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

Author: Marie Rossiter (jonrie@adelphia.net)

Spoilers: Up through "17 People"

Rating: PG

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 never thought there would be a longer day than Election Day or Inauguration Day. Boy, was I wrong.

God, I'm tired. I just want to sleep. I just want this day to be over.

The only person I can talk to right now is You. No one else wants to hear what I have to say. Quite frankly, that pisses me off. Sorry, but it's true.

I can't think of a way out. You have given me the gift of knowledge, dear God, and I am not able to use it anymore. I can't think straight. I don't know what to do.

Why does it have to be this difficult? Why are You forcing me to make this choice? Give me strength, Lord, so that I can face the decision I've just made. It was the only way I could see myself through this nightmare.

I've let so many people down. My wife, my best friend, the American people...

But, most of all, myself.

I thought I could do it all. I believed I could handle it on my own. I assumed that despite all the promises I made to You and my wife, that I would find a way to make it work.

Well, we both know what happens when you assume...

I've bitten off more than I can chew, and now I am humbled at my ignorance.

The sky is starting to lighten—sunrise must be coming soon. Sunrise is my favorite time of day. I know that sounds funny coming from someone who is not a "morning person" at all, but I've always loved the sunrise. It's peaceful beauty...it's a symbol of the absolute potential of the day that lies ahead. It's as though you are giving each of us a new beginning.

I need a new beginning. And, I've made a choice to do just that—have a new start.

It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make—even more difficult than actually running for the Presidency. That decision wasn't too tough, because I had a roomful of people who supported me on my choice.

This decision, on the other hand, won't win much applause, I'm afraid. As a matter of fact, I can just about guarantee that this information will make many of my friends into enemies.

But, all that matters is that one person will be standing beside me—Abbey.

Leo was flabbergasted at my decision. Who could blame him? It's not every day you hear the President of the United States announce his plan to resign his office.

The poor man has had a rough day—just about as rough as mine. When I walked into his office, he was on his last straw. Upon opening the door, he screamed at me, "WHAT IS IT NOW?" Of course, I know he had no idea I was standing there. But, his outburst did not deter me from telling him my choice.

I didn't give him much of a chance to react to my news. My announcement was simple.

"Leo, I've made a decision. I'm resigning."

He didn't move from his spot, but he stared at me, wide-eyed. "Jed? What?" I don't think that he could say much more than that.

"You heard me, Leo. I'm resigning. Call C.J. and schedule a press conference for tomorrow night. I'm going to call Hoynes right now." I answered and walked back out the door.

"Jed!" I heard him call out to me as I shut the door. I knew he wouldn't come running after me. Although it's Saturday, there are still quite a few people around the West Wing.

I hated doing that to him, but if I didn't say it right then and there, I wouldn't have gone through with it.

My phone call to Hoynes was vague, at best. I simply told him that I needed to meet with him at noon the next day. That's about 6 hours from now.

I never thought I'd be handing him the Presidency. Damn it, anyone but him..

Abbey doesn't even know, yet. I want her to be surprised.

I know that this is the right choice...there was no other choice...


I look over and see Leo standing in the "corridor" with me.

"We need to talk, Jed. Right now."

There was no other choice...


I've lost control of this whole damn thing! I want to know when I lost control of this damn administration. Oh, yeah. I think it was when I agreed to be Jed Bartlet's campaign manager and then his Chief of Staff. You'd think I'd be a smarter man than that...That's how I got into this mess.

He's not going to like this conversation, but hell, God knows we've been down this road before.

"We need to talk, Jed. Right now."

He just stands there, staring up at the sky. I wait for a moment for a response.

"Mr. President?"

"Leo, look at that sky. Isn't that amazing? For a brief moment in time, it's like God is opening up the window and allowing us to gaze into heaven. You know, I love the sunrise. I really should make a point to get out and see it more often."

"But, you're not a morning person, sir."

"Yeah, I know. That's why I said I should make a point, not that I would make a point..."

I need to get him on the topic, "Mr. President."

"Leo, if you are here to discuss what I think you want to discuss, you can forget it. The discussion is over."

"Pardon me, sir, but there was no discussion. You simply waltz into my office and announce that you are resigning. You expect me not to respond? To not want to talk about this?"

He now looks at me, with all seriousness and says, "Leo, I did not "waltz" into your office. I can't remember the last time I waltzed anywhere."

"Sir!" I blurt out in frustration.

"Leo, it's done. I've made my decision."

"So, you're just going to hand the whole thing over to Hoynes? Just like that?"


"That's what you want?"

There's a slight hesitation now. "Yes."

"Damn it, Jed! Listen to you! You are standing there and telling me that you are giving your dream to a man you don't even like—more importantly, one that you barely respect. How does it make sense?"

"I don't expect you to understand."

"Well, that's great, Mr. President, because I don't have a fucking clue right now! Why resign? Why not just decide to not run for re-election? That decision I would get. I wouldn't like it, but I would get it. But, resign? That's crazy!"

"What do you think I should do, Leo? Once the MS gets out there, and it will because it has to, it's all over. I lied! The party will lambaste me; the American people will walk away...why the hell would I want to subject myself, my staff and my family to that?"

"Oh, bullshit, Jed. It's not just that, it's Abbey, too."

"So, what! Like she shouldn't be a reason?"

"Of course she should, but these are things we've discussed before. We talked about this before the election, and at the time we made a choice to run anyway."

"I made a commitment to Abbey." Jed says firmly.

"Yes, sir. But, you also made a commitment to the people of this country. They voted for you.."

"The majority of the people in this country did not vote..."

"Oh, God, Jed...let's not debate semantics and numbers...you were elected by the people of the United States. They voted for you, not John Hoynes. You have no viable reason to step down. You are not sick.."

"Excuse me?!"

"You are not sick now, Jed. You're in remission. It was good enough back then, it should be good enough now. You are not being impeached..."

"Not yet."

"There is no reason whatsoever that you cannot carry out the duties of your job. Will Abbey be pissed if you stay and run? Yeah. Will she get over it? Yeah. I know Abbey. She loves you, Jed. Will the American people be pissed because you lied? Yeah. Will they turn away? Who knows? You won't give them the chance to make that choice."

Jed is staring at me in silence now.

"You know, maybe your job has got to you, Jed. Maybe it has worn you down. Because, the Jed Bartlet I have known for over 40 years is strong. He would never back down from a fight."

"You're going to judge me now, Leo?" he asks bitterly.

"No, sir, I am not judging you. I am simply commenting on the fact that I miss my friend. I miss my partner."

We stand quietly there, just looking at one another.

"Have you talked to Hoynes, yet?" I ask.

"No. Well, I told him that I want to meet with him at noon. I'll tell him then."

Ok, I'm trying to keep calm.

"What about Abbey?" I continue.

"No. I want this to be a surprise."

"Oh, yeah, God knows we don't have enough of those to go around here."

He's glaring at me once more. "Have you talked to C.J.?"

"She's due to come in about 15 or 20 minutes from now."

"Fine. When you're done talking to her, send her in to see me."

"Yes, Mr. President." I pause for a moment. "Sir, you should get some rest."

"Soon. Leo. I can rest soon."

He walks back into the Oval Office and leaves me standing there.

Now, I have no choice but to go in and wait for C.J.



Part 2




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