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28 August 2010 @ 11:51 pm
Backwater .6.  
Title: Backwater .6.
Characters: CJ Cregg, Danny Concannon, Abbey Bartlet
Rating: Harmless
Notes: Pre-series.   Part .1. Part .2. Part .3. Part .4. Part .5.
Disclaimer: All credit goes to Sorkin, Wells, & NBC/Warner Bros.

After Wyoming comes Montana, which Danny has secretly been looking forward to, not that he’d ever go out and say that when his colleagues’ve all gotten their notebooks in a twist about how the press bus is twelve-odd-percent more likely to ‘accidentally’ drive off the side of a cliff here than in a nice, flat state like Kansas. As for him, well, first of all, he thinks twelve percent is a bit of an underestimation, there, and, secondly, that Montana is leagues above any of the other places they’ve been to so far, major cities included.

Cause, seriously, it’s gorgeous here. Beyond reason. There’re rivers and mountains and so much sky –plus Yellowstone’s within spitting distance of the campaign route, and that’s gotta be worth something, too. He doesn’t get how anyone could gather the will to whine, not when there’s a vista around every corner and time to go on a white water kayaking runs between press calls and dinner back at the hotel.

On the night before they’re set to leave town, Danny’s dripping his way back up main street following a particularly nasty pass down the river that got him soaked, bruised, and more than a little bloody. Not that he cares, cause this has been the first chance he’s had to do honest-to-goodness-physical-man-stuff since linking up with the campaign. Well. There had been the parking lot baseball, plus the ten thousand miles he’d run on an assortment of treadmills, but those didn’t count.

Anyway, he’s about a block away from the hotel when he passes by this antique store and decides, well, what the hell, it’s his last night here, and he likes knickknacks as much as anybody. He’s not that wet –except, no, he is. But he’d changed into dry shorts, so it’s mostly his hair and t-shirt that’re wrecks. And the cut on his head stopped bleeding a while ago, so, screw it, he’s gonna go inside.

The bell above the door chimes twice before Danny realizes what a huge, crazy mistake his late-night-antiquing plan was. There, in the center of the shop, is CJ. The very same CJ he’s been fighting to avoid since her perm vanished a week ago, making her straight-and-shiny hair his number one fixation, trumping everything, including, unfortunately for him –and his editor –writing. Which was his job. Which was coming ever closer to not existing anymore thanks to all this ‘she’s so pretty’ business.

The sound of the door opening –or maybe it was the sound of that damn bell –makes CJ look up from the jewelry case she was almost bent double over. Her eyes flick from his damp, matted hair to the still-bloody cut above his eyebrow and all at once Danny feels like he’s back in junior year, when all the girls he tried to ask to the prom had onced him over, then walked away without even bothering to say ‘no.’

“What in God’s name did you do to yourself?”

Oh. Abbey Bartlet’s here, too. Danny must’ve missed her, what with CJ being there and him being all disgusting over here, but it was impossible to overlook her now, not when she was in full-on doctor mode, rushing up to him and poking his forehead in a way that made him wince and wonder if she’d failed Bedside Manner 101. He’s about to answer, drum up some manly-sounding thing about kayaking and rapids that were practically waterfalls, when she backs off as quickly as she’d flown in, declaring:

“No stitches. I’ll give you something to clean it later. Remind me.”

“Yes, ma’am.” he mumbles. So much for operation boast in front of CJ. Dr. Bartlet goes back over to ogle more jewelry, leaving Danny free to slink off towards some lamps to plot his escape. Only. This happens:

“Almost kill yourself getting out of the hot tub?”

It takes a second for Danny to process that CJ’s actually talking to him, then another second after that to realize that there’s more insulting going on than friendly chatter. He bristles, puffs his chest, and explains –in the most many voice he can muster – “I clipped a rock on the white water course.”

A few things happen then, things that Danny’ll replay over in his head for the next few nights –hell, years –before he falls asleep. First, CJ’s eyes get all wide and glittery like he’s never quite seen before in all her hours of laughing it up with the rest of the senior staff. Then she flips her bangs out of her eyes. Then she gives him a little once over, only this one’s…good. Not at all reminiscent of latent prom woes.

“Nice.”

It’s one word. One word, and right after she says it, she turns around and goes back to looking at jewelry. That’s probably a good thing, in the long run, cause even though it was only one word, it lights Danny up in a way that’s totally inappropriate for the inside of a dusty curio shop. And so, even though he should take his win and run with it, he decides to stick around, look at some lamps, bask in the glory of it all. Besides, he tells himself, it’d be weird to leave now, when he just got here.

And if it means that he gets a chance to eavesdrop on CJ some, well, that’s okay, too.

“You should buy it,” Abbey nudges.

“Abbey!” CJ laughs, “What the hell am I gonna do with an engagement ring?”

“Wear it. It’s gorgeous.”

“It is.” There’s this little sigh in CJ’s voice that Danny finds way, way too appealing. He forces himself to examine a tiffany lampshade, all the while keeping one ear trained back on the jewelry case. “Twenty-eight hundred, though. That might be walking around cash for the Leo McGarry’s among us, but…God, it’s a nice ring. You know what? I’d marry the first guy who showed up with that. Seriously. Screw dating –gimme that ring, and I’m in.”

Abbey says something, then, but Danny’s got no idea what it could’ve been, cause his ears are buzzing and his brain’s burning with this crazy, lunatic idea that he can’t, under any circumstances, ever, ever follow through on. But maybe he could. No. He couldn’t. It’d be his job, probably his neck –no, totally his neck; she’d kill him, beat him to death with the ring box –but. Maybe…no. He couldn’t. No.

Unless. Maybe.

Maybe he could.

Danny’s internal war to end all wars goes on for a while –at least, it must’ve, cause by the time he shakes free from it, both CJ and Abbey aren’t at the jewelry counter anymore. Heck, they’re not even in the store. He shoots a look at the door. Leaving would be the smart thing to do, here. But since when has anything he’s ever done in regards to CJ and her hair and her eyes and her laugh ever been smart?

He buys the ring.

 
 
 
arraydesign: d/cjarraydesign on August 31st, 2010 10:20 pm (UTC)
love that you're doing this again.