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I'll be right by your side

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A thousand voices fill up the room
yours is the only one that cuts right through
you turn around
drown out the sounds
all I see is you

 

“What else?”

“I’m scared” the words left C.J’s mouth before she could think about them

“Why?” Danny tilted his head in question, his eyes begging C.J to open up

“I think I am losing everyone close to me, there is nobody left. If this doesn’t work” C.J couldn’t bring herself to finish her sentence, to betray to Danny just how much she needed this, how much she needed him.

“this will work” Danny was quick to reassure his mouth quirking into his trademark grin “but you’re not alone” he finished trying to comfort the upset woman in front of him

C.J couldn’t help shaking her head at Danny “before you showed up I hadn’t had a proper non-work conversation in a year, I miss Carol, I miss Toby and Donna and Josh hell I miss Bonnie and Ginger. I miss the journalists and I miss my deputies. I have nobody now, I have Margaret who is just as stressed as I am and as much as I love her, not really a good chat and I have Kate who sometimes I can talk with between sit room meetings but I-“ C.J left her sentence hanging as she covered her mouth, trying to suppress the sob that was making its way out of her as the pain and loneliness of the last year takes over.

All of a sudden Danny saw just how hard the last few years had been for C.J, the depth of her sadness that went so much further than he had ever thought. Danny closed the gap between them and pulled her tight against him “it’s okay” he whispered softly. C.J tensed up at first but it took her only a second to relax into his embrace and soon the sobs she had been trying to hold back escaped her and C.J found herself crying into Danny’s neck. The pain of Leo’s death, Toby’s betrayal, Josh leaving, everything came pouring out. They stood there as time stopped with Danny using one arm to pull her close and the other drawing designs on her back as he whispered soothing platitudes and C.J wrapped her arms around his neck, one hand tangled in the curls at the bottom of his head.

A single look from you is so disarming
I’ve even forgotten how to be charming
and I want to jump in
to whatever world you’re in
so take a chance

 

Finally, C.J’s sobs quietened to a muffled breathing but her arms remained tight around Danny, refusing to create any distance between them. Danny finally separated them just enough to coax C.J onto the couch, it was only once they were curled up on the couch did C.J speak again “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have broken down like that” her voice was quiet and demure in a way Danny hasn’t heard since she was a new press secretary and his heart couldn’t help break at the way she curled away from Danny and into herself.

Danny quickly hooked a finger under C.J’s chin, tilting her face so that C.J’s eyes came back up to Danny’s “Never apologise for your emotions” he said firmly before pulling C.J back to him. As C.J settled back against him Danny pulled his phone off the table beside them and quickly dialled a number that he memorised so many years ago.

“Hello?” the quiet voice came through the phone as C.J looked up towards Danny, confusion etched on her face as she tried to work out who Danny was talking to

“Carol?” Danny questioned quickly as the sleep masked her voice

“Danny? Why are you calling me at midnight” C.J looked even more confused and slightly annoyed at Danny’s phone call, but Danny ignored her, choosing instead to just caress her hand

“I’m sorry for the late call Carol I was just wondering if you wanted to have dinner with me and C.J tomorrow night?” A soft smile graced C.J’s face as she worked out what Danny was doing

“Oh” Carol exclaimed surprised “Have you talked to C.J, I am sure she would be too busy to have dinner with me”

“I promise, barring a war, C.J will be having dinner with us tomorrow” Danny confirmed confidently

“Well, I would love to” Carol still sounded unsure but excited about being able to spend some time with the friend that had grown so absent. “Danny? are you with C.J, is everything alright” concern quickly overtook the excitement as she tried to work out why the reporter was making their dinner plans.

“Yeah I’m with her” Danny answered, diplomatically choosing not to answer the rest of the question

“May I speak to her” Danny grinned slightly before handing the phone towards C.J

“Carol?” C.J tried to hide the waver in her voice from the crying as she greeted her former assistant

“Hey Boss” Carol replied back lightly “Dinner tomorrow night?”

C.J had always loved Carol’s ability to know what to say when she needed it “If you’re free of course” C.J didn’t want Carol to feel as though she had to change her plans for her,

“for you, anything” Carol instantly assured as the phone fell silent for a moment “C.J are you all good?” Carol’d voice became more serious as she finally broached the subject causing C.J to tense against Danny who immediately looked down concerned

“It’s just been a hard week, but we always get through them” C.J mustered slightly looking up at Danny.

“Well I think you can soldier through nearly anything there ma’am” Carol defers slightly, trying to bring a smile to C.J’s face

“Let’s hope so” C.J’s voice betrayed just how tired she was

“Can I talk to Danny again please?” C.J raised her eyebrows in surprise but dutifully handed the phone back to Danny

“Yeah?” Danny asked plainly into the phone

“She’s going to be okay right” Carol didn’t bother to hide how concerned she was for C.J. The two were not just boss and assistant but also friends and although they had hardly seen each other in the last few months she had still tried to keep an eye on her, hoping that stresses the job of chief of staff brought weren't getting to C.J too much.

“She will be” Danny admitted, knowing it wasn’t to take more than dinner and a good night sleep to help C.J get through the fog of burnout but eventually the old C.J would start to return

“Okay” Carol sighed “You gonna leave again?” Carol knew the question was petty but by this point, she didn’t care any more, Danny had left C.J twice and both times Carol had seen just how much C.J missed him, she didn’t think C.J could handle being left for the third time.

Danny winced at the bluntness of her question, his hand unconsciously tightening around C.J’s. “Not if I can help it” he admits listening to the silence on the other end of the phone for a second before Carol sighed

“Don’t hurt her” was all she could reply with “but I trust you” Carol conceded “I’ll see you two tomorrow then

“You can count on it” Danny tried to sound confident but there was a slight sigh through his words, doing little to hide his concern about C.J.

“See ya Danny” Carol farewelled as she hung up the phone leaving the room in silence

I know I’m not the kind of guy that your use to
but I’m the only one who can see right through
the walls you put up
and I ain’t giving up on you
(yeah ain’t giving up on you)

 

“You didn’t need to do that” C.J finally spoke up from her perch on Danny’s shoulder but didn’t move to face him

“Are you angry at me?” Danny simply asked back, trying to sound confident but failing to hide his worry that maybe he had overstepped

“No” C.J replied quietly, re-arranging herself so that her long legs were intertwined with Danny’s and her head was now against Danny’s chest. Danny couldn’t help the burst of love he felt as he pulled C.J close, marvelling at the way she curled herself into him, practically sitting on his lap now. He knew this wouldn’t have happened if she wasn’t so completely burnt out from her time in the White House, but that didn’t make him feel any less lucky.

“I’ve never done this before” C.J admitted after a minute causing Danny to stop his musing and look down at her in confusion

“Done what?”

“This” she used her free hand to gesture at their position, “just being held for the sake of it, nothing expected of me” C.J admitted without bravado, as Danny found himself pulling her closer, holding her tight.

Danny couldn’t help the tears that sprung to his eyes at C.J’s words “I want to hold you forever” Danny admitted in all earnest, not letting any jokes mask his tone

“I don’t deserve you” C.J whispered into Danny’s neck

“That’s not true” Danny replied sharply, his battle on his tears failing as the first ones begun to fall down his face. All he wanted was for the wonderful woman in front of him to know exactly how loved and supported she was

“Yes, it is. I was horrid to you for years and I came on to you just to cut you off once you did things I didn’t like” C.J’s voice rose but she stayed in place

“You were in a hard position Claudia, I forgave you for that so long ago. Besides, I wasn’t always the best person for you either and I trust you, so please please forgive yourself” Danny was borderline begging with C.J hoping to convince her the past was behind them. C.J didn’t reply immediately but her shaking shoulders gave away all Danny needed to know and instead just chose to hold her tight and let her quietly compose herself.

I know this wasn't what you were expecting
and I can see it’s your heart you’re protecting
let me see
what you need
to be alright

The two just sat there in silence C.J crying into Danny’s shoulder and Danny’s own tears running tracks down his cheeks. He hadn’t meant to cry, this moment had been about C.J and her own emotions about everything but Danny had so many years of pent-up emotion and regret that it was about time that he started to feel his own emotions as well.

Finally, C.J looked up from Danny’s neck “I didn’t mean to make you cry” she stated quietly, regret filling her voice

“I think I will always cry when you cry Claudia, and besides you weren’t the only one with some pent-up emotions to get out” Danny admitted softly, pressing their foreheads together.

“I am so lucky” C.J breathed out “So so lucky” C.J leant forward briefly capturing Danny’s lips with her own “thank you” she whispered looking at Danny, her eyes brimming with love and dedication kissing Danny once again.

I get this feeling
when we’re together
a feeling like we’ve known each other forever
lets you and me see
what perfection we can be
just stay with me

 

——————————————————————————————————————————

That one night didn’t fix C.J straight away, the next day still found her under a pile of paperwork and the reliance of the country but at 6 pm when she was met by both Danny and Carol at her door it wasn’t that hard to pull away. Over the next few weeks, Danny had managed to plan time for C.J to have dinner with Toby, with Josh and Donna, the Bartlet’s and every time they would meet up Danny managed to find a reason to leave the room and let C.J talk with them.

Slowly the light began to return to C.J’s eyes and as she followed Danny out to California and found herself doing a job where she got to make a difference. By the time Danny found himself kneeling in front of the woman he loved surrounded by the people who were so important to them C.J was the happiest Danny had ever seen her.

And no more time wastin tonight
I’ll be right by your side
all those games I use to play
I’m giving up time wastin tonight
no more wastin time

Time wastin tonight
I’ll be right by your side
all those games I used to play
I’m giving up time wastin tonight
no more wasting time
no more wasting time