Rating : PG
Disclaimer: We don't own the characters.
Spoilers: A look into the personal and political lives of the characters.
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Josh Lyman didn't even say hello to Donna when he got back from lunch the next day. In fact, he didn't say anything to anyone. He simply charged through the building until he arrived at Maddi's office. He didn't knock, and came in looking fairly upset. "We have to talk," he said to her.
"Josh I'm kinda sorta on the phone right now." She said, however she was beginning to get frightened by the tone of his voice and the panicked look on his face.
"Congressman Baker from Ohio is adding an amendment tonight," he said.
Maddi's heart sunk. "Oh my god," she whispered "Maggi I gotta go bye." She said into the phone and then promptly hung it up. "What's the amendment?"
"Well, it's actually education related, but it's not good. It raises standards in schools so that schools who don't meet the standards get cutback in funding," Josh said.
Maddi looked desperately at the ceiling. "This is not what we needed." She sighed, then she took a deep breath and realized they didn't have time to panic they needed to take action. "The Republicans won't mind but we'll lose some of liberal base in the vote. Do you have the latest count?"
"Not yet," Josh said. "Baker hasn't added it yet."
"Can we talk him out of it?"
"We can try," Josh said.
"Great," she said. Then to her secretary she said, "Call Congressman Baker and get me a meeting with him. Tell him it's important and Renee, it can't wait. " Her red haired secretary nodded and then left.
"You going to talk him down?"
"I'm going to try," she said. "I need you to find out who'll still vote our way, no matter what."
"Will do," he said, walking out the door. "Good luck."
Walking through the West Wing had become different for Abbey ever since the announcement. The staff was sure to stop and chat with her, and ask her how she was doing, and generally smiling. She didn't mind the extra attention from her and her husband's staff. However she was much less fond of the extra attention from the pres. And, sigh, walking into the Oval Office was an entirely new experience. When she walked in that morning, Jed immediately got up to greet her.
With a hug and quick kiss, he said, "Abbey, how are you feeling?"
"I'm fine," she said. He was acting worse than he had the first time around with Elizabeth. He had been a general wreck throughout the entire first pregnancy. He had pampered her incessantly and ridiculously. When she had become pregnant with Maggi, he had been noticeably better. With each ensuing pregnancy, he had become more calm and stable. But with this one, he was ten times worse than ever.
"You sure? I can get some food for you if you're hungry. The doctor says you've got to eat," Jed babbled.
"Yes, Jed, I know. I have done this before."
"I know, I know. I just want everything to go perfect. I want you to be okay," he told her affectionately. "Would you like to sit down?"
"No, honey, I think I'll manage. Besides I'm not staying too long. You said you wanted to see me."
"Yes, yes," Jed exclaimed, recalling his motivation for calling his wife in. "I've talked to Beckey, Maggi and Elizabeth and talked them all into coming to DC for the weekend. All of them thought they could get the time off of work and were more than happy to come."
"All the girls? Why?" Abbey asked curiously.
"It's been too long since we've really had a family time. Beckey said she and Chris would be there. Maggi is of course bringing Jill and Elizabeth is bringing Annie and one of Annie's friends, they have some school project they need to work on, it's the only way Elizabeth could bring Annie. I haven't talked to Maddi or Zoey but seeing as I employ Maddi and Zoey doesn't have a job, I'm sure we'll all be there."
"A Bartlet family reunion," Abbey said approvingly.
"I thought it might be good for us all."
"Well, Mr. President, our country may be going to hell but you sure can plan a family get together in a moment's notice. That's reassuring for an anxious nation."
Jed shrugged. "I have to stick with my strengths." Abbey laughed a little, then she headed back to work.
Ellen stood awkwardly in Toby's office. "I have to talk to you about what I'm going to say at the briefing," she said.
"Which briefing?" Toby asked, purposely burying himself in his work.
"You know which briefing Toby, the one I'm having today, the one where I talk about the President's position on the education bill. An update, you know," she said without using inflection in her voice.
"What else is there to say?" Toby asked. "There's already been a dozen briefings and this bill. Nothing's changed when it comes to our position and nothing official has changed when it comes to the bill. There's not much to say."
"That's why it's called an update, Toby."
"Then why is it that you don't know what to say?"
"I was just making sure you didn't want me to say anything different."
"You know where we stand, so why are you standing in my office?"
Ellen was getting very frustrated. "Well, seeing as you're the one who crafts the words in this part of the building, it seemed appropriate that I discuss the words that come out of this part of the building with you," she snapped angrily.
Toby finally looked up. "I've already crafted the words. You just have to remember them. Good luck," he said very insincerely, then looked back down to his work.
Ellen was fuming when Toby glanced up and said, "Why are you still here?"
Unable to speak without breaking down or screaming, Ellen stormed out of the office.
~Later that day~
Maddi had managed to arrange a spur of the moment meeting with Congressman Baker. She had just been notified that he was waiting for her in the situation room. So, with her papers in hand, she prepared herself for the meeting. It was going to be a fight, one that she wasn't likely to win, but one she had to fight regardless. Before she could open the door, Josh jogged up to her.
"News of the amendment has leaked everywhere," Josh said, slightly out of breath. "All the Senators know about it. We're still more than fine in the Congress - it'll pass hands down. But we lose fifteen votes in the Senate, at least. If you can't talk him down Maddi, we'll all be working overtime trying to scrounge up enough votes for this thing to pass."
"Okay, first of all, we all already work overtime." Maddi said tiredly. "This thing has to pass with or without that amendment."
"Well, it'll be easier without."
"Can you start looking for Senators we can talk into voting our way if - "
"When." Josh corrected her.
" *If* Congressman Baker can't be reasoned with?" Maddi asked hopefully.
"Sure, I'll get right on it," he said. "But I'm still hoping that you can use your tremendous powers of persuasion to save us."
"Well gee Josh that doesn't put any pressure on me." She said sarcastically.
"Maddi, I have complete confidence in you."
"Thanks." Maddi took a deep breath. "But with publicity already, I don't like our chances here," she admitted.
"Thanks," she said, and went inside. Inside, Congressman Baker sat defensively in a chair. "Congressman Baker, how are you today?"
"Cut the crap, Maddi," he said.
"I guess we're not being formal," she commented, sitting down.
"I know why I'm here. You're trying to threaten me into backing down from the amendment," Baker said. "And I'm going to tell you right now, there's nothing you're going to say to make me change my mind."
"Well, you can't blame a girl for trying, can you?" She said, mock innocently.
"What do you plan to do Madison, threaten me? Legislative retribution? Lack of support from the White House? Well, guess what, I've never had your support. I haven't needed it, nor have I wanted it. See, I've the backing of the majority of the House, not to mention the Senate," he said.
"Okay, then," she said. "I can see you're very good at listening today."
"I'll listen but you won't change my mind."
"Congressman, you know that our bill is good," Maddi said practically.
"It's a waste of money," Baker said.
"So are you trying to kill it or just get your bill piggy backed through?"
Baker smiled. "Your bill is good," he said. "I doubt it's the most effective way to spend money on education, but it certainly won't hurt."
"You just said it was a waste of money."
"That's just my line," he said. "But my amendment is good too. And that's why I'm adding it."
"It'll distroy the bill," Maddi explained simply.
"Not if you can help it."
"You're adding the amendment because you know we'll scrounge up the votes to make the bill pass?" Maddi asked.
"It's a perfect plan. I add an amendment to a bill that I don't completely oppose but don't completely endorse. I know you guys are doing everything you can to get it to pass. Either way I win. If it passes, the bill doesn't bother me too much and I have an amendment that I wanted passed too. If it fails, I haven't lost much of anything."
Maddi laughed in disgust. "So there's nothing I can do? I can't promise you that the President will be there for you when you need him? Nothing?"
He shook his head. "Nothing. Even if I wanted to back down, I can't do it now. Not when everyone already knows. I'm sorry. You're going to have to either watch your bill die, or find the votes. How many are you down?"
"We need four to win if you add the amendment," Maddi said.
"Well, good luck," he said getting up. "I have another meeting to attend."
Maddi sat there for a second, angry and frustrated. Then she got up, and went straight to Josh's office. When she got there, she opened the door and said, "Okay, we need four votes. Where are we going to find them?"
"So, Maddi's talking with Senator Dorsey. She's using everything she has with this guy. I mean, she went from charm to threats in like five minutes," Josh said after he finished dinner at Donna's apartment.
"Did he change his mind?" Donna asked.
"Finally, yes," Josh said. "It was amazing. I never thought she'd get Dorsey. The guy opposes everything we do."
"So the bill will pass?"
"The bill will pass with two votes to spare," Josh said with pride.
"Wow," Donna said, genuinely impressed. "That's pretty good."
Josh grinned. "I know," he said. "Well you know Maddi. She commits to something and there's no stopping her. She would work for days straight if she had too in order to get something that she wanted."
"Well, commitment is a good thing," Donna said subtlety. She and Josh had been a sort of thing for nearly a year now. But throughout that year, nearly nothing had changed. And Donna was nearly fed up. "You should work on that aspect of yourself."
"Your endowment to commit. It seems to be a little lacking," Donna tried to say lackadaisically.
"Donna, what are you talking about?"
"Us, Josh, I'm talking about us."
"What about us?"
"The fact that it hasn't changed at all. You know how I feel about you. I told you a year ago how I felt. And I thought you felt the same because we began this really great thing."
"If it's so great, then what's the problem?" Josh asked.
"Because it was great for a year ago, but it hasn't grown."
"Grown in what way?" Josh wondered.
Donna wanted to scream at him. "Why is it you can commit wholeheartedly to a bill or a project at work, but when it comes to your relationships, you can't even come to call yourself my boyfriend!"
"Donna, I-I didn't know," he said.
She softened. "I know. But I'm getting so tired of waiting. I want to know, Josh. How do you feel about me?"
He looked nervous now. Stuttering he said, "You mean so much to me, Donna."
"What does that mean? I mean, do you even want to continue in this relationship?"
"Yes, yes of course," Josh said quickly. "I mean, yes. I can't imagine life without you. I-I guess that.. I guess that I love you."
Donna looked confidently into his eyes. "Do you mean that?"
Gaining aplomb, Josh said, "Yes. Yes. I love you, Donnatella Moss."
Then Donna smiled. "I have waited so long to hear you say that," she whispered, biting back her tears. "You have no idea."
"Well, what do you think of me?"
Grinning ear to ear, Donna said, "I love you, too, Joshua Lyman."