Title: “A House Divided”, Part Five
Author: Marie Rossiter (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Spoilers: Everything up to “17 People”
Synopsis: The President and the First Lady have to face each other
before they can face the public…
POV: POTUS/FLOTUS (alternating)
My God, the lady lying next to me is still the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen and she can still throw me a curve ball. The last place I anticipated us ending up was in bed together. Based on how upset she was the last time I saw her, I figured that I would wind up sleeping at least on the couch or even in one of the guestrooms.
I can’t speak for Abbey, but I have to say that from the moment she walked in on Leo and me, I was so elated to see her that I couldn’t find the words to say. All I could do was stand there and look at her. Abbey is always a sight for sore eyes, and I fully understood the depth of the emptiness in my heart and soul when she walked into the room.
Of course, I was also scared to death that she would rail at me with the wrath of God—but I was willing to take that risk.
She looks so peaceful right now. This is the way she should always look. She’s had to endure a great deal, and most of it is because of me. I wish that I could lock the world away and just live in this moment from now on.
But, I know that is not possible. I know that we have to settle things and need to come to an understanding, and I know that it is going to be painful.
I have to convince her that a second term is something that needs to be done. I need to let her know that I need her by my side. Her support means everything to me. I cannot do my job without it. She is the most integral part of my life and I need that part of me in order to be whole—both professionally and personally.
I gently push away a stray strand of hair that has fallen in her face. She stirs a little then rolls over, with her back facing me now.
As much as I don’t want to, I need to get out of bed and get ready for the day ahead. I’d rather stay in bed with my wife and pick up where we left off last night. I have good reason to feel this way—mostly because after our discussion, I’m not sure about how long it will be before we have another moment like this again…
Jed is actually getting out of bed before I do? Miracles are possible. My husband is about the worst “morning person” alive. No one likes to be the unlucky fool that has to wake him up. It is not a pretty sight.
I have been lying here quietly, pretending to still be asleep. I’ve been trying to prolong this time that we have together. Time together like this is so rare; I hate to see it end. But, reality has been awake for far longer than the two of us have, and it’s time that we get up and greet it head on.
I’m not sure how long Jed has been awake, but the fact that he’s up so early and out of bed all ready tells me that something is troubling him. He knows that we need to talk. He knows that he’s not going to like to hear what I have to say.
I had wanted to get this conversation over with as soon as I returned to the White House. I didn’t realize how much I had missed and needed Jed until I saw him when I walked into the Oval Office. I had every intention to blast him when I got back—I planned to get my point across strongly and convincingly.
So, I was sidetracked a little bit.
As I lay here in bed, I see Jed getting dressed. It’s Saturday, so he’s dressing down today. Notre Dame sweat pants and shirt, of course. Sure he looks good in a suit, but I enjoy seeing him more relaxed. Again, I don’t get to see that very often. I suppose I could stay in bed all day and watch my husband, but I know that can’t happen.
I sit up a little bit and pull up the sheet around me. “Jed?”
“Abbey,” he says softly and turns in my direction. “I’m sorry, did I wake you?”
“No. What are you doing?”
“Getting dressed. I can’t go down to the office looking the way I did when I was still in bed.” He smiles mischievously and comes and sits down beside me on the bed.
“Why are you up so early?”
“Oh, I don’t know…”
“You’re never up early unless something is bothering you.”
Jed says nothing in response.
“Were you hoping to be down in the offices before I woke up, so that you could avoid the discussion you know has to happen?”
“Abbey…” Jed says wearily.
“Jed, just because what happened last night happened doesn’t erase everything that we need to deal with.”
“I know that.”
“Yes, Abbey, I do know that. Are you saying that you regret what happened last night?”
“Of course not, Jed. What happened last night was wonderful and beautiful and..”
“Amazing, intense…” he continued and started to lean over and kiss my neck a little.
“Jed…” I say in a warning tone, trying to pull away a bit. “We need to talk about this. We can’t just stay in bed and make love from now until election time.”
“Why not?” he continues, and is still nuzzling on my neck. “I certainly can’t think of anything better to do than that.”
I manage to pull away and get out of bed. I grab my robe and put it on.
“Jed, please. I’m doing my best to keep my cool and not get angry, but you are not making it easy on me. Now, please, we need to discuss this!” My voice is rising in anger just a little bit.
“Ok, Abbey, ok,” he acquiesces.
Just then the phone rings. Classic.
Jed leans over and picks it up. “Yeah?”
Once again the world’s needs will come before our own.
Jed says nothing and listens on the phone. His eyes lock onto mine with an intensity that tells me he means business. I wonder what the hell is going on now.
“Yeah, Leo. That sounds fine. Give me an hour. I’m in an important meeting right now. Keep me posted when you need to and I’ll see you in the office then.” With that, he hangs up the phone.
I’m in shock. “What’s going on?”
“Nothing that can’t wait for an hour.”
I stand there is silence.
“Nothing that’s more important than us, Abbey.”
This is my opening. “Do you mean that, Jed?”
“Of course I do.”
“Then please reconsider your run for reelection.” I might as well put all my cards on the table right from the start.
“Jed, one of the reasons I love you is because of all the good work you do. You’re a damn fine President and I couldn’t be more proud of you and all that you have accomplished. But, that’s only one of the reasons. The main reason why I love you is because you are Josiah Bartlet, my husband. I want to grow old with you. I want you to be by my side. I want you to be there for your daughters and your grandchildren…”
“I am there for you and the girls!” he protests.
“Yes, you are. But, you won’t be if you keep up this pace. Your health..”
“Oh, Abbey…one episode in how many years?”
“Don’t interrupt me!” Now, I’m getting upset. “Your health is like a ticking time bomb. Stress doesn’t help. Lack of sleep doesn’t help. There is nothing I can do to help you, except to encourage you to take better care of yourself. I can give you injections of Beta Seron and pump you full of drugs, but if you don’t slow down, all the drugs in the world won’t be able to help you, Jed!”
“But, I’ve been feeling fine, Abbey.”
“Have you looked at yourself lately? You’re exhausted!”
“I’ve been a little busy, Abigail.” He’s starting to get annoyed now.
“Hell, I know that Jed, and that’s my point. You need to decide which is more important, you health and life with me and your family or the Presidency.” There, I said it.
“It’s not that simple, Abbey!”
“I made a commitment to the American people, you can’t expect me to walk away when I’m only half finished with the job!” he yells at me.
“You made a commitment to me 32 years ago! You’ve been my husband for a hell of a lot longer than you’ve been the President, and I don’t expect you to walk away from your commitment to me, damn it!”
“I would never walk away from our commitment, Abbey!”
“You made me a promise! One term only.”
Jed takes in a deep breath to try to keep his temper in check. “Things change, Abbey. Situations change,” he says in as calm a voice as he can.
“Your condition doesn’t change—except that it could get worse! But you refuse to see that.”
He turns away from me now. He can’t look at me. He knows that I’m right.
“The bottom line is this, Jed. Things may change, but commitments don’t change and promises don’t change.” I take in a deep breath. “If you decide to run for re-election, you will be walking away from our commitment—and I won’t put up with that. I can’t. I cannot stand by you any longer.”
Jed slowly turns back around; his face looks grave, “What are you saying, Abigail?”
I look into Jed’s eyes, so that he is sure that I am serious. “What I’m saying, Josiah, is that if you break your promise to me, I will consider it the biggest violation of trust you could ever imagine. And, I don’t think that I can live with that…or with you…as a result.”
With those words, Jed has to sit down.
I was serious when I said I would fight for my husband.
End of Part Five
go on to the next part