To Protect and Serve
Authorís note: 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. New character: John "Jack" McAllester is the property of the author. The "Excalibur Hotel" is made up also. This takes place awhile after the ending of "A Family Affair".
Category: General Characters: Charlie/Zoey (CJ, Josh, Jed, Abby & Leo are also in this)
Rating: PG-13 (for language and moderate (implied) violence)
Archive: Anytime, anywhere (just let me know where and when and give me credit)
Summary: A political fundraiser brings out the best and worse in everybody.
"Youíre looking good, my man!"
"Youíre not so bad yourself."
"If the mutual male admiration society has concluded its annual meeting," CJ began, "you might notice that a lady has entered your presence."
"Who?" Josh asked.
CJ slapped him in the back of his head.
"Ow! Just kidding CJ."
Charles let out a low whistle. "CJ, you look fantastic."
"Why thank you, Charles." She spun around in her royal blue lamiae gown. She cleared her throat. "Joshua?"
"Yeah. Wow. You look great CJ," Josh squeaked out, massaging the back of his head.
"Thank you." She frowned. "Promise me youíre both going to be on your best behavior tonight."
"CJ we promised you fifty times already. Weíre going to keep our cool. We wonít do anything to ruin this fundraiser."
"Or embarrass the President," Charlie added.
"Guys, Iím serious. This is important. No matter what McAllester does, youíve got to keep cool." She turned to Charlie. "Is Zoey okay?"
"Yeah. She stopped throwing up a while ago."
Josh jumped in. "So weíve got our game plan right? Charlie, you stay close to Zoey. CJ will keep an eye on McAllester and Iíll keep the President and the First Lady from suspecting anything."
"I still say we should tell them," Charlie said.
"Itís not our call," CJ replied. "Itís Zoeyís." She checked her watch. "Letís go."
Charlie entered the residence and found Abigail Bartlet adjusting her earring. She was wearing a beautiful black beaded gown with a matching jacket. Charlie stopped and stared.
Abby smiled. "Something wrong, Charlie?"
"No maíam." He smiled back. "You look lovely."
"Thank you, Charlie. I must say that tux really becomes you."
"Thank you, maíam." He smoothed down the front of his six button jacket and adjusted his tie.
"Charlie are you flirting with my wife?" Jed Bartlet called out in mock seriousness.
"No sir," Charlie answered. "I was just telling Mrs. Bartlet what a lucky man you are."
"Damn straight." He took his wife by the waist. "I get to escort the most gorgeous woman in the world to this party tonight." He kissed her on the cheek. "Come on, Abby, we donít want to be late." He looked at his aide. "Say Charlie, see if you can speed my daughter up. I swear sheís been locked in that room for hours getting ready."
They started to walk away, but then Abby stopped. Placing a hand on Charlieís arm, a look of concern crossed her face. "Is everything okay with you two?"
"Yes maíam. Weíre okay."
Abby sighed and nodded. She allowed her husband to lead her away.
Charlie went to Zoeyís room and knocked on her door. "Zoey, itís me," he said. When she didnít reply, he opened the door and went in. He looked around the spacious room and saw her gazing out the window. He was completely entranced. He had never seen her look more beautiful and couldnít take his eyes off of her. He wanted nothing more than to freeze this moment in time.
Zoey was wearing a hunter green gown. The bodice was a rich velvet and then it flowed into a taffeta ballroom skirt that shimmered in the light. Her hair was pulled up into a lovely French roll with wispy tendrils down the side of her cheeks, revealing small pearl teardrop earrings encrusted in gold. In a word, she was breathtaking.
Zoey turned around to see Charlie staring at her. "What?"
"You lookÖI meanÖ" He forgot to take a breath. "Youíre stunning."
"Thank you." She let a small sad smile creep across her features.
Charlie went over and took her hand. "If you donít want to go, just say the word."
"No. Iíll be fine. CJ and Josh will be there, right?"
"Yup. And Iíll be right by your side. I promise."
She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "All right. Letís go."
The part was in full swing in the grand ballroom of the Excalibur Hotel. Everyone was having a good time. Eventually, Zoey loosened up and relaxed. Before long she was laughing and enjoying everyoneís company. It was only when her parents dragged she and Charlie over to speak to their old friend, John McAllester, that Zoey began to tense up.
"Jack," Jed boomed, "you remember our youngest, Zoey?"
"Of course," McAllester responded. "Zoey, you look beautiful. Obviously you get your good looks from your mother."
"Thank you," she managed to respond. She quickly turned to Charlie. "This is Charlie Young. Heís my boyfriend and he works for my dad. Charlie, this is Jack McAllester."
Charlie immediately tensed up, but remembering protocol, he extended his hand anyway. "Good to meet you, sir."
Jack shook his hand. "And you. Please call me Jack. I canít believe that Jed allowed you to take out his beautiful baby girl."
"He knows I would never do anything to hurt her," Charlie replied tersely.
"And Jed threatened him with the 82nd Airborne," Abby chuckled.
Josh hustled over. "Excuse me, Mr. President, Mrs. Bartlet. Hey Charlie, Zoey. Jeff Breckenridge is here and wants to meet you. Would you please excuse us?" The President nodded and the threesome walked away.
"Thanks for the save, Josh," Charlie whispered.
"Youíre welcome. You two okay?"
"He makes my skin crawl!" Zoey hissed.
"Hey," Josh said. "Just hold it together a little while longer."
"Yeah. Look I need some air," Zoey said.
"You okay?" Charlie asked. "You want something to drink?"
"Yeah, that would be nice. Excuse me." She went out on the balcony.
Charlie shook his head. "This isnít going too well, Josh."
"Hang in there, Charlie. Itís almost over." Josh and Charlie went to the bar to get a couple of soft drinks. He glanced around and noticed that McAllester was no longer speaking to the First Couple. He looked around again and couldnít see the man anywhere in the room. CJ joined them at the bar.
"CJ, whereís McAllester?" Charlie asked.
"Whoís with me?" Leo asked, sauntering up to the threesome.
"McAllester isnít with you?" CJ asked nervously.
"No. Said he wanted to go outside and have a smoke."
Charlie left the drinks on the bar and fled, Josh hot on his heels.
"What was that all about?" Leo asked.
"Oh no, no, no," CJ muttered and went after the other two. Leo stood there puzzled for a moment. But something told him that heíd better follow them and see what was up.
Zoey was taking in the beautiful scenery outside the hotel. She managed to calm her fluttering nerves by taking deep breaths and letting them out slowly. She closed her eyes and concentrated on the beautiful music from inside the hall.
She whirled around and came face to face with her worst nightmare. Jack McAllester stood before her, eyes shiny and bright. At 6í2", he was intimidating to most men. To Zoey, he was positively hulking.
She tried to stay calm. "What do you want, Mr. McAllester?"
"What happened to calling me ĎJackí? You used to call me Jack all the time." He slowly advanced towards her.
Zoey backed up. She was starting to feel trapped and her breaths were becoming increasingly shorter. "Go away. Leave me alone."
"Aw, come on Zoey. We used to be such good friends." He reached up and brushed a piece of hair out of her face, his hand resting on her cheek. "You are so incredibly beautiful," he whispered hoarsely.
Suddenly, a black hand grabbed McAllesterís wrist. "Get your hands off her," Charlie growled through clenched teeth.
Jack turned to find Charlie standing there with barely contained fury directed at him. "And just who do you think you are?"
Charlie shot back, "Iím someone you really donít want to mess with. Come near her again, and youíll wish the 82nd Airborne had gotten to you first!"
Jack shook his wrist free. "I donít know what you think youíre doing. I was just having a chat with the daughter of an old friend."
"Yeah," Josh burst in. "We know what you were just doing." He had been nice long enough, now his temper took over. He grabbed Jackís lapels and shoved him against the balcony railing. "You sonofabitch! Do you know how easy it would be to throw you over this rail right now!"
"Josh donít!" CJ yelled. She and Charlie began trying to extricate Josh from Jack, which wasnít easy to do.
"I warned you the last time," Josh hissed. "I told you that if you came near her again, I would beat the crap out of you!"
"Please Josh," Zoey wailed. "Donít do this! Heís not worth it! Please!"
Leo stepped out on the balcony. "What the hell is going on out here!" Leo demanded.
"Leo," Jack fumed, "get this fool off of me!"
"Josh! Let him go! Now!" Leo barked.
"Josh please," Zoey cried. "I never wanted this. I never wanted any of this."
Zoeyís plaintive cries penetrated through Joshís rage. He slowly released Jackís lapels from his grasp.
Charlie turned to Zoey. "Are you all right? Did he hurt you?" She shook her head.
"Zoey," Jack began, "I donít know what youíve been telling your friends here, but there must be some misunderstanding."
"Misunderstanding!" Zoey was furious. "You sick, sorry bastard! You had no right to do what you did! You stay the hell away from me!" Zoey turned and fled, CJ on her heels.
Leo stared after the two women, a sick feeling creeping in his gut. He turned to the remaining three men. "Jack, what was that all about?"
"I donít know, Leo. I was just standing here, talking to Zoey, when these two," he pointed to Charlie and Josh, "showed up, threatening me. And Zoey? I donít know what sheís so upset about."
Josh started to advance on the man, but Charlie held him back and shot him a warning glance.
"All right, Jack," Leo said calmly. "Whatever has happened here, Iíll straighten it out. Why donít you go on in back to the party? I need to have a word with my staff."
"Sure Leo." Jack straightened himself out and went back in. When the balcony doors closed, Leo cut loose.
"You have no idea the trouble youíre both in! What in the hell were you two thinking? You threatened and assaulted a major Democratic fundraiser, not to mention a personal friend of the President and Mrs. Bartlet!
"He had it coming Leo!" Josh exclaimed.
"Why? Exactly why did he have it coming? And you better have one HELL of an explanation, because if you donít, you are oh, so fired!"
Josh turned to Charlie. Charlie shook his head. For Zoeyís sake, they had agreed to keep silent. They wouldnít betray her now, not to keep their jobs.
"Youíll have my resignation on your desk first thing in the morning," Josh stated bluntly. He turned and walked away.
Bewildered, Leo turned to Charlie. "Well?"
"Youíll have mine as well." He left Leo standing there shocked and confused. Leo turned and saw the two men following the same path as Zoey and CJ had taken only minutes earlier.
Inside the ballroom, Abby had been observing the behavior of her daughter and her husbandís staff all evening. Zoey had been acting strangely all day. Abby was sure she had heard Zoey throwing up once or twice at home. Then at the party, Zoey clung to Charlie the whole night. When she spoke to Jack, she looked ready to faint. On the other hand, Charlie looked like he was ready for a fight. And Josh and CJ had been hovering around the two younger people all night.
Abby tried to pay attention to what Jed was saying, but she was distracted again when she notice Zoey practically running out the ballroom with CJ right behind her. A few minutes later, she saw Jack coming in from the balcony. Moments after that Josh and an equally wound up Charlie emerged, heading in Zoey and CJís direction. Then Leo came in. Thatís when Abby knew something was seriously wrong.
Abby squeezed her husbandís arm. "Would you excuse us for a moment," she said to her guests. "I need to steal my husband away for a few minutes."
She pulled him to the side. Jed noticed the worried look on her face. "Abby, whatís wrong?"
"I donít know, but itís bad. Go talk to Leo. Iím going to find Zoey." She left him standing there before he could ask anymore questions.
In a private lounge off the main ballroom, Zoey was suffering from a case of the dry heaves, having already thrown up the last of her dinner. CJ took a wet towel and placed it over the girlís forehead. "You okay, Zoey?"
The younger woman nodded, too weak to say anything. CJ helped her up and walked her over to a couch. Then CJ got a glass of cool water and gave it to Zoey. She took it and nodded gratefully.
CJ said, "I think you should tell your parents."
"No! I canít! You know that!"
A knock at the door and Josh and Charlie walked in. Charlie immediately went to his girlfriendís side while CJ stood near Josh. "What happened? Is he still alive?" she asked sarcastically.
"Yeah," Josh replied. "But Charlie and I are dead."
"Leo wanted and explanation. I - we couldnít give it to him. So he fired us."
"Actually we resigned," Charlie corrected.
"No!" Zoey exclaimed. "You canít do that!"
"We had to," Charlie said sadly. "We agreed to keep this secret. We werenít going to betray you just to keep our jobs."
CJ shook her head. "This is ridiculous. Iím going to Leo. This has gone on long enough."
"I would be inclined to agree."
Everyone looked up to see Abby standing in the doorway.
"Mrs. Bartlet!" Abby exclaimed. "How long have you been standing there?"
"Long enough to know that the four of you are trying to hide something and doing a lousy job of it."
"Mom," Zoey said.
"Donít ĎMomí me, Zoey. "She sat down next to her daughter. "Youíve been sick all day. These three have been hovering around you like flies." She turned to the others. "I want an explanation and I want it now. If you donít start talking, Iíll sic the President on you. So letís have it. Charlie? Josh? CJ?"
All eyes were on Zoey, whose head was now in her hands. CJ pulled up a chair and took Zoeyís hands in hers. "Zoey? Itís time. You canít keep this from them any longer."
Zoey sniffed and nodded silently. She pulled her hands from CJís and wiped her tears. She looked at her mother. "Donít be angry with them, Mom. Theyíve wanted to tell you and Dad all along. I wouldnít let them."
"Does this have anything to do with Jack McAllester?"
Zoey nodded. Charlie rose to leave, but Zoey gripped his hand. "Please, stay." He nodded and sat back down, never letting go of her hand.
Zoey took in a deep breath and began to speak softly and slowly. "It started four years ago. We were at Jackís house in the Hamptons. There was a pool party and I was showing off my new bikini. Everyone else had gone inside except for me. Or so I thought. When I came out of the pool, Jack was there. He complimented me on my form. I was flattered because I thought he was talking about my swimming style. But he had this look in his eyes. It made me feel uncomfortable, so I toweled off and slipped on my clothes and went inside.
"I didnít think much about it. I put it out of my mind. ThenÖ"
Abbyís insides were churning. She wasnít sure she wanted to hear what was coming, but she knew Zoey had to finish this and get it all out in the open. "Go on," she whispered.
Zoey looked to CJ, who nodded. Charlie squeezed her hand. Joshís face was stone. When she resumed talking, Zoeyís eyes were on the floor.
"About a year later, during the campaign, Dad was having one of those dinners at the Governorís mansion. I got bored, so I wandered off. I would up in one of those sitting rooms, just staring out the window. I didnít even hear Jack come in. He surprised me, but it was no big deal. We made some small talk at first, but then I saw that look in his eyes, from the time by the pool.
"I mentioned that I was cold, so he started rubbing my shoulders. But then his grip tightened. I- I tried to get away, but I was frozen. Then he leaned over and kissed me. Hard. I was in total shock. He kept telling me how beautiful I was and how much- how much he- wanted me.
"I wanted to run, but I couldnít. I wanted to scream, but nothing came out. Then he leaned over and kissed me again. His handsÖhis hands wee roaming over my body. I tried to fight him, but he was so bigÖ" She stopped, her voice choked with sobs, as the memories of that awful night came flooding back. "HeÖheÖhe began unzipping my dress. He was kissing my neck and he was murmuring, ĎYouíre so beautiful, youíre so beautifulí. I didnít know what to do. I just wanted it to be overÖ" Now the tears were flowing freely and she made no move to stop them.
With dread, Abby remembered what Jack had said to Zoey an hour ago: Ďyou look beautifulí; Ďbeautiful baby girlí. Abby fought back her own tears. She had to know the whole story. "What happened next, Zoey?"
"I- I pretended. I acted like I was enjoying it. I wrapped my arms around his neck. He moaned, like he though I was into it. Then, I kneed him in the groin." She let herself smile at that memory. "He doubled over and I pushed off of me. I ran out the room and I ran into CJ and Josh. At first, they didnít know what was going on. I was half-dressed and hysterical. Then Jack came out of the room. As soon as Josh saw him, he put two and two together and he started in on Jack. Told him he would kill him. CJ managed to stop him and told Josh to leave the guy alone. She was more concerned about me than anything. They helped me to my room. And they both said I should press charges. But I was afraid. I knew it would be my word against his. And I knew the scandal would hurt Dadís chances to win the Presidency. So I begged them to keep quiet. I told them if they said anything, I would deny it. I just wanted it to go away. They agreed to keep my secret."
For the first time, Josh spoke up. "I found the guy out in the parking lot later that night. I told him that if he ever came near Zoey again, Iíd finish what I started earlier."
Then CJ spoke up. "Every since that night, weíve managed to keep him away from Zoey in any situation."
Charlie spoke next. "When she told me she didnít want to come tonight, I kept pressing until she finally told me."
"Thatís why I tried to get out of coming tonight, Mom. I didnít want to face him. I was too ashamed and I was afraid if Daddy found outÖ"
"THAT SON OF A BITCH!!!!"
Everyone in the room jumped. All eyes were glued on Jed Bartlet. No one had notice he and Leo slip into the room as Zoey was finishing her story. But now here he was - and he was enraged. Every inch of his body was shaking in anger. His face was flushed a deep red and his hands were balled up into powerful fists.
"IíLL KILL HIM!!!" Jed barreled past Leo and the Secret Service in a dead run.
It took three seconds for everyone to realize what had just happened. Then as one, Leo, Josh, Charlie and CJ were chasing after him.
Charlie caught up to him first. "Sir, donít do this."
"Get out of my way, Charlie!"
Josh grabbed Jedís arm. "Mr. President, you canít do this!"
"The hell I canít!" Jed roared.
Leo motioned for Ron to block the Presidentís path. Ron stopped and stood right in front of Jed and didnít budge. He was backed by another agent.
"Ron," Jed warned, "Iím only going to say this once: lead, follow, or get the hell out of my way!"
"No sir," Ron replied.
"Fine." Jed was going to blow his way through his detail but by then Leo had caught up to him and managed to grab his friend by the shoulders.
"Donít do this, Mr. President."
"Youíre not going to stop me, Leo!"
"Oh yes I am! You are not going out there and if I have to have the Secret Service to physically restrain you, Iíll do it! You know I will!"
"Let them try, Leo!"
"Jed! Donít do this!" Leo thundered. "You go out there now and you might as well hand over the Presidency to John Hoynes!"
"I donít care about that Leo! He hurt my daughter and heís going to pay!"
"He will, Jed! He will!"
"Leo, that animal tried to rape my daughter! I want to hurt him!"
"Then do it!" CJ screamed. All eyes turned to her. "Go on, do it! Hurt him! Please do it! Because Iíve wanted nothing more than to see him crushed like a bug for the last three years." She moved and positioned herself right in Jedís face. " But you remember this: when all is said and done, youíll have lost your daughter forever."
"What are you talking about CJ?" Jed questioned.
"She worships you. Youíre her hero. And as badly as she wanted to tell you the truth and have you come to her rescue, she knew that telling you would cost you everything youíve ever worked for. She couldnít bear to see you knocked off that pedestal that sheís had you on since the day she was born.
"So, go on. Go out there. Beat him into a bloody pulp. Throw away the Presidency. Because there will be press and there will be police and nothing that we do will be able to stop it. And in the end, it will still boil down to her word against his. Whatever the outcome, sheíll lose. Everything sheís tried to do to protect you and reclaim her life will be shattered and destroyed.
"Make no mistake. If you go out there now, it wonít be about Zoey. Itíll be about you! And nothing sheís tried to do in the past three years will have mattered!"
Everyone stood in shocked silence. Finally, Jed leaned against the wall, wearily running his hands through his hair. He looked from CJ to Josh and Charlie and Leo. He knew what they had sacrificed for him. He wasnít ready to throw that away for a momentís satisfaction. "Letís get the hell out of her, Leo," he whispered.
Leo nodded. "Ron, have the cars brought around. Josh, Charlie, go with the President. Get Abby and Zoey and them back to the White house. CJ go make nice with the press. Tell them that Zoey wasnít feeling well and everyone decided to call it an early night. Iíll make the same excuses to our hosts."
"What about McAllester?" Charlie asked.
"Donít worry about him. Josh and I will deal with him in the morning." He looked Josh in the eye with an amused expressed, one that was mixed with understanding and admiration.
"Yes sir," Josh replied solemnly. "You can count on that."
At the White House, Zoey had changed into jeans and one of her fatherís Notre Dame sweatshirts that she had swiped from his closet. On the way home, Jed wouldnít even look in her direction. Zoey wanted to straighten things out with her father. She went to look for him, but Abby told her that he never made it to the residence.
Zoey went in search of her father. Eventually, she ran into Ron, who pointed her in the direction of the Rose Garden. She saw her father sitting alone. He had removed his jacket and tie. His shoulders were shaking; Zoey guessed he was crying. She called out to him. "Daddy?"
He straightened up, but he didnít face her. "Hi Zoey."
She walked over and sat next to him. "At least the party wasnít boring."
He chuckled. "No, it wasnít."
They sat in an uncomfortable silence for a few minutes. Zoey spoke first. "Are you okay?"
"Thatís supposed to be my question."
"I asked you first."
"I donít know what Iím feeling right now."
"Mom always says itís better if you talk about it."
"Is that so? Tell me Zoey," he turned and faced her, "why didnít you ever talk about what happened?"
"I did. After it happened, CJ put me in touch with a counselor friend of hers. I opened up and told her everything - what had happened, how I felt, why I didnít want to tell you or Mom. She listened. She told me it wasnít my fault and she showed me how to come to terms with everything. Because I never saw him again, I thought I was over it. But then-"
"Then I insisted you attend this party. Tell me something, Zoey. If I hadnít made you come tonight, would you have ever told me about this?"
"I donít know. Maybe."
He stood. "See thatís what I donít get! Weíre supposed to protect you, not the other way around."
"Dad, you worked so hard to get here. I didnít want to take that from you."
"Zoey. That man tried to rape you. CJ kept your secret. Josh and Charlie almost lost their jobs because of it. And after all this, youíre still worried about what it will do to me?"
"Iím going to tell you a little secret. I love being President. Itís the toughest, hardest job I have ever had. And itís probably the most fulfilling. But hereís the secret. Itís not what I do that gives my life meaning. This," he gestured at their surroundings, "this is important. But you, your sisters, you mother - you are my life. You are what gives my life meaning and purpose. Donít you get that?"
"Yeah, Dad. I get that." She stood and hugged her father. They stayed in the garden, comforting each other in the warmth of their love.
SIX WEEKS LATER
Zoey entered the Oval Office and found her mother, Charlie, Josh and CJ waiting. "Whatís this all about?"
"We have no idea," Abby answered. "We were summoned by the President."
From the side entrance, Leo and Jed entered grinning from ear to ear. "Oh good, Zoey, you made it," Jed announced.
"Jed, whatís going on?" Abby asked.
"Well, weíre having a little celebration. It seems that Josh and Leoís plan has worked."
Everyone thought about that for a minute. The day after the fundraiser, Josh suggested to Leo that if Jack had attacked Zoey, he had probably done it before. With a little help from CJís counselor friend, they had tracked down five other girls who had been assaulted by McAllester; one had filed a police report but had never given Jackís name to the police. At first, the girls were reluctant to speak to the District Attorney, but when Zoey told them her story, they agreed to press charges.
"So what happened?" CJ asked anxiously.
"It seems Mr. McAllester tried to call in a few favors, but with a couple of strategic phone calls from Josh, no one wanted to touch him," Leo said. "And when presented with the physical evidence as well as some rather damning testimony, he caved."
Zoey collapsed in the chair nearest her. The weight of Leoís words were sinking in. "He confessed?"
"Not exactly. He was offered a deal. He plead guilty on two counts of felony sexual assault. The judge sentenced him to thirty years in prison."
"Thirty years?" Zoey whispered.
"He may only serve about six to ten, but heís going to prison."
"So itís over? Itís done?" Charlie exclaimed.
"Hell yes it is! Itís over!" Josh screamed. He jumped up and high-fived everyone in the room.
Zoey didnít move. She looked up at her father with tears in her eyes. "Itís finally over."
"Yeah Zoey," Jed said quietly, ignoring the celebration around him. "Itís finally over for all of us." He joined Abby in holding their daughter in a tight embrace.