Title: " Asking Questions, Making Choices" (a sequel to the "House

Divided" series) Part Five

Author: Marie Rossiter (jonrie@adelphia.net)

Spoilers: Up through "17 People"

Rating: PG-13

Synopsis: Lots of questions, many answers, few choices...

Disclaimers: As always...these people are not my creation, so I take no credit for them. That credit belongs to Aaron Sorkin and his team.


Feedback: I would love it!

Once again, my strong willed "beta", Jo-Ellen, is on me...so here we go again!



I keep forgetting how determined CJ is. Oh, hell, she's not determined, she's stubborn—a quality that is required to work on my team, it seems. And while I could easily be irritated at her attitude toward me right now, I'm sitting her admiring her passion. That's what makes her the best Press Secretary any president could ask for.

She's not going to back down. On an ordinary day, I wouldn't mind butting heads with CJ Cregg—as a matter of fact, it would be rather fun. But, not today.

"Are you finished, CJ?" I ask, trying to mask the fact that I am impressed with her outburst.

"Yes, sir," she replies, averting her eyes from mine.

I let her stand there for a moment to collect her thoughts. She's pretty upset, but she'll never let you see it, if she can avoid it.

"Mr. President, I apologize for..."

"Don't." I reply. "You have a right to be upset. You're not alone in your anger toward me. I seem to have a talent for that lately."

"I'm not angry at you, sir. I'm confused. I don't understand how you could even consider this. I'm frustrated that you are going to walk away from something that I know means everything to you. Something that you do better than just about anything else."

"I don't think you realize how bad this is going to be—the MS..."

"I do know how bad this is going to be—I know more than anyone."

And she does. She's gonna take a lot of hits on this. The press is going to be all over her: "CJ, how long have you known about the President's condition? Did you cover up for him during the election? When are you appearing before the grand jury?"

"Right." I answer.

She sighs. "Sir, I am asking you to take some time right now and seriously consider the impact of what this statement will have."

I admire her tenacity, but this is getting old now. "CJ..."

"Please, Mr. President, I do not think you are in the proper state of mind to deal with making a decision such as this!" she blurts out.

Well, that IS a stunner there.

"What are you implying, Claudia Jean?" I ask calmly.

She swallows hard. "All I am saying, sir, is that you are upset now—for good reason—and I think you know better than to make decisions when you are not thinking clearly."

She knows something.

"CJ, what has Leo told you already?"

"Leo told me that you want to resign."

"That's all?"

"That's it. He talked to me briefly on the phone and I've barely seen him since I got here"

She knows something. Now it's my turn to get some answers. But, CJ is about as easy to crack as I am sometimes. I need to consider my options here. Who else would talk to CJ? It wasn't me and it wasn't Leo—and until just a little bit ago, no one else knew what has been going on.

Except for one person: Abbey.

"CJ? I am going to ask you a question and I expect you to be honest with me." I'm sounding more like her father everyday. I think of CJ as a daughter, so I guess that makes it ok.

For CJ, though, it's not ok. "Sir, may I remind you that I already have a father?"

I'm going to ignore that question and continue with my own. "Have you spoken with my wife today?"

CJ doesn't answer me. She'll never rat on my wife. "Protect the Sisterhood" I think I've heard her say—or something like it.

"Your silence..." I start.

"My silence says nothing, sir. My silence is silent. So, it cannot possibly say a thing," she interrupts—looking half panicked and half amused.

"CJ, stick around a while, will you? I have something I need to do."

"Well, I don't think I'm going anywhere soon, Mr. President."

"Tell Leo I need to see him in about a half an hour, would you?" I ask, standing.

She rises in turn. "Of course, sir."

"Thanks, CJ. I'll come find you later on."

"Thank you, sir," she says and walks out of the office. I follow her out and thankfully, Charlie is right there.

"Is there something you need, sir?" he asks.

"Yes, Charlie. I need you to get my wife down here a.s.a.p."

Oh, she'll love this. Being summoned is her favorite thing—next to being lied to....

In less than 5 minutes, I hear the door open and slam. Only one person can make a sound like that.

"Hello, Abbey."

"You don't bother to come to bed. You don't bother to come look for me. You send Charlie to get me?"

I told you she'd love it.

" So now you want to talk?" she asks.

"How are you?" I ask. I'll be damned if we're going to take whacks at each other again.

"You sent for me, what is it you want?" She's pissed. You know, I'd really like a normal conversation.

"Abbey, I'm trying to have a civil discussion..."

"Forget the civil discussion!" she rails.

I need combat pay. I need to remember to talk to Leo about that the next time I see him.


She wants it like this, so be it.

For the first time in a long time, all she can do is stand there.

"Abbey," I say now, almost in a whisper. "Jesus, Abbey what's happening to us?"

"I don't know, Jed."

Two firsts in a single day: I manage to silence my wife and she admits that she doesn't know something. You'd think I'd be ecstatic about this turn of events.

Well, I'm not. And, I have a feeling that things are going to get worse before they get better.





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