Title: The Magdalene Laundries
Author: sterling_sky
Rating: G
Pairing: CJ/Abbey
Word Count: 630
Summary: “I want you to say that you love me.”

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: I own nothing. *insert witty remark about my pay cheque vs. those of Sorkin et al*

Author’s Notes: Feedback is tremendously appreciated as always; I’d like to know how far on/off the mark I am as reference for any future endeavors. :) And to the mods, please let me know if there is a tagging system to be followed. Thank you. :)

*Waves a cautious hello*

I’m not only completely new to this comm, I’m completely new to the fandom. I haven’t written fic for at least a year, and I’ve never written TWW fic before, let alone this pairing. But since this pairing is the entire reason I got hooked on the show (yes, I was hooked on the pairing before I ever saw the show, thanks to all the lovely fan fiction on this site… And my massive celebrity crush on Stockard Channing, but that’s kind of a given, is it not?) I figured it was only right to attempt to write them when an idea finally nudged its way into my brain.

My fabulous regular proof reading buddy is trying to stave off pneumonia, so all blame for grammatical errors can be aimed solely at yours truly, my less-than-eagle-sharp-awake-for-the-past-30-some-odd-hours eyes, and the limitations of a high school education. Don’t say you’ve not been warned!

The title is stolen from the Joni Mitchell song of the same name, since I was listening to Emmylou Harris' cover of it on repeat the entire time. The lyrics don't really fit, but I just loved the tone of it for this piece, and the idea of fallen women. Plus I had absolutely nothing in the way of a title. So, shameless pilfering from brilliant songwriters! Hooray! (P.S. Joni, if you're out there, please don't sue me.)

CJ knew that if she didn’t stop her now, she never would.

“Mrs. Bartlet?”

Abbey stopped, turning to face her.


“I was just wondering if you’d heard -” CJ was pretty sure she’d left her nerve somewhere between the briefing room and her office. “If you’d heard that, uh, that…”

“Oh for God’s sake, Claudia Jean, would you just - ” It was now or never, and as attractive as never was starting to sound…

“If you’d heard that I was in love with you. Ma’am.” The sound of the silence was crushing. Abbey dropped her gaze from CJ’s eyes to some undefined spot on the office wall, pressing her hand to her face before dropping it back down to take a sip from her water bottle left sitting on CJ‘s desk. She let the condensation run down her wrist and into her sleeve, pretended not to notice how hard it was to keep her hand from shaking. She twisted the cap firmly into place, every move deliberate. Suddenly she spun around and sent it flying across the office; watched it ricochet off the opposite wall. Her first act of lost self control. Somewhere at the edges of her peripheral vision, she watched CJ desperately attempt not to look startled at the outburst. Her voice low and gruff, without turning to face the Press Secretary, she finally spoke.

“Goddamn it, CJ.” She smoothed the roughness from her tone, but kept her voice just as quiet as she added, “What do you want me to do with that?”

“Ma’am,” CJ failed to swallow back the catch in her own voice. “I’m sorry. I, that was - ” She spoke quickly, trying to disguise the tremors in her words by covering them with speed. CJ dropped her gaze to the floor as the First Lady turned to face her.

“CJ.” The soft, broken sound of her own initials brought her eyes back up to meet Abbey’s. She hadn’t expected the tenderness in the First Lady’s voice, never mind the tears brimming along Abbey’s lower lashes. Abbey stepped forward, closing the distance between them, raised her hand to CJ’s hair, and ran her fingers down to CJ’s jaw, leaving her thumb lingering dangerously close to CJ’s lips. The cold damp of her fingertips from the forgotten water bottle beneath CJ’s desk did nothing to stop the white hot rush reeling behind CJ’s eyes.

“What do you want me to say to that, CJ?” The catch in Abbey’s voice coupled with the sensation of her hand still resting on her cheek nearly undid CJ completely. Hoping childishly that time would somehow slow if she couldn’t see it pass, CJ closed her eyes.

“What do you want me to say?” Abbey repeated, and even with eyes shut CJ could feel hazel eyes searching her face for some kind of emotional tell. CJ opened her eyes. That trick never stopped time when she was a kid, either. The silence scratched like wool at CJ’s throat, catching the only words she wanted to say.

“I want you to say that you love me.”

But in the end, CJ said the only thing she knew she would say all along, the only thing she ever could say.

“I- I don’t know, Abbey. I don’t know what I want you to say.” Her false admission at least managed to chase the iron-willed silence and tension back to the corners of the room.

Abbey‘s hand fell to her side. “I have to go, the President will be sending out a search party for me. I’ll see you later, Claudia Jean.” With that, she walked past CJ and out of the office. Head down, she headed for the Residence as quickly as possible, sending her SSA detail scrambling. The fewer people to explain her tears to, the better.