Summary: He figures she'll get rid of the fish...
Disclaimer: The West Wing and its characters are the property of Aaron Sorkin, Warner Bros., and NBC. This story is for entertainment purposes only. I make no profit from writing and sharing it.
A/N: Written for kiss_me_cassie's winning bid in the tiaras4tatas charity auction. Also, a huge thank you to zinke for betaing this piece.
He figures she'll get rid of the fish, that she'll pass it off to someone else. The gift of a pet, even one that's as low maintenance as a goldfish, tends to be regarded a bad idea if the recipient hasn't asked for it specifically.
That probably should have been Danny's first clue when Josh offered his "friendly" little tip.
He finds he's okay with it, though. His momentary lapse in dignity is more than worth it just to see that grin and to hear C.J. laugh. Really laugh. And the little kiss she gives him didn't hurt either. It's a nice and very unexpected bonus in fact. Afterward, she stops questioning his motives for flirting with her all the time. It even ends up leading to one of the best weeks of his life. He gets the opportunity to kiss her back for a little while too.
Still, Danny figures that even though she's insisted on accepting his gift, she's really only being polite. He still half expects her to get rid of it at the first opportunity, to find someone else who'd rather deal with it instead. After he pisses her off in the most spectacular fashion a couple of times and is pretty sure he's ruined any chance he still might have had with her, he knows he wouldn't have blamed her if she did get rid of Gail in one of her huffs. They didn't have the sort of relationship that produced photos she could "redecorate" or love letters to burn, after all.
The fish never budges from its customary spot on the corner of her desk and C.J. eventually forgives him each time anyway.
After awhile, Danny realizes Gail's scenery changes every so often, and while he never asks, he thinks with a certain sense of relief that she may actually enjoy the little bit of whimsy it adds to her surroundings. Finally secure in the knowledge that she'll keep her, he even contributes by sneaking a few of his own ornamental offerings onto C.J.'s desk every once in awhile.
Even after he starts to feel like she probably won't get rid of it, he figures that the fish won't last very long anyway. Goldfish rarely do. Gail's either a very hardy gal to last so long, however...or C.J.'s quietly replaced her a time or two. Danny doesn't ask and she never says anything that might hint one way or another. If the Gail swimming in that little bowl isn't the original, well...he's kinda flattered that it matters enough to C.J. keep up the appearance.
Much to his delight, there's still a fish on her desk when he returns after a year and a half absence from the press room.
Then he leaves once more for even longer, adds a few more stamps in his passport, and comes back yet again. It's a pleasant shock when he discovers, through one of the more bizarre telephone conversations he's ever had, that Gail's made the transition with C.J. to the Chief of Staff's office. When he starts to tease her about it over dinner, for a moment she looks guilt-stricken before she glares at him and changes the subject.
It takes seven years to be convinced of it, but he thinks he can consider the gift a success.
When C.J. joins him in California the day after inauguration, Gail doesn't make the trip and Danny figures that's the end of C.J.'s piscine caretaker days. Their lives are a little too hectic in those first few weeks anyway, with unpacking and being way too wrapped up in each other to pay attention to anything or anyone else.
She's probably better off for not tagging along, he thinks with an all-too-satisfied grin when he looks back on it.
Then, one day shortly after C.J. begins working with Hollis, he drops by her office to take her to lunch. She's still organizing and reorganizing, trying to make everything to be just so in her new workspace, and she mutters about how it feels like something is missing.
He looks around the room, taking in all the pictures, awards, and knickknacks, all the small personal touches she's added that make this space her own. He's puzzled by what could possibly be amiss, until finally she gives a pointed look toward the corner of her desk, offering him a bashful smile and shrug.
He figures they'll be stopping at a pet store on the way back from lunch.
This time he figures right.