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

Divided" series) Part Three

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!




Son of a bitch! I need answers and I need them quickly. I'm not going to be able to stall on this for very long. Once the President makes up his mind about something, good luck in trying to change it.

Where the hell is my notepad! You'd think that I could find a single piece of blank paper in this dump! My office seems more like recycling plant than where I work. I walk in and drop the stacks wherever I find space most days. This is pathetic! The Press Secretary can't find a pencil and paper!

Ooh! I think I've found...damn it! It's Toby's crap! I'm gonna need to start charging him rental fees for using my office as a dumping ground, too. Well, I'm about to file Toby's junk in the hallway—I've got a pretty good arm for a girl.

"Ow! Jesus, C.J! I didn't see the sign outside that said, 'Enter and Duck'!" Leo shouts. I hit him with Toby's notepad as I launch it out the office door.

"Leo, sorry." I am unmoved. I keep looking.

"What are you doing?" he asks hesitantly.

"Looking for a damn piece of paper."


He stands there for a minute and allows me to continue on my quest for the 'Holy Grail'.

"CJ?" Leo says, almost in a whisper.

"Yeah?" I'm still looking for the paper.

"Are you all right?" He won't give up until he sees me cry. He's gonna have to wait a long time.

"Sure." Finally, at the bottom of the pile. "Aha! There's one!" I pull the two stray pieces of blank paper from the tower of mess.

"It's just that..."

"What, Leo? You want me to lose it? You wanna see me go ballistic? Is that it?" I reply.

"No, but.."

"Well, forget it. I've got too much work to do to deal with this now, ok?"

"Ok," he answers.

I open my desk drawer to find a pencil. Miraculously, I find one immediately.

"I called Toby to come in and give us a hand." Leo says.

"Toby? Are you going to tell him about all of this?"

Leo looks pained for a moment. "He already knows about the MS, CJ."

This stops me in my tracks. "How?" I ask.

"I told him the other day."

"Oh." I respond. That explains Toby's attitude over the past few days—more hostility than usual, and believe me, that's not a good thing.

"I had to tell him, CJ. I needed him to be able to think clearly before we started dealing with this. I knew he would take it hard. I knew he would need a few days."


"I just didn't think we'd be dealing with this. I knew the MS would eventually come out and that we'd have to discuss it with regards to re-election. But, resigning..."

"Yeah." I repeat.

"We need Toby and Josh in on this. They'll be here shortly. I'll deal with them."

"Fine." I grab my paper and pencil and head toward my office door.

"Where are you going now?"

"To work, Leo. Where else?" I say, walking past him and out the door.

I make my way up to the residence. I haven't seen Abigail Bartlet for quite some time. She's been out of town for a while and I need to get some answers from her. She's always been up front with me. I'm lucky enough to be considered one of her closest friends, although for as much as we see each other, you wouldn't think that. She's got a hell of a personality and the brain to match it. She's a damn fine First Lady. I know that if I talk to her, she'll give it to me straight.

I hate to wake her, but I anticipate she's been up for a while now.

When I knock on the bedroom door, I hear her call out to come in.

I open the door and go in, but the First Lady is not there. She must be in the bathroom. A second later, I hear her as she enters back into the room. She's rubbing a towel over her head, drying her hair.


"No, ma'am. It's CJ."

The towel comes up from over her head. "CJ? Oh, I was hoping it was Jed."

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Bartlet. I can come back." I say, heading back for the door.

"No, no. It's all right. Have you seen the President?"

"No, ma'am, not yet."

"Hmm. He didn't come to bed last night."

"That doesn't surprise me."

Now, Abigail puts down the towel and looks at me. "It doesn't."

"No, I'm sure he's had a hard night."

"How do you know that, CJ?" she asks, warily.

"Mrs. Bartlet, with all due respect...I know about the President's illness."

She takes in a sharp breath. "You do?"

"I've known something was wrong for a long time. I just didn't want to come out and ask you or the President."


"How you tell people is your business not mine. I'm sure that's how the President decided that now is the right time for this press conference. Although, I don't agree with his what he's going to say."

"Press Conference? What press conference?"

"The one he wants for tonight." Why is she asking me these questions?

"CJ, what is this press conference about?"

Now, I'm totally confused. "Um, Abbey, it's for President Bartlet to make his announcement."

She is standing there in silence. She looks as confused as I feel right now.



Oh my God. It can't be!

"You do know that the President is announcing his resignation at this press conference?" I ask incredulously.

I almost had to catch her when she heard that question.



The last thing I clearly recall was CJ asking me if I knew about what Jed was announcing at the press conference tonight. After that, everything became a blur. The room began to spin and I needed to find a place to sit down. Fortunately, CJ was there to help me out.

Resignation? What the hell is she talking about?

"CJ? What are you talking about?"

"Mrs. Bartlet? Why don't you know what I'm talking about?"

We're both sitting here, just staring at each other in amazement.

"I had no idea." I say, very slowly.

"I had no idea you didn't know." CJ says, putting her hand in mine. I'm glad she's here right now.

"Jed is resigning?"

"Apparently so."

"Wow." I say. I can't think of anything else.

"That wasn't my reaction, but..."

My head is reeling. "I wasn't expecting this." I think to myself.

"What were you expecting, Abbey?" CJ asks, sounding confused again.

I guess I wasn't thinking to myself. I must have been thinking aloud.

I take a moment to collect my thoughts. "CJ, Jed and I made a deal back during the election that he would only run for one term."

CJ's eyes grow wide. "Oh," she says.

"And when I heard Jed's last State of the Union address, I knew he was in re-election mode and I couldn't bare the thought of losing him for another four years—especially with the potential of the disease and..." my voice starts to break.

"Abbey..." CJ starts.

I stand up and move away toward the bedroom window. "I had to get away. That's why I was gone for so long. I needed some space and time to think. I came back ready to fight for my husband. I had to convince him that he had to keep his word. But he's stubborn. Changing his mind is not easy."

She smiled sympathetically. CJ knows this as much as I do.

"We both feel strongly about things. So, the discussion got intense quickly and the next thing I knew...I had no idea it would come to this!" Damn, the tears are starting again.

"The next thing you knew?" CJ asked.

"I said that if he broke his promise to me, I'd consider it to be the biggest violation of trust and I wasn't sure if I could live with him anymore."

CJ simply sat there, stunned at my admission.

"CJ, this wasn't my plan!"

She ran her hands through her hair and looked upward. She exhaled loudly, as though she had been holding her breath.

"Well, ma'am, to use your husband's expression: what's next?"




 Part 4




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