Title: Not Worth the Risk
Spoilers: Bartlet for America, though not really.
Disclaimer: I wouldn't want them know, even if I could have them.
Summary/Notes/Warnings: She'd never been one to shy away from taking risks.
I had Jordan/CJ with the option of Josephine McGarry, so she makes an appearnace as well. I had hoped for more romance and less what it ended up as.
Not Worth the Risk
She had never been one to shy away from a risk. She had taken her fair share in the past. It was one of the reasons she was as successful as she was. Not in the courtroom, never there. No, in court you had to be absolutely certain of every answer before you asked the question. But, there had been great risks in accepting some of the cases she had. Her colleagues had thought her crazy on more than one occasion for even attempting a defense for some of her clients. But she had always come out on top, proven them wrong. The risks had been worth it. Especially the last case. Defending McGarry had not gone exactly the way she had anticipated, but it had worked out in the end. In more ways than one. But now, well now she was faced with a risky venture altogether unfamiliar to her. And she wasn’t quite sure what to do about it.
She decided it was the legs. And the eyes. Possibly the laugh. Oh hell, it was everything. Everything she’d never realized she wanted all in one glorious package. And she wanted it, wanted it very much. But the cost was high, probably too high. And the possibilities were precarious. One false move and everything would shatter. She tried to determine the fallout and assess the variants and prepare her moves three steps ahead. But in the end she had jumped off that cliff and fallen straight into the arms of a woman who was risking just as much, if not more. And neither of them could say they had any regrets.
Dinner had been lovely. The food was every bit as good as she had been assured. And her companion’s momentary wariness about dining in public had been outweighed by the back booth and the dim lighting. They had held hands under the table. And over dessert she had felt the toes of the woman next to her slowly making their way up the inside of her leg, tickling her at the knee, the promise of more to come at home inherent.
She supposes it was the wine or the woman that had made her reckless. The heady feeling associated with both was hard to deny. Perhaps it was a combination of the two. Whatever the reason, she was careless as they wove their way through the tables towards the front door, towards the freedom she imagined was waiting in her car. She took the other woman’s hand, letting her fingers caress knuckles, and turned back to wink. Not seeing people in front of her until she bumped into one of them. Never letting go of her lover’s hand she turned. And looked into the surprised face of Josephine McGarry. So great was her shock that instead of releasing her hand, she gripped her companion even tighter, a move not unnoticed by the sister of the man she was supposed to be dating.
“Jordan, CJ. Well this is a surprise.”
Her lover cleared her throat and freed her hand. Stepping forward awkwardly, she managed to seem quite calm.
“It’s nice to see you again, Jo. Leo didn’t… uh… he didn’t say you were in town.”
The guilt managed to wash over her with those words, enough to snap her out of the shock that had kept her motionless until now.
“Josephine, it’s wonderful to see you.”
“Well, I didn’t come to see my brother, so I haven’t called him yet. Although now that I’ve seen the two of you, that phone call has jumped to the top of the list of my priorities. Unless of course Leo knows that you two are together.”
It wasn’t a question. They all knew that Leo had absolutely no clue about this clandestine relationship. And regardless of what happened next, he would be the one to get hurt, something Jordan and CJ had tried to avoid since the beginning. They could pretend that Josie had misread the situation, try to fake their way through an explanation, but Jordan knew they wouldn’t be able to pull it over. So, she sighed and lifted her chin to indicate the front door. Without any other words being spoken, the three women made their way outside into the crisp spring air.
“What were you thinking?”
It was directed at CJ, who somehow seemed smaller than the woman with the accusatory glare, even though she had at least a foot of height on her.
“Jo, I know.”
“No, CJ, this isn’t your fault. Come to that, it’s nobody’s fault. It happened. Could it have happened at a better time? Of course. Could we have done things differently? Perhaps. But at the end of the day there is no point in laying blame, Josephine. It won’t make this any less difficult for him.”
With that, Josie just huffed and crossed her arms. Jordan knew her relationship with her brother was not the smoothest. But she also knew, despite the edge and the bite, that Josephine McGarry loved her brother desperately. Didn’t they all?
“Well, what are you going to do about it?”
Again the question was asked of CJ. Jordan wasn’t sure why Josie couldn’t seem to look at her, but accepted that perhaps the dynamic was easier with someone who worked under her brother. Maybe it had to do with a campaign hierarchy that she had never been apart of and so was held separate to somehow. In any case she let CJ answer this time.
“We’ll tell him. Tomorrow morning. We don’t have a staff meeting planned, but I know Leo will be in, so we’ll tell him then. It would be better coming from us.”
Jordan didn’t suggest that maybe Josie might call and make plans to see him for lunch or dinner, so he would have someone to talk this over with at least. She knew that he would cancel the plans anyway. And she knew that Josie knew that as well. She only hoped that Leo would get an unannounced visit by his sister.
With nothing left to say to them Josephine shook her head and headed back inside the restaurant. CJ stood momentarily adrift, unsure of what to do next, until with a deep breath she took Jordan’s hand and lead the way to the car. There would be time enough for the repercussions to set in.
Their unspoken agreement lasted until they were both naked, wrapped in each other’s arms. The light kisses to her temple were welcomed and her fingers drew patterns on CJ’s thigh. They hadn’t made love, and probably wouldn’t tonight. They had avoided the discussion as long as they could. But Jordan was never one to shy away, and so she asked CJ what she thought.
“I don’t know.”
“Well, that’s certainly helpful, CJ. Thanks.”
She couldn’t keep the anger and fear from coloring the words. Jordan knew from the way that CJ blew her hair out of her eyes, that she was struggling with the frustration as well.
“I’m sorry that I don’t have a better answer. But, I think, really, that this is your call, not mine. I mean, I like this….”
Her arm moving, her hand waving back and forth.
“And I like you. I do. This has been… nice. But at the end of the day, I work for him. And he would never tell me not to do this, but I know he won’t forget. And you’re the one he thinks he’s seeing. So, what do you think?”
She sighs. She knew from the beginning this was impossible. Knew that it would end before it really began. But she couldn’t tell how, exactly. Know she knows. She’ll break it off with Leo, because it’s the right the thing to do. And it’ll make things easier on CJ if Leo knows that she lost them both. She thinks for a moment that she’s not this sort of woman, not the type to get herself in this kind of a situation. But then she remembers that everyone has a breaking point. And she thinks the legs wrapped around hers, and the eyes watching her carefully, and the laugh she heard over dinner, she thinks those were her breaking point.
“I think it’s over, CJ.”
“Yeah, I thought so too.”
She’s a little stunned at how easily this is ending. Enough that she doesn’t notice CJ moving until she’s almost out of the bed. She grabs her arm to still her movements.
“You don’t have to go now. I mean, you can, obviously. But if you wanted to stay the night….”
CJ turns and leans towards her. Stroking her face with fingertips that move to her collarbone. Her lips part as a tongue pushes its way inside her mouth almost casually. It’s a long, slow kiss that fools her into thinking it might never end. But, of course, it does. And when it’s over CJ stands.
“No. I think it’s better if I don’t.”
She watches as her ex-lover dresses and collects her purse. She could get up and watch her out, or even stare out the window after her, but she’s definitely not that sort of woman. So she remains in the bed alone, naked without anyone to see anymore. CJ calls out from the entryway that she should come to CJ’s office and they can talk to Leo together. She’s not sure if CJ hears her acceptance of this, but then thinks it doesn’t really matter. She’s sure CJ will tell the guards to notify her as soon as she arrives. She hears the front door close, and a moment later she hears a car turn over and pull away.
As she drifts off to sleep, dreading the morning to come, she thinks it’s too bad it had to come to this. But then, not every risk taken ends in spectacular triumph. Maybe she needed to be reminded of that.