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25 January 2008 @ 09:29 pm
This story was emotional for me but I got through it.  I'm really rather fond of it, in that completely biased kind of way. 

Title: Missing Your Face
Author: Montiese
Category: Angst/Drama/Romance
Characters: CJ, Danny, Leo
Pairing: CJ/Danny
Spoiler: Requiem
Rating: TEEN
Summary: He was gone and there wasn’t a damn thing that all of CJ’s power and
                  influence could do about it.
Author’s Note: This is #3 in the Tomorrow series. This is for Leo, I don’t care how
                          corny that sounds. He is still missed.

Danny handed her a large mug of tea before sitting down on the coffee table across from her. Curled up on his couch, CJ clutched the cup with both hands. She was dressed in Danny’s bathrobe and no matter how hard she tried to stop them, the chills ran through her body like a shot of adrenaline. Today they buried Leo. While she had been all sexy talk at the White House, CJ came to his condo and cried in the shower. Danny gave her the time and space she needed…a bathrobe and strong drink waited in his bedroom. Now he gave her tea.
“I'm glad you're here.” He said. “I did not like the idea of you being alone.”
“Donna was going to be there. Horny and peeved but she would’ve been there.”
“What?” Danny laughed, raising an eyebrow.
“Campaign sex with Josh, or maybe a little bit more. I never really thought that they…shit I have no room to talk about anyone. Toby was there today. He lurked in the back but he was there.”
“I didn’t think he would miss Leo’s funeral, no matter what the circumstance.”
“I sent Charlie back to make sure he was OK.” she sipped her tea. “I just…OK, I don’t want to cry again.”
“Its OK if you do.” Danny said, reaching out for her hand.
“No, its not.” CJ shook her head. “Don’t treat me like a piece of fragile china Danny; I assure you that I am not.”
Danny knew that. He also knew from experience that when her emotions got the better of her, CJ lashed out. She probably wanted to be with Toby tonight, though the reporter took no offense to that. CJ and Toby had always been close, certainly best friends and maybe at one time something more. She had not uttered a word to him since he told her that he was the NASA leak. Danny knew that she missed him terribly. CJ planned to keep her head held as high as she always did.
“I didn’t mean to be cross with you Danny, seriously.” She sighed and handed the tea back. “Could you please get me something stronger to drink? Do you have any vodka?”
“Yeah; want a martini?”
“God yes.” She managed a small smile. “Hand me my purse.”
He did, going back into the kitchen and pouring the tea down the drain. Oh well, he tried. Relaxing was what she ought to be doing but CJ would numb herself instead. Danny was not surprised by the behavior and he felt good that he was there to look after her. He smelled the cigarette being lit as he mixed the perfect martini…three olives as CJ liked it.
“Oh that’s beautiful.” She said, taking it from his hands and sipping. “Mmm, yeah. That deserves a kiss Opie. C’mere you.”
Danny smiled, moving onto the couch and leaning close to her.
“Now I know the key to your heart.” He said as her lips teased his.
“What's that?”
CJ kissed him before going back to her martini. She really was exhausted and already explained that she would not be at the White House tomorrow. Everyone deserved a day off to mourn. She was seven different shades of pissed that Leo’s funeral had become a political event. Even though the man himself would not have been shocked by it all. Eulogies felt like speeches and conversations like commentary. Other than the truly unscripted moments of grief at the Cathedral and at Arlington, CJ expected a director to yell cut at any moment. Scorsese could not have made it better. She found herself constantly checking her cell phone, hoping he would call.
It was his first heart attack, and his choice of CJ as his successor, which changed the dynamic of their relationship. They became friends, good friends; the best of friends. She was always his call from the road…two or three times a week just to talk. The decision to run for Vice-President was not always one Leo was happy about. He was a behind the scenes type guy; quite uncomfortable in the glare of the spotlight.
Often CJ would just listen as he talked about any and everything that came to his mind. After getting it all out, he would laugh, telling her that her check was in the mail. They were having just such a conversation on Election Eve. Leo told everyone to go away and relaxed in his suite with a cup of tea. He was sure Santos would win, felt it in his gut, and he would be the next Vice-President of the United States. 
He was not sleeping well. He admitted to CJ that he was concerned about his health. CJ listened as she always did but cut him off mid roll on who would be a good Vice-President if he decided to step down in two years time.
“I love you Leo McGarry.”
“I love you very much. I haven’t said that enough and I am sorry.”
“You don’t have to be. I know how you feel.”
“How could you?” she asked.
“Actions speak louder than words.” Leo replied. “You are a true friend. I am thankful everyday that you are in my life.”
“Good. I was starting to think I was alone in my feelings, Mr. Vice-President.”
“Oh ha ha ha. How much convincing would I have to do to get you to stay with me?” he asked.
“Chief of Staff to the Vice-President.”
CJ laughed that vibrant laugh that made Leo remember days long gone.
“No way Jose. Forget it.”
“C'mon, it could be a real blast. I'm a divorced man so I would need an escort for all those silly, yet exciting, parties. You could be on my arm Claudia Jean, in the designer dress of your choice.”
“You're bribing me Leopold.” She laughed again.
“If need be.” He laughed too. “I don’t know what I’d do without you. I'm not just saying that so you'll work for me.”
“I know. I will be on the other side of any phone you ever pick up.”
“How did I get so lucky?” Leo asked.
“I don’t know.”
“You promise?”
“Cross my heart.”
“Good.” He sighed. “I love you too. Don’t think I wasn’t going to say it. I was just drumming up the courage is all. So many people do and rightly so.”
“Oh please. You need to get some sleep. I bet Josh will be banging on your door at dawn.”
“You're right. You will be my first call after we win.”
“I better be your second or the President is going to have a bone to pick with you.”
“Yeah.” He laughed. “We will talk tomorrow and I’m gonna ask you to stay again. Just thought I would warn you.”
“I figured as much.”
“Goodnight Claudia Jean.”
“Sweet dreams Leopold.”
They did not talk the next day. Donna called and told them that Leo was dead. He had another heart attack and was gone. That was five days ago though it felt like five minutes. He was gone and there wasn’t a damn thing that all of CJ’s power and influence could do about it. She wanted to curse God, yell, scream, and fight even if it was useless.
How long would it take the empty feeling to go away? She and Leo had a rich past but it was the future she so looked forward to. She would have stayed with him; he would have convinced her. They would have made a hell of a team…they already did. None of that was going to happen now.
“Annabeth fell for the 1962 Winter Olympics luge team story.”
CJ did not know how long she had been in the safety of her memories but when she returned, Danny was still with her.
“You did too, the first time.” He replied. “It’s a convincing story and Leo tells it…told it with such a straight face. You would call him on it, say it was impossible and he would just grin. You never knew.”
“Except that there was no Winter Olympics in ’62.” CJ laughed, though the tears quickly built in her throat. “This is so fucking unfair Danny! Dammit!”
She did not cry; would not. It had nothing to do with appearing strong in front of Danny. Whether she liked it or not, and she didn’t, he had already been eyewitness to two major breakdowns. Ear witness to one, depending on how long he stuck around in his bedroom that evening. CJ felt if she started crying again, she would not be able to stop. 
The breath she took was deep and ragged. She grabbed another cigarette from her purse, lighting it with the end of her last one. Danny thought about asking her not to but beating her up was not fair. Anyway, CJ only took a puff or two from her last one. The rest of the time was spent staring into space.
“I have a bit of good news.” Danny said.
CJ chuckled, turning to look at him. She tucked her feet under her bottom and Danny thought she was so beautiful. Against his better judgment but unable to stop himself, he ran his finger over her cheek and under her chin.
“You're holding out on me Concannon. Give me the good news and stop thinking about feeling me up.”
A smile spread across her melancholy features and Danny smiled too.
“I got a job offer today. UCLA wants me to teach journalism courses. Right now, it is just an adjunct offer as they just lost two professors in their program. It’s a three-year contract and I like what they're telling me. There is a tenure track option after three years.”
“Oh my God!” she threw her arms around him. “Danny, that’s amazing. I really…” CJ’s voice trailed off and she put some distance between them. Not as much as before but it was still distance.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“First you seemed enthusiastic, and then…I don't know.”
“I am so happy for you. Do you think you can leave this adrenaline rush behind?”
“I'm already looking at it in the rearview mirror. It was an amazing time, almost every moment. I'm ready for some new amazing moments.”
“I'm going back to California too, though I have no earthly idea what I'm going to do when I get there.”
“I'm sure people are knocking down your door.”
“God yes.” CJ rolled her eyes, taking another deep drag from the cigarette before putting it out. “Its funny, everyone wants to offer me ceremonial, bullshit jobs. I have so many good years left and intend to use them. You know?”
“I do.” Danny nodded.
“So, Mr. Reporter Man,” she took both of his hands. “You end up in California too; coincidence or well-crafted plan.”
“Certainly a well-crafted plan.”
CJ laughed. She seemed more open now but Danny wasn’t sure if it was real or not. CJ was a Shakespearean actress of the highest order. She didn’t do it to hurt or fool people…she did it to stay sane. He pulled her closer until they were in each other’s arms. The scent of his shower gel on her skin was a very good thing.
“I love you Claudia Jean. I doubt that’s a secret. I have for a long time and I already know that I will never, ever stop. We should be together; we would be happy.”
“Mighty bold step, putting all of your cards out like that Opie.”
“I'm a strict follower of the Kenny Rogers philosophy. You gotta know when to hold them and know when to fold them.”
He forgot knowing when to walk away and knowing when to run but CJ figured he did not want to mention running now.
“Yeah.” She kissed him. “I want to finish this martini and just go to bed. This day needs to be over. I think I can be alright if this day were just over.”
“What time do you need to leave in the morning?”
“I don’t.” CJ shook her head.
CJ laughed at the confused look on his face.
“I'm not going in tomorrow; I told Margaret to stay home and play with her baby boy. Cliff can handle it and I just need to be away. One day is all I have. I have to be by the President’s side after that.”
She moved again to the corner of the couch but Danny didn’t follow…he had a night and a day to get his point across.
“I should be mad at you anyway.” She said. “You were supposed to wait until January 21st. You never listen to me.”
“I always listen to you.” He replied. “You started it remember; you called me?”
“Then you should have reminded me of my statements.”
“I will remember that the next time.” He looked at his watch. “It’s getting late, I definitely need some sleep. Take your time.”
“Thanks…for a lot of things.”
“You're welcome.” Danny kissed her forehead.
He left her alone; CJ finished off her martini with ease. She thought about a third cigarette but nixed it. Instead she opened her Blackberry and read Leo’s emails and texts over the past month or so. He was worried about her, most likely projecting so he would not think of his own issues. She wondered if he knew something was going to happen to him. Was he scared when it was happening? Was the pain in the pit of her stomach ever going to dissipate? 
CJ did not know the answers to any of her questions. She read one of the last text messages he sent, November 4, 2006 at 8:42 pm. ‘Hey, it’s almost over. I owe you dinner when I get back to DC. You’ve been a saint to me. Miss your pretty face.’ –Leo
“Oh Leo, I miss your face too.”
There was no point in trying to stop the tears. The third cigarette came and went. Then CJ Cregg wiped her tearstained cheeks, took a few deep breaths, and went to Danny’s bed. She wanted to be held, she wanted to be loved, and she wanted to be with him. All of the rest, like deeper feelings and the thought of forever would have to wait. She did not want to be alone anymore and with Danny going to California too, she would not be.   That was the feeling that superseded them all right now.
I'm In....: the lair
I Feel....: thoughtfulthoughtful
I Hear....: Michael McDonald "Take It To Heart"