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20 June 2008 @ 11:32 pm
FIC POST (Happiness is a warm gel pen)  

I am so exhausted and heading to bed.  But first I wanted to post this.  A little background.  In my West Wing universe, CJ Cregg is married to Leo McGarry.  After the murder of her Secret Service agent Simon Donovan she is assigned a new team of agents because she is highly visible, the wife of White House Chief of Staff and pregnant.  Bill Grayson is the head of that Secret Service detail.  He remains in that position for approximately 15 years, which is really unheardof and thus why this is fiction.  I am completely unsure of the kind of relationship CJ and Bill have and I have been writing them for about 3 years now.  He is with her practically everyday, has seen every up, down, and in between.  He has held her when she cries and brought her under control when she rages.  He is probably with her more than any other human being, including her loving but neglectful husband.  Anyhoo, read it and you will see.  This takes place after Absentia Causa, the 1st story in my Second Lady series.  You can read that here, if inclined, for reference.  http://national-library.net/stories/montiese/absentia-causa.htm .  If not, just enjoy this character study.

Title: He Wouldn’t Say He’s Anything Special 
Author: Montiese
Category: Friendship/Angst
Characters: CJ, Leo, OMC
Pairing: CJ/Leo
Rating: YTEEN
Summary: The monster was waiting for her in dreams. It was the one place Bill could not protect her.
Author’s Note: This is #44 in the CJ McGarry: Second Lady series. I took it back to the very first story, this is immediately following Absentia Causa. I have been looking for a way to explore the deep relationship between CJ and Bill and I hope I did it some justice with this story.

In her dreams, CJ fell through space. Arms flailing, mouth open in a scream that she could not escape. Falling into thick blackness, she heard the splash before she felt it. The water burned as it filled her lungs. She stretched out her long arms, desperate to break the surface of the water. There was pain; that was all that told her she was still alive. Dying like this was not an option. She would fight until there was nothing left of her.
 
Strong hands pulled her out of the water. Sputtering for breath, CJ closed her eyes against the blinding light of day. Soon she was breathing again, the air burned too but it was better than water. She wanted to thank her savior so she opened her eyes. The face however, was not friendly. The eyes are hard and cold, the mouth filled with venomous fangs, and the hands that just saved her were now razor-sharp claws intent on tearing her to pieces.
 
CJ woke with a start, tried to scream but was unable. She frantically searched the room for signs of familiarity as well as danger. Her heart raced as her eyes sought out dark corners. This wasn’t home…where was she? As soon as she saw him, everything changed. Her heart and pulse slowed to normal; her lungs could fill with air. She was in the hospital; she was safe because of him. He was there so she would remain safe.
 
“Good morning.” CJ whispered.
 
“I wouldn’t exactly call it morning yet, Mrs. McGarry.” He replied.
 
“Were you sleeping?”
 
“Resting my eyes a bit.”
 
“I've never seen you do that.”
 
“It would be pretty crazy for me to do while covering your body, ma'am.”
 
The Second Lady smiled a bit, shivering when thunder rumbled then boomed across the sky.
 
“You're off duty?” CJ asked.
 
“For the next week. While I assured Special Agent Butterfield that I was fine, I was shot so procedure must be followed.”
 
CJ flinched when she heard the word shot. She had been shot too but with a real bullet.  Not that four tranquilizer darts were a picnic in the park. She reached for his hands; Bill moved closer and grabbed hold.
 
“Are you alright?”
 
“Mrs. McGarry, don’t worry about me. I was supposed to be protecting you…I wasn’t there…”
 
“Don’t say that; don’t be silly. You took four tranquilizer darts Bill. How much can a man be expected to take before he falls?”
 
“I have to live with the repercussions of what happened at the Naval Observatory.” Bill quietly replied.
 
While CJ did not respond, she was just glad they both lived through it. She heard the chaos when Daniel Altman breached the perimeter. She ran; did exactly what Bill told her to do in case they were separated during dangerous situations. It happened too quickly and he was already in the house.
 
“I thought…for just an instant…” CJ could not finish her sentence. She tried to hold back but the tidal wave of emotion overcame her. For a moment it sounded as if she was having an asthma attack, then she began to sob. CJ immediately covered her face with her hands as if Bill had never seen her tears. He shifted in his seat before placing a gentle hand on her arm.
 
“Mrs. McGarry…ma'am…”
 
“I feared you were dead, Bill. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I was petrified.”
 
“I'm here ma'am. We are both going to be alright. You don’t have to be frightened anymore.”
 
CJ took deep breaths, turning her face away. Bill knew that she hated people seeing her emotions. It was still raining out and she wondered what time it was. What was Bill doing there if Ron made him take the week off?
 
“Maybe I should just…”
 
“What are you doing here?” CJ looked at him as she wiped her face. She smiled when Bill handed her a tissue.
 
“I just wanted to be sure you were alright. It was a very long day.”
 
“I was shot.”
 
“Yeah.” Bill looked at the floor. “I am so sorry ma'am.”
 
“The pain meds might be wearing off now.”
 
“That is why I need you to sleep. Its late and I should not be keeping you awake.”
 
“Wait.” CJ squeezed his hand. “Will you…I don’t want to be alone.”
 
“The Vice-President is here.” Bill assured her. 
 
“No he’s not. I don’t know where he is.”
 
“He’s in the hospital, Mrs. McGarry. But…I will stay until you fall asleep.”
 
CJ calmed down when he said that. She tried to relax on the slightly comfortable hospital bed. As tired as she was, fear kept CJ from closing her eyes. That monster was waiting for her in dreams. It was the one place Bill could not protect her.
 
“Bill?”
 
“Yes ma'am?”
 
“I think since I took a bullet you should tell me something about yourself.”
 
“What?” the veteran Secret Service Agent smirked. “Is that how this works?”
 
“Yeah.” CJ nodded. “Kind of like you owing me, so to speak.”
 
“What is the asking price these days, ma'am?”
 
“One personal question.”
 
“You drive a hard bargain, Mrs. McGarry.” Bill sighed but wore a smile. “Alright. Just one question, and I reserve the right not to answer.”
 
“I reserve the right to keep asking.” CJ replied.
 
“And I reserve the right to pretend I can't hear you.”
 
“Why must you make things difficult?”
 
“Is that really your question?”
 
“That’s not the question. Just a regular one.”
 
“Well, ask the question so you can get some sleep. You should have plenty stored up.”
 
She did and didn’t know which one to ask. Despite his words to the contrary, the Second Lady was almost positive Bill would answer anything CJ asked. Even if he did not give her the whole truth, he would tell her something. She trusted him and he never let her down. CJ had to make sure that he knew that.
 
Even tonight, with a bullet hole through her thigh, Bill didn’t let her down. He took four tranquilizer darts just to keep her safe. Depending on what the tranquilizer was, he could have been severely injured or killed. The idea of that sent cold shivers through her. Shuddering, CJ held tighter to his hand.
 
“What is the last thing you do at night before you fall asleep?”
 
“I say my prayers.” Bill replied, flexing his index finger across her knuckles. “Now, you have to rest. I mean it.”
 
“OK.”
 
“Promise.”
 
“I am really tired. As long as you promise to stay.”
 
“Of course.” He slipped his hand out of hers, sitting back in the chair. “Until Vice-President McGarry returns.”
 
“Thank you Bill.” CJ was dozing but she fought it. “I love you.”
 
“Close your eyes, ma'am. You're safe now.”
 
“Safe.”
 
CJ mumbled incoherently before the room fell silent. Bill was again alone in the dark. Through no work of his own, they would both live another day. His prayers had been answered. The room was so silent Bill could hear the rain outside of the double-paned windows. He could hear the calm breathing of CJ’s sleep. He could hear the white noise buzzing in his ear and between his ears. How could he stop feeling like this? How could he assure himself that he had done everything in his power to protect Mrs. McGarry at all costs?
 
Daniel Altman got the better of him. Ron Butterfield did not let Bill take part in the Flamingo rescue mission. He said it was because he had been shot…he was impaired. Bill knew there were other reasons, the main one being his boss was not sure he could be objective. Ron was unsure if in the span of 30 seconds Bill would not put a bullet between Daniel Altman’s eyes for hurting CJ. Squeezing his eyes tight, Bill didn’t know either.
 
He was devoted to his job, being a Secret Service Agent meant everything to him. Ever since he was a little boy in Des Moines with his grandmother, Bill knew he wanted to protect people. CJ McGarry was a special case though. When Simon Donovan, who trained him, asked him to work on his team, the Agent was honored. A White House detail was big time.
 
After Simon’s murder, Ron Butterfield requested he head up the new detail to be assigned to Flamingo. She was the face of the Presidency, the wife of the White House Chief of Staff, and pregnant. Bill knew it was important to keep her safe. That was seven years ago. How could he not get close to someone after that kind of time? He was practically CJ’s second skin; had been there for every triumph and tragedy. Bill wanted to shield her from all the blows even though he knew that he couldn’t.
 
She trusted him and that was very important to him. He watched her closely everyday, it was his job, and the Second Lady trusted very few. There was Nora of course, and her childhood best friend Kate Ritter, but that was it. Bill knew there were parts of herself that she even kept from her husband. He was not a marriage Counselor though, and didn’t want to be. 
 
He never talked to Mrs. McGarry about her marriage and when she expressed her anger, doubts, or fears, Bill remained neutral. Actually, he told her that she should not discuss such things with him. Not that CJ ever listened. She trusted him; he always took care of her. He protected her and listened…Bill was much more than a Secret Service Agent to her.
 
While his job was not exactly what he signed up for when the Department of Treasury recruited him, Bill loved being an Agent. He was only human, it was impossible not to “fall for” Claudia Jean McGarry. She was full of hope and life, with amazing blue eyes and a smile that could melt ice. Even at some of her lowest points, Bill watched her brush off the dirt, lift her chin, put on a dazzling smile, and make the world love her.
 
While he was well aware that she held on too tight, CJ needed someone to hold on to. Bill figured if it was him then it was supposed to be, and he would remain a stable figure in her life. For seven years, he had been able to juggle being her stability, protecting her life, and keeping Ron Butterfield at bay about getting too “close” to the protectee. God, would any of it ever be easy?
 
The slide of the door put Bill back on guard. He stood quickly, hand instinctually on his weapon, and turned. Another presence startled the Vice-President of the United States but Leo calmed when he saw his wife’s primary Agent.
 
“Good morning Bill.”
 
“Good morning, Mr. Vice-President. I um, I just came to check on Flamingo. She woke up so I promised to stay until your return, sir.”
 
“You don’t have to explain.” Leo replied. “Do you mind stepping outside with me for a moment?”
 
“Of course.”
 
Bill looked at her once more; she was sound asleep. He stepped out into the hallway of GW Hospital’s secure wing. Agents Daniel Cobb and Lucy Jefferson were on duty. Bill acknowledged their presence with a nod. The Second Lady had a full detail of almost 50 agents, most of whom Bill handpicked for the assignment.
 
“I want to thank you Bill. Not just for what happened today but for the past seven years. making sure my wife is safe is a top priority for me; I know she feels that way with you. Knowing that you put her first consistently…I don’t know the words.”
 
“You don’t have to thank me, Mr. Vice-President. Protecting Flamingo is my job and I take great pride in being a Secret Service Agent.”
 
“I think this is about more than the job.”
 
“I don’t know what you mean, sir.” Bill straightened his back and tightened his jaw. The past 17 hours had been excruciating and long. He was not going 12 rounds with a measuring stick with Leo McGarry. He had been here before…it was a man thing. OK, it was a Leo thing.
 
“Well obviously you care deeply for…”
 
“Forgive my interruption sir but the protection of Mrs. McGarry is my job. While we do spend much time together, deep feelings on my part have never been a motivating factor. You need never thank me for doing my job, worthy of trust and confidence always sir. If not the life of your loved one then someone else’s. I really should go home…I'm quite tired.”
 
“I bet. When should I expect you back at your post?” Leo asked.
 
“In seven days after I'm retested.”
 
“Shall I tell Mrs. McGarry something when she wakes?”
 
“No sir.” Bill shook his head. “Thank you, Mr. Vice-President.”
 
Leo shook his hand and Bill walked away. He needed a stiff drink and a couple of sleeping pills, both of which he would have as soon as he got to his Chevy Chase home. Also, and he was not sure what this meant, after a long rest he would call to check on Flamingo. Part of his job, a little more, maybe a bit of both, Secret Service Special Agent William Grayson walked on a high wire. If he didn’t fall after what happened yesterday then maybe he would be just fine. As long as Flamingo was, he could live with the rest.
 
***
 
 
I'm In....: the lair
I Feel....: exhaustedexhausted
I Hear....: "Ave Maria" Sarah Brightman