Author's Note:

There's always room for one more story about what happened after the credits rolled, right?


Adams Morgan

Washington, DC

Early January, 2007

1:11AM

CJ stared up at the dark ceiling, restless.

Her mind unable to settle.

The argument in the street.

All of the things said and unsaid.

How Danny had been unflappable when she'd shown up.

How he'd defused the situation in ways she didn't see coming.

He could have pushed her to talk more, but had asked instead if she wanted to take off her coat and stay a while, made her something to eat, invited her to stay, and told her security detail that she was in for the night so that she wouldn't have to.

But he hadn't made any move on her.

They hadn't kissed, they hadn't been intimate, and something about that felt inherently wrong.

The physical proximity created by lying in bed next to him had her wired to the extent that she had no choice but to acknowledge that their midnight and dawn rendezvous had always helped her unwind or face the day.

It wasn't a good thought.

"I can hear you thinking."

"Did I wake you?"

"I haven't slept yet, either."

I'm sorry .."

"At risk of repeating myself, nothing to be sorry about. Lots to process."

"Okay."

She waited for him to ask if she wanted to talk, since that seemed to be the theme of the day.

He didn't, so she was going to have to move the needle in that direction.

"Danny?"

"Mmm?"

"You like the sound of my voice?"

He moved fractionally closer to her.

"You make it sound like that's a bad thing."

But he slipped his hand under the cover and took one of her own in his.

The tightness in her chest eased just a little.

"No, I .. you caught me a little off guard."

Danny laced her fingers with his and stroked her hand with his thumb.

"Is that what you've been fixating on for the past two hours?"

"That and .. a few other things."

"Do you know how many briefings I attended when you were Press Secretary?"

Was this going to be another math thing?

"A lot?"

"I made a conscious decision almost from the beginning to focus on the sound of your voice."

"What do you mean?"

"When the spin from the podium ticked me off, I'd focus on the sound of your voice."

"Really?"

"Really."

"Do you actually know how many briefings you attended?"

He rattled off a number.

"You know the number of briefings? Are you serious?"

She turned over on her side and stared at him in the semi-darkness; punching him lightly in the shoulder when the bed shook with his silent laughter.

"My point is, you did a lot of talking. A guy gets addicted."

"Does he now?"

"He does." He pulled her in for a kiss and the tightness eased just a little more. "I'm glad you stayed tonight, even if you can't sleep."

"Me too."

"It will get easier, we will get good at new things, but" he added as he turned her around and spooned up behind her, "if you want to be functional tomorrow, you need to get some rest."

"Are you asleep?" she whispered after a while.

An amused sigh filled the air.

"Guess I'm not doing too great a job running my fingers through your hair if you're asking about that."

"Can I ask you something?"

"That's usually my line, but sure. Shoot .."

He dropped a kiss to the nape of her neck.

"If I hadn't come tonight, would you have called me?"

She felt his breath flutter against her shoulder, and when he didn't answer she extricated herself and turned on the lampshade.

"If I hadn't come tonight, would you have called me?" she repeated as she turned to face him.

"No," he said gently. "This had to be your call. When we're together I don't think of you as Chief of Staff, I think of you as Claudia Jean Cregg. You have to decide you want to be that person when you're with me."

"Okay."

"Ask your other question."

"How do you know there's another question?"

"Isn't there?"

"There is."

"Ask it."

'Why did you come back, Danny? After all this time."

"Now you're making me feel like a bad penny. I thought we cleared that up on the date where I dropped the unholy bomb about Doug Westin on you. Dignity's not my forte."

"Why did you come back?"

He lifted her palm to his mouth and kissed it.

"It was time. I came back to get you, CJ."

There was so much tenderness in his eyes that she had to look away, and the weight of the words hung in the air until he moved closer and ran a finger down her shoulder.

"The fate of the world is not hanging in the balance here. We don't need to resolve this now. It's one in the morning and it will all be here when we wake up, the day after that and the day after that, too. You'll have time to dissect it and for me to explain what I mean by that so that I don't come across as some self-absorbed prick who thinks you need saving."

"You're right."

"Can we turn off the light now?"

She obliged and plunged the room into semi-darkness again.

She shifted her hips slightly in the bed and sucked in a breath as she settled back into the pillows.

Danny chuckled beside her.

"What?"

"Can I help you with anything? You feel a little on edge there."

"I'm too wound up to sleep," she confessed.

"I know."

"You know? "

He caressed her face gently and rolled over onto his side.

"CJ, you feel like this every time you show up here."

She felt the heat of embarrassment rush to her cheeks, and bit her lower lip as she felt his hand slip past the waistband of her panties.

Her instinctive reaction was to reach for him.

"Claudia Jean .." he enunciated slowly as he moved her hand out of the way.

"Mmm?"

"Tell the Chief of Staff to stand down. She's going to have to get used to not calling all the shots .."

"Oh God, Is this what training is going to look like?"

"I promise I'll find another word for it."

She kept her eyes on his as long as she could, but the intensity of his gaze and the dexterity of his fingertips brought her to the edge a lot faster than she expected.

"Come for me," he whispered as she started to writhe under pressure.

He waited until she was falling apart to add, "I don't just like the sound of your voice, CJ. I love it."