Title: Nights Like This
Author: sterling_sky
Rating: G
Pairing: Abbey/CJ
Word Count: 611
Summary: Running on instinct before logic, CJ took the First Lady’s hand in her own, realizing seconds too late that Abbey would’ve assumed that the person joining her would be the President...

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: It all belongs to the network and Mr. Sorkin. I’m just here to toy with their emotions

Author’s Notes: Just a little one that I scribbled out last night on my front porch in a thunderstorm with a vodka sour (or two, or three...) Hopefully said drinks didn't break the grammar too much. ;)

For the purposes of this story, we’re going to insert a big old thunderstorm in the middle of "Manchester" (pt. II). Don’t hurt yourself with that concept, OK? ;)

Comments/concrit are love. :D

She slipped quietly out the screen door and onto the porch, out into the damp shadows of the night. The screen rattled slightly as CJ closed it behind her, but Abbey remained motionless at the top of the porch stairs.

"Just watching the storm. Sheet lightning’s really something tonight." She held out her hand in CJ’s direction, and added, "I thought you might join me."

Running on instinct before logic, CJ took the First Lady’s hand in her own, realizing seconds too late that Abbey would’ve assumed that the person joining her would be the President, coming to tell her that it was late; that she should come inside and go to bed. But unable to turn back the clock, she simply froze in place and hoped that Abbey would see it as nothing more than a gesture of friendship, as a peace offering after their conversation earlier that day.

"CJ," The surprise evident in her voice as she turned to face her was all she needed to hear to know that she was likely the last person that Abbey Bartlet had expected on that porch tonight. "I’m sorry, I thought you were Jed."

"I’m significantly taller, Ma’am."

"Ah, the short jokes," she laughed, looking back out across the farm. "Actually though, I’m glad that you’re here. I wanted to apologize for earlier." CJ noted cautiously that she hadn’t yet dropped her hand.

"It’s fine, Ma’am, really. You were right, I should," she sighed, searching for the right words. "I should stick to what I know. Not interfere where I have no business interfering."

"No, CJ, it is your business. It’s exactly what you do, what you’re supposed to do, what we brought you onboard to do. I just… I went off on you today because you were the only one within arm’s reach. I know better than that, but today was just one of those days where I forget. I forget who we are; I forget how many other people are as wrapped up in this as Jed and I are. And today, I forgot that you’re wrapped up in this too. But you’re at the disadvantage because you didn’t see it coming, you didn’t get to prepare."

"I don’t really think I could’ve ever been prepared for this. No matter when I knew."

"Yeah, there’s some - " Abbey’s voice broke slightly, and she cleared her throat before continuing. "There’s some truth to that statement." The First Lady raised her face slightly to the sky, letting the rain blowing in under the roof land against her skin. CJ was unsure what to say next; whether she was meant to say anything at all. Her voice was soft as she finally spoke.

"Abbey, I didn’t even ask you, how are you doing with all of -" Again she wasn’t sure how to proceed; she went the safe route, leaving it open ended for the other woman to answer however she chose. "All of this?"

There was no joy in Abbey’s quick laughter. "Well, like I said, you know. Some days are hell. Days like today, they’re hell. But there’s a lot of good days. More good days than bad, that keeps you going. And some days…" Abbey’s voice gave way, the first chink in her armour. This time, CJ pushed logic aside willingly, and let the strongest instinct she’d ever felt take over - the instinct to hold Abbey Bartlet. She broke down silently in her arms; lightning flashing like quicksilver under the banks of charcoal clouds, rain soaking their backs, wind rising to steal the only words CJ had to offer.

"And some days there are nights like this."