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30 June 2008 @ 08:08 pm
FIC POST (OTPs and the neverending quest for fic perfection)  
I am still unsure how I feel about this story.  I want it to be perfect, as I am a perfectionist and I always want the story to be perfect.  Still, the whole idea is insane, though I love it.......so I dont know how it ends up.  Read it and tell me.  Am working on part 3, I definitely need a CJ/Jed confrontation in my life and Gracie hates the fact that CJ and Leo might not make up (I know, it gets me kinda wonky too).  So, check it out, and feedback is like a massive hunk of key lime pie!!!!!

Title: The Gathering Storm
Author: Montiese
Category: Angst/Drama
Characters: CJ, Leo, Abbey, Jed
Pairing: CJ/Leo, Abbey/Jed
Rating: YTEEN
Summary: “He took little care in the consequences of his wild speculations.”
Author’s Note: This is the sequel to It Ends Tonight. A million thanks to
                          sterling_sky. She’s like my very own slice of salty, yet sweet
                          Canadian bacon.

CJ wasn’t sure if she was dreaming. The buzzing got louder and then came the insistent nudging.
 
“Stop poking me.” CJ mumbled, attempting to grasp sleep again.
 
The nudging did not stop; the Press Secretary was peeved.
 
“Leo, I'm serious. I will fuck you in the morning.”
 
Foreign laughter woke CJ completely. As her eyes came into focus, she saw Abbey Bartlet in her bed.
 
“What's going on?” she sat up on her elbows, groggy and probably still drunk.
 
“Someone is buzzing your door.”
 
“Huh?”
 
The answer was another buzz. CJ groaned and threw the covers off. Managing to look at the clock before heading down the hall, she saw it was 3:47am. It was also Friday morning …it could be anyone. Her building was active; the idiot probably had the wrong door. The First Lady was in her bedroom. It both perplexed and irked CJ that the damn Secret Service did not keep the riffraff away.
 
“I think you have the wrong door.” CJ said, pushing TALK. “Please go away.”
 
“Claudia Jean, let me up.”
 
She rolled her eyes. This could not be happening, not tonight.
 
“Leo, go away. Go away now or I will call the police.”
 
“Call them…I'm not leaving.”
 
“Don’t do this. I swear I will have you arrested. How do you think that will look to the House of Representatives?”
 
“I am not leaving.”
 
She heard the defiance in his voice just as clearly as she heard the thunder rumbling above her head. Oh God, how could she forget there was a storm heading to the city? One of the last tropical storms of the season, The National Weather Service downgraded Rachel to a tropical depression just that morning. There was about two days of rain coming. Muttering an expletive and contemplating letting him drown, CJ opened the door. Then she went back to her bedroom.
 
“Leo is here.” CJ said. “Do not come out of this room.”
 
“He has to know I'm here.” Abbey replied.
 
“I'm sure. That doesn’t mean…”
 
“It’s alright. Do what you need to do; I'm going back to sleep.”
 
CJ nodded, closing the door. Leo knocked on the door. CJ took a deep breath, walking back down the hall. She unlocked the door, pulling it open. Leo looked very small as CJ bore down on him. Without words, she moved aside to let him in.
 
“Hi.”
 
“Cut the bullshit. What gives you the right to show up here at this hour?”
 
“I have a key. If I really wanted to rush in then I would have. I need to talk to you, CJ. If you love me, you will listen.”
 
“Don’t say that to me!” she exclaimed, punching him hard in the shoulder. Leo flinched but took it like a man. “Don’t you ever say that to me!”
 
She was so angry and Leo watched as she pushed the tears back. Closing her eyes for a few moments, CJ ran her hand over her face.
 
“Come into the kitchen. I need coffee.”
 
Leo followed her, trying hard not to focus on her pajamas, boxer briefs and a baby doll tee shirt. Some things were more important now.
 
“Is Abbey here?” he asked, watching her tinker with the newfangled coffeemaker he bought her last Christmas. He went to the cabinet for mugs.
 
“She is asleep in my bedroom, or maybe she is listening to every word we say.” CJ shrugged. “I really don’t know. I don’t know a damn thing.” She whispered the last part but Leo heard her. “You came here to talk, so talk.”
 
“Abbey is probably having an affair.”
 
“I know.”
 
 
“Honey, I'm home.”
 
When CJ came into her condo that evening, Abbey was sitting on the couch with a drink in her hand. CJ hung up her coat and walked into the living room.
 
“Hi there.” Abbey smiled.
 
“I am going to need food before I start chugging that SoCo.”
 
“Unfortunately the Secret Service would not let me order pizza.”
 
“Where are they?” CJ looked around her place.
 
“Outside. They went through the place with a fine-toothed comb.”
 
“Of that I have little doubt. OK, I have pizza in the freezer.”
 
CJ headed to her kitchen. Abbey poured another drink and followed.
 
“What happened tonight?” CJ asked, grabbing a cookie sheet and aluminum foil.
 
“My husband accused me of having an affair.”
 
“Yeah, I got that much. What made him think of something crazy like that?”
 
“Perhaps because I did.”
 
CJ looked at the First Lady, not believing she wanted to hear anymore. She took a large gulp of bourbon and ignored the burn as it went down.
 
“Fuck! Fuck, fuck, fuck! Abbey...”
 
“CJ, I…”
 
“No.” she covered her ears. “I do not want to hear anymore. Did you tell the President that I was your mistress?”
 
“No. Oh God, I would never do something like that.”
 
“Right. Shit, I never thought you would sit here and tell me that you had a damn affair. What did you tell him? What would make Leo confront me like he did?”
 
Abbey didn’t know. She actually denied the affair; told Jed he was wrong. When they were struggling through their marriage, she stayed at CJ’s condo. She was not with any lover…Jed was wrong. Maybe he decided to pick CJ because he didn’t know what else to do.
 
“You denied the affair?” CJ asked.
 
“Yeah. Its over, it was silly on both our parts, and there was no need to bring him into it. Jed and I were better.”
 
“I'm sorry, but your husband suddenly asking if you're cheating on him does not constitute better.”
 
“Yeah.” Abbey gave a solemn nod.
 
 
“She didn’t tell you who he was?” Leo asked, dropping sugar cubes into his coffee cup.
 
“It really doesn’t matter. What matters is the man that I defend down to my last breath, both men, thought it was me. One of those men happens to be my lover. That’s what matters to me. I don’t care who Abbey is, or was, sleeping with.”
 
“The President was distressed when we talked. He knew that his wife was lying to him. The fact that he put two and two together and got twenty two was a reasonable mistake.”
 
“You will never stop defending him.”
 
“He is my best friend, CJ.”
 
“And I mean nothing to you.” She countered.
 
“I never said that. Don’t put words in my mouth.”
 
“I don’t have to; you’ve already said plenty.”
 
“He was distraught.” Leo reasoned.
 
 
Leo walked into the sitting room at the Residence an hour after his conversation with CJ. The President watched NCAA Women’s Basketball. Sipping a beer, he also munched on popcorn.
 
“Tonight did not go well.” Leo sat in a chair.
 
Jed pushed the bowl of popcorn and a bottle of Coke toward the Chief of Staff. Leo sighed, reaching into the inside pocket of his jacket for a Marlboro Light.
 
“What happened?”
 
“They are not having an affair, Jed.”
 
He had not called him Jed since the day he found out his best friend had MS. This was not a night for pretense.
 
“What did she say to you? What did you say to her, Leo?”
 
“She’s resigning. CJ was devastated when I told her what you thought. She could not believe you would think that of her and once again not say something to her face.”
 
“Abbey spent nights with her,” he said.
 
“They are friends. When I pushed Jenny to the brink, she always went to Linda’s. They weren’t lovers. CJ told me that Abbey never stayed with her after Manchester.”
 
“That’s not true.”
 
“What do you mean?” Leo asked.
 
“She spent nights out after we returned from Manchester.”
 
“How do you know she was with CJ?”
 
“I don't know. Dammit, I just don’t know. Abbey is having an affair, Leo.”
 
“You don’t know!” Leo exclaimed. “This afternoon you were spot on, dead sure and now you don’t know! CJ is resigning in the morning and she will never speak to me again!”
 
“Leo…”
 
“I should have said no. I did your dirty work with CJ once; I should have said no.”
 
“This has turned into something I didn’t want it to. I just want my wife back. She is probably at CJ’s right now and has been so many other times. What was I supposed to think?”
 
“Did she try to convince you it wasn’t CJ?” Leo opened his soda.
 
“No. She just denied the whole thing. I've known Abbey for a long time; she was lying to me.” Jed sighed.
 
“CJ is resigning in the morning. She was so angry, but it was more than that. She was really hurt and I hurt her. I let you let me hurt her again.”
 
“We have to fix this, Leo.”
 
“No.” the Chief of Staff stood and shook his head. “You have to fix this, Mr. President. I do your biding where affairs of state are concerned. I am drawing the line on anything else.”
 
“What are you talking about?” the President stood too.
 
“I love her; I love CJ. I love her so much and she might love me if she ever stops wishing me dead. I have to get her back.”
 
“We have to get her back.”
 
“Well I know what I'm doing on my end. You need to figure out where you stand. Goodnight, Mr. President.”
 
 
“You told him that you loved me?” CJ asked.
 
“Yeah.”
 
“Why should I believe anything you say? Why shouldn’t I hate you?”
 
“I don’t have an answer for that. When he told me what he was thinking, about you and Abbey, I was devastated. I was also jealous. Two and two equaled twenty-two for me too. I never…I kept holding you at arm’s length. It was not impossible that you might be engaged in another affair. You were free to do that Claudia Jean, because I could never say what I felt. Should I have believed it was the First Lady? I should have just stayed out of it altogether. It was a personal issue and I made it something more.”
 
“If the President really believed that about me, he should have confronted me himself.” she sipped her coffee. “He took little care in the consequences of his wild speculations.”
 
“I think he knows that now.” Leo replied.
 
“That is not good enough. How many times am I supposed to let him kick me before I say stop?”
 
“Resigning will just hurt you too. Everything is upside down and we need you. I need you.”
 
CJ didn't want to hear it. She felt so angry and betrayed. Seeing Leo again brought to the surface what the bourbon pushed down earlier in the evening. How could she ever forgive any of them? Even Abbey bore some of the responsibility, not defending CJ against her husband’s accusations. The Press Secretary was the only one who walked into the minefield oblivious to the danger. She would have a long weekend to let the absurd seriousness of the entire situation sink in…it was better to go nowhere near the White House in the morning.
 
“I’ll go home now.” Leo stood from the stool. He was mentally and physically exhausted. They were facing real problems with the President’s non-disclosure of MS. Now they might be losing a valuable part of the team as they geared up for reelection. The thought of how the Bartlet administration would fare without CJ made Leo’s stomach hurt.
 
Yes, he was hard on her. It was because he believed that she was the best and he always wanted to get that out of her. A little part of the Chief of Staff also never wanted a soul to think he was easy on her because of personal involvement. No one knew of their relationship and before tonight Leo was petrified someone might find out. “It’s nearly sunrise.”
 
“I am not going to the White House today. Simon, Henry, and Carol can handle whatever you need. Consider me sick and tired.”
 
“Yeah.” He nodded. Leo started walking to the door and CJ went with him. Instinctually, she slipped her hand in his. The feeling made his heart soar, as it always did.  Just touching her, it allowed him a bit of hope.  “There will never be the right words to express how sorry I am.”
 
“You're right about that.” she took her hand back. “As angry as I am, a part of me still adores you because you would do anything for your best friend. However, I can't compete.”
 
“CJ…”
 
“Don’t. Please just go home.”
 
Leo nodded, wishing he could at least hug her before leaving. It might be the last time and he wanted to make sure he did it right. He also considered telling her that he loved her though it felt cheap. So many opportunities to say it in the past slipped through his fingers, Leo let them slip, so it was better to leave things as they were.
 
“I love you, Claudia Jean.” 
 
“I believe you. Goodnight.” CJ opened the door, watching him walk out. She watched him for a while before stopping him.
 
“Yeah?” he turned to her.
 
“Give me a smoke. I know you have one, and I need it.”
 
Leo grinned, that cute heart-stopping grin that always got CJ out of her clothes with lightning speed. Walking back, he took the pack of cigarettes from his inside jacket pocket. He used the opportunity of handing them over to let their hands touch.
 
“I don’t want to take all you have.” She said.
 
“You can have everything. Goodnight.”
 
“Night.”
 
Inside her condo, CJ cleaned up the coffee mugs and sat by herself at the counter. When she woke up that morning, it was just the usual mass hysteria chipping away at her sanity… tonight she was in the Twilight Zone. Her boss didn’t trust her. Her other boss, who was also her boyfriend didn’t trust her. And someone she thought was a good friend wasn’t altogether truthful either. As she lit a cigarette, CJ had no real idea how the domestic squabbles of the First Couple swept her up like a maelstrom. The Press Secretary planned to take control back; no one would make decisions in her life but her. It would be a very long weekend and CJ needed every second of it to know what Monday could bring.
 
***
 
 
 
I'm In....: the lair
I Feel....: curiouscurious
I Hear....: "Handy Man" James Taylor
 
 
 
one of those regular weird people.: Abbey Tearssterling_sky on July 1st, 2008 02:24 am (UTC)
Heading to a movie, so I don't have much time for a proper review, but wanted to let you know I read it; love it (CJ & Leo cigarette scene stole my poor little hopeless romantic heart, LOL!). Will be back to give you more when my life slows down to say, mach speed 3. XD
SSA McGeek: Claudia Jean in Ecstasymcgarrygirl78 on July 1st, 2008 02:34 am (UTC)
Yeah, you are seriously on the move. I gotta get a life too.....it seems like fun. So glad you liked it and look forward to hearing more : )
Starhuggerererer.: drainedpinkinks on July 1st, 2008 02:27 pm (UTC)
Gosh. You really know how to shake a girl.
SSA McGeek: CJ......Leo's girlmcgarrygirl78 on July 1st, 2008 03:12 pm (UTC)
You have to keep the people on their toes. Was it good for you?
Starhuggerererer.pinkinks on July 1st, 2008 03:32 pm (UTC)
Yes, yes. I can see nothing but a bloody mess on the horizon but I read on regardless.
SSA McGeek: The McGarrys.....out on the townmcgarrygirl78 on July 1st, 2008 03:58 pm (UTC)
No, it will end peacefully. Promise. Jed is just going to have to stop always taking the high road. When you hurt people you have to take responsibility and make it right.
temptthewrath on July 2nd, 2008 12:33 am (UTC)
Jed doesn't take the high road when he doesn't apologize for the MS, he takes the low road. Not taking responsibility is not taking the high road.
SSA McGeek: Sean....loved by Sammcgarrygirl78 on July 2nd, 2008 01:09 am (UTC)
Actually he does. In H.Con 172 when Leo doesnt want him to take the censure, he says he has to because he was wrong. And though I dont know his response word for word he does take responsiblity for his wrongness. I'm still pissed off that he sent Leo to tell CJ and everyone else got it from his mouth. I still cant figure out if Sorkin did that on purpose or not but it was another way of keeping her out of the inner sanctum.
temptthewrath on July 2nd, 2008 12:33 am (UTC)
How much do I love you right now? This is way better that we talked about!
SSA McGeek: CJ......Leo's girlmcgarrygirl78 on July 2nd, 2008 01:10 am (UTC)
Really? I thought we talked about it kinda exactly like this. I am so glad you like it though, I'm attached to it now. Part 3 is just jagged puzzle pieces in my mind but I know it will be a productive 3 day weekend : )