Danny took a swig of his beer, his eyes trained on the TV screen. He watched as the camera panned from famous face to famous face and up and down the glamorous dresses of the beautiful women. Then he saw a familiar smile. Danny quickly pressed the pause button on the remote, freezing the digital image on the gigantic screen.
“Here it is! Hurry up!” Danny yelled into the next room.
“Coming!” he heard her call back. Danny sucked in the last mouthful of beer from his bottle and studied the face stilled on the gigantic plasma screen.
His friend looked good, but then he always did. The hair was perfect as usual, and blonder than he had been wearing it recently. Danny chuckled to himself. She always did like his hair blonde…
“Wow! He looks hot in that tux!” Danny looked up at the sound of her voice as she walked into the room. He gave Charity a big grin as she handed him a fresh, icy beer and sat next to him on the couch, curling her legs under her and snuggling into the crook of his shoulder.
“Yeah, yeah,” Danny replied, rolling his eyes as he slid his arm around her shoulders. “I’ve been hearing that for twenty-five years now, first from Cate, now from you.” He leaned down to place a gentle kiss on Charity’s lips. “Good thing you didn’t notice him first, the night you met me,” he teased.
“I couldn’t take my eyes off of you, Lover,” Charity answered sweetly, her mind going back to that Friday night at Sonny’s almost a year ago. “Not even for him.”
“Thank God!” Danny laughed. He pointed the remote toward the screen and pressed the play button. He and Charity listened as Jon patiently answered the reporter’s inane questions about why Jon wanted to attend the event and what he thought the President would say in his remarks.
The camera angle changed, pulling back for a longer shot of Jon and the reporter, and Danny saw her. He again pressed the pause button.
“There’s our girl!” he said with a little chuckle. Cate was standing about five paces behind Jon, back from the press queue, watching him intently. She was wearing a stunning form-fitting gown of deep turquoise satin. Her auburn hair was twisted into a loose updo, long tendrils trailing down to brush her shoulders. Its soft caramel highlights shimmered in the klieg lights of the cameras.
“She looks fantastic,” Charity observed. “That dress is gorgeous!” She squinted a little at the TV, as if trying to see past Jon. “Where the heck does she put her gun?”
Danny laughed. “She has a thigh holster. I guarantee it’s in use tonight.” He snickered dirtily. If not now, then later…
Charity made a face. “Sounds uncomfortable.” She still couldn’t quite figure out how Cate could hide her gun just about anywhere on her body.
Danny pressed the play button again and looked at Cate’s image, not paying attention to what Jon was saying during the interview. He smirked as he watched Cate maintain her vigilant stance, her eyes darting around the room, looking for threats.
“Sounds like she likes the New York Field Office,” Charity commented, “An easy commute, interesting cases, more flexible with her assignments…”
Danny nodded. “Yeah. She’s really enjoying the work, and they’re great about granting her leave of absence when she needs to travel.”
“That was a huge sacrifice she made, giving up her promotion and the Branch Chief job,” Charity observed. “A couple more years, she could have been a Division Chief, maybe even a Deputy Director.”
Danny shook his head at Charity’s observation. “Nah,” he replied quietly. “That’s not Cate. She was never cut out to be a paper-pusher. She’s a field agent at heart.” He took another long drink from his beer. “It was awesome of Floyd and the Director to pull some strings to get her there. I know Floyd misses her here, though.”
Charity smiled at Danny. “You miss her here,” she said gently, leaning up to kiss his cheek.
Danny smiled wistfully. “Yeah, I do.” He chuckled as he saw Cate tense, then shoot a dirty look at a blonde woman who moved into the frame and grasped Jon’s arm as she leaned in to buss his cheek. Jon smiled and answered the woman’s greeting, then returned to the interview as she moved on.
“I’m surprised she agreed to go to this,” Charity said, giggling at Cate’s reaction. “She hates those kind of things.”
“Yeah, we’ve all worked enough damned celebrity events to have a healthy disdain for them,” Danny replied with a laugh. “But she’ll do anything for Him. Even NerdProm.” He took another sip of his beer and grinned. “No way she’s letting anybody touch a hair on his head. Secret Service has got nothin’ on Slick.”
Charity laughed. “I believe that,” she nodded. “And nobody better try.”
Danny and Charity watched as Jon wrapped up the interview, flashing his famous grin at the female reporter. Danny rolled his eyes and gave Charity a sideways look as she sighed dreamily at the sight of The Smile. “Sheesh,” he grumbled. “I’m right here, ya know!”
Charity giggled again. “I know, Baby, and I’m glad. I’ll leave the Rock Star to Cate.” She snuggled against Danny’s shoulder and looked up at his handsome face, watching him watch their friends on the screen. She saw the bittersweet affection in his gaze as Danny smiled gently at Cate's image.
Finished with his press duties, Jon turned away from the camera and stepped over to Cate. He gave her the private little grin he saved only for her and slipped his arm around her waist. Cate broke into a radiant smile as she reached up to adjust his tie. Jon leaned down and gently touched his lips to hers, then turned to guide Cate down the red carpet toward the ballroom where the White House Correspondents’ Dinner was about to commence.
“Wow!” Charity breathed. “Did you see the rock?” Danny chuckled and paused the image again, then backtracked it until he froze the frame on a shot of Cate smiling and raising her left hand to straighten Jon’s bowtie. A gigantic diamond glittered on her ring finger.
“She looks happy,” Danny observed softly. “Happier than I’ve ever seen her.” He studied the image for a long moment before pressing the play button. Then he watched Jon and Cate as they walked away from the camera, holding hands, into the darkened doorway of the ballroom.
AUTHOR'S NOTE - October 2010: When I completed this story I had no intentions of revisiting Cate and Jon, thinking I would just let them go live their life in peace. However, in the months that have followed I find their muses popping into my head with little snippets of their continuing story. So, if you're interested in seeing what their "happily ever after" looks like, visit my other short stories. Nothing huge, nothing fancy: just moments in time from their life together. You can find them here: