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He could not believe he had to tell her that he knew. He couldn’t believe that he knew. It was too much, even for Leo and he had seen a lot. He suspected something; didn’t know why but he did. Secret glances, code speak, the look of pleasure and guilt across her face when they were together. He knew CJ was seeing someone else but damn…Abbey Bartlet. He was not angry at her, maybe she could get from Abbey what she couldn’t get from him. OK, he was angry. No, he shouldn’t be angry with CJ, intentions weren’t stated between them and that was Leo’s fault. Now he wanted to fight, he wanted to win, for himself and for the President. Jed Bartlet was his best friend and CJ his girlfriend. Abbey could not have them both. This would not end well, but it would end tonight.
“Hey Leo, you needed to see me.”
“Come in CJ, and please close the door.”
Well, this couldn’t be good. What was happening now? The President had MS, CJ pushed the House of Representatives into coming after the Administration, and they handed down subpoenas like candy on Halloween night. What else could happen?
“Should I sit?” she asked.
“I would prefer.”
If she was going to get her knees chopped off again, the Press Secretary planned to do it in comfort. She sat down on Leo’s couch, the same couch they were necking on just the night before. She tried to shake that from her mind as she crossed her legs and wished for a drink. CJ studied Leo and it was obvious that he looked nervous. She knew the look well; he looked at her the same way when he told her that the President of the United States had multiple sclerosis and had kept that little whopper to himself for years.
“Just drop it, please. I refuse to play guessing games and I really just want to go home. Whatever it is, just tell me.”
“The President knows, CJ.”
“The President knows.” He looked deep into her blue eyes and waited for a reaction. Leo did not get what he was waiting for.
“I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean.”
“What?” she was clearly exasperated. Then her attitude changed. “Wait, you told him?”
“I didn’t tell him anything.”
“Then how would he know? We have been very discreet, last night’s little make out session not counting. We’ve…”
“He doesn’t about us.” Leo replied.
“Then what are we talking about? I'm back to being confused. Just tell me what you're talking about so I can go home. Please.”
Leo cleared his throat. Rising from his chair, he joined her on the couch. He wanted desperately to take her hand but it didn’t feel right.
“He knows about you and Abbey.”
CJ was silent for a while, as if the information was moving through the many compartments of her mind. Again, Leo noticed no change in her countenance.
“CJ, he knows.” He repeated.
“Is this supposed to illicit a reaction from me?”
“What the hell are you talking about? Dammit, I am telling you that the President knows you're having an affair with his wife and you don’t care. He knows!”
“What!” CJ stood from the couch. “I'm what! Leo, what the hell is going on? Stop talking in circles and give it to me straight.”
“Stop, stop!” CJ held up her hands. “Tell me what the hell is going on. Now!”
Leo laughed, but he didn’t know why. Obviously, CJ seemed oblivious to his accusations. She could be acting but he had known her for almost five years, she would have to be Katharine Hepburn to pull off this kind of performance.
“Sit down,” he said.
She did it with reluctance, distancing herself from her boss and lover. CJ took a deep breath and tried to control the anger boiling to the surface.
“President Bartlet came to me and told me that he knew that you were sleeping with Abbey. He didn’t tell me how he knew, he was very upset and I think they had a fight about it. He wanted me to tell you that he knew and it had to stop. I didn’t want to be in the middle of this CJ but he was clearly agitated and I did not think it was a good idea for him to confront you with something so sensitive.”
“So he sent his lapdog?”
“Hey! Watch it.”
“He thinks I'm fucking his wife.” CJ lowered her voice. “Leo, that’s disgusting. Abbey is a beautiful woman and we are close, we have spent a lot of time together. But I would never...she is not my type. I don’t even know where this is coming from.”
“When you say you’ve spent time together, what do you mean?”
“You think you have a right to know my personal business?” she asked.
“As concerns this, yes.”
CJ’s jaw tightened and Leo knew she was pissed. Now he was confused and needed his mind cleared before he had another conversation with the President.
“She spent some nights at my place. Are you happy? I don’t know what was happening between her and the President, and I didn’t ask. She is a friend, I knew she was going through something, and I opened my door. It was between State of the Union and the MS bomb. That was another thing that he didn’t have the guts to tell me himself.”
“Has she stayed with you since?” Leo asked, ignoring her kick in the ribs.
“No. I guess they made up. Abbey and I had a fight in Manchester but we moved on. He thinks I'm having an affair with her?”
“That’s what he told me.”
“I'm disgusted Leo.” The tears of anger she was holding at bay with sheer force of will stung her eyes until they burned. “I have devoted myself to him, serving at his pleasure, and he thinks…” CJ stood. “I'm done.”
“Don't talk to me. You believed him, I know you, and you always believe him. You thought that I was sleeping with the both of you. You got out your measuring stick, didn’t you Leo? You wanted to know what she gave me that you couldn’t. Am I right?”
“I was concerned by what the President told me.”
“You weren’t concerned. You wanted to know how she got him and me, and where that would leave you. You wanted to know if she told me things or if she knew about us. Am I getting warm?”
“You're way off.” His response was not convincing.
“Yeah right. Abbey does know about us; I had to talk to someone. You don’t have to worry though, I’ll tell her it’s over.”
“And tell the President, in case he is listening at the door, if he ever wants to know something about me, he can ask me to my face like a man. In fact he can ask me in the morning when I present him with my resignation letter.”
“You don’t want to do that. This is obviously a big misunderstanding and um…I'm at a loss.”
“You sure did lose. You lost me. I guess it would be alright now to tell you that I loved you, despite you being a major asshole most of the time. Wow, I knew this job could get crazy but this is beyond ridiculous. How could you let the President drag you into this after everything else we have been through?”
“Clearly I made a mistake.” Leo said.
CJ nodded, unable to find the words for how big the mistake was. An affair with the First Lady; he should have just accused her of treason. She was not that kind of woman and though her affection for Abbey knew no bounds, something like that never crossed her mind. What bothered CJ the most is that both the President and Leo believed it. She didn’t know what Abbey said to her husband when confronted but she had the feeling that someone would be waiting for her when she got home. She hoped she brought the good liquor.
“You can't resign. This Administration needs you; I need you.”
She walked out without saying another word. How could she work with people who did not trust her? These past few months had been nothing short of hell. CJ was prepared to fight, kill, and die while the man she did that for thought of her as an infidel. He believed she was a home wrecker. He actually thought she would have an affair with his wife. He didn’t even suspect that she had been fucking his precious best friend for years. Or did he? Did he think that she had no right to either one of them? Did he send Leo with the information on purpose, to put an end to their love affair? CJ didn’t even know who Jed Bartlet was. How could she defend a man like that day after day?
Pressing three on her cell phone as she left the White House, CJ listened to the phone ring.
“Are you at my place?”
“How did you guess?”
“I just had a conversation with Leo about our love affair.”
“I am so sorry. I have Southern Comfort.”
“I love you. I have To Have and Have Not.”
“I already pulled it out. Should we have sex to spite them?” Abbey asked.
“I thought about it. What are you wearing?”
“You're bad Claudia Jean.”
“What are you wearing?” she asked again.
“Jeans and a Radcliffe tee shirt.”
“I’ll see you in a little while.”
CJ hung up the phone as she got into her car. She thought hard about seducing Abbey Bartlet as she listened to Fleetwood Mac on the radio. Then she laughed at the absolute ridiculousness of the whole thing. Men were so stupid, men in power even more so. She would find a solution to this problem. It wasn’t going to happen tonight because she would be too busy getting drunk, watching Humphrey Bogart, and bitching with a good friend. Though the idea of making sense of this seemed insane, the morning would have to bring clarity.