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27 March 2008 @ 11:05 pm
I know I have posted too much today already but I could not stop myself.  Have a new CJ/Leo series.  Squeeing all over the place about it.  Give it a gander if so inclined.  I am very happy to writing my OTP again.....feared I might be running out of ideas.  Gracie deserves a lot of the credit for this one, sometimes people think their ideas are silly or far-fetched and they are actually just perfect.  Feedback is appreciated, it feasts the beast. 

Title: Peach Roses and Cherry Blossom Dresses
Author: Montiese
Category: AU/Post-Administration/Friendship/Romance
Characters: CJ, Leo, Charlie, Carol
Pairing: CJ/Leo
Rating: TEEN
Summary: Why did she suddenly feel tingly all over? This was not a date, it was simply
Author’s Note: #1 in the Old Friends series. It’s AU because Leo didn’t die and CJ
                          didn’t end up with Danny. Everything else stays canon to the series.
                          I need to thank Grace for being a good friend and giving me an idea
                          that she thought would never fly. I owe her one.

“You have flowers.”
“Hmm?” CJ looked up from her reading. “Oh my God, are those for me?”
“Yeah.” Carol put the crystal case holding two dozen peach roses on her desk. CJ shifted Gail to the side. “I wonder who they're from. Danny, maybe?”
“Why? He still loves you, you know that.”
“I do know. He is just not the rose type. He would have sent forget-me-nots if anything. Maybe Franklin sent them…these could not have been cheap.”
“Are you two…?”
“Carol, what are you trying to say? I don't date the boss.”
“Technically he is not the boss.” Her senior assistant replied. “He is handsome, intelligent, rich, and generous.”
He was handsome but CJ would not say so to Carol. If anything happened between her and Franklin Hollis, it would definitely be on the down low. At least in the beginning. Situations of that nature could become entanglements quicker than you could blink. CJ Cregg did not intend to make any appearances in US Weekly alongside Brangelina and one or both of the Olsen twins.
The papers all wanted a piece of her post-Bartlet romantic life. Everyone knew about Danny…the courtship and the demise was cause for some conversation. To her credit, CJ remained mum on the subject. Her personal life was going to stay hers. For eight years, the whole world watched her nightly. That ended the second she closed the gate of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue behind her for the last time. While the press did not always agree, a precarious ceasefire and peace accord were in place.
“The suspense is killing me.” Carol practically bounced up and down. “Read the card.”
“Oh, I'm not going to be able to do that in private? Silly me.”
“CJ!” Carol laughed. “C'mon.”
The former Press Secretary and White House Chief of Staff laughed too. She gingerly pulled the small envelope from the bed of flowers, managing to avoid thorns. Slipping the card out, the handwriting was immediately recognizable. ‘It’s been too long. Why? Missing you, L.’
“They're from Leo.” She said.
“The one and only. They really are quite beautiful.”
“What does the card say?”
“Hmm? Oh, just that it’s been too long. C’mon Carol, we have to get back into work mode. Actually,” CJ looked at her Gucci watch. “Lets get into lunch mode.” She picked up her phone and punched a few buttons. “Sparky, what's for lunch?”
“Thai?” Charlie suggested.
“Perfect, I want the usual.”
“You got it.”
She hung up and sat back in her chair. Carol left, perhaps not satisfied but at least settled for a while. CJ toyed with her cell phone. Would she call him? Why hadn't she in nearly eight months since Matt Santos moved into the White House? Leo always said the Vice-Presidency would be an Emeritus position, ceremonial in many ways. Still, it required much travel. When she saw him these days, it was on CNN. With a smile that he was still #2 on speed dial, CJ put the phone to her ear.
“Hi Leo.”
“Are you upset with me?” he asked.
“What a strange way to start a conversation. We haven’t talked in months.”
“I know that. I thought I might have done something to upset you.”
“Like what? No Leo, of course not. I just…we have both been so busy. You more so than I.”
“We should make it up to each other.” He replied.
“I'm all ears, Mr. Vice-President.”
“That never sounds as nice as it does coming from your lips.”
“Mmm hmm. What was I saying?”
“I believe you were talking about making it up to me. The flowers are breathtaking, by the way. Absolutely beautiful.”
“I saw them and knew you had to have them. So…making it up to each other.”
“I'm listening.”
“I know how busy you are but would you be able to squeeze in a lunch?”
“When?” CJ asked, flipping the pages of the day planner on her desk.
“I'm free tomorrow and the day after. The rest of the week is free actually; a rarity.”
“I'm booked tomorrow and Thursday. Wait, what about dinner? I could do dinner on Thursday. Unless you would rather it be lunch. It looks as if that will have to wait until next week though.”
Leo did not want to wait that long. Of course he did not want to say that aloud. Dinner seemed more like a date than lunch did. It was the reason he didn’t suggest it in the first place. The whole thing seemed more complicated than it should have been. He should not have waited so long to contact her. They had been friends for a decade…dinner was not out of the ordinary.
“Dinner sounds great.  Would you like to pick the place?”
“I was thinking about Firefly but a reservation on two days notice…”
“Have you forgotten who you are talking to, Claudia Jean?” Leo asked.
“No sir. I'm talking to the Vice-President of the United States. Will you pull some strings?”
“I will make a phone call. You have that power too; do not underestimate the amount of clout you have in this town.”
“I learned from the best.” She replied.
“You were an eager and capable pupil. You…”
“What time would be good?” Leo asked, skipping over his last sentence.
“Eight. Is that too late?”
“Well, my bedtime is 9:30, but for you I will make an exception.”
“Are you serious?” CJ asked laughing. “You go to bed at 9:30?”
“Absolutely not. It has been a long time since I've heard you laugh.”
“It has been a long time since everything.”
“I'm glad we’re going to change that.” Leo said.
“Yeah.” CJ took a deep breath, thought of saying something, and changed her mind. “I should go. I will see you on Thursday.”
“I am sending Lewis for you and I do not want an argument.”
“You will get none, sir.”
“Don’t call me sir.”
“I think I will. It gets you flustered and that makes me giggle.”
“Well then by all means. Your giggle has always been something I enjoyed.”
“Are you flirting with me?” CJ asked, feigning shock.
“No. I am hanging up before I get myself into serious trouble.”
“Alright. See you soon.”
“I look forward to it. Bye Claudia Jean.”
CJ hung up the phone, biting down on her lip. Why did she suddenly feel tingly all over? This was not a date, it was simply dinner. This was not a man; it was Leo McGarry. Wait, Leo was a man. He was witty, funny, sweet, and…oh God. Why was she thinking this way? It was Leo, for God’s sake. He was the only man who ever yelled at her and gave her shivers other than her father. It had been a long time since he yelled at her. Their relationship changed after he handpicked her to replace him as White House Chief of Staff. They meant more to each other; spent time together. It was probably better not to think about that now. CJ had a busy afternoon and was starving. She walked out of her office door, looking at her assistant.
“Is lunch here yet?”
“You're distracted.”
“Hmm?” CJ looked over her glasses at Charlie.
“I rest my case.”
“Seriously, tell me what you said.”
“You're distracted.”
“Maybe a little.”
Charlie put a stack of folders on her desk.
“These are priority. The meeting is Monday and you need to be an expert on this.”
“Can't I just smile and pretend to be?” CJ asked.
“You are a good actress. At least scan them; you know I have class and won't be here until eleven. I cannot play Cary Grant to your Kate Hepburn.”
“You are a magnificent Cary Grant. How can I get you here full-time without having the President kill me?”
“There is no answer to that. Hell, I am going thinking of retirement in a few years…I’ve earned it.”
CJ laughed.
“Well when you finish Georgetown and pass the bar, I want you here.”
“I will run the legal department. I will…”
“I have a date tonight.” She cut him off. “Well, I'm not sure if it’s a date or not. Is it automatically a date when a man asks you out to dinner? In fact, I am not even sure he asked me. I may have suggested it, but he didn’t say no. I mean, if the two of us had dinner it would not be a date, would it?”
“You're talking fast again. That always freaks me out. We can't date because I am engaged to be married. Is this guy attached?”
“No.” CJ shook her head.
“Well, how did he ask you, or you ask him? Did it sound like a date then? Oh God, see this is what happens when a woman becomes your best friend. I need to have drinks with Josh. I need to do manly things.”
“It’s Leo.” She replied, laughing.
“What's Leo?”
“We are having dinner tonight. He sent me those flowers.”
“They are beautiful. Going out with Leo is not a date. Its dinner with an old friend…two completely different creatures.”
“Good.” CJ exhaled.
“You were worried it was a date?” Charlie asked.
“I don't know. I haven't seen him since before the Inauguration. Why is that? Then he sends me two dozen amazingly beautiful roses out of the blue. Do you know how much those flowers had to cost?”
“Leo doesn’t care about money. Not to be crude but the man is loaded.”
It was true. She knew he had a black Amex card; only people with serious money were in that club. Not that it mattered to CJ. She could take care of herself and had been doing it for 20 years.
“It is not a date.” She repeated.
“I mean, unless you want it to be a date.”
“Oh God Charlie.” She put her forehead on the desk. “We are not going to talk about this anymore. There is plenty of work to do. Lets focus on that, shall we?”
“Yes ma'am.”
CJ walked back to the semi-private table, seeing Leo stand as she approached. She checked the corners and tables close to them; no one looked like Secret Service. Still, she was sure if a spoon fell, the Vice-President would be on the floor before it was. He held his hands out and she took them, accepting a soft kiss on the lips. For just a moment CJ inhaled the scent of him. She never knew what Leo wore but the man always smelled good.
“You look great.” He said, holding out her chair before sitting in his own. “It is so good to see you.”
“I changed my outfit three times…and have no earthly idea why I told you that.”
CJ wore a pair of white slacks and a red satin tank top. It made her hair, once again that perfect shade of reddish gold look more auburn. Leo smiled.
“This was a good choice. Tell me how you’ve been.”
“Good, but very busy. I was hoping to slow down after the White House but it hasn’t turned out that way.”
When the server approached the table, CJ ordered a vodka martini. Leo wanted a raspberry iced tea.
“I played around the world in 100 days.” Leo replied. “All those days and nights away; I truly missed my bed.”
“Whenever I saw you on TV it was in some foreign land.”
“Tell me about it. I was exhausted.”
“Are you feeling alright?” she asked, opening her menu.
Leo did not have to ask what she meant. She was wondering about his heart.
“I'm fine; following doctor’s orders. I am so tempted to do something bad for me tonight.”
“How often are you tempted?” she asked.
“Mmm, more than I wish I was. So much is off-limits these days. Some things, however, are worth being bad.”
“I know what you mean.” She sipped her martini. “Are you ready to order?”
“I know exactly what I want.”
Neither wanted to talk about work over dinner. It consumed too much of their lives already. Instead they laughed about Bartlet Administration memories. CJ especially got a kick remembering Leo singing karaoke when they were in Kyoto.
“I don’t think Your Smiling Face ever sounded so good.” She said, ordering another martini.
“You're being kind.”
“Yeah.” She laughed and so did he. “But it was a fun night.”
“You roped me into that. I didn’t think anyone could rope me into something like that but there I was. All you had to do was ask. I'm sorry that it took me so long to reach out and call.”
“You didn’t call me Leopold, I called you.”
“Yeah.” He studied his plate. “I would like to make it up to you.”
“That’s what you're doing.”
“I would like you to escort me to the Slovakian State Dinner.” Leo said.
“I'm sorry?”
“You are quite familiar with State Dinners, Claudia Jean. I'm unmarried so the President feels it appropriate to have a female escort for these sorts of things. I hate to call it that.”
“Why? Aren’t you going to pay me for my time?”
“CJ…don’t tease.”
“I’ll give you a discount, for old time’s sake.”
“Does that mean the answer is yes?” he asked.
“There is just one more thing.”
“Leo, I don’t think I can give you any organs.”
He laughed, running his fingers through his thinning hair. CJ smiled.
“What is it?” she asked.
“I saw a dress, and I thought of you. It is not my intent to dress you up and make you into something you're not. You are just perfect as you are. This dress though…”
“Just tell me it’s not pink. I will wear it as long as it’s not pink.”
“It’s um, silvery white and covered in cherry blossoms.” Leo replied.
“It sounds beautiful.”
“It is beautiful. I already bought it from Nordstrom; it’s Calvin Klein.”
“You bought the dress? How did you even know what size I was? How did you know I would say yes?”
“I was hoping you would say yes. Margaret told me what size you were.”
It did not surprise her that the woman knew her dress size. CJ was sure she knew everything.
“How is Margaret? I miss her everyday. Carol is wonderful but Margaret and I bonded over some really intense times.”
“She asks me about you. She was the one who got on me for not calling you. You know how Margaret can be when she’s upset.”
“I do. Were the flowers her suggestion too?” CJ asked.
“That was me.” Leo replied as the server came to remove plates. “Are you in the mood for dessert?”
“Not tonight.” she shook her head. The two drinks made her sleepy. She was actually in the mood for bed. To think she laughed at Leo for saying his bedtime was nine thirty. “I hate to be a party pooper but these days I am fond of my seven hours of sleep.”
“I know what you mean.” He waved for the check. “The State Dinner is next Wednesday evening. It’s the first I'm hosting; the President will be in Jordan.”
“I’ll be Second Lady for the night. I think it will be fun.”
“These things are rarely fun.”
“That’s because CJ Cregg has never hosted one. What shall I do?”
There was nothing to do. Leo had a staff of 30 at the Naval Observatory to handle that kind of thing. CJ always wondered what the Vice-President’s residence was like and she would soon find out.
“It will be a small dinner, about 30 people. We will mostly sit around the table and have boring conversation about policy, history, you know the routine. Music, photographers …nothing out of the ordinary.”
“I remember.”
Leo took the check, reaching into his jacket for his wallet. He pulled out that Amex card and put it on top of the receipt.
“It really is good to see you, CJ.”
“You too. Let’s make sure we don’t put too much distance between doing this again.”
Leo smiled, taking her hand across the table. Someone quietly approached the table, taking the check. They didn’t talk for a while, just held hands and looked at each other over the flickering candlelight. CJ looked away first.
“When do I get my dress?” she asked.
“I’ll have it delivered to your office.”
“No. That would arouse all kinds of suspicion.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just deliver it to my condo, OK?”
It was raining when they left the restaurant through the side fire exit. That’s when she saw at least eight Secret Service agents. Leo quickly hustled her into the back of the Lincoln Towncar that dropped her off. He told his driver to drop Ms. Cregg first then rolled up the partition. He pulled a cigarette from his inside pocket, lighting it. 
“Isn't this one of those things that is off limits?” she asked, taking it when Leo offered.
“Yes, but you cannot take away everything a man has. I have one a day, after dinner, usually with a cup of tea.”
“You drink tea?”
He took the cigarette back.
“Yes. Do I look like I don’t drink tea?”
“Well I do.”
“I need to get to know you better.” CJ replied.
“We were doing that once.”
“You kinda ruined it.”
“What did I do?”
“You ran for Vice-President of the United States.” She again took the cigarette.
“I think you should be nicer to me because I'm sharing my only cigarette of the day with you.”
“Mmm, I’ll think about it.”
“Cruelty, thy name is Claudia Jean.”
She smiled, and he did too.
“I had a nice time tonight.”
“Me too. We definitely should have done this sooner.”
“I think we both agree on that. I'm glad the situation was rectified.”
They finished the cigarette in silence. The car slowed and then stopped; CJ knew she was home.
“I'm here.” CJ said it more to herself than to her companion.
“Can I call you?”
“Yes. And I want my dress.”
“I’ll have it here by the weekend. It really is beautiful but you are going to make it shine.”
“What's with all the compliments?”
“It’s been too long…I have a lot stored up.”
“I’ll see you, Leopold.”
CJ leaned over and kissed his cheek. He tapped the partition and in a few moments the door of the car came open. She quickly slipped her hand into his, squeezed and climbed out. Upstairs in her condo, she slipped out of her shoes, put the teakettle on and sent a text message to Charlie. Typing quickly, CJ smiled about the words before she pushed send. ‘I think it was definitely a date. See you in the morning.’
I'm In....: on my way to bed
I Feel....: sleepysleepy
I Hear....: "Your Body Is A Wonderland" John Mayer
ginnyginnylcsw on March 28th, 2008 11:54 am (UTC)
Very nice way to start the day. Can't wait to read about the dinner *g*.

Abby and I are enjoying a few days in Lancaster while Emily is at a Congressional Youth Leadership Conference in Princeton. God bless free internet connection in our hotel :)
SSA McGeek: CJ and Leo....look awaymcgarrygirl78 on March 28th, 2008 12:45 pm (UTC)
So glad you liked it. Two things, firstly, I am not going to write about the dinner except in flashback form in the new one I'm working on. Secondly, I am totally stealing your daughters' names for one of my character's kids. See Gin, that's love : )

So glad you liked it.
ginnyginnylcsw on March 28th, 2008 05:54 pm (UTC)
Flashback form is fine, as long as I get to read about it. As for the names, they're yours for the taking. If you need boys names, try Nathan and Jacob, the names we had picked out in the event we had boys lol.
SSA McGeek: CJ and Leo...up close and personalmcgarrygirl78 on March 28th, 2008 06:39 pm (UTC)
I just needed girls. Hopefully part 2 will be posted by tomorrow. It has totally been filling my time here instead of doing work. What a kick I get out of CJ and Leo falling in love all over again.
~ I Bite ~maligator on March 28th, 2008 01:49 pm (UTC)
I haven't read it yet, but I just wanted to tell you something. I had to laugh when I read that Gracie gave you the ideas for this one. I know we're not talking about the same Gracie, but if you look at my default you'll see Gracie too. :p
SSA McGeek: CJ Cregg answers your questionsmcgarrygirl78 on March 28th, 2008 02:31 pm (UTC)
I think we all have a Gracie in our lives. If not, then we should.

Edited at 2008-03-28 02:32 pm (UTC)