RATING: G
NOTES: New series. See Part One.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own the West Wing or any of its related
characters. Don't sue.
SUMMARY: Different people of the West Wing reflect on their lives so
far.

For crying out loud, this has to be done right. This is our third
address and I can't sit still long enough to get a single sentence
written down. I'm nervous and I'm agitated. There's so much on my
mind. I feel like the world is crashing down on my shoulders.
Just another normal day.
When I was in fourth grade, there were so many things that I
wanted to do with my life, but because I wouldn't say that damn
prayer, those boys just... They beat the idealism out of me.
Today, I have the power to possibly bomb the hell out of those
bastards if they're even still alive. My brother helped me find
ambition again, but then that got messed up as well. I don't seem to
have the best track record for personal relationships.
Maybe that's why I never try for them anymore.
What a wonderful career for an anti-social like me. I get to
interact with ass-holes for a living and in the meantime, I get to
slave over speeches that Bartlet is going to "polish" on his feet
anyway. There is only one speech that he never polishes and that's
the one I'm working on this minute. He never polishes the State of
the Union. I've got to write this thing and I need to do it well. The
only problem is that the only thing I can think about every time I
sit down to write is the sound of those infernal gunshots and people
screaming. I can see Josh's blood on my hands and I see that the
current state of the union is such that teenagers can get their hands
on guns and then shoot at me and my friends.
I can't write that.
When I married Andy, I was a happy young man looking to escape
the past, fly into the future and make a difference. What an arrogant
little pissant I was. I was worse than Sam is now. The marriage
killed me inside and then losing all the campaigns I'd worked on
killed me even more. The pissant died and here I am, trying to hang
on to the man that I've become.
Who is that man, I wonder? Am I just some old, grumpy,
drunken "political operative" or whatever the hell it is that I do?
Who am I? God, I don't even know any more. I feel so lost, and yet I
compensate by being a leader. I'd never let them know it, but the
people here are the ones that keep me going. If CJ, Josh, Leo, yes
even Sam, were not in my life, I wouldn't be anything at all, I
believe. Arguing with CJ, yelling at Sam, sharing with Josh,
discussing issues with Leo... It all keeps me going.
This place is my life.
I wish my father could see me now. He told me that writing would
get me nowhere, that no one wanted to listen to someone like me push
my ideas on to them. He was always so proud of David, proud of his
son the scientist, the astronaut. David was in space when Dad died.
Despite everything, I went to that man on his deathbed and I bit my
tongue when he asked me where David was.
My father was a brave man. He fought in Korea as well as Vietnam.
The Vietnam War ended the year I turned eighteen. My father somehow
found a way to accuse me of orchestrating it so that I could get out
of serving my country. Man, that guy was strange.
The funny thing is, I loved him anyway. He was my father and I
loved him. My mother was a sweet woman for as long as I knew her. She
died about three years before dad did, a peaceful smile upon her
face. David was there that time. She never played favorites; I
believe she loved the three of us equally... She loved the three of
us with all of her heart. She was a good woman, a great person and a
wonderful mother.
I could use her right now.
Okay, Ziegler, let's just think about this. Let's just put the
words down and edit them later. I can do that. I'm allowed. I can do
it... No. No, I can't. The sounds keep flooding back into my head.
It's been months, I know. It's just the thought of this speech and
its impact...
I can't write about that.
Josh seems to be doing better. He's not yelling at everyone. Just
at me and at Donna, but that's normal. That's Josh. Now that just
leaves everyone else. Especially me.
Actually the one I'm really worried about is CJ. That night she
was so out of it and traumatized; ever since then she has not been
the same CJ that I've known for so long. I know that such a thing
like that can change a person but still, I'm not used to this new CJ.
She's a little bitterer, a little tougher and even a bit more
defensive. Of course, she's had reason to be.
The shooting changed me too, needless to say. I can't believe
some of the stupid things I've been doing recently. What I did to CJ
on the Ann Stark thing was the stupidest thing that I have ever done.
The only thing I can figure is that since the shooting, I've been
feeling a greater dependency on my friends, which has thrown my
judgment of trust way off. I trusted Ann when I shouldn't have and I
didn't trust CJ when I should have. I messed up royally and it cost
us. We got hit because of me.
No wonder CJ is bitterer, tougher and more defensive. I betrayed
her for my own ego.
Life is slowly coming back to normal though. Leo isn't mad at me
any more, the President is talking to me again and CJ doesn't shoot
me dirty looks every time I enter the room any more. Josh just made
me swear to be on his side the next time he screws up and Sam hasn't
said much of anything about it at all. Sam has his own reasons to be
mad at me though. I don't understand them, mind you. I did my job and
that I will stand by. He's got to get used to the fact that I'm his
boss and I am allowed to make those decisions. I know that's my ego
talking again, but I also know that I was right.
In the meantime, I'm staring at the blank computer screen and if
I had any hair, I'd be pulling it out right now. I honestly feel like
my life is flashing before my eyes. I'm not sure that I'm happy with
what I see either. I see a nine-year-old kid being beat up in a
schoolyard. I see my political science teacher yelling in my ear. I
see myself slamming into CJ on some college campus from the past. I
see myself losing one job after another. I see myself fighting with
my father until he gets so angry, he breaks a glass with his hand and
now he's bleeding, and then I see myself fighting with David. I see
myself on the ground in Rosslyn, being trampled by screaming,
frightened people while bullets are screaming through the air...
Josh's blood... So much screaming.
I can't tell anybody about this stuff. There's no one around to
talk to about it. These people, my friends, they wouldn't understand
it coming from me. From Josh, or maybe CJ, it might be expected, but
I've spent so much of the past few years keeping to myself just being
the quiet, secluded... misunderstood genius in the office down the
hallway. They probably wouldn't believe me if I did tell them about
all these memories.
But it's interfering with my work, with my life. It's affecting
my judgment for sure, and whatever people skills I may have ever had
are definitely being shot to flames. I feel like my life is coming to
an end, like I'm heading for some dismal closure. God, I'm
depressed... or couldn't you tell?
There is a lot to be thankful for though. I have my friends
around me. I have a good steady job that I enjoy and that I'm told I
do well at. I make a difference in the grand scheme of things. My
relationship with David is not as bad as it once was, before the
shooting and the astro-newt fiasco. Josh is alive and no longer
bleeding. The President is alive. Charlie and Zoey are still together
despite it all. Things are relatively good...
That I can write about.

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