The Doctor is In
Disclaimer: All characters of "The West Wing" are property of Aaron Sorkin, NBC, et al. No profit is being derived from the use of the characters on the part of the author.
Rating: PG-13 (for implied sexuality and language)
Archive: Anytime, anywhere (just let me know where and when and give me credit)
Summary: A little loviní in the afternoonÖ
Spoilers: In the "George" interview with Aaron Sorkin, itís mentioned that an upcoming episode will deal with Jed and Abby having to schedule time to have sex. So I thoughtÖ.
The President of the United States was grumpy. Well, that was an understatement. He was grouchy, crabby, cranky and being a flat out sourpuss. Everyone in the West Wing, through the White House and up the Hill knew that Jed Bartlet was in a lousy mood.
No one seemed to be able to get anything done to Jedís satisfaction. If he asked for something, it was always wrong or he changed his mind. He lost his temper with everyone, even Mrs. Landingham -- something he never did. The senior staff had seen Jed irritated before; most of the time they spent with him during the primaries was like having lemon juice squeezed into a paper cut. But this was different. He wasnít just irritated, he was being flat out mean. The staff had complained to Leo and he tried to smooth their ruffled feathers.
Finally, Leo decided enough was enough. He waited until Jed was in a fairly reasonable mood and when they were alone, he decided to try to talk to his friend.
"Mr. President, do you mind telling me whatís wrong?" Leo asked.
"I beg your pardon?"
"Whatís wrong with you? Youíve been acting like a wet cat on acid for the past three weeks. Everyone has noticed it."
"I donít know what youíre talking about, Leo," Jed muttered.
"Oh, come on, sir. Youíve been jumping down everyoneís throats for one thing or another. Zoey called me last night in tears because sheís worried about you."
"Sheís just overreacting."
"Is she? Then explain why I saw Mrs. Landingham wiping her eyes when you yelled at her for sending you a salad for lunch."
"I hate salad! She knows that! I just wanted a damn hamburger and fries!"
"Oh please! Sheís always getting on you to eat right."
Jed slammed his hand on his desk and stood. "Itís none of her damn business what I eat! Iíll eat whatever I want! Iím the President of the United States and if I want a hamburger, then dammit, Iíd better get a damn hamburger!"
Leo knew he was in dangerous territory. Jed seemed to be losing control. "Okay, forget about Mrs. Landingham. What about the rest of the staff? Josh says you saw them tossing paper balls in a wastebasket during a lunch break in the Roosevelt Room and you accused them of wasting taxpayersí money by goofing off!"
"They are highly-trained, highly-paid individuals who serve at the pleasure of the President! Iím sure they had better things to do than to waste time playing games!"
"Oh, get your head out of your ass, Jed! They were blowing off some steam - probably from having had to deal with you and your pissy moods!" As soon as the words came out of his mouth, Leo realized he had just crossed the line.
Jed drew himself up. "Thatís enough, Leo! You seem to forget who I am and where youíre standing!" Jed was pushing the bonds of their relationship and he knew it.
Leo also knew it. But if thatís the way the game was going to be played, so be it. "No, sir," Leo said through clenched teeth. "But let me give you one final word as your Chief of Staff. Those people will walk through fire for you. They will knock down walls and sacrifice themselves on the altar of all things Bartlet. But if you keep this up, they will walk out the door and I wonít be far behind them!"
"Is that a threat, Leo?" Jed said angrily.
"No. Itís an advisory from the Chief of Staff to the President of the United States."
"Get out of my office, Leo."
"Yes, sir." With a curt nod, Leo turned and went through the connecting doors to his office and slammed it shut.
Jed slumped down in his chair. Leo was right and he knew it. He had been snarling at everyone for the last few weeks and this episode with Leo was by far the worst. He sighed. He couldnít remember the last time he had laughed at a joke or bored someone with trivia. There was always work and it weighed heavy on him. Bad enough that he had yelled at his staff and his best friend. But to find out that his daughter had been reduced to tears because of his behavior! It had to stop. But the work wouldnít stop. And he was so tired. He was weary down to his bones. This job was killing him inside.
The door opened and Charlie entered the office. Sighing, Jed said, "Whatís up, Charlie?"
"Thereís been a change in your schedule for today, sir."
"Youíre supposed to be in the residence in about ten minutes."
"Your physical, sir."
"Your physical, sir." Charlie handed him the piece of paper he had been carrying.
"Charlie, I donít have time for this."
"Yes sir, but the doctor insisted that you have your physical today. Apparently, youíve been putting it off for weeks now."
"Well, you can tell the doctor that Iím not having it today either."
"Iím sorry, sir. But I do have my orders."
"Orders!" Jed roared. "You work for the President of the United States! There are no orders that supercede mine!"
Charlie didnít flinch. "Yes sir. However, the doctor was adamant that you take care of this immediately. I checked your schedule; there was nothing on it that couldnít be cancelled or rescheduled for another day."
"What about that thing this afternoon?"
"It was cancelled."
"What about the other thing?"
"Iíve already taken the liberty to notify them."
Jed sighed. "Did you clear my entire afternoon?"
"Well, I wasnít sure how much time you would need for your physical. And I thoughtÖ"
"You thought what?" Jed asked warily.
Charlie let out a small breath. "Well, sir, I thought you could use the time off." ĎWe all could,í he thought to himself.
"Fine." Jed stood and started for the door, Charlie a step behind him. "Charlie, why do I have to go to the residence for this? Why canít I just do it here in the office?"
"I guess the doctor felt it was better if you take care of this in private and away from distractions."
"Whatever." They continued in silence up to the residence. At the entrance to the bedroom, Jed stopped and turned to his aide. "Charlie, I know Iíve been a pain in the ass lately."
"Yes sir," Charlie said with a trace of a smile.
"Iím sorry. And tell the staff Iím sorry. And Zoey."
Jed narrowed his eyes and lowered his voice. "If you ever take anybodyís orders over mine again, youíre fired."
"Thatíll be all, Charlie."
Charlie nodded. "Thank you, Mr. President." He turned and went back to work.
Inside, Jed sat down in a chair and massaged his temples for a few minutes, grateful for the silence. Finally, he took off his jacket, loosened his tie and unbuttoned his shirt sleeves. He was startled to hear the sounds of Kenny G coming from the stereo. He was about to get up when Abby Bartlet emerged from the bathroom.
"Abby?" Jed exclaimed. "What are you doing here? Youíre supposed to be in Chicago."
"I had a change in schedule. I was worried about you. Iíve heard rumors that youíve been a royal pain lately."
"You talked to Leo."
"And Charlie. And Zoey. And Mrs. Landingham. And CJ. And Josh. And Toby and Sam. And John Hoynes. And-"
"I get the picture," he said sheepishly. He suddenly noticed she was wearing her white lab coat and had her stethoscope hanging around her neck. "Why are you in your doctor get-up?"
"I figured that the reason you were in such a lousy mood was because you were sick. So I thought Iíd better give you a physical."
"Look Abby, I really donít have time for thisÖ"
"Youíll make time. Or Iíll have you confined to bed for a week."
"Fine," he groused. "Letís get this over with."
"Thatís better," she said. "Now go sit on the bed and letís get started."
He let out a long sigh and did as he was ordered. She walked and stood directly in front of him. Undoing the buttons on her lab coat, she let it hang openÖ
Jedís eyes opened wide as saucers and his jaw dropped. Smiling, Abby said, "Vision and reflexesÖperfect."
Jed found himself breathing very fast. He opened and closed his mouth a couple of times. Finally, he found his voice. "UmmÖ," he began huskily, "whatís next?"
"I have to take your temperature."
Her smile widened. She pushed him down on the bed and leaning over him, she whispered, "Recreationally."
Jed made a mental note to give Charlie a HUGE Christmas bonus.
Charlie was heading for lunch when Leo caught up to him. "Charlie, have you seen the President?"
"Heís up in the residence, Leo."
"Whatís he doing up there?"
"Having a physical."
"A physical? Heís not scheduled to have a physical for months. Whatís -" Noting the grin on Charlieís face, Leo stopped as it suddenly dawned on him. "Oh. I suppose heís going to be indisposed this afternoon." Leoís grin matched Charlieís.
Leo burst out laughing. "Come on kid," Leo said, wrapping his arms around the younger manís shoulders. "Iím taking the staff out to lunch."
The President was definitely going to be in a better mood tomorrow.