant nothing, surely it was just…
“I’m not on duty anymore, you know. You can call me Abbey.” The First Lady leaned forward and began to remove her earrings, revealing the tendrils of hair curled softly above her ear.
CJ wished she hadn’t said that; because calling her Abbey, rather than “Ma’am”, rather than Mrs. Bartlet - it let her mind wrap hope around every thought she couldn’t allow herself the luxury of having. When she called her Abbey, the balance shifted, and everything she promised herself she’d never reveal came startlingly close to being spoken aloud.
Every time Abbey twisted at the tiny silver clasp, her hair tangled more tightly around the earring. She was growing more than a little frustrated at its refusal to surrender.
“I’d like to know whose bright idea it was for me to wear these things with my hair down,” she grumbled, finally resorting to tugging hard at the lock of hair wrapped around the glittering jewellery. Without thinking, CJ leaned across the couch.
“I think it’s caught. Here, face this way?” She said, directing Abbey’s jaw gently with her hand. Her hand suddenly froze as she pushed Abbey’s long dark hair back over her shoulder. What was she doing? Time after time, avoiding situations like this one, where she knew she would be tempted to cross the line, to fly in the face of reason and mutual respect and find out if Abbey had ever harboured the same feeling, is she too longed for more. If the now customary apprehension , fear and desire mixing in CJ’s blood was a part of Abbey’s reality as well.
“CJ?” The First Lady’s voice broke through her thoughts and brought her crashing back to the present, her hand still frozen on Abbey’s hair.
She stumbled over her words and the First Lady glanced sideways at her, still facing away as CJ had directed.
“Sorry, I was just.. Trying to get better light. I would’ve brought my glasses if I’d known I’d was going to be on stylist detail.” She tried not to think about how nervous her laughter sounded.
“Well, if I wasn’t the idiot who decided on chandelier earrings and long hair, you wouldn’t have to. Here, does this make it any easier to see?” She tilted her head away, revealing the delicate curve of her neck. CJ’s breath caught as she searched desperately for her voice.
“Yeah. That helps.” She managed, beginning to unwind the fine strands from the delicate silver. Almost subconsciously she leaned in as she worked, her breath light on Abbey’s neck, her hands gentle. The hummingbird rush of Abbey’s pulse beneath her fingers answered nothing, she told herself. The heat, the frustration - it could be caused by anything, it could have nothing to do with her. When the earring finally fell away, CJ caught it and leaned high over Abbey’s head to place it on the end table. As she settled back into her seat, Abbey turned to face her. An emotion CJ couldn’t quite identify played across her features for an instant before she spoke.
“CJ, I…” Uncertainty, tinged with something else in her voice made CJ’s blood run cold. She knew. After all the years of careful planning, her worst nightmare was suddenly playing out before her. Frustration fuelled by her own poor judgement quickly turned to panic at the full consequences of her lack of self control. Beyond Abbey’s trust, she stood to lose her job, her reputation and the people that were more like family than her own blood, lately. The realization stung worse than the tears gathering in her eyes. She felt rather than saw the First Lady push herself up off the sofa, hesitating as if she had something to say, then, thinking better of it, crossed the room and picked the remote control up off the side table. The television flashed to life, and loud news updates filled the room. CJ couldn’t face that part of her life - their lives - and still do what she knew she had to. She was standing and across the room in seconds, taking the remote from Abbey and plunging the room back into shadowy silence.
“I’m sorry. I just can’t be both right now.” She hated how small; how defeated her voice sounded in the openness of the room. And how hollow the apology rang.
She watched the blank screen, waiting for the right words, the perfect explanation to flash across in teleprompter script. At least in that part of her life, she always knew exactly what to say. Sometimes it was good to have a script. She could see Abbey’s reflection beside hers in the darkened screen. She raised a hand to clear the tears away but somehow couldn’t find the motivation.
“I can do it though, Mrs. Bartlet. I promise you, I can still do my job. Please, when you tell the President, please just tell him…” Her plea lost its intensity as her voice fell with her tears. “Please just tell him I’m sorry.”
On shaky legs she took a step towards the door before a strong hand caught her wrist. Her body, like her voice, trembled with self control only partially regained. There were no measured responses now; only quiet admissions of the truth. It was strangely calming. She turned to meet the First Lady’s gaze.
“Abbey, you have to understand - I never meant for this to happen. I never meant for it to go this far.” The tortured sincerity did little to diminish the hurt in Abbey’s eyes.
“And you’re sorry that it did?” Abbey asked, her voice jagged and on the verge of shattering all together. CJ dropped her eyes.
“Sometimes I wish I was.” She knew she could leave it there, pretend that this was just an inconvenient attraction that she never would have chosen to be burdened with. But Abbey had to know that this was more; that for her, this was worth endangering everything she was willing to protect with her life any other moment of the day. She had to know that on her worst days she could content herself with the warm comfort of her impossible desires, that for her, a near impossibility was enough; because even if Abbey Bartlet could never love her, she could love Abbey Bartlet, and that was more than she had ever dreamed possible. For that, she thought, she owed Abbey the truth.
She caught Abbey’s gaze and vowed never to look away again.
“If it had to happen, it would be easier for all involved if I was sorry. And I’m sorry for everyone that it will hurt. I’m sorry for the position this puts you in, I’m sorry that because of who we are, this is the way that you had to find out. But I can’t apologize for falling in love with you, because I’m not sorry that I did.”
“That’s all I’ve been waiting to hear.” Abbey murmured as she pulled CJ towards her. She met her lips in a firm realization of wildest dreams.