Title: “A House Divided” Part Four
Author: Marie Rossiter (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Spoilers: Everything up to “17 People”
Summary: A deeply divided House of Representatives is not what’s bothering President Bartlet...
Feedback: Please give me any feedback you feel necessary!
At the end of a typical day, I feel like I could be hung out to dry. I am usually wiped out. I try to sit and read for a while. I love reading. It used to be that I would sit for extended period of time with a good book and barely blink an eye. Now, it seems like whenever I sit down to read it is a sure cure for insomnia.
Today is an exception to the rule, though. Between the countless meetings, the pubic appearances, and, oh yes, the great Bartlet vs. McGarry Debate, I think it’s been a pretty full day. However, I don’t seem to feel too tired. As a matter of fact, I just finished a meeting with Toby about the education package. It was rather productive, considering the fact that I know he’s still pretty pissed off about my not telling him about the MS.
At first, he wasn’t dealing very well with the news. Of course, Toby’s way of dealing with things is to brood and to lash out from time to time at those around him. Hmm, sounds familiar. Maybe that’s why I keep Toby around—we’re more alike than I care to admit. But, now, he’s more focused and whatever opinions he has regarding my handling of the situation, he’s keeping to himself (at least for now).
After the day I’ve had, one would think I would be exhausted. I’m not. If anything, I’m going on my second wind. I’m pacing around here like an expectant father—hell, I didn’t even pace like this when I was an expectant father.
I thought that sitting here and reading would help calm my nerves. No such luck. I know what is awaiting me in just a little while: my wife will return from New Hampshire. That much, I do know. What I don’t know is what she will say upon her return. She’s been known to just burst in here and give it to me with both barrels. It’s not a pretty sight.
However, considering the way she left three weeks ago, she didn’t appear to have much fight left in her. And, I think that scares me more than if she were to come in here and rip my head off.
I need to find something to keep me occupied otherwise I might lose it.
I should have known that Abbey’s absence was what was at the core of Jed’s troubles. When he’s overburdened with work, he gets cranky, but it’s manageable. When there’s a problem between him and Abbey, he doesn’t cope at all. She is his rock; his anchor in any storm.
I knew that there was tension between the First Couple, yet I had no idea that things were that strained. Some friend I am. I really thought that she would understand why we have to run again—that she would see how much we’ve done and just jump on board the bandwagon. I underestimated her reaction and how it would affect the President. Because of this situation, I have been reminded of a lesson that I learned many years ago:
Never underestimate Abigail Bartlet.
There are some lessons you have to keep re-learning the hard way.
I know that Jed is nervous about her return. He wants things to be “normal”—whatever the hell that is—but I think he knows in his heart that they won’t be. He has no idea what to expect, and that drives him crazy.
I should go check on him to see how he’s dealing with the wait. Jed’s not a patient man. He hates to wait for anything—whether he knows what to expect or not. You should have seen him at the births of all three of his girls. He was a wreck. Oh, he’d like to make you think otherwise, but Abbey and I were the ones who kept a level head. Jed was a mess.
I go through the linking corridor between our offices and open the door to the Oval Office just a crack, just to get a peek. I don’t want him to think that I’m checking up on him. God, I don’t want a lecture from him about that!
Yeah, I was right. He’s a mess. He’s pacing all over the office. I can’t help but smile just a little bit. I find it amusing that the most powerful man in the world is reduced to this.
“Leo, what the hell are you doing?” I hear Jed call out to me.
Damn, I was caught…
“Uh, good evening, sir, I was just…”
“You were just spying on me,” he said, with an exasperated look on his face.
“Well, Mr. President I was just..” I wasn’t covering my guilt up very well.
“Do you realize that I could have you arrested for spying? Spying is a crime, Leo. And,
a big one at that.” Jed says, with slight grin on his face.
“I’ll tell you what, you put me in a nice federal correctional facility, and I’ll turn myself in. I could use a vacation.”
“Fine, just make sure that they take me with you as they haul you off.” Jed replied, with a sigh.
“It’s not going to be that bad, sir.” I assure him.
“Haven’t you missed her?” I ask. That’s a stupid question. He’s been lost without her.
“Of course I have, Leo,” he answers in a tone that confirms my thoughts on the stupidity of the question.
“Then, focus on that and let the rest take care of itself.”
Jed just looks at me in silence.
“Jed, just talk to her. You’ve always been good at that. The two of you sit down, hash it out and work it out. I’ve always marveled at that. I guess that’s why you’re still married and I’m not.”
“Yeah, well, the reason why you’re not married to Jenny anymore is because you’re a horse’s ass.”
I roll my eyes. “Let’s not start with that again.”
“Right. Well, I’m afraid that it’s not going to be that simple with Abbey this time, Leo. She was pretty pissed at me when she left here.”
“Well, Jed…that’s the first right thing you’ve said in quite some time”
The sound of another voice caused Jed and I to turn quickly toward the other door of the Oval Office. We knew the sound of that voice.
Abigail was home.
It’s incredible to watch the flutter of activity upon my arrival back at the White House. From the moment my car pulls up to the door, you can see the virtual ballet begin. My staffers greet me at the door. Other White House staff members are rushing around—it seems like someone is always rushing around here. I barely step foot in the house and my assistants are rattling items off to me about what my schedule is upon my return. Of course, they do pay me the courtesy of welcoming me back.
I shouldn’t sound like I’m not grateful for my staff. They just need to lighten up a bit.
The biggest thing is the announcement of my arrival home. Now, there’s no official announcement of my arrival. But it seems as though that the word of my arrival spreads like wildfire throughout the building. It’s like a alarm that goes throughout the house. Anyone else would think that no one wants her around—fortunately, I could care less about what everyone thinks.
I know who they are informing—my husband. Well today, I don’t want to give them a chance. I make a beeline from my car, through the West Wing offices and directly to the Oval Office.
I realized that I am successful in my goal when I caught Charlie off guard. I swear that young man has a built-in radar.
"Good evening, ma’am.” Charlie says, standing in respect.
“You’re home early.”
“Yes, I am. Is the President in the office?”
“Yes, ma’am. Did he know about your early arrival home?” Poor Charlie. He’s Jed’s first line of defense.
“No, Charlie, and that’s the way I wanted it.” I say with a smile and head for the office door.
I open the door and see my husband and Leo standing and talking. They don’t even notice I’ve come in. Unfortunately, they are talking about me and they think they’re doing it behind my back.
Separately, Leo and Jed are two of the brightest men I have the pleasure of knowing. Together, though, they are hopeless at times.
I smile at the two of them talking and apparently planning how to deal with me. When I hear Jed say that I was pretty pissed off when I left, I had to jump in.
“Well, Jed…that’s the first right thing you’ve said in quite some time”
You should have seen their heads whip around in my direction. It took everything I had not to crack a smile.
I walk into the room and close the door behind me. I move toward my husband.
“Good Evening, ma’am.”
“Oh, don’t ma’am me, Leo. You’re standing here talking about how my husband should deal with me and now you’re calling me ma’am?” Leo has that “deer in the headlights” look. I decide to let him off the hook, for now. “Oh, come on, Leo. Lighten up just a bit.”
Leo sighs in relief. “How was your trip?”
“Just fine, thank you. Leo, would you mind?”
I don’t even need to finish the thought. “Of course. I was just leaving anyway.”
“Coward.” Jed says, with a wink. But, I know that somewhere deep down, I think he’s at least half-serious.
Then, Jed and I were alone.
“Hello, Abbey.” He looks tired. Yet, somehow his eyes are sparkling. Ever since the first day we met, I’ve seen that spark in his eye. It makes it very difficult for me to stay angry with him.
He comes over to me and gives me a soft kiss on the cheek.
“How is New Hampshire?” he asks.
“Fine. Everything is good at the house.”
“That’s good,” he says.
For a moment, there are no words between us. This is fine with me. I’m trying to regroup and get my game face on. It isn’t working. I just want to stand there and look at him and tell him how much I missed him. Damn it, I’m supposed to be mad at him and here I am almost in tears because I want him to hold me so badly and tell me everything is going to be o.k.
“Abbey?” he says, softly and takes a step towards me.
He takes my hands in his. “Abbey, I missed you.”
I cannot hold back any longer. Tears are running down my face. I take in a breath and reply, “I missed you, too, Jed.”
He starts to kiss my tears away, one at a time. Then, he kisses me fully. It’s a kiss that says everything to me—how much he needs me, misses me, and desires me. There is no fighting it.
“Let’s go to the residence and finish this discussion.”
I’m going to have to wait until later to have the discussion I had intended to have with him. As he slowly leads me out of the Oval Office and towards the residence, we both know there is some unfinished business that we must deal with.
But, this is more important for us right now.
End of Part Four
go on to the next part