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C.J. took a deep breath as she stood in front of the door to the briefing room.  She knew this was going to be the hardest announcement of her life. She just hoped that her personal feelings wouldn’t take over in the time that she needed to be professional.  She glanced up at the ceiling, saying a short prayer. She blew out a deep breath before finally walking into the press room. She felt as though the light was going to blind her terribly.  She placed her notebook on the podium as she stood before the room full of journalists.

 

“Good morning ladies and gentlemen.  I hope that you all are well rested and ready to write because school is in session.  As of right now, President Bartlet is right on schedule. Today he will be meeting with the French Ambassador as well as welcoming him to a dinner.  He will be signing the anti-assault rifle ban today as well. The President enjoyed himself at the play in New York. The fundraiser went smoothly and he thoroughly enjoyed himself.”

 

C.J. paused, taking a sip of her water in hopes that it would battle how dry her throat felt, “Now, before I take questions, the Secret Service lost one of their own.  His name was Simon Donovan. He was not killed in the line of duty. Instead he was off duty in a store, when he realized that it was being robbed. Mr. Donovan then stepped in and tried to stop the robbery but killed while protecting a civilian.  The President has spoken to his extended family and he feels deeply for this loss. Now, are there any questions?”

 

“Katie.”

 

“How did the meeting with Abdul Shareef go?” She quipped, keeping her pen poised.

 

“I do not know but I will get back to you. Gary.”

 

“What did the President think of The Wars of Roses?”

 

“He loved it.  Would you expect anything else?  Gerry.”

 

“Were you in love with Mr. Donovan? My sources says that you two shared a kiss hours before he died.”

 

It felt as though the temperature dropped down to an icy temperature.  C.J. felt as though she wanted to smack him. She brought herself to her full height as she looked at him, “You know we do not comment on the personal lives of myself or of anyone that works in the White House.  Do you understand that?”

 

“Follow up.  If my understanding is correct, you were supposed to go on a date with Mr. Donovan.”

 

“All right ladies and gentlemen, that is all that we have time for right now.  I will see you all at the next briefing. Don’t forget to stay hydrated, it is going to be a warm day today,” She smiled breezily before she walked out.

 

“Carol! I want Gerry in my office.  Now.” She hissed sharply.

 

“Yes C.J.!” She said before she walked away to get Gerry.  

 

C.J. had never felt such hatred and anger burning towards a singular human being.  She was tired of him and his stupid disrespecting complex. She paced behind her desk as she waited for him.  She looked up, seeing his smug face as he stood in front of her.

 

“Close the door.  This is off the record.  Do you understand?”

 

She heard her door close before he sat, nodding his head, “What is this about C.J.?” He said innocently, staring at her as though he hadn’t just aired her personal business.  

 

“I am yanking your credentials and you are no longer going to be here.  You can do your reporting outside of the White House and not only that, but you will be receiving a restraining order from me. “

 

“Whoa whoa whoa! Don’t be so serious Miss. Cregg! I have done nothing wrong here!”

 

“You think you have done nothing wrong? Are you serious?! This is the third time that you have commented on either mine or someone else’s personal life.  There is no way you are staying here. I am temporarily suspending your newspaper’s credentials in my briefing room for the time being as well. We are done here.  Go get your private items and leave your credentials with me before you go.” C.J. said as she sat down.

 

“Are you fucking crazy?! You just wait.  I won’t get in trouble for reporting the truth!” Gerry snapped as he threw his press badge to the floor.    

C.J. watched as he threw open her door, before he stormed out, “Carol?” She called out calmly as she left his badge where it was.  

 

“Yes?” She said as she poked her head in.  At this point, Carol was used to reporters angrily leaving her office.

 

“Get Gerry’s editor on the phone.  Let the front guards know that I have yanked his credentials and get me the number for a detective because I will be getting a restraining order against him.”

 

Carol’s eyebrows shot skywards before she gently said, “Is there anything that I should be super worried about?”

 

“No.  I am just nipping this in the bud before it gets out of hand.  I won’t be having that happen yet again.”

 

“Okay.”

 

***

 

Toby knocked on C.J.’s door as he leaned against the door frame, “Have you eaten dinner yet?”

 

“Nope,” C.J. said as she finished her sentence before she finally looked up, “You?”

 

“Care to join me?”

 

“Sure,” She grinned, “Meet ya in an hour?”

 

“Sounds good,” He nodded before leaving.

 

C.J. could feel the elephant sitting on her chest and it killed her with the fact that she just wanted to shut herself in her office and not answer anymore emails or talk to anyone.  She just wanted to cry. She took a deep shuddering breath before pushed her glasses up, and rubbing her eyes.

 

She didn’t bother to look up the second time that someone knocked on the door. It was either Josh or Sam, “This had better be good.  What do you want?”

 

“I just wanted to see if you were okay,” Katie answered.

 

C.J.’s glasses fell wonkily on her nose as she looked up, “Oh, Katie.  Hi. What are you still doing here?”

 

“I just finished but we all heard that Gerry is gone and thank goodness.  He is such a jackass and I know how serious and caring you are when it comes to this kind of stuff.  I just wanted to make sure that you are okay,” Katie said with a shrug.

 

“Shut the door and come in,” C.J. said gently.

 

Katie did as asked, “This is all off the record.  This is just a friend coming to check on you.”

 

“Thank you Katie.” C.J. gave a small, but kind smile.

 

“If it helps, we all think that Gerry deserves everything you gave him! None of the female reporters liked him and most of the guys wanted to deck him.” She grinned.

 

“That true?”

 

“Yep.  Is it true that you are getting a restraining order against him?”

 

“ Yes.” C.J. answered tentatively.  

 

“Good for you,” Katie smirked, “Honestly I feel like we are back on the trail together.”  

 

“Hey, we all pitched in and got you this,” Katie said and held out a small wrapped box.

 

“You didn’t have to,” She smiled.

 

“No, we wanted to.” Katie grinned.

 

“A massage? You guys are wonderful!” She grinned before she slid the gift certificate into her wallet before standing to give her a hug.  

 

“Katie, next time I have a story I can break I will give it to you early.  Just don’t tell anyone else. Got it?”

 

“Deal,” Katie smiled before she left.  

 

C.J. grabbed her coat and purse before heading to Toby’s office.  It was only eleven at night but she knew there would be some bars open.  The gift certificate reminded her that it was okay to treat yourself sometimes and after the amount of emotions that she had felt in the past couple of days, there was no reason not for her to treat herself.

 

She knocked on Toby’s door and smirked, “Don’t order take out.  We are going to eat with other people tonight. Let’s go.” She grinned as she pulled on her jacket.