Again, With The Music
by Teanna

It was Mandy all over, except that nobody liked Mandy much, and it was past her time anyway.

Not that anyone liked Amy much. And yeah, no, no one liked Amy. CJ didn't like Amy. And the fighting, Josh being even worse than usual, well. Good riddance, Amy girl. Bye-bye.

And some time passed. A week maybe.


CJ is in bed with Toby, but not really. She's on the windowsill, smoking a last cigarette (she quit, years ago, she quit and she keeps quitting but she's not a quitter), and he's reading a book and ignoring her.

She thinks he looks fat and tired and that she loves him for his mind, not for his body.

She only ever loved women's bodies. The curves, the softness, how you could paint a woman's figure with your hands, moving so-and-so, in the air.

It didn't matter that Amy left because someone had to, if they were going to make it all the way, if CJ and Toby and Sam and Josh would make it all the way. Because sometime after David Rosen turned down the offer to be Communications Director, sometime after that, they all made this pact. And while all of them have played with the thought of leaving (and some in particular have played with fire of the Mary Marsh kind, or the Josiah Bartlet kind), they all knew that if someone had to go, it wouldn't be her or Toby or Sam or Josh.

She looks at Toby and then, she thinks of Amy. Of the way her dress would fold a little, over her hips, and how she wore an ankle chain and how she smiled.

The last drag on the cigarette.

"Where's Mandy, these days?"

Toby doesn't look up.

"She's with O'Toole in Chicago. Which makes no sense, but Mandy's been making some bad decisions lately."

She doesn't ask, and where's Amy, these days, because she knows he doesn't care. He liked to argue with Amy, he liked that, but when she's gone she's gone. She thinks Mandy still sends Toby birthday presents.


Sam calls her once a week, and she has a feeling he puts her in his day planner "Thur. Call CJ" but he's sweet and he keeps her up to date. She calls him sometimes, when she's drunk, or when she's had another fight with Toby, and Toby's left the flat, walked out on her again.

Sam has his thing with Josh, but they don't talk about that, because they don't talk about her and Toby, and there is so much to talk about anyway.

And one day, Sam says "Amy Gardner is not looking too well. Mark told me he ran into her a while back."

"Really?" says CJ, and forgets about it.


She has lunch with Josh now and then. Today he's having a liquid lunch while she's eating asparagus.

"Look at us," she says, "you're drinking like there's no tomorrow and I'm eating asparagus."

He's in one of his dark moods and ignores her.

"What? Sam and Donna turned you down again? Both of them?"

Her and Josh talk about sex all the time. She knows about his men and women, and he knows about hers. They had a brief fling during that first campaign, many years ago now. But his kinks and her kinks didn't match, and she had Toby and he had, well, Mandy and Donna.

"Amy Gardner called."


"She's got cancer."

"Oh." She bites her lip. And thinks, I shouldn't feel like this.

"I told her I was sorry."

"Yeah. Did she-?"

"She told me to fuck off."

"Okay." She kills her asparagus with the fork. "...She called you up to tell you she had cancer, and then when you said you were sorry (as you do when people tell you they have cancer), she told you to fuck off?"

"Yeah, that's what I said, CJ. I said that."

"Yeah but are you sure you didn't say something stupid?"

He steals an asparagus from her.

"I do, on occasion, behave like an adult, CJ."

"Yeah because that time I had to-"

"If you're gonna start talking about menopause again, I'm leaving."

"Fuck you. I bet you can't get it up more than once a month."

"Fuck you too. And get us some more asparagus, will you?"

And she's about to leave it, there, but instead she surprises herself by leaning over the table, looking at Josh.

"Give me her number?"


Amy's eating a House Special Salad, it's got everything except baloney in it, and they play a game, trying to identify the various vegetables. CJ has the lobster and Amy looks at it, envy in her eyes.

"This isn't a vegetable. This is Jimmy Hoffa's toe."

"Would explain the stale smell..."

Amy asks for a plate to put the discarded bits on. The pile of things she won't eat grows big and bigger.

"You should eat more if you're..." Oh, wow. CJ, they made you the President's Press Secretary. Unbelievable.

"If you're gonna make it?" Amy shrugs. "I'm not gonna, though, CJ, so don't worry about it."

Her face is thin, thin, her eyes overlarge. "She's Bambi!" Toby said, once. "No, she's Bambi's Mother!" said Josh, later.

"I'm dying," says Amy. "I have all the time in the world."

CJ doesn't feel like eating her lobster. She wonders what the hell she's doing here. She never liked Amy Gardner. She liked the way Amy looked in a dress.

"Can I have your lobster?" says Amy. All her salad is on the other plate - she didn't eat any of it.


Andi called her, this was last year, and screamed down the phone "I can't handle this fuck you fuck you" and CJ stood there and took it. Didn't tell Andi it'd been a while since last, didn't tell her "that's not my perfume he comes home smelling of" smelling of roses, indeed. CJ's lilac, these days.

She called Toby at his office and said, and said, thirty years down the road, and it's past time, Toby, past time. I don't want to be this woman, I don't.

That same week, she's sure she saw Mandy Hampton at LAX, or a woman looking like Mandy. Life is strange like that.


"I want to die a pretty death," says Amy, gesturing with her glass of gin. "Like a storybook heroine."

CJ buys books and reads about how Amy will die. Doped up, her body swelling, and the fluids. The fluids. She calls Abbey Bartlet and Abbey says, "it's not going to be pretty at all. Such is life, after all." Pretty trite lines, Abbey's turned into one of those former First Ladies that do well on Oprah remembering their spirits.

Sam calls her "they say you're practically living with Amy Gardner."

Josh stops taking her calls. She has an email from Donna Moss, recently of North Dakota, "he's drinking again" and she replies "Nothing 'again' about it"


"Did you ever want two kids and a house in Florida?" Amy asks, one night. CJ, on the windowsill, smoking a cigarette, shrugs.

"I have no regrets."

Amy touches her head - that, and the fact that she's bald, reminds CJ of Toby. Of course.

"Me neither. I have no fucking regrets."

And the way she says it, it's so Amy-as-Amy.

"Did you ever meet Mandy Hampton?" asks CJ.

"Meet her?" Amy's sleepy, her voice slow. But she's laughing. "I fucked her."


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