Snaking Along
by Katrina McDonnell

"So. Our trip."

Danny grinned. Even though it was two and a half years away, CJ had asked a question or suggested an item for their itinerary after every meeting for the last seven months. "Do I need to take notes?"

"No." She fiddled with a pile of papers. "Does it have to be February? Was there any particular reason for that month?"

"I thought you might like to get away and have a break before you have to start a new job or--" He had trouble voicing the idea and looked down at the desk top. "Or move."

"And you want to see me in a bikini," she teased, lightening the mood.

"I scoped out the beaches while I was there."

CJ leaned across her desk and rubbed her thumb across his knuckles. "I bet."

Wasn't he too old to blush? Back on topic. "What's wrong with February?"

"It's hot and sticky. Even the locals hate it."

"You've survived DC, you can survive Sydney. And we're on vacation, we can take afternoon siestas."

"And get hot and sticky by other means?" She raised her eyebrows.

He waggled his. "Your wish is my command."

Biting her lip and grinning, CJ sat back. "We can still take afternoon siestas in July. The weather would be good for snuggling."

"Though not so good for sightseeing." Danny leaned forward across the desk. "What's going on, CJ?"

Her smile faded. "I'm not too--" she waved her hand in the air, searching for the right word, "enthused about some of the local wildlife."

"And they fly north for the winter?"

"No. They slither into their holes."

"Oh. You know, CJ, snakes are more scared of us than we are of them."

"I wouldn't bet on that."

"We're going to Sydney, big city, not on an outback trek with the Crocodile Hunter."

"He's the one thing that scares me more than the snakes. And--" CJ opened her bottom desk drawer and pulled out a folder. "I found an article which said there are snakes, poisonous ones, even in the main streets of the city. Here, read for yourself."

He waved the papers away. "There's only one type of snake that's going to be bothering you on this trip, and I really hope you won't be running away from it."

"I'm serious, Danny. I don't like snakes and there's also the Sydney funnel web spider and--"

"Stop!" His stomach tightened as he raised his hands in surrender. "You don't have to keep searching the net for excuses, CJ. If you don't want to go, just say so."

"No!" She leaned across the desk and grabbed his hand. "We're going. I want to go."

"You sure?"

"Yes. I'm just--" With a sigh, she stood and crossed to her office windows, closing the blinds on both walls. "Danny, I--"

Touching was near the top of their 'not to do' list, but she was so tense. He started massaging her shoulders and she leaned her body back into his.

"What?" he breathed in her ear.

"It's so far away." Turning, she wrapped her arms around his waist, her facial expression troubled. "We're making all these plans, but it's so far away. A lot of things can happen in two and a half years."

He ran his hands up and down her arms. "I know."

"What if we make all these plans and then it doesn't happen?" Her forehead came to rest against his. "And it's making it so hard to be near you. How are we going to get through two and a half years without doing something we shouldn't?"

The time since his return from Australia epitomised the blend of agony and ecstasy. Luckily their work schedules prevented them from having any real spare time that they might risk spending together. But every month grew more difficult. Their list was showing definite signs of wear.

Quashing the urge to kiss her, he murmured, "I don't know. The way we always have, I guess."

"Yeah." She released him and stepped back. "You'd better go now."

"Okay." He stepped towards her. "But we don't have to go in February if you really don't want to."

CJ backed away to her desk and shook her head. "I've got two and a half years to work on my snake phobia."

"I can help."

"If you buy me a pet snake," she pointed at him, "I'll feed you to it."

Danny tilted his head to the side and pursed his lips. "I was thinking more along the lines of letting you pet mine."

"Go away." But she was smiling and most of the sadness had left her eyes.

"Okay." Turning and leaving, he didn't stop till he was back at his desk in the press room. A deep sigh escaped from his lips.

How were they going to survive until 2007?


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