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.

At least this President moves at a brisk pace. I've worked with
people who had decided somewhere in their minds that they would move
as slowly as possibly so that they could avoid their appointments.
With Bartlet, I can at least keep my heart rate up. The man has so
much energy, so much of himself to give and such willingness to give
it. Even when the man had a bullet wound in his side, his first
thought was of his daughter and his second thought was about my hand.
He was making jokes all the way into the operating room for
crying out loud.
He's joking around with Charlie right now. Two brave souls,
these men. One wakes up every day to a day of hard work and pivotal
influence... and the other is the President of the United States.
I've been working in the secret service since I was twenty-
three. Never mind how long ago that was; it's not important. In any
case, the Bartlet administration is one that will always stick out in
my mind. It is the most fascinating group of people I've ever dealt
with. It's amazing to work in an environment where everybody is
friends with each other... for a majority of the time anyway.
Sure, there are fights from time to time, but in the end, these
people care about one another and that outlasts any fight.
A friend once asked me why I would work in a job that requires
me to take a bullet for some person. In response, I asked him why he
would work at a desk in some obscure office building, typing at his
computer as he slowly destroyed his neck, back, wrists and any other
muscles that affected by repetitive stress syndrome.
Needless to say, he did not have a good enough answer for me.
The truth is that we all want something different out of our lives.
I grew up in New York, surrounded by crime and guns and all that fun
stuff. So naturally, I was either going to grow up to be a criminal
or to be in law-enforcement. I chose a form of law enforcement. When
I was a young man, I went to visit some family members in Texas. That
same week, President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed.
It was then I decided to become a secret service agent.
I wanted to be there to make a difference. I wanted to be able
to keep it from happening again. I've heard all the stories and
conspiracies; how it was an elaborate plan and it could never have
been prevented. But if there was ever a next time, I was going to be
there to stop it. And I was.
It's said that it did happen again, but I am glad that I was
there. The shot in the hand didn't really hurt because I was thinking
about the President and about the others. My own health and safety
never crossed my mind. Just like the President's health and safety
never crossed his own.
My father once told me that although there were so many other
options I could have chosen, he was glad that I did what I wanted to
do. His words mean more to me now than they did then and even then,
his words filled me with pride. I realized when I started training
that being a secret service agent would in most ways deprive me of a
personal life, but I knew it was worth that risk.
I do have a personal life. Not as much of one as, say, "normal"
people have, but I go out and I do things I consider fun. I golf, I
go to the gym, I go to the shooting range sometimes. I don't have a
significant other but that's understandable; my hours are long and
I'm not going to subject anyone I might care about to the torture of
waiting at home, wondering if I'm alive or dead. There doesn't have
to be a news bulletin for people like me and families of people like
me. There's always the constant fear that someone brought a gun to
this meeting or Ron pushed the President out of the way of that car.
I'm not going to make anyone suffer the anxiety.
I suppose I could try a little harder. I'm going to retire
sometime soon, after Bartlet gets out of office, in two years or six,
whichever. I think between administrations would be the best time to
leave. Then I could settle down and find a calmer life. Maybe I can
find someone to share that life with.
The concept is not entirely implausible, you know?
There are times when I can't seem to remember how I got here.
There are other times when I remember all too well. My brother and I
used to roughhouse all around our neighborhood, looking for trouble
(although we'd never admit as such) and adventure. I survived that
world and made it to college, just when Vietnam was building into
full-scale. I enlisted and fought for my country. They sent me home
again eventually and I began my training for the secret service.
Everyday, I'm still fighting for my country. I'm the dark figure
in the hallway or by the door, the silent soldier who protects the
President. My life is spent fighting a war. The question that haunts
me is one that rings through my brain every day. Everyday, the
President asks this question; I doubt he realizes how much the
question means to me or why...
"What's next?"
What happens at the beginning of a day? At the end? What is
waiting right outside, waiting for the President to emerge? What's
next for him and for me, the one who would die to protect him? What's
next?
Jed Bartlet is the first person I've ever wanted to give my life for.
All through my job, my duty has required me to protect all kinds of
people, even people I didn't like, and I would always do my duty.
Bartlet is the first person I've protected who I would give my life
for, not because it is my duty to do so, but because I would want to.
There's a very intricate web that makes up my life. I very
rarely go home any more. I rarely ever want to. It's a good thing I
don't have a cat. It'd be dead by now.
There are good people in this building. Bartlet, Charlie and
Mrs. Landingham are the ones I see most often. However, I can just
think of all the others. Toby, who came to me the day after the
shooting, begging to take the "blame" for what happened; I think CJ,
who stands up and gives nearly a dozen briefings in the twenty-four
hours after she's been shot at, and she kept her grace the whole
time. Sam Seaborn, the young man who is always trying to be the
righteous savior and is driven by his innocent sense of good. Josh
Lyman was shot and nearly died, and a few weeks later, he was back on
his feet, trying to take the weight of the world back on to his
shoulders. Leo McGarry, the tough guy and the mother hen all rolled
into one.
These are the people working hard to make the world better.
That makes me feel damn good.
There's more to my job than taking a bullet for the President.
There's more to my life than my job. There's more to the world than
me. These are all thoughts that cross my mind from time to time.
These are things that I consider when I wake up and when I go to
sleep.
I feel proud.
I feel proud that I can work for the United States government in
a role that defines sacrifice. How many people would give up their
lives to save another? Of course I'm paid to do it, but what good
does money do me if I'm dead?
Now that's just a morbid thought.
The President is deep in conversation now. He's listening and
he's reacting. I hear a voice in my ear saying that "book bag" has
just entered the premises. I consider telling the President, but he's
so engrossed, I don't want to take his attention away from the
economists (heaven forbid). He rattles off numbers and he laughs with
the other people in the room. I'll give you one thing: this man is
charming.
Yes, I am proud.
There's so much going on in this country every day, and a lot of
it takes place in this White House. No matter what, I'll always know
that I've made a difference. I'm proud to walk beside the President
down the hallway.

***************

 

 

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