Title: Disclosures and Diversions
Author: Minna Leigh
Disclaimer: When I woke up this morning, I realized that none of them belong to me.
Archive: Yes but let me know.
Summary: Josh tells CJ about his involvement with Sam and CJ has some fun at Josh's expense.
Notes: This is the missing scene from Jae Gecko's "Dancing With Shadows" where Josh fulfills his promise to Sam to tell CJ about their involvement, not realizing that CJ already knows. When I read "Dancing With Shadows", I loved it but I wanted to read this scene. As it turned out, the only way I was going to get to read it was to make my first foray into writing and write it myself.
Feedback: Send to email@example.com
Thank yous: to Jae for a) putting the idea of writing fan fic into my head b) inviting/coaxing me into the "Turning" universe to write this scene and c) laughing in the right places when she saw the story so I actually dared post it.
Disclosures and Diversions by Minna Leigh
I look up from my desk where I'm getting prepped for the next briefing to see Josh pacing outside my office door. His lips are moving and he's making emphatic motions with his hands, occasionally shaking his head slightly and pausing before continuing on. Every couple of circuits he halts briefly outside my door. The next time he stops, I call out to him.
"What can I do for you there, my psychic friend? You're not here to quiz me on theories of life, the universe, and everything are you?" I tease.
"I, uh... See I just... I wanted to tell... you know, it's nothing, CJ. You're busy. I'll... uh... come back later."
"Yes well, I've only got a dozen messages to respond to, Toby's temporarily distracted, either by some sort of shiny object or the chance to piss off corporate America, I'm really not sure which, and I'm aiming to have one press release go out this week without a spelling error in it, so get in here and tell me what's up before we return to our regularly scheduled chaos."
Josh comes in and almost sits down on the couch before straightening up and wandering over to the fishbowl that sits on the corner of my desk.
"How's Gail been? Did she miss me while I was out?" He taps on the glass with his fingernail.
He's so adorable, thinking I have no idea why he's here. I suppose I could help him out a bit, but it's not often that this kind of opportunity for amusement gets dumped in my lap.
"For her, your tapping is the equivalent of my pounding on your door with a sledgehammer, you know that?"
"Don't tap on the bowl, Joshua. It disturbs the fish."
Josh jumps in response to the slight reprimand, almost knocking the bowl right off the desk.
"You seem a little tense. Maybe if you sat down..."
"Yeah, that's a good idea."
I watch him sink into a chair, but he stays sitting for only a second before jumping up to resume his pacing. This is starting to get fun. He focuses intently on a picture on the wall, perhaps hoping I've taken to hanging up sources of inspiration. I keep an eye on him while skimming the briefing notes. Jeez, how long have we been in office? You'd think by now we'd be spelling Bartlet with just the two t's.
"This a new picture, CJ?"
"No, Josh," I said dryly. "What's on your mind?"
"Nothing much, not a big deal at all, in fact, I was just leaving."
"Joshua Lyman, plant your butt in that chair and tell me what it is I need to know. "
Out of reflex he sits suddenly. At least maybe I'll get through the conversation without getting dizzy watching him prowl around my office. He looks down at his hands while I wait for him to look up and catch my eye. When he does, I think about smiling, to help him ease into his confession, but choose to keep a steady gaze leveled at him.
"You killed Mandy, and the Post has pictures? You've been selling political favors out of your car? You forged your law degree and..."
"What are you talking about, CJ? You're talking gobbledygook."
"Well, given that there's something I need to know and considering how information usually passes from one human being to another, I thought that maybe one of us should be, you know, talking. Think this might work better if that person was you?"
He shifts uncomfortably in his seat, breaks eye contact and becomes fascinated with the carpet. While I watch, he takes a deep breath, tapping his fingers on his thighs. I can see the pep talk that's going on inside his head. I can't believe Sam actually got him to do this. He finally looks up from the floor, but his eyes wander over the room, looking anywhere but at me.
"CJ, you know... Wait, let me start over. You see... You work with people, right, and sometimes you don't get along and then sometimes you do. Then sometimes you start out not getting along, and later that changes. Or you like someone at first but when you get to know the person, you realize he's basically an idiot. And with some people..."
He trails off, rubbing his hands through his hair. This is the most fun I've had since wiping the floor with these guys at that poker game a couple of months ago. I can't wait to see where he goes from here.
"Josh? Do you realize that you stopped talking, there?"
"Where was I?"
"Sometimes you like people and sometimes you don't. A remarkably insightful commentary on interpersonal relationships. Maybe when the whole Deputy Chief of Staff gig is over, you could, I don't know, host a daytime talk show."
Not even a flicker. I wonder just how far I can push before he shows some sign that he heard me?
"With S- some people you like, CJ, things change and you don't like them anymore. I mean you like them but you don't *just* like them..."
I have to interrupt here. "Look Josh, I'm immensely flattered, at least I am in a completely weirded out way, but I don't share those feelings. Besides, getting involved with someone you work with is a bad idea, particularly in our jobs. We both know better than that."
I had to get that last jab about not dating coworkers in. For the first time in several minutes, Josh looks me right in the eye. His forehead crinkles up in total confusion. I can see the moment realization of just what I've said penetrates because his eyes double in size and he turns rather pale. Stricken. He looks stricken, like Bambi in the path of a semi. A look that is, unfortunately, quite familiar to me in my dealings with men.
Josh leaps out of his chair and starts to speak, his voice rising sharply in pitch.
"Claudia Jean! I did not mean... I was not..." He turns away from me for a moment and a grin appears briefly on my face. This is almost too easy. I settle down as he turns back around. "You think I was trying to ask you out?"
I shrug, through some miracle keeping my face from giving me away.
"You thought I was trying to ask you out? Where would you get such a bizarre idea?"
"Wow, Josh, your utter shock and dismay at the idea are really quite a compliment, you know that? Here I was, trying to let you down easy..."
"And why wouldn't you want to go out with me?"
"You thought I was asking you out, CJ. Why were you turning me down?"
"Are you kidding me, Josh? You're really going to go down that road?"
"No, no I'm not. I was saying..."
He rubs his hands over his face and sits back down in the chair. I stay quiet to give him a chance to collect himself. Okay, if I don't miss my guess, given the alternatives I'm offering, I imagine he'll head straight for the point now.
"CJ, Sam and I are... uh... involved. He... we thought you should know."
My hand reaches for the phone and I grab a pen. "Okay, Josh, who sent the letter this time? Or was there a photo? Who has it? How long did it take for you to come to me about this? If you've screwed things up by not talking to me until it was too late..."
"CJ, it's nothing like that."
"Josh, this'll be easier for both of us if you're just honest with me because, I swear, if video footage of the two of you holding hands while strolling romantically by the reflecting pool shows up on one of the networks tonight, I will personally ensure that you experience a great deal of distress, both emotional and physical, every day for the rest of your life. I will fulfill this vow even if it means giving up my job and following you from town to town. A wandering tormenter, traveling near and far..."
"CJ, no one knows about us."
I jump out of my chair. The desire to toy with him mixes with my residual anger at the way he's handled things in the past, and I know I'm going to put my heart into this next part. Besides, I scold much more effectively when I'm standing. Sudden physical movements add a little spice of unpredictability and danger to the experience. When it comes to reprimands, I am an artist.
"You said that the last time! Oh excuse me, you didn't say that last time. You said there was nothing to know. If you were lying to me then, what's to say you aren't lying to me now? You lied to me during the campaign, you lied to me when that picture showed up in People..."
Josh interrupts, "CJ, I did not lie to you about People. There was nothing going on then, we just... got back together. We're doing it right this time, telling you from the start. Sam was right during the campaign, you were right during the campaign. We should have told you then. We're doing everything right this time, honest."
"Right, like getting involved with a coworker? What about when things end again? How can it help the Presidency if two of the senior staff are in the middle of a lover's quarrel? Right, like even considering risking being outed which, do I have to remind you, would hurt the President with the right wing *and* the gays and lesbians? Re-election is only two years down the road, Josh."
I sink back into my seat. I wish that last part weren't the truth, but this is the world we live in. However glad I am for the two of them, my happiness is still overshadowed by the problems their relationship could cause. That's my job. It's not always the most pleasant position to be in.
"CJ, we're going to make sure no one finds out about our relationship. We won't go out in public as a couple. We're not going to... uh... you know... well we promise not to..."
Wow, look at him. I think he's cycled through every shade of red or purple that the skin can produce.
"Have sex on the steps of the Capitol Building?"
Oops, I was wrong. He'd missed plum. Excellent, my job must be about done here.
"CJ! Where do you come up with these things?"
"A girl can dream, Josh, a girl can dream."
HIs eyes widen, and he coughs. "I wish you hadn't answered that. The mind boggles at the thought... God." He shakes himself to get rid of whatever image appeared in his head. "Where was I, CJ?"
"You were carefully listing off the safeguards that are going to keep this thing under the radar."
"Right. No... uh... overnight stays, no public appearances, no telling anyone. Is there anything else you want us to do?"
"Just have fun with it and be happy. The two of you deserve each other, and contrary to what Sam thought earlier when I said that to him, I do mean that in a nice way. I can be nice when I choose to do so, Joshua."
"That's it? This is over? Be happy. Just like that, I'm off the hook?" He stands up and heads for the door, probably hoping to get out of the way before I change my mind. He makes it almost all the way out before he turns back around. "Waaaait a minute. When you told Sam... You knew! You knew why I was here and you knew everything and you still... Why- why- why would you do such a thing?"
"I haven't been sleeping, Josh. I needed a bit of fun."
"You're suffering, so I had to suffer too? Yet you claim that you're a nice person?"
"*Can* be a nice person, Josh. It's all about the choices we make on any given day in any given conversation. In this case there was really only one thing I could do. If it makes you feel any better, I do have one regret about our little chat today. I don't have it on tape."
"Ha ha, CJ, very funny. Are we done here?"
"Bye, Josh. If anything happens..."
"You're our first phone call, CJ. If we've learned nothing else since the campaign, we've learned that."
I watched him leave my office with a spring in his step that's been missing for quite some time now. I smile to myself. I am happy for them. And I'll be even happier when I can collect on that bet I made with Toby. Josh and Sam don't exchange soulful looks, my ass!