Amanda (Superqt2004@aol.com) It is a sequel to Spring Showers, Early on a
Saturday, Grave Adversity, Expect the Unexpected, and You Can't Fight Fate.
Rating : PG
Disclaimer: We don't own the characters.
Spoilers: A look into the lives of the Bartlet family.
Comments please! This will probably be the last story in the series, but that
it not for sure yet.

Best Laid Plans - Chapter One
Glancing at the clock in her car, Maggi Bartlet pushed her foot on the
gas
a little harder. It was 2:58. If she didn't get there in time, the
consequences were likely catastrophic. For at exactly 3:00 p.m., her six
year old daughter would be getting out of school. And without her mother's
presence at that precise moment, Jill's attentions would immediately be
drawn to something mischievous or troublesome of likely both.
Balancing her job and her daughter was a difficult task for Maggi. The
divorce from her idiot ex-husband had left her both better off and worse
off. Their romance had grown old quickly, finally turning completely sour
during her father's campaign trail a few years back. Jill had been very
young, and while things got worse between Maggi and her husband, she lived
her life on the trail with her father. When he won election, Maggi won her
freedom with a divorce. Now she was free of all his problems and issues,
but now she alone was supporting and managing a wild six year old.
As she pulled into the school lot, the clock read 3:02. Only two minutes
late. Maggi prayed Jill's magnetism for trouble wouldn't attract anything
yet. However, as she approached the playground, she knew she was out of
luck.
She actually heard Jill before she even saw her curly brown head. Her
daughter was yelling, and when she spotted her, she was tackling a small
boy. Trying to preempt any serious injury, Maggi ran to the scene, and
pulled her thrashing child from the fray. "Jill Diane Thompson, what do you
think you are doing?!" Maggi demanded when she had a firm grasp on her.
Jill's brown eyes shone brilliantly with anger. "He started it," she
insisted, out of breath.
"What did he do that required you to tackle him? Did he hit you?" she
asked, glancing at the little boy who was sitting up, sulking and red faced
to the small crowd of children gathered.
"No," Jill admitted reluctantly.
"Did he kick you?"
"No."
"Jill, you can't do this," Maggi sighed. "You can't-"
"Excuse me, is there a problem here?" a voice interrupted. Maggi looked
up
to see a man standing over her, holding the blonde headed boy Jill had
attacked in his arms. "My son tells me Jill here attacked him. Again."
Standing up, Maggi looked sheepish. "I'm sorry. Jill tends to have a
lot
of extra energy that ends up being very sorely misplaced."
"So she goes out and beat up on little boys who are taught not to hit
back?"
"Look, Mr‚€¶."
"Garrett. Jason Garrett."
"Garrett, I apologize. I promise this will not happen again. Will it,
Jill?" Maggi asked, glaring downwards at Jill.
Grudgingly, she shook her head affirmatively, staring down.
"Will you apologize, Jill?" Maggi demanded.
Shuffling her feet, Jill said, "Sorry."
"For what?"
"Sorry, Kent, for hurting you."
Kent's pride was too hurt to look smug. Jason looked at him. "What do
you
say, Kent?"
"It's okay," he mumbled, trying to bury his head in his father's shoulder.
Jason smiled. "No hard feelings."
Relieved, Maggi smiled back. "Okay. Thanks. I'm really sorry!"
"Don't worry about it. But now we have to go. See you, Mrs‚€¶."
"Ms. Bartlet. Maggi."
"Sorry, Ms. Bartlet. Goodbye," he said, and turned to leave.
"Bye," she called after him. Then she turned to Jill. "What am I going
to
do with you? What would your grandparents say?"
Jill said nothing and kicked at a pebble. Sighing, Maggi retrieved
Jill's
bag from the ground. Nudging Jill, she said, "Come on. Let's go home."

In the car, Maggi drove in silence. Jill pouted in the backseat, her
face
so carefully composed that way, Maggi had to force herself not to smile.
"Jill, tell me, what *did* that boy do to make you so mad?" Maggi finally
asked. "Did he say something?"
"Yes."
"What?" she prodded.
"He said Grandpa Bartlet was stupid," Jill said crossly.
"He said what?"
"He said Grandpa Bartlet was a bad President who deserves all the bad
stuff
that happens to him."
Taking the situation more seriously, Maggi looked concerned. "He said
that?"
"Yeah, and that there are a bunch of stupid heads working for him."
"So you got angry? Why didn't you ask him to stop?"
"I did," Jill said indignantly. "I ask him all the time. I told him he
didn't know my Grandpa Bartlet and then he said he didn't want to. So then
I started chasing him. I'm sorry, Mommy. I never meant to but he wasn't
being fair!"
"No," Maggi agreed. "He wasn't."
"Are you mad at me, Mommy?"
"Well, you can't go around fighting, Jill. But you were right to defend
your Grandpa Bartlet and his staff. Next time, try not to beat him up,
okay?"
Jill's disposition relaxed. "Okay, Mommy."
With Jill's mood vastly improved, she began to chatter away about the
rest
of her day like a typical kindergartener. Maggi listened distantly,
slightly disturbed by what her daughter had told her. It had been an odd
transition to think of her father, the man who raised her, as the President
of the United States. He was still 'Dad' to her and obviously still
'Grandpa' to Jill. Trying to explain that to others was not a simple task.
The refused to separate him from the issues. While Maggi had faced this
dilemma many times, she had done it fairly nonchalantly since she knew how
people were. But for Jill, the task was too large to handle, and Maggi was
deeply troubled that she had been forced to be in the situation.
Like she always did when she was trouble, Maggi called her sister. After
serving Jill a quick dinner of leftovers, and sending her off to play, she
sat down and dialed Maddi's number in DC.
Maddi answered after a few rings, saying, "Hello?"
"Hey, Maddi," Maggi said, plopping down on her couch.
"Maggi, hi, how's it going?"
"Okay," Maggi replied, sounding intentionally wistful. "How's it going
with you?"
"Oh, okay. Things are typically busy. Carrie's getting so big! Neither
Sam or I can believe it. And since she's been walking since last weekend
everything starting to change."
"Well, she's at a good age. They're not nearly as stressful when they're
that young."
"What did Jill do now?"
"Oh nothing," Maggi sighed. "Just more fights at school."
"She still fights, huh?"
"Yes. It's amazing that she doesn't get expelled from school."
"I don't think they often expel kids in kindergarten," Maddi pointed out.
"Jill's pushing the envelope as far as she can. But I'm beginning to
think
maybe she has a legitimate reason."
"Really."
"Yeah, apparently some kids are making comments about Dad, and Jill's
sticking up for him. Should I encourage that or discourage it?"
"Wow. You don't want her to just take what they're saying but you don't
want to push her into more fights. She seems to find those well enough on
her own."
"Trust me, I know."
"What kind of things are they saying about Dad?" Maddi wondered.
"Hard to say. All I get is second hand from Jill."
"Well, I would just take it easy until you find out something more
concrete. Dad being President is kind of weird for all of us. We all knew
there was going to be some strange and unforeseen repercussions."
"But Jill's six. They don't sit around and have political debates on the
playground at recess," Maggi said.
"No, but kids can be mean. They probably just overheard their parents
complaining about something and made the connection to Dad. Jill will
handle it better when she gets a little bit older and understands what it
really is that her grandfather does."
"You know, sometimes I wonder what it is that Dad really does."
"Don't look at me," Maddi said. "I may work for him but defining the
President's role is an impossible task. It's so complex, I don't think he
even understands all of its levels."
Maggi sighed. "Well, that's no good. But thanks for listening, Maddi.
I
don't know what I'd do if I didn't have someone to vent all my frustrations
on."
"No problem. What are sisters for?"
"I'm still very grateful. I mean, Beckey's been a complete flake ever
since she got engaged that I can't even talk to her anymore. It's always
Chris this and Chris that. And Zoey's way too idealistic to have any
concept of real life and I never could talk to Elizabeth."
"Well, I never thought that we'd be the ones to keep in touch, but I'm
kind
of glad that it's becoming this way. Then you can help me when Carrie
starts through her school years."
"Yeah, if I'm still sane after getting Jill through."
"It'll be fine," Maddi assured her. "Jill is a wonderful kid, and you're
simply amazing for what you done with her."
"Thanks," Maggi said softly.
"Well, I should go," Maddi said.
"Yeah, okay. Bye."
"Bye."
Maggi listened while the dial tone played on the other end. With a deep
sigh, she got up and went to get her daughter ready for bed.

To Be Continued

CHAPTER TWO
"Maggi, phone's for you. Line five," a secretary said, poking her head
in
the door. Work was never busy when other people looked in, but as the
actual architect designing buildings, it was quite hectic and stressful for
Maggi. The details that went into design were very in depth, and the
research required before the actual designing was unbelievable. If she had
known the meticulous details when she started, she never would have kept
with it. But it seemed a little late to change professions now.
Maggi picked up her phone, and put it to her ear, then continued to make
calculations for her recent project. "Maggi Bartlet."
"Hello, Ms. Bartlet. I'm calling from Thomas Jefferson Elementary.
There's been a disciplinary problem with your daughter and the principal
would like you to come down right away," the voice on the other end said.
Maggi's heart sunk. "What happened?"
"You'll have to come down."
"Okay," Maggi agreed. She glanced at her watch, and then the unfinished
work that was due by four o'clock that afternoon. Sighing, she said, "I'll
be there in five minutes."
"Okay. Thank you."
Maggi hung up the phone and saved her piece. Gathering her purse, she
leaned over to her co-workers' desk. "Hey, if anyone asks, I'm checking the
specks of the site," she said.
"Right, but if anyone really needs to know, you'll be where?" he asked.
"Jeff, I'm checking out the site. I'll be in an undeveloped place. I'm
unreachable," she said.
"Right, but you've got your beeper."
"I don't leave home without it," she called back as she left the building.
Maggi arrived in the principal's office about ten minutes later. Slightly
flustered, she went in. The first thing she saw was the skinny man behind
the large desk. She'd met the principal, Mr. Drew Flannigan, before, and
each encounter seems less positive than the last. Then, as her eyes quickly
perused the room, she saw Jill slouched in a chair, Kent Garrett in a
similar position and Jason Garrett waiting expectantly.
"Ms. Bartlet, please come in," Mr. Flannigan said, motioning to the last
chair. "Be seated."
She did so, glancing at her daughter again. Jill's hair was tousled, and
her shorts grass stained.
"Mr. Garrett, Ms. Bartlet, your children have been causing problems in
the
kindergarten class all year," Mr. Flannigan began. "Jill and Kent are both
exceptional students, their teacher tells me that, but for some reason they
don't get along. Today the incident was far more severe than it has been in
the past. During their morning recess, apparently some words were
exchanged. According to other students, Jill then began attacking Kent.
Does this sound right, children?"
Both of them refused to look up, but nodded their heads.
"The fight that ensued was much more physical than all their other
confrontations," Mr. Flannigan explained.
"Mr. Flannigan, I'm-" Maggi began, but he held up his hand.
"Children, would you please step outside?" Mr. Flannigan asked. Jill and
Kent reluctantly got up from their seats and disappeared out the door. Mr.
Flannigan continued. "Although Jill is the obvious initiator of the
physical activity between your two children, I have no doubt that she is
taunted into doing so. Both Kent and Jill have reputations for being
extremely outspoken. This is a quality we tend to encourage, but for some
reason, Kent and Jill rub each other the wrong way. I know it's hard to
take serious disciplinary actions when they are so young, but something must
be done. I doubt punishment will have much effect since it has been tried
and obviously failed. I think they both know they were wrong. I think they
both fully intend to never do it again. I think they just don't like each
other for some reason that I cannot comprehend."
"So, what do you want to do?" Jason asked.
"I don't want to do anything," Mr. Flannigan said. "The school year is
almost out, and there's little that I can enforce successfully at this time.
I suggest that you two take your children and teach them to be friends.
Let them spend time together outside the school setting. I don't know.
It's up to you. I'm afraid that I have to suspend them each for the rest of
the day in accordance with school policy, but they're both expected back
bright and early in the morning."
"Thank you, Mr. Flannigan," Maggi said, respectfully.
"Just don't make me call you down here again," he said.
"Sure thing," Jason assured him, getting up.
Maggi let herself out, and Jason was close behind. When the door was
closed, they stood awkwardly facing each other while their children went to
the classroom to gather their bags.
"I think Mr. Flannigan has a good idea. If Kent and Jill could be
friends
then maybe they'd stop getting into so much trouble," Maggi said.
"Maybe. Maybe we should discuss it over lunch. We could let them get to
know each other there," Jason suggested.
"Okay," Maggi agreed. "And maybe we can get to know each other as well."
"You never know," Jason said.
"So where should we go?"
"Well, Kent has a sack lunch‚€¶ we could just take them to a park," he
suggested.
"Sounds great. Jill has hers too."
About ten minutes later the foursome had regrouped at an empty park.
Several small children accompanied by their mothers played in the sand pit,
otherwise the park was vacant. Kent and Jill silently ate their lunches,
then Jason and Maggi scooted them off to the equipment to play together,
leaving the two parents alone on a park bench.
"You know, Jill said that she only attacked Kent the other day because he
was making fun of her grandfather," Maggi finally said.
"Really. That sounds like Kent."
"So you think he did insult her grandfather?" Maggi asked, shocked.
"Probably. Her grandfather is Jed Bartlet, right?" he clarified.
"Yes," she replied indignantly. "He's also my father. Why would Kent
know
about politics?"
"I guess that would be my fault," Jason admitted. "I'm a political
columnist in the Gazette."
"So you preach it to your six year old son?" she asked incredulously.
"No, of course not," Jason said. "But he probably can't help but
overhear
my conversations. I have a lot of politically based conversations around
the house?"
"Where you bash my father?!"
"No, I discuss politics and who I think does a good job and why. I don't
think that the Bartlet White House is all that it could be."
"What are you talking about?"
"Look, I have nothing against the President personally since I don't know
him. I simply discuss the flaws of his administration."
"You do realize that I know everyone involved in his administration,"
Maggi
said.
"And I have nothing against them personally either. I just think they're
doing a lousy job leading the country to improvement."
"That's crap!"
"Says you," Jason said. "We're all entitled our opinion. That's called
democracy."
"Yes, but you're not allowed to fill your son's head with hateful things
about a man he hasn't even met!"
"I have done no such thing."
"Why did Kent tell Jill that her grandfather was a bad man who deserved
all
the bad things that had happened to him?" she asked, accusingly.
"I don't know. That's politics in the hands of a six year old."
"So it's okay that your son thinks my father is bad man?"
"You know, he has his point of views, no matter how immature they are.
He
hears what I say-and I'll be frank, I speak poorly of your father's
*administration* at times-and breaks it down to the simplest thing he knows.
Love and hate. That's the only concept he can understand."
"Shouldn't you stress that you don't dislike the President to him or
something," Maggi wondered.
"I've tried, Miss Bartlet. No matter what you think, I've had these
talks
with my son. This isn't the first time he's made a scene with his
'political views.' I guess I just have an opinionated child."
"Well, I pity him," Maggi said angrily. "He's going to grow up to be as
closed minded as his father."
"Hey wait a minute!" Jason retorted. "You don't even know me and you're
judging me."
"You don't know my father, and you seemed to have judged him pretty
effectively!" Maggi yelled.
"I haven't judged him-I told you that. I commented on his
*administration.* How many times do I have to tell you that?"
Maggi was too angry to speak t him, so she ignored him. Jason sighed
dejectedly and gave up trying to explain it to her.

TBC

CHAPTER THREE
Kent and Jill had been playing halfheartedly while their parents talked.
They refused to acknowledge the other's presence, and refused to let
themselves have fun. Suddenly, they heard their parents voice rise. Their
attention piqued, they both stared as their parents fought intensely,
spitting comments back and forth. When the two fell silent, the children
turned away.
"Your mommy's mad," Kent said thoughtfully, as they began climbing again.
"She's not usually mad," Jill replied.
"I don't have a Mommy," Kent said softly.
"Really?" Jill asked.
"Yeah."
"Why not?"
"She died," Kent explained.
"Oh," Jill said thoughtfully. "My daddy moved away."
"Why?"
"Because he made my mommy mad like your daddy did."
"I'm sure my daddy didn't mean to," Kent said quickly.
"I don't know."
"I'm sorry I said mean things about your grandpa," Kent said suddenly.
Jill stopped at the top of the equipment. "I'm sorry I tackled you."
"I'm sure your grandpa's a really good guy."
"He is," Jill said.
The two continued to climb upwards. Reaching another plastic plateau,
Kent
said, "What's it like having a mommy?"
Jill stopped to think. "I don't know. It's pretty neat. She can do all
sorts of neat stuff."
"I wish I had a mommy," Kent said wistfully.
"Sometimes I wish I had a daddy who lived with me," Jill said. "My daddy
went away. I haven't seen him in a long time. Sometimes I can't remember
what he looks like."
"I like my daddy," Kent said proudly. Then he went down the slide, Jill
following him. When they reached the bottom, Jill's face grew pensive.
"You know, there's a way that we could both get what we want," she said
slowly.
"How?" Kent asked, cocking his head.
"Well, your daddy should marry my mommy," she said. "And then we'd both
have a mommy and daddy, and I'd have a brother, and you'd have a sister."
Kent's face brightened. "I like that idea," he said enthusiastically.
"But how are we going to get my daddy and your mommy together? All they
seem to do is fight."
Jill glanced towards their parents, who were each stubbornly ignoring the
other. "Well, maybe if they spend more time together. I mean, me and you
spent time together and we've become friends. I mean, that's what mommies
and daddies do-they're always together."
"But how do we get them to be always together?"
"We always ask to play with each other or to be with each other-whenever
your daddy wants to go somewhere, ask if you can take a friend. Then they'd
have to spend time together," Jill rationalized.
"And then they'll get married?"
"I guess."
Kent smiled. "I'm glad I got to know you," he told her shyly.
Blushing, Jill grinned her gap toothed grin back, "I'm glad I got to know
you too."
********
Maggi sat angrily on the park bench. She couldn't believe the nerve of
the
man sitting next to her. Sure, at first glance his blonde hair and blue
eyes made his boyish features seem to glow, but now she could see that they
glowed with a judgmental light. Glancing at her watch, she realized that
she wasn't going to make it back to work in time. Cursing her luck, she
pulled out her cell phone and called the office.
"Jeff, hi," she said when she got her partner on the line. Her
architecture office believe strongly in the idea of teamwork, meaning that
everyone had a partner they worked with to back them up and double check
their work. Her partner, a young man named Jeff, had become more of her
confidante and accomplice than anything else. "I'm not going to make it
back today‚€¶ yeah‚€¶ Jill got in trouble again and got suspended for the rest
of the day‚€¶ can you cover?‚€¶ thanks‚€¶ I owe you one‚€¶ uh-huh‚€¶ bye, Jeff."
Without explanation or warning, she then stood up and began towards the
equipment where her daughter and Kent were playing. "Come on, Jill. It's
time to go home," she called.
"I thought we were going to let them bond," Jason said from behind her.
Maggi looked coolly over her shoulder. "Just enough so Jill doesn't beat
up on your son every time he opens his mouth."
"There's a great attitude," Jason muttered.
"Jill!" Maggi called again.
"Mommy, I want to stay and play," Jill whined.
"You don't get to, young lady. You're in trouble, remember?"
"Mommy‚€¶."
"No. Come one," Maggi commanded flatly.
Reluctantly, Jill cast a forlorn look at Kent, and pathetically slid down
the slide and slunk to her mother's side. "Are you sure I can't stay and
play?" Jill asked desperately.
"No, now let's go," Maggi said, herding Jill towards the car.
"Bye Kent!" Jill called before her mother could get her inside.
Kent looked sadly after his new found friend, and waved helplessly as she
went.
The car trip home was silent. Jill could sense in her young mind that
her
mother was upset by something, and she logically knew that it was likely
Kent's dad. However, she refused to let it dampen her spirits. She had
decided that her mother would marry Kent's dad. She didn't understand love
or life, but it had become her new goal in life.
For Maggi, her current goal in life was to make it through the next day.
Something new was always being flung at her. One day, it was a bill, the
next, a project at work, or other times it was crazy parents who brainwashed
their children.
By the time they arrived home, it was late afternoon. Jill proceeded to
go
play in her room, while Maggi was left in the living room to contemplate
life as she sorted through the mail. Even for her life, things were out of
whack lately. So many things were changing. For the first time since her
divorce, Maggi felt like she was drowning all alone. Her family was really
hardly any help-they tried, but they were all so wrapped up in their
personal lives. Talking to her father was hard, since he was the President.
Her mother was typical busy, and now atypically pregnant (something which
Maggi was still having a hard time grasping). Two of her sisters were
getting married, which meant they had stars in their eyes to shield them
from reality. And Zoey was pregnant, which made her way too giddy to have a
sane conversation with. She loved them, but right now they were more stress
than help.
Thinking of her family, she felt compelled to check up on them. Although
she talked to Maddi regularly, there was still much she needed to say and
hear straight from the source. Namely, her mother. And with a husband for
a President and children spread across the country, she was undoubtedly
needing a little support. So, Maggi dialed the number.
When she finally got connected, her mother greeted her warmly. "Why,
Margaret, it is so good to hear from you," she gushed.
"It's good to hear you, too, Mom," Maggi said.
"Is everything okay?"
"Yeah, everything's fine. Why would something be wrong?"
"You just don't call very much."
"Well, you know, Mom, I get busy. I just wanted to check up on you. How
are you doing?" Maggi asked, changing the subject.
"Well, it's a little bit strange, to say the least," Abbey said. "Your
father is acting positively goofy about this. He handles me like I'm about
to burst despite the fact that I've assured him that we've got awhile before
that happens."
"When is the due date?"
"December 10."
"Wow."
"It's pretty amazing. I'm having my first ultrasound tomorrow."
"Really? You must be anxious."
"You have no idea. I mean, I've been through this five times before but
for some reason this is so much more everything than before," Abbey
explained.
"If you ever need anything, just give me a call. I'd take the time off
work if I had to."
"I'm sure that won't be necessary. But I would love to see you. When
are
you and Jill coming up to visit?"
"I'm not sure. I haven't thought about it."
"Wait, your father just walked in the room. He says he wants to talk to
you."
"Okay."
Maggi waited as her parents switched places. Then she heard her father
say, "Maggi, hello."
"Hey, Dad. How's it going?"
"Good," he said. "I'm actually going to spend the rest of the evening
with
my wife for once."
"Sounds great."
"So you're going to come up and see us soon?"
"Well, I don't know, Dad. Like I was telling Mom, I haven't thought
about
it."
"Well, Jill gets out of school in two weeks, right?"
"Right."
"So come spend a week up here at the White House then," Jed suggested.
"Are you sure you won't be busy?"
"Oh, you know, I just have the typical running the nation things to do,
but
we'd all love to see you and Jill again. She's growing up so fast."
"Tell me about it."
"Is she there?"
"She's in her room."
"Can I talk to her for a moment?" Jed asked.
"Sure, just a second," Maggi said. Then she covered the receiver and
called for her daughter. Jill came bouncing into the room. "You're
grandfather wants to talk to you," Maggi whispered, handing the phone to
Jill who took it enthusiastically.
"Hi, Grandpa!" she exclaimed.
"Hello," he said. "How are you?"
"I'm good," Jill said, sitting down on the floor.
"That's good. Is school going okay?"
Jill glanced at her mother, knowing what her thoughts about Jill's recent
turmoil at school, but said, "It's good."
"I'm glad."
"Grandpa, when do I get to see you again?" Jill asked.
"Well, I was talking to your mom, and I'd like you to come up and visit
me
the week after you get out of school," Jed said.
"You mean I'd get to stay in the White House?" Jill exclaimed.
"Oh yes."
"Wow! That'd be fun!"
"Now you just have to talk your mother into it."
Oblivious, Jill suddenly asked, "Can I bring a friend with me?" Maggi's
eyes narrowed as her daughter continued speaking, and she hoped that she
wasn't asking her grandfather for absurd promises.
"I don't see why not."
"You mean I can?"
"Sure," Jed said. "Who do you want to invite?"
"His name's Kent Garrett, and he's really nice, and we played today at
the
park."
Maggi was now thoroughly concerned, and whispered, "Tell Grandpa goodbye
and let me talk to him."
Reluctantly, Jill said, "I've got to go now, Grandpa."
"Okay."
"Mommy wants to talk to you. I'll talk to you later," Jill said. "I
love
you."
"I love you too," Jed said, right before Jill handed the phone back to
Maggi.
"Dad?"
"Yeah, Maggi?"
"What did you just promise Jill?"
"That she could invite a friend to come with her when you come stay with
us."
"Dad!"
"Maggi, I hardly think that's unreasonable."
"But, what parent is going to let their six year old child go on vacation
with someone else?"
"Bring the family," Jed said. "They're more than welcome to stay here.
It's not like we don't hve room."
"Dad-"
"Don't 'Dad' me. Just call the parents of this Kent Garrett and tell the
situation. Get the time off of work. And we'll see you in two weeks," Jed
concluded.
"Dad."
"Goodnight, dear."
Defeated, Maggi said, "Goodnight."
She waited until her father had hung before she did so. She collapsed
backwards and stared up at the ceiling. How was she going to call Jason
Garrett and invite him to spend a week with her family after the things
she'd said today? With a sigh, she pushed herself up, to go and get Jill
ready for bed.

TBC

CHAPTER FOUR
The next day, arrived nervously at Jill's school. She had arrived early
for two reasons. One: to ensure that her daughter would exit school
without any further complications. Two: to catch Jason Garrett and inform
him of the situation.
She spotted Jill's curly brown hair in the crowd of students leaving the
school. Next to her, she recognized the little blonde boy as Kent Garrett,
and sighed. One day, Jill was ready to beat the kid up and the next day
they're best friends. As Maggi approached her daughter, she caught a glance
of Jason coming for his son.
Jason looked at her cautiously. "Good afternoon, Ms. Bartlet," he said
curtly, reaching to herd his son towards the parking lot.
"Wait, Jason," she said before he had a chance to leave. "There's
something I need to discuss with you."
Jason appeared intrigued. Kent tugged at his father's shirt, "Can I go
play, Daddy?"
"Sure, just for a moment," Jason said, and Kent beckoned for Jill to
follow
who sought an approving glance from her mother. After receiving one, the
two ran off to the jungle gym.
"So what is it?" Jason asked.
"Well, I want you to know that this wasn't my idea. Jill had some crazy
notion and then my parents took to it immediately-"
"What are you talking about?"
"Once school let's out, my parents have invited me and Jill to spend a
week
with them at the White House," Maggi began.
"Sounds like fun," Jason said, mildly interested.
"Yes, but Jill asked if she could bring a friend along. My parents loved
the idea."
"Really."
"Yes. And Jill wants to bring her new best friend-Kent."
"I don't think I can let Kent go away for a week with a family I hardly
know," Jason said.
"That's why my parents insisted that I invite him and his entire family."
"Really?"
"Yes. Now, I understand if you don't want to or if you're busy but
they'd
be very upset with me if I didn't at least ask, so this is my way of-"
"I think it sounds like fun," Jason said simply.
"What?"
"I think it sounds like a great idea. It's a wonderful opportunity for
Kent, and I wouldn't mind seeing the White House," Jason said.
"You're serious?"
"Of course."
"You want to go?" Maggi asked in disbelief.
"Sure. I think Kent and Jill will have a wonderful time."
"Oh," Maggi said. "Well, then, I'll call you later with the details."
"Sounds great. Do you have my number?"
"It's in the student directory, right?"
"Yep."
"Who else is in your family besides Kent and you?"
"Just Kent and me. His mother died before we could have anymore
children,"
Jason explained.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Maggi said awkwardly. "Well, I'll be in touch."
"Okay," Jason said, far too at ease with the situation for Maggi's
liking.
She had been convinced he would say no, that he'd hate to impose or that he
couldn't imagine spending a week with someone he couldn't even get along
with.
However, he had a sly look in his eye that made Maggi hate him even more.

He was supposed to say no, and instead he'd said yes.
The weeks passed, and Jill managed to get through the year without
anymore
difficulties. In fact, according to her teacher, Jill had flourished in the
last weeks, as had Kent Garrett. Soon Maggi and Jill were packed to leave,
and they met Jason and Kent at the airport, where they made the short flight
to Washington DC.
When the landed, Kent and Jill were positively giddy. They were bouncing
and rambling hopelessly, while their parents barely spoke a word to each
other. As they exited the plane, Jason leaned over to Maggi and asked,
"They're almost like brother and sister, aren't they?"
"No," Maggi disagreed. "They get along too well."
Jason shrugged. "Who did you say was meeting us here?"
"My sister, Maddi, and I think Sam might come too," Maggi said shortly.
"Right," Jason said.
They were now in the terminal, and Maggi had to grab Jill's hand to
prevent
the six year old from running wildly ahead of her. Kent was more reserved,
awed into silence at the bustling scene that unfolded around him. Although
she refused it other places, Maddi had allowed Secret Service escorts,
considering it was such a public place, especially since she was with her
daughter. So it wasn't hard for Maggi to spot Maddi, Sam, and Carrie along
with the two secret service agents, even in the crowded airport.
Maggi had promised herself that she wouldn't squeak, but seeing her
sister
was too much of a happy occasion for her to remain calm. She scurried to
embrace her sister, who happily accepted it. "Maggi, I'm so glad you're
here," Maddi squealed. "I feel like I haven't seen you in ages."
"I know how you feel," Maggi replied empathetically.
Maddi looked down at her niece. "And you seem to grow every time I see
you!" Maddi exclaimed, jostling the dark curls.
Jill smiled proudly up at her aunt. "I brought a friend," she told her.
"Really?" Maddi said.
Jill gestured to Kent, who was standing shyly by his father's side.
"This
is Kent. He's my friend," Jill said.
"Well, it's nice to meet you Kent," Maddi said.
"This is Jason Garrett, Kent's father," Maggi added.
"Good to meet you too," Maddi said, and something was triggered in the
back
of her mind. Where had she heard that name before? "I'm Maddi, Maggi's
sister. This is Sam, my fiancťe, and our daughter, Carrie."
They all nodded and uttered polite formalities. "Well, the car's waiting
for us out front to take us back to the White House. Let's get your luggage
and get on out of here," Maddi said, leading the party onward.
"Sounds wonderful," Jason said. "I can hardly wait to see the White
House."
Maddi smiled at him kindly. "I'll be busy catching up with my sister,
but
I'm sure that Sam here will be able to show you around."
Sam cast Maddi an annoyed glance. Jason was oblivious. "Do you know the
White House well?" he asked.
"Well I work there," Sam said.
"That must be pretty amazing-working in the most important building in
the
country. I bet you know a lot of interesting factoids about it."
"I wouldn't exactly say a lot," Sam said.
Maggi rolled her eyes. This was going to be a long vacation.

TBC

CHAPTER FIVE
~that afternoon~
Once the group had arrived at the White House, Maddi escorted them to the
Residency. "Mom said she'd be there for sure and if Dad's not busy, he'll
come up too," Maddi said to Maggi.
Although this was supposed to be a happy occasion for Maggi, she felt
miserably frustrated. In the car trip over, Sam and Jason had immediately
hit it off, delving into some mindless discussion that went from politics to
sports and back again. Jill and Kent were little balls of energy, gazing
out the window in awe of the surroundings. Jill had immediately taken on
the roll of superiority between the two, since she had indeed been here
before. Despite the fact that she remembered very little from her previous
trips, she never let on, letting Kent think she was all knowing in this
area. Maddi had been gushing about Carrie, and how much she was growing and
changes. Maggi felt sorely out of place.
"Great," Maggi said, trying to sound enthused.
They found Abbey quickly, and she happily greeted her daughter and her
granddaughter. Jason stood awkwardly expectant, as Maggi miserably resigned
herself to introducing them to her mother. "Mom, this is Jason Garrett, and
his son Kent," she mumbled.
Abbey ignored her daughter's down attitude. She gazed down at Kent's
blonde head. "So you're Jill's new friend that she's be raving about," she
said. "It's very nice to meet you."
"Are you really married to the President?" Kent asked in utter disbelief.
Abbey laughed. "Well, yes I am."
"Kent," Jason lightly admonished his son.
Turning her attention to Jason, she extended her hand. "Strange I
haven't
heard much about you," she said, shaking his hand. "Maggi's been somewhat
clandestine lately. She did say however that you're a journalist, right?"
"Well kind of. I like to think of it more as writing. I do
freelance-whatever I can get. But lately I've had a political column in the
local newspaper," Jason explained.
"Really, do you enjoy that?"
"Very much so," Jason said. "Plus it's a wonderful schedule. I have
enough time to actually spend time with my son and to make sure he stays out
of mischief. I think it's a crime to miss these precious times of his life
anyway. He's only young once."
"Well said," Abbey said.
"I find it just as satisfying when you're a grandparent. It's a joy to
watch your grandchildren, especially to see their interaction with your own
children. They can have such different parenting styles. Have you seen
Maggi's ways?" Abbey joked.
"I've caught glimpses here and there."
Maggi felt annoyed with the conversation. Her mother was enjoying
Jason's
company far too much. "Well, Mom, are we going to meet Dad soon?" she asked
deliberately, breaking their conversation.
"Uh, no. He has some meeting with some foreign person-I don't know.
I've
given up. Keeping track of my schedule and his is just too much. Speaking
of which, I have a meeting in a few minutes that I must go to."
"Really? I thought we could spend the afternoon together," Maggi said,
slightly disappointed.
"I'm sorry, dear. But we do have an entire week. Spend the afternoon
with
Maddi or something. Maybe you could stop by Zoey's place," Abbey suggested.
"Okay," Maggi agreed reluctantly.
"Great. I will see you all later," Abbey said. Looking directly at
Jill,
she added, "Especially you."
Jill smiled happily and watched as her grandmother exited the room.
"So, I thought that me and Maggi could go out around town. There's some
stuff I've been wanting to talk to her about," Maddi said.
"What about Jill and Carrie?" Maggi asked.
"Sam said he'd watch the kids for the day," Maddi said. "Oh, and Jason,
if
you like, you can hang around with him and get a glimpse at the West Wing."
"Sounds great," Jason said.
"Okay," Maddi said. "Maggi, let's go."
*****
A short while later, Maggi and Maddi were sitting in a small coffee shop,
drinking. "How can you stand living here every day of your life?" Maggi
wondered. "I mean, it's so political everywhere you go. It seems like
everyone here is involved in politics. It would drive me crazy."
"If you haven't noticed, I'm a political person," Maddi said.
Maggi nodded. "I guess so. But you're my sister so it's different."
"You know, politics really isn't so bad. I can see why all these people
are drawn here."
"Is it all one big power trip?"
"You think Dad's the President of the United States to experience a power
trip?" Maddi asked incredulously.
"No, but I'm just saying I don't get it. I mean, most of these people
could probably live very ordinary lives away from politics. They'd be
lawyers and business people and in general very happy."
"Believe it or not, they can be very happy here."
"Why?"
Maddi sighed. "Well, I don't know. I mean, take Sam for example. He's
a
very decent guy by all standards. He had a promising law career before
this. So why did he risk it all to join the Dad's campaign?"
"Lapse in judgment?"
Maddi glared at her sister, somewhat annoyed. "No. The chance to change
something," Maddi explained. "I mean, in politics we have the chance to
make a difference. I'm not saying everyone's motives are pure, but that's
what it boils down to."
"Right," Maggi said, mostly unconvinced. "But how do you maintain a life
here?"
"It's not that hard!" Maddi exclaimed.
"That's kind of what I wanted to talk to you about."
"Really."
"Yeah. About the wedding."
"Yours?"
"Yeah. Sam and I are planning on December," Maddi said.
"December‚€¶ wow‚€¶ a winter wedding. That's exciting," Maggi said. "Do
you
know any other details yet?"
"Maggi, it's not even August yet! We've got to get through Beckey's
wedding before we can worry about our own!"
"It's never too soon to start. Can I help you look for wedding dresses?"
"Maggi, slow down," Maddi said, laughing. "I just wanted to talk to you
about the whole maid of honor thing."
Maggi calmed slightly. Maddi continued. "I mean, I have four sisters‚€¶
at
least until Mom and Dad find out if they're having a boy or a girl.
Elizabeth, you, Beckey and Zoey. I don't know which one of you to have as
my maid of honor. You'll all be bridesmaids no doubt, but I don't want to
offend any of you."
"Isn't Zoey going to be Beckey's?"
"Yes."
"Okay. Elizabeth was mine at my wedding, since I was hers. I don't
know.
That means you should probably have Beckey do it."
"To be fair?"
"Yeah. I mean, we don't want to start a family war," Maggi joked.
"I just didn't want to offend anyone."
"Who would you offend?"
"I don't know. I knew it was Beckey's turn, but if I was going on who
I'm
closest to, it probably wouldn't be her," Maddi said.
"Don't worry about it," Maggi assured her sister. "It doesn't really
matter which one of us is the maid of honor. We'll all just be happy to see
you finally get married."
Maddi smiled in relief. "Great. One thing on the wedding plan list
down,
only about a hundred left to go."
*******
"So do you actually know the President?" Jason asked curiously as Sam led
him and the children towards the West Wing.
"Yes. It would be difficult to work for him if I didn't know him," Sam
said.
"Isn't it exciting? I mean, he's only about the most powerful man in the
entire world. You have a tremendously responsibility working so closely to
him."
"I guess so. Usually I'm too busy to really think about all that," Sam
said.
"Oh," Jason said quietly. "What are you going to do with the kids all
day?"
Sam glanced back at them. "Well, I was thinking of pawning them off on my
assistant for awhile while I show you around and introduce you to some
people."
"Will that be okay?"
"Sure," Sam said with mock confidence. They neared the doors, where
guards
stood watch. Sam led them through. The three visitors were equally
impressed by their surroundings.
"Wow," Jason breathed.
Sam only smiled at his youthful awe of the building. He led them down
the
complex maze of corridors until he arrived the communications bullpen.
"This is where I work-the communications bullpen."
"Really. What kind of stuff gets done here?"
"Oh you know. We write speeches specifically, and make statements for
the
President and what not," Sam explained. "Ah, yes, Kathy!" he called. His
young assistant looked up from her desk.
"What is it?" she asked.
"Can you watched these two kids for awhile?"
"Whose kids are they?" Kathy asked, looking skeptically down at them.
"Well, this is Carrie," Sam said, handing the squirming baby to
Kathy.
"I meant the other two." She smiled sarcastically.
"One is President Bartlet's granddaughter, Jill and the other is her
friend, Kent. Both are guests at the White House for the next week."
"How nice," Kathy said, forcing a smile. "I don't babysit," she said,
handing Carrie back to Sam.
"Come on, it's only for the afternoon."
"What are you doing?" Kathy demanded.
"I'm showing Kent's father around the White House."
"Why can't you show them too?"
"Because, Mr. Garrett is more interested in the political aspects of what
is accomplished here, something which two six year old kids could hardly sit
still for much less appreciate."
"Babysitting is not in my job description."
"Please?" Sam asked sincerely. "I'll let you leave early every day next
week."
Kathy carefully considered the options. "Okay. But that means every
day,"
Kathy emphasized.
"Of course," Sam agreed quickly. "Thanks."
Jason said goodbye to Kent, and the two men wandered off.
When they had left, Kathy scrutinized the two kids more carefully. "Are
you hungry?" she asked.
They both shook their heads.
"Would you like to color?"
Again, their heads shook.
Kathy sighed in frustration. "Okay, look, why don't you two just‚€¶ stand
right there. I have to go talk to someone. Don't move. Alright?"
The two kids stared apprehensively at her.
"Okay," she said, nodding, and then walked away.
Finding themselves alone, Jill and Kent immediately sprung to life.
"This
place is amazing!" Kent exclaimed. "It's so big!"
"I know! Do you wanna go look around?" she asked mischievously.
"Didn't that lady say we were supposed to stay here?" Kent asked.
"Nah. She won't even know we're gone," Jill said.
Kent's eyes sparkled. "Okay, let's go!"
Jill grinned, and then quietly led Kent away from the Communications
Bullpen. They wandered through the halls, eliciting surprisingly few stares
from the people working busily there. Trying to dodge a group of people
walking hurriedly, they ducked into a room. It was abandoned for the
moment, and a door on the other side was open. Jill carefully crept up to
it, trying to listen.
"CJ, I know what the polls say, but we can't worry about it too much right
now. There's still a good ??? before we have to start campaigning heavily."
"But we've barely even started campaigning," a woman's voice replied
adamantly. "The Republicans have already decided on Chris Heimer as their
candidate. He's already got a steadily increasing support base."
"The Republicans will be divided no matter who they pick. They'll lose a
lot of their older supporters with Heimer-he's too young for them."
"His youth is what will attract the undecided voters, Leo," CJ insisted.
"We've got to start improving the President's appearance to show that he's
still in touch with the times. We've got the older candidate this time
around-the Republicans will undoubtedly use that to their advantages."
"I'm telling you, we don't have to worry about it quite yet. Heimer may be
young, but he doesn't have the experience to be the President. The nation
will see that on their own. Trust them."
"Since when did we start trusting the nation?"
"CJ."
Jill and Kent leaned in closer to hear the conversation when a voice came
from behind them. "Can I help you?"
They jumped and turned around fearfully to find a woman standing in the
doorway, looking curiously at them. "Are you waiting to see Mr. McGarry?"
she asked.
Without saying a word, they bolted from the room leaving the assistant
looking bewilderedly after them.

TBC....

CHAPTER SIX
"I was never this nervous before," Abbey muttered as she lay on the
examination table.

Maddi smiled. "Mom, you may have done this five times, but you haven't done
it in 20 years," Maddi said. "Things have changed.

"But it's not like I don't know what's going on," Abbey said. "I mean, I am
a doctor-- I understand how doctor's offices are but now I'm here and the
patient and completely nervous."

"You're just hoping that everything will be okay," Maggi said comfortingly.
"I understand. I remember my first ultra sound with Jill-- I was a wreck."

"And Mom, I can totally relate," Zoey said, patting her stomach lovingly.

The door finally opened, and Dr. Christiansen walked in. "Hello, Mrs.
Bartlet, ladies. How are you this morning?"

"Good," Abbey said. "Good. I'd just like to get this going."

"I understand," Dr. Christiansen laughed. "Let's take a look at what we've
got here."

The examination started, and Abbey watched anxiously as Dr. Christiansen
probbed her stomach. "Everything looks in order," she said.

Abbey let out a breath she didn't know she was holding. "There's just one
little thing," Dr. Christiansen said. Tensing up, Abbey demanded, "What?"

Dr. Christiansen laughed. "Don't worry, it's nothing bad."

"What is it?" Abbey asked.

"You're having twins, Mrs. Bartlet."

"Twins?"

"Yes. Twins."

"You're sure?"

"There's two heartbeats. Do you want to know the sex?"

"Why not?" Abbey asked quietly.

"Girls."

"Twin girls."

Maddi, Maggi, and Zoey were gaping in disbelief as Abbey intensely studied
the monitor. "It doesn't look like your father's ever going to get that
boy."

Maddi nodded. "It's not you haven't given it enough shots."

*****************
Having escaped the clutches of yet another secretary, Kent and Jill sneaked
throughout the corridors of the West Wing. Their mission was to learn
anything the could, although they understood none of it, and to go
everywhere they could, although they didn't know where anything was. While
slipping through the racing people, they found a vaguely familiar room.
Searching for some type of mischieve, they wandered until they heard voices
coming from a room with the door slightly ajar.

There was a man and a woman, and they were yelling angrily at each other.
"You should have told me!" the woman yelled.

"I don't answer to you, Ellen," the man explained. "I never have and never
will."

"It didn't occur to you that I might need to know," she said. "I mean,
talking to reporters and not knowing what I'm talking about doesn't just
make me look bad, Toby, it makes US look bad."

Leaning close to each other, the kids carefully eavesdropped in the manner
they had perfected over the last few days. Jill in the front, Kent close
behind, listening until their position was made known or until the
conversation became dull. However, during this incident, Kent's nose grew
itchy. He tried to contain it, but that only made it worse, until a full
fledged sneezed wracked his little body. He knocked Jill forward, causing
her to tumble off balanced into the partially opened door, sending them both
crashing through and landing in a heap together.

The commotion shocked the adults, who stood staring at the two children in
disbelief. "What are you doing here!?" the man yelled, infuriated by the
entire situation.

The two children picked themselves off the floor.

"How the he--"

"Toby!" the woman hissed.

"Don't we have the best security in the world yet how did two kids end up on
my office floor?"

Kent was utterly terrified of the whole situation, while Jill was managing
to stay somewhat calm. While she thought of an excuse, Kent lost control,
and began to sob uncontrollably.

Ellen looked horrified at the boy. Unsure what to do, she kneeled down
awkwardly. Without warning, Kent flung himself at her, his cries muffled by
her shoulder.

"Shhh," she said finally, trying to figure out what to do. Trying to
separate herself from the boy, she found herself unable, so with a shaky
hand she reached to stroke his soft blonde hair.

After a moment, Kent calmed down, sniffled, and backed away. Jill looked
worriedly up at the adults. "We got lost," she said.

"Really," Toby said.

Jill nodded. "We'll be going now," she said, tugging at Kent's arm. As
mysteriously as they came, the two darted from the office, leaving Toby and
Ellen in silence.

"Do you still believe you're not a natural parent?" Toby asked after a
moment.

"Toby...."

"Ellen, I saw you with that boy. You were amazing."

"I never said I didn't want to have children," Ellen said. "I'm just not
ready right now."

"I know."

"I wanted it to be our decision."

"I know."

"Toby?"

"Yeah?"

"I love you."

Toby looked down for a moment, then finally met Ellen's eyes. "I love you
too."

TBC..

CHAPTER SEVEN
"Sam!" Jason called, jogging to catch up with him. "Hey Sam!"

Sam stopped, and turned, hoisting Carrie up on his hip, her diaper bag slung
over his other shoulder. "Hey, Jason."

Jason slowed as he caught up with him. "You know, I've been here for four
days, and I still get lost in this place. I mean, I've been wandering
around looking for the room where this dinner is supposed to be for five
minutes and I don't have a clue."

"It takes a while to get used to," Sam said. "Where's Kent?"

"Oh, he and Jill spent the day at Zoey's place. She said she'd just bring
them when she came to dinner."

"Zoey must have had her hands full-- they've been driving everyone in the
West Wing insane."

"I just hope they can behave tonight. This seems like a pretty nice
dinner."

"Nervous?"

"About having dinner with the entire first family and the President?" Jason
asked jokingly. "No, not at all."

"It can be a little intimidating."

"Ya think?"

"We're here," Sam said, walking to a pair of open doors. There was talking
coming from inside. "Ready?"

"As I'll ever be."

A short while later, the entire company was seated. Despite what she told
her parents, Maggi week was average boreding miserable. Jason Garrett
seemed to always be around, and his presence seemed to mock her. Much to
her dismay, her mother who had done the seating arrangements had place her
between Jason and her sister Maddi. They were only on the entrees and he
was already on her nerves.

"So you're family in general is very political. I mean, you're dad, and
your mom, and even your sister Maddi. Besides Sam and Charlie that is.
They're all very good at what they do but you haven't picked up on it much,
have you?"

"What are you implying?" Maggi snapped. "That I'm not good enough for
politics."

"No," Jason replied innocently. "I would never say that. I think you could
be very good. It's to your credit that you didn't stick with the safe and
expected path and ventured out on your own."

His sincerity appalled her. "Thanks," she said forcefully. "It's great
that you've discovered your own calling too... in journalism. My family
isn't big on journalists."

Maddi overheard the last part, and turned their way. "Is Maggi picking on
you because you're a journalist? I have to apologize, we've been raised
that way."

"Hey, I understand."

"Besides, you're more of a columnist right?" Maddi asked.

"Yeah."

"What do you write about?"

"Mostly politics. For the local paper-- nothing big."

"Oh," Maddi said, but something was triggering in her head. Jason excused
himself to go to the bathroom when it hit her.

"Jason Garrett!" she exclaimed quietly to her sister. "Jason Garrett is a
columnist for the paper!"

"Yeah... so?" Maggi asked, not following.

"Jason Garrett... the guy from back home who wrote the negative and
practically slanderous article condemning the president's daughters life
choices-- that was him! Remember?"

"Umm..."

"I know, there was a rash of them... but this one caught everyone's
attention because it was from our home town."

"You mean he wrote that one?"

"Yes! I knew I recognized his name," Maddi said.

Before Maggi could answer, he returned. "Did I miss anything?"

Maggi and Maddi glared at him. "No," Maggi said.

Uncomfortable, Jason just nodded. "Okay."

"May I have everyone's attention please," Jed was calling out over the
table. "I believe that my wife has something she'd like to say."

Standing, Abbey smiled. "Thank you, Jed," she said. "I can't begin to say
what it means to have you all here. I like to think that even with Jed's
schedule, we can still be a close family. I'm hoping that with my
pregnancy, that can be even more true. I want these babies to grow up
knowing their family."

It was so subtle, it took the uninformed a minute to catch it. Jed
stuttered, "Babies?"

"Yes," Abbey said. "That's the big news. It's twins. Twin girls."

Excited murmuring spread across the table. There was a chorus of
congratulations. "Abbey, are you serious?" Jed asked discretely.

She nodded. "Very."

Jed paled. "I... I... Abbey...."

"It's a good thing you have speech writers," she whispered to him, sitting
down.

"You didn't think to tell me earlier?" he asked.

"I just found out today," Abbey said. "If you'd come to the ultra sound,
you would've found out."

"Abbey, that's not fair."

She smiled at him. "I know, dear. Just smile and roll with it. I'm
pregnant, you know. Hormones everywhere."

"This really is going to be a long nine months, isn't it?"

"You have no idea."

After the dessert was served, and the small talk was over, the group began
filing out. Sam was trying to contain a squiring Carrie and sought out
Maddi for help. He found her against a wall, talking secretively to Maggi.
"Hey, hon," he said. "Do you want to take her?"

The two immediately silenced. Maddi quickly took her daughter, trying to
act nonchalant. "Did I interrupt something?" Sam asked.

"No," Maggi said.

"Maddi?"

"It's nothing, Sam," she assured him. "We were just talking about Jason."

"Oh. What about him?"

"What kind of stuff he writes," Maggi answered vaguely.

"What aren't you telling me?" Sam finally demanded.

"Jason was the author of a particularly nasty column about a year ago
condemning the lifestyle choices of the President's daughters. The guy made
us all sound like heathens, and now he's staying at the White House. How
wrong is that?" Maggi blurted.

"Oh," Sam said. Before he could formulate another thought, Abbey and Jed
walked up.

"She seems to get bigger every time I look at her," Jed commented, gazing
lovingly at Carrie.

"She's growing fast," Maddi said.

"You seem to be a somber bunch," Abbey noticed. "What's on your minds?"

"Just Jason," Maggi lamented.

"He seems like a nice man," Jed said. "Kent's a little rambunctious at
times-- perfect playmate for Jill."

"Dad, Jason's one of those republican journalists."

"Really? I didn't know," Jed said, slightly distracted making faces at
Carrie.

"He doesn't approve of our 'lifestyle' and he's staying at the White House,"
Maggi tried to explain.

Sighing, Jed looked up at his daughter. "Margaret, sometimes people say
things and it's easy to say because they don't know them. And sometimes it
hurts and we can disagree with them and we can think that they're wrong, but
we can't just turn ourselves off to them. Political parties and personal
beliefs shouldn't be barriers. They don't have to be but I guess we just
let them."

Maggi looked sulky. "I know," she admitted.

"Good," Jed said. "Now Abbey and I are off to get some sleep."

"Bye, Dad, Mom," Maggi said.

There was a moment of silence. Sam finally whispered softly to Maddi and
they bid Maggi farewell. Composing herself, Maggi went to extract Jill from
the excitement of the evening and retire to bed.

TBC

CHAPTER EIGHT

The began to wind down. Jason tried to ignore this reality and immersed
himself in the DC scene. He had fallen in love with the action and the
attitude. He had manage to find the pulse of DC and was very contented to
sit there and feel it throb.

For Maggi, while the week was filled with pleasurable moments with her
sister and her daughter, it couldn't be over soon enough. Staying in the
same house as Jason was excruciating for her. His casual and friendly
demeanor seemed to mock her and no one else seemed able to see his ulterior
motive.

Kent and Jill, however, were the ones who had taken full advantage of their
week. Their parents took them to various sight seeing attractions and while
that excited them, it was nothing compared to their time wandering the
halls. In fact, to most of the secretaries, the two children were infamous
and their elusive qualities were legendary.

With two days left in their vacation, Kent and Jill had planned on spending
time with Jill's grandmother, who promised to give them a tour of the
Capitol building. Before they could leave, however, Abbey had some business
to attend to. The first thing was a brief chat with Leo.

"We'll be leaving in about a half hour," Abbey explained to her
granddaughter. "I need to talk to your Great Uncle Leo for a little bit.
So can you wait here with Margaret?"

The two kids looked innocently up at Margaret who eyed them skeptically.
"Yeah," Jill said.

"You'll be good?" Abbey asked.

"Sure," Jill agreed.

"Okay," Abbey said. "I'll be back for you soon."

Kent and Jill nodded and watched as Abbey disappeared into the office.
Earlier that week, Margaret had already been given custody of the six year
olds. After that disastrous encounter, she had learned her lesson. "You'll
be back in a half hour, right?"

"Yep," Jill said. "Kent even knows how to tell time."

"Good."

"Thanks, Margaret," Kent said, smiling, and follwing Jill out of the office.

Quickly moving down the corridors, they searched for a new room. Ducking
away from two secret service agents (who they had learned were not too fond
of kids aimlessly exploring the halls), they ended up in a room. There was
a mass of chairs looking at a podium. The chairs were sparsely filled, and
they began to creep along the side, unnoticed.

"We haven't been here before," Jill whispered, glancing back at her cohort.

Before Kent could reply, Jill ran smack into a man. Frightened, the two
looked up to see a tall red headed man holding a notebook and a pencil.

"May I help you?" he asked.

"No," Jill said quickly.

"Are you supposed to be here?"

"Pretty much," Jill said. "We just took a wrong turn looking for the
bathroom."

"Oh."

The man sat down and looked closely at them. "You wouldn't happen to be the
President's granddaughter would you?" he asked.

Jill looked suspicious. "What if I am?"

"Well I'd just like to say then it's an honor to meet you."

Jill's face brightened. "Oh. Okay. That's me. I'm Jill."

"Good to meet you. And this is...?"

"Kent. He's kind of shy around grown ups."

"Understandable. Is he staying with you?"

"Yep. He and his daddy are staying with me and my mommy," Jill explained.

"Why's that?"

"Because my mommy and Kent's daddy are going to get married!" Jill blurted
excitedly.

The door opened. Jill saw CJ's face and knew it was time to leave, so
scurried away, Kent closely trailing behind.

"Okay, everyone, it's a long day today, so let's get started," CJ announced
to the press corps.

"Wait, CJ, do you know anything about Maggi Bartlet's engagement?"

********
After the day was over, Abbey and Jed began to get ready for bed. Abbey lay
in bed, staring bemused at her husband, who was changing his clothes.

"After all this time, you still get ready for bed the same way," she noted.

"Humans are creatures of habit," Jed said, pulling on the top of his
pajamas.

She was quiet. Jed got into bed. "Abbey, is there something wrong?"

"No," she said. "I mean, not really."

"Abbey...."

"I'm just thinking about how everything will be different when the babies
come."

Grinning, Jed said, "I know. I can't wait."

"It's not all fun and games, if you remember. What about the two AM
feedings and the messy diapers?"

"I figure I've got enough people on staff, I can delegate."

"Jed."

"I'm kidding, Abbey. I'm kidding."

"I'm serious though," she said. "This is going to change our lives."

"Change is good."

"What about the times they're crying while you're giving a speech or when
they spit up on your suit two minutes before you have to meet the Prime
Minister of England or something. I mean, Jed, being the President and a
father to two newborn babies is not going to be an easy job."

"Most of the best jobs aren't."

"But if you spend too much time with the twins, you'll neglect your duty.
But if you concentrate like you should on your job, you'll miss so much
precious time with the twins. Either way you lose."

"Abbey, I may not get to spend all the time I want with the twins. And I
may earn some criticism for not fully concentrating on the presidency. But
there has to be some middle ground-- there always is. I'm their father and
the President of the United States. I can't be one without the other," Jed
said. "That's just something that people are going to have to accept."

She looked at him, shaking her head. "You can twist anything around to make
it sound good. No one you got elected."
*******

Zoey paced nervously around Charlie's apartment. Perched on the couch, Gina
watched her. "Nervous?"

Zoey laughed. "Me? Nervous? Why would you say that?"

"Well, you're pacing, and you've rearranged the coffee table five times.
They're kids. Chances are they won't notice it's neat and I guarantee they
won't care," Gina said.

Zoey glanced at the coffee table which was lined with coloring books and a
bucket of crayons. "I just want to be prepared," Zoey said. "This is like
a test to see how well I handle this whole parenting thing."

"Just don't expect too much," Gina warned. "It's different when they're
your own kids."

"What do you know about it?"

Gina shrugged. "Just telling you what I've heard."

A knock sounded on the door, and Zoey raced to answer it. She found her
sister standing there and Kent and Jill looking anxiously up at her.

"Hi," she said. "Come on in."

"Zoey, I cannot thank you enough for watching these two today," Maggi said.
"They've been reeking havoc in the White House all week. They're
practically considered a security risk anymore."

Zoey laughed. "It's fine. I'm looking forward to it."

"Great. Maddi said she'd pick them up for me and bring them back to the
White House around three. So... is that everything?"

"I think so."

Maggi glanced at the kids. "You two better behave."

"We will, Mommy," Jill promised.

Maggi smiled. "Okay. See you later."

Shutting the door beihnd her sister, Zoey turned around. "Okay, Jill,
Kent...." Her voice trailed off as she realized the six year olds were no
where in sight. She looked questioningly at Gina who was still seated on
the chair.

"Check the bedroom," Gina said, not looking up from her book.

She heard a crash coming from the bedroom, propelling her toward the
bedroom. Rushing in, she found Jill and Kent sheepishly on the bed, their
hair ruffled, a lamp shattered on the floor.

"What have I gotten myself into?" Zoey muttered as she reached for her niece
to remove her from the scene.

****************
By the time a knock sounded on the door at three, Zoey was exhausted. Kent
and Jill had run her ragged with their ceaseless energy and nonexistent
attention span. She opened the door and found Sam standing there instead of
her sister. Instead of commenting on the change, she simply said, "They're
all yours."

"Okay...," Sam said unsure. "Maddi got tied up, and I was out this way
anyway, so I said I'd take them back."

"Great," Zoey replied unenthusiastically. "I'll go get them."

No sooner did she speak when Jill came galloping in, Kent at her heals.
"Uncle Sam, Uncle Sam!" she yelled when she saw him. "Where's Aunt Maddi?"

"She got a little busy," Sam explained.

"Are we going now?" Kent asked.

"Yep. Do you have any things?"

"No," Zoey said, herding them toward the door.

"Wait, Aunt Zoey," Jill said. "Kent brought his favorite Pokemon-- he can't
lose that."

"Well where is it?" Zoey asked.

Kent looked pensive. "I don't know," he finally shrugged.

"Well go find it quick," Zoey instructed and watched as the two kids
disappeared to find their lost item.

"Long day?" Sam asked cautiously.

"I never thought kids were that hard!" Zoey exclaimed. "I couldn't keep up
with them. Makes me wonder how I'm going to manage this one on my own."

Sam smiled as Zoey palpated her belly. "You never understand it until
they're yours," Sam said.

"That's what everyone keeps telling me!"

"It's true. I mean, even for me, as the oldest of four, I didn't have any
real clue how to raise a baby. Then along came Carrie. I was thrust into
the fatherhood thing without even trying to become a father. Sometimes it's
hard, sometimes you'll want to pull your hair out, but in the end, it's
worth it."

"How?"

"Because when you look at them, all you can see is love. They love you so
unconditionally, it's scary. They need you and want you. And your heart
just melts. You can't remember the dirty diapers or the lack of sleep--only
the love," Sam said. "Don't worry, Zoey, you and Charlie are going to be
fine."

"Found it!" Jill's voice interrupted as the two came stumbling in. "We're
ready."

"Okay," Sam said. "Off we go."

"Bye Aunt Zoey!" Jill said.

"Bye!" Kent added.

Zoey sighed as she watched them go. Shutting the door, she leaned against
it, feeling her stomach again. Imagining her own child, she couldn't help
but smile.

TBC

CHAPTER NINE

In the car, Kent and Jill buckled securely in back, Sam drove towards the
White House. They had been driving a few minutes, when Jill asked, "Uncle
Sam, how do people get married?"

Glancing in the rearview mirror, he looked surprised at her. "What do you
mean?"

"I mean, how do two people go from not talking to getting married? What has
to happen?"

"Well...," Sam said slowly. "I guess they just have to spend time together
to talk... you know, get to know each other. And if that goes well then
they can become friends. Then sometimes friends just... fall in love. And
then they can get married."

Jill thought about this for a minute, then whispered to Kent. "How long
does it take before they get married?" she asked.

"It depends," Sam answered. "Jill, is there something you're not telling
me?"

Jill sighed. "Uncle Sam, I miss my daddy, and Kent doesn't have a mommy
anymore and it just doesn't seem right. But we each have what the other
needs so why can't they get married and make everyone happy?"

Sam stifled his laughter. Their ploy seemed so innocent. "Well, guys, it
may make you happy, but maybe it wouldn't make your parents very happy.
They have to love each other before they can get married."

"I know," Jill said. "That's what we've been working on."

"That's why we spend so much time together--so they can spend time together
and fall in love," Kent explained.

"It's not that simple. Sometimes people just don't get along," Sam said.

"But they don't really know each other!" Jill insisted. "Kent and I used to
fight all the time, and we didn't like each other very much. He said mean
things to me--"

"And she pushed me down on the playground--" Kent interjected.

"But our mommy and daddy made us spend time together, and we became friends.
So why can't they do the same? I know they'd love each other if they
tried."

"Kent, Jill--"

"Please, Uncle Sam, will you help us?"

"Help you what?"

"Help them talk without getting angry at each other. It's like they want to
be mad at each other."

Sam was quiet for a moment. Maggi and Jason certainly didn't seem to like
each other, although for the most part this dislike was mostly based on
superficial stereotypes of each other. They had different beliefs, which
immediately thrust them apart, and in general, they just seemed to not want
to get along. However, Sam had noticed that the friction between them
seemed to be something more than different personalities. Maybe it was the
flicker of something more. "I can't promise anything," Sam said. "But I'll
see what I can do."

"Thank you, Uncle Sam!" Jill squealed.

"Remember, I never said they'd fall in love and get married, but I think you
both deserve for them to talk through their differences," Sam said
cautiously. A pit was beginning to form in the bottom of his stomach...
what had he just gotten himself into?

**********
Maggi was waiting impatiently in Sam's office when Sam led Kent and Jill
there. By the look on her face, everyone knew something was up.

"Jill Diane Thompson, would you care to explain to me why CJ had to deny to
reporters that I was getting married?" she asked before anyone else could
say anything.

Jill bit her lip and glanced at Kent. "I don't know," she said.

"Jill, this is not funny," Maggi said, fuming.

A gentle knock came at the door, and Jason poked his head inside. "You told
me to meet you here?" he said to Maggi.

"Yes," she said curtly. "Because of something our children have done."

Jason's eyes narrowed at his son. "I thought we had everything worked out
between these two."

"Oh we did," Maggi said. "A little too well."

"Maggi, why don't you start at the beginning and tell us what this is all
about?" Sam suggested.

Maggi took a deep breath to control herself. "Apparently, during the Press
Briefing today, CJ got a question from a reporter asking what she knew about
my engagement. Of course, CJ knew nothing about my engagement simply
because I'm not engaged," Maggi explained. "Which leads me to wonder who
might have given anyone that idea."

Jill was looking at her feet. Kent appeared to be close to tears.

"Kent, do you know anything about this?" Jason prodded.

The boy sniffled. "We didn't mean to do anything wrong!" he finally burst.
"We were just trying to make everyone happy!"

"Did you tell a reporter that Jill's mom and I were getting married?"

"I don't know," Kent wailed. "Jill accidentally said something to the guy
with the notebook. But we didn't mean to do anything wrong!"

Tears were now sliding down Jill's face as well. "Mommy, I just wanted a
daddy at home again, and Kent just wanted a mommy, so we thought if you
could spend lots of time together, you could get married. We thought if we
all took this vacation, you'd stop fighting and then we could be a family."

Maggi and Jason exchanged glances as their faces softened. Now they
understood what this week was all about and what their children had in mind.
Kneeling to his son, Jason said, "Kent, I know you miss your mom. I
understand how you want someone like that in your life. But you have to be
patient. Someday, the right woman will come to us and then we can be a
family. Unfortunately, we just can't pick when it seems convenient."

"Jason and I," Maggi added stroking her daughter's hair, "aren't really
right for each other. I think it's great that you are friends, but we can't
make a family just like that."

"Why can't we?" Jill asked.

"We don't love each other," Maggi said softly.

"Why not?"

"Love is different than you think, honey. It's not something you can pick
or can turn on or off," Maggi said. "It hits you when you least expect it,
and you can't run away from it. But you also can't fabricate it whenever
you want."

Jason stood up, patting Kent's blonde head. "Come on," he said. "Let's go
get some dinner together. Is that okay with you Maggi?"

"Yeah," she said. "I'll meet you all up at the Residence."

Jason nodded and led the two sniffling children away. Maggi stood silent
for a moment, Sam still standing there, saying nothing. "Was it that
obvious?" she asked. "Their plan. Did you see it?"

Sam shook his head. "No."

"How do I explain this to them?" she wondered. "I mean, how can I explain
to them that love isn't something you can pick-- it just happens."

"Maggi, this probably isn't my place to say, but listen to the things you're
telling them. And then really think about it," he said. "You can't pick
love, you can't deny love. I've seen the way you and Jason act around each
other. Maybe you should try taking your own advice."

She laughed in disbelief. "You think that Jason and I love each other?"

"The chemistry's there. You two just won't let it happen."

"He's completely wrong for me. He infuriates me, and when I'm with him, I
simply want to slap him. I mean, the man is opinionated, right winged...
stict moral...."

"So why don't you just tune him out like you do all the other opinionated,
strict morals, right winged people?"

Maggi tried to come up with an answer, but could only stutter. "Sam, you're
crazy. You're just trying to feed Jill and Kent's crazy scheme."

"I just don't want to see you throw away something on the basis of trite
stereotypes."

"Sam...."

"Look, I'm not saying you have to fall in love with him. But ever since
you've been here with him, you haven't given him a fair chance. There's
obviously some tension."

"Yeah, it's called not getting along."

Sam gave her a look. "It could mean a lot of things."

She sighed. "Okay, you're right," she admitted. "Maybe I haven't really
been listening to him or giving him a chance. And I suppose I could... if I
tried."

"That's all I ask," Sam said.

She gave a defeated smile. "When did you start caring so much about my life
anyway?"

"Well, you are practically my sister-in-law."

"Not yet," she said. "Have you set a date yet?"

"No, just December."

"Well, I can't wait," she said. "But now I better go. Jason's expecting
me."

"Are you going to talk to him?"

"Yes, Sam," she said. "I'm going to talk to him."

She found Jason waiting for her. "The kids are in with your mom," he said.

"That's good," she said. Hesitating, she continued, "Jason, I think we need
to talk."

"Okay. About what?"

"About... us."

"Us?"

"Yeah. Us."

"Okay...," he said. "What about us?"

"Jason, it occurs to me that I haven't been very fair to you. I mean, ever
since the incident with Kent and then when I realized what you've written--"

"You know about the column?" he asked grimly.

"Yeah," she said. "And I didn't think anyone who disagreed with me that
much could be any good for anyone."

"Maggi, I meant what I said in that column," he said. "I don't agree with
all the choices of some of your sisters or your beliefs. But that doesn't
mean I don't like you as people. Maggi, I think you're an amazing woman,
and I only have respect for you."

Maggi blushed. "Jason, I think you're an amazing man," she said softly. "I
mean, you're smart, witty, and you have an amazing son."

"But...?"

"We're just so different, Jason," she said.

"I know."

"I mean, to try anything... I mean... it'd be insane," Maggi rambled.

"I know."

"I mean... completely and totally insane... we're not alike...," she said,
her voice trailiing off. She stepped closer to him, feeling drawn by his
eyes that looked deeply into hers.

"I know," he whispered.

"Totally insane," she whispered one last time before she finally gave in and
let the moment run its course.

They were so involved in their kiss, that they didn't notice their children
peeking out the door. Kent and Jill watched they're parents silently,
smiles playing on their faces.

The end