title: and on the seventh day
author: quasiradiant
recipient: sangerin
fandom: the west wing
pairing: cj/kate
rating: pg
word count: 1179
notes: set sometime just following 6x04, "liftoff."

summary: everything changes, but nothing's different.

*

She stares at the ceiling, follows the crown molding with her eyes around and around and around the room. The couch is ridiculously uncomfortable for someone as tall as she is, but it was closer than the bed and that was very appealing. Her knees are hooked over the armrest, and one arm is hanging so her fingers drag against the carpet.

When the door bell rings, it's a little quick zzzz like the person isn't really sure they want to be let in. CJ says, to the ceiling, "You've got to be kidding me," and doesn't move. There's a longer buzz and then a longer one, until the person's practically laying on the button, and CJ's yelling, "Okay! Okay!" as if the person downstairs can possibly hear her.

She doesn't ask who it is, just buzzes them up, figuring her new Secret Service dog and pony show wouldn't let her invite in any axe murderers or anything. Waits with her forehead pressed against the door until she hears sounds in the hallway as Lewis, the head of her nighttime detail, chats up whoever's come calling.

She pulls the door open. "Lewis, seriously--" She stops. "Oh."

Kate's standing there, hair loose and dark circles under her eyes and no lipstick.

CJ narrows her eyes, says, "CJ's not home right now. Can I take a message?"

"There's no national emergency," Kate says, "I swear." Tilts a bottle of wine towards CJ, starts, "I brought," but stops, color high on her cheeks, and looks away.

"You know this woman, ma'am?" Lewis asks, but of course he's joking. CJ just throws him a look that says she's thinking of getting him fired.

"So come in," she finally says and moves out of the way to let Kate pass. She closes the door on Lewis's 'night ma'am to express her displeasure, and then leans back, hands still on the knob. She can hear Kate rifling in the kitchen, and so she says, "Drawer next to the sink."

By the time Kate reemerges, CJ's back on the couch, feet ungracefully on the coffee table, and she doesn't even look up as Kate approaches. Kate stands behind her, lowers a glass down in front of her face, saying, "I know you don't like merlot, so I brought shiraz."

"Uh," CJ says, by way of a thank you. Kate laughs a little, a low sound like tumbled rocks, and says, "You're welcome," elaborate and mocking. CJ's too tired, so she just sips from her glass and concentrates on not falling asleep.

"Quite a week, huh?" Kate finally says after a long silence. She's next to CJ on the couch, feet tucked up under her legs. CJ notices Kate's low-riding jeans and her sweater and thinks about how Kate had a chance to change before she came over and how CJ's still wearing the same wrinkled suit she put on at four AM.

"You came to talk about work?" CJ says, looking at Kate with a raised eyebrow. "We couldn't have done that in, you know" -- CJ glances at the VCR clock, 12:26 -- "six hours?"

"Seemed impersonal," Kate says, shrugging.

"Oh," CJ says, like it's completely reasonable. "Yeah. I guess you're right."

"And I don't work on Sundays. So," Kate says, like she's building herself up to something. "Congratulations. You know. On the promotion."

There's a moment of silence, and then Kate looks over at her with really earnest eyes, and the only appropriate response CJ can come up with is to laugh. So she does, until there are tears in her eyes and she's maybe sloshed some wine onto her skirt and Kate's laughing, too.

"Cheers," CJ finally says, half choked and cheeks hot, extending her glass towards Kate. She wipes her eyes with the edge of her thumb, still kind of chuckling, thinking of her desk and the dozen two-foot high stacks of paper Margaret's managed to construct on it and the menacing cart of briefing books that'll be waiting for her as soon as she gets in.

"That good, huh?" Kate says, tapping the rim of her glass against CJ's.

"Even better." CJ puts her feet on the floor, leans forward, sets her glass on the table. "So you came all the way over here to congratulate me?"

"It's not like I had to go through Dulles. I live twenty minutes away." CJ can hear Kate's smile. CJ's eyes are closed and her face is in her hands, and when Kate touches her back, it's like something breaking, and she says, "Kate."

"It's possible I also wanted to tell you that I miss you." Kate's fingers press into the unyielding muscles of CJ's lower back. Tension's building there that CJ's pretty sure she'll be able to feel just as long as she has this job, but the warmth of Kate's hand is really nice.

"I see you every day," CJ says absently, and she's too tired to focus, really, on anything but Kate's touch.

"Not like this," Kate says, voice very soft and very low, and then she says, "C'mere." Turns CJ on the couch until she's facing away from Kate, and Kate can really dig her thumbs into tight muscles. CJ makes a noise somewhere between a moan and a whimper, and she can feel Kate's sharp, hot exhale against the back of her neck.

"Things are different now," CJ says after a while, but Kate's hands are distracting and her heart's not really in it.

"Only in that now you've got a better office." Kate leans forward, mouth next to CJ's ear, and whispers, "Best part? No windows."

CJ laughs, and this time it's not so desperate and she forgets for a second how her desk is full of papers and instead thinks of how Kate would look spread out on it. It's a nice thought, the kind that makes her palms hot even when she's sure she hasn't slept in at least forty-eight full hours. "Good point," she finally says.

Kate rests her chin on CJ's shoulder, hands stilled against CJ's hips. "I hear," she says, "you ripped Hutchinson a new one."

CJ smiles, and it feels strange, like it's been days since she smiled last. "The look on his face? Was a thing of beauty. Chief of Staff does have its perks."

Then it's quiet except for their breathing and a clock ticking and the rumble of the ice maker. "It only, it only has to be different," Kate says, "if you want it to be." She says it like she's afraid.

CJ pushes herself up, faces Kate. She says, "I'm so tired." Kate gets this stricken look, and then CJ says, "Let's go to bed." She turns, walks towards the bedroom, imagines Kate's smile.

She looks back over her shoulder. Kate's standing there, eyes soft and fingers pressed against her mouth and CJ says, after a moment, "Bring the wine?"

Kate laughs, "Yes, ma'am," and things may be different, but they're mostly the same, and there are certainly, CJ thinks, worse ways to end a week.