Title: “A House Divided”, Part Six
Author: Marie Rossiter (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Spoilers: Everything up to “17 People”
Synopsis: The President has to juggle a number of crises—both political and
POV: POTUS/LEO (alternating)
I don’t even know what to say to this. Did my wife say what I think she just said? Did she just tell me that if I decide to run for re-election, that she would leave me? I had no choice but to sit down.
I look at her from across the room. She is unflinching in her stance and her stare. The pain I am feeling right now is ten times worse than when I was shot at the Newseum last year. This wound penetrates me much deeper than any bullet could.
“Abbey…” I can barely get the words out. “Don’t do this to me.”
I can see the tears start to roll down her face. “I don’t want to do this. I have no choice.”
She walks out of the room, still dressed in her robe. I’m left to sit alone with a burden that no man should have to face—that no man may be capable to face.
I rest my head in my hands. I feel the tears that I’ve been holding back start to flow. Whoever said that men aren’t supposed to cry is full of crap.
“Mr. President?” Leo has come into the room and I haven’t even heard him.
I don’t move. “Did you know about this, Leo?” I whisper.
“I don’t know anything except for the fact that I just saw Abbey running down the corridor and go into a guest room. Now, I see you in here..” There is genuine concern in my friend’s expression.
The tears are flowing freely now.
“Jed, my God. What is it?”
“My wife wants to leave me.”
Leo gasps as though he were just punched in the gut. “What?”
I say nothing.
Leo crosses over to sit beside me. “You can’t be serious.”
“She’s serious, Leo. More serious than you can imagine.”
“What happened? How did this happen?” He puts a hand on my shoulder.
I told him everything. From last night’s events (not a lot of details, of course) to today’s explosion. He simply sat there and listened until I was finished.
Once I was finished, all my friend could do was sit in silence.
“Leo, I need your advice now more than I ever have. What am I going to do?”
I prayed that the man to whom I have given my life’s work could give me some hope….
What could I say to him? Give me a political crises, I can fix it. Give me a scandal, I can work around (that skill is a necessity in this business). I am the last person anyone should ask about marital advice—considering the fact that I lost my own wife because of my work. To have Jed Bartlet sit here and ask me what he should do about his marriage seemed ridiculous. Jed and Abbey have been the example by which all marriages should follow: both partners intelligent, capable of amazing humor and affectionate almost to a fault. Whenever people see the First Couple together, remarks are always made that they seem to be as much in love now as they were when they were married 32 years ago. I was there for that day. No two people were more meant for each other than Jed and Abbey.
I constantly teased Jed that Abbey was too damned good for him, and we both knew that had a grain of truth to it. But, I knew that Jed Bartlet had met his match when he met Abbey. She is the only person who can match Jed’s passion and emotion—and the temper to boot. They are a perfect match. I never even thought it was possible that even a mention of separation would be in the cards for my two friends.
Now, here I sit in the President’s residence, trying to figure out what to say to my best friend. His life is in a tailspin and I’ve been given the controls to try to level it out.
“Jed, you need to talk to her.”
“And say what? That I won’t be emotionally blackmailed? That I won’t run? That I will run and then tell her to get the hell out?”
“Well, Leo, what the hell can I possibly say to her!!”
“I’m going to lose her, Leo.”
“No, you’re not!” I insist.
His tears are starting to fall again. I don’t see Jed Bartlet cry very often. This doesn’t assist me in improving my feeling of helplessness.
“I love her. She’s my life,” he says.
“I know that, sir.”
“Why would she do this? This isn’t like her. She’s never threatened me before—at least like this.”
“She must be hurting, too, Jed.”
“Yes, but I didn’t intend to hurt her. What happened just now was intentional,” he snapped.
“It doesn’t matter. I don’t think she meant to hurt you. She was hurt, so she hurt you back. She doesn’t want to lose you,” I assure him.
“Yet, she’s willing to leave me. So, how much could she “not want to lose me?”
“She’s lashing out. Just like someone else I know can do.” I reply with a smirk on my face.
Jed is not impressed.
“Jed, what if I talk to her?”
“I don’t know” he sighed.
“It can’t hurt.”
“It might. You can be a pain in the ass, too, you know,” he says.
I smile at his remark.
He pauses a moment before he says, “Go ahead, Leo. Just make sure that I’m not served divorce papers by the end of the day.”
Oh, well, no pressure there.
“Jed, I’m going to clear your schedule for today. It’s only Saturday; there’s nothing that is more important than this.”
Jed chuckles under his breath.
“What is it?”
“That’s exactly what I said to Abbey. Nothing is more important than us.”
I look at my friend. I wish that I had just the right words to say to him at this moment.
“Yeah.” I can manage no more than that.
“I think I’m going to go take a walk to try and clear my head,” he says.
We stand and walk into the hallway. He goes to leave, but he turns back around to face me before he heads out. “Thanks, Leo.”
“You’re welcome, sir.”
And then, he’s gone.
I need to draw every ounce of courage. I’m going into the mouth of the lion. I’m hoping that as I get to where the First Lady is, that I’ll come up with a brilliant idea.
Somehow, I know it’s going to need to be better than that.
Have I mentioned lately that I think I need a raise? Maybe add combat pay to my list of benefits? Well, one project at a time….
End of Part six
go on to the next part