TITLE: "You Literally Wrote the Book on my Wife" 2/2
Author: Peggy S
ummary: Another Flashback to an earlier time. The Title says it. A little Abby/Jed, and Danny/CJ Disclaimer I don't own these guys. I never will....I just like to play with them now and then.
Oh Yes, Feedback, good or bad, is appreciated.
The strategy session had gone well. Arrangements were made, polling results discussed and evaluated, plans made and calendars were synchronized as everyone tried to make the most of the time they had left before the convention. The polling results were everything that CJ had predicted. "OK." Jed Bartlet said seriously. " Weíve covered enough of this. I need some serious answers for a very pressing question. You know that Abby has been supporting me in this new venture. However, it has come to my attention that the onslaught of the press has been affecting her practice." Jed outlined some of the incidents that Abby had shared with him without violating any names or confidences. "Now!" He said, and settled back in his chair. I need some options on how we can handle this matter." "We can hardly put an off limits sign on her." Toby frowned. "You arenít president yet." Jed grinned at the implication that there was no doubt that he would win." "Yes, I know that. So that isnít an option. What can we do?"
CJ frowned thoughtfullyÖ.I have s suggestion that just might work." She said. "Itís a bit of the wall." She hesitated as if considering other options, then continued. "Yeeees," she said slowly. This just might do it." Bartlet looked at her. "Well?" He said impatiently. She focussed back onto Bartlet, and said "You could get a reporter to write an article on your wife. It would have to be some one who was well respected in the press corps, and the story would have to be truly in-depth. What you would want was a story that covered so much information and detail that it made other reporters think twice about even trying a story on Abby Bartlet. The press would want to go elsewhere for stories, because they arenít going to get anything more in depth or complete than this article covered. Something like," Cj paused, and then continued, "almost a book. Yes. That might do it." Josh looked astounded. "Brilliant." He said, looking at CJ with a new admiration. Toby frowned, but nodded thoughtfully. Leo stood up and paced. "OK." He said. "Thatís do-able. But who."
Mrs Landingham looked in the door. "Dr. Bartlet," She said steadily. "Danny Concannon is here. You have an appointment with him for an interview."
CJ laughed. "Who else?", she said. " We know him. Heís a good journalist. Heís honest, and people respect him. They know he isnít going to write a "publicity glory-hound" type article. Whatever he writes will be honest. Letís offer it to Danny, and see if he wants to take a run at it."
Toby nodded. "He works for the Post right now, but he used to work for Time. Occasionally he does a bit of free-lance for Time still. If we wanted to go with both a magazine and Newspaper story, Time and the Post would be the mediums I would choose. It will mean a short-term major invasion of your wifeís privacy, Sir. You should talk to her about it."
"I will", Bartlett said. "In the meantime. CJ, you go sound out Danny. I donít want to have some article that sounds like a paid political advertisement. There is too much of that from other candidates. I want a real news story. Hell, I just want the press of Abbyís back. I want Danny to writeÖ."Jed smiled. "I want him to write the book on my wifeÖliterally." "If he would agree, I would like to see a feature story. You know, an in depth article, maybe one of those ones that has a different side of the story every day for a week. An article in Time would be good, too. Something so brilliant that anything else will seem meagre and incomplete." Bartlett stood and stretched. "You know, I think this might do the trick." CJ you go talk to Danny. Sound him out. Iíll go try to sell this to Abby." Jed Bartlet looked helplessly at Leo McGarry. "Good Luck" Leo said with feeling. Jed smiled back at him. "Thanks, Leo. I think I just might need it." He sighed. "I have to tell her about the polling results too. Things are moving a little faster than I think she anticipated."
"NO! ABSOLUTELY NOT!" Abby Bartlet said emphatically. I will not have some low-life reporter hounding my steps for a week. This is absolutely ridiculous! Who came out with THIS lame-brained scheme? What a load ofÖ"
"Itís CJís idea, but we all agree itís a good one." Jed Bartlett said quietly and reasonably. "Look at it this way. If we can get a real reporter to do an article on you some of theÖ" Jed searched for the write word. "Tabloid press that has been hounding you lately might back off. But the story would have to be so in depth that all other information seems old-hat and incomplete. Most of the press will find better stories." Jed Bartlett sighed, then continuedÖat least until the primaries are over. It will give you time to slowly work your way out of your practice." Jed Bartlet took his wife in his arms, and continued. "You know, Itís a tight race, but I really feel good about this. Abby, you know Iíve got a good chance of winning."
Abby Bartlett walked across the room, and stared back with her arms crossed. "Who would you get to do a story on me? " She said bitingly. I will not have some invasive papparatzi invading my space and my practice." Jed nodded his head. "I know, Abby. All I can say is that CJ is working on that one now. Trust me!"
"NO! ABSOLUTELY NOT!" Danny Concannon frowned. "I thought you all knew me better than that. I am a reporter. I have a code of ethics. I write the truth. I will not be a glory-boy for some publicity hungry candidateís wife!" "Danny" CJ Cregg said calmly. "Listen to yourself. Weíre talking about Abby Bartlet. Publicity hungry? Come on! Actually, DannyÖ.." CJ put her hand on Dannyís arm and looked him in the eye. Danny looked back, still shaken to the core by the attraction he felt. He shrugged it aside and stared back firmly. CJ continued. "The reason we are going to do this is that Abby is not publicity hungry." She went on to relate some of the incidents that Abby had run into lately, and the resulting effects on her practice. "Abby needs breathing space to continue with her career until we find out where we are going with this. We thought that if we could get a couple of truly in-depth articles written we might manage to alleviate the pressure as theÖ" "Tabloid press" Danny interjected. "Yes," CJ said, nodding. "I realize that it isnít the "real press" thatís doing this." She sighed. "Frankly, Danny, I have too much respect for the press corps to think that any serious reporter is pulling these glad-handed acts." CJ looked at Danny seriously, and continued. "But if there were a truly in depth article, the tabloid press would find some other tree to run around for a time. That would give Abby the space to withdraw from her practice with the dignity and compassion that is in her nature." CJ sat down, and motioned Danny to do the same. She smiled gently. "Danny, we respect you. We respect that you arenít going to write a publicity article. We respect that you value the truth, and you write from your heart. Thatís why weíre contacting you. Ummmmmm. That and you also write for Time on a free-lance basis, and we were hoping to find someone who might write a small magazine article too." Danny looked at her with a speculative frown. "I know your paper would go for it, Danny. So, the question is whether you would agree to write it. And this question is up to you. I donít want your answer right now. Will you meet with Abby for lunch, and just think about it. Go for your instincts Danny, but give them a chance to tell you if this is the right thing. Will you meet with Abby"?
Danny smiled in resignation. CJ was good at this. She knew that he tried to be open minded, and had pushed all the right buttons to get him to agree. "Well Iím up here anyways. I guess I have to eat." He looked CJ in the eye. "But you know I have to have something from the other Bartlet too. I told the paper thatís why I was coming up here, and Iím missing some major events in Washington to BE up here." "Agreed!" CJ smiled. "Give me a minute to set it up". CJ left the room and called Jed Bartlet on her cell-phone. There was a moment of flurried conversation, and then she turned to Danny, and put her hand on his shoulder. "Letís go to lunch Danny. Iím buying, Iím famished, and Iím driving. Weíll meet Abby there." Danny smiled, and opened the door for CJ. "After you." He said with a grin and followed her out to her car.
"OK!" Jed Bartlet said as he hung up the cell-phone. "Abby, you know Danny Concannonl. CJ was talking to him. She has set up a lunch meeting for the two of you to sound each other out." Either of you could veto this, but I want you to promise that youíll go into it with an open mind." "An open-mind? Jed, thatís my line!" Abby Bartlet sputtered. "I know" Jed grinned. "Itís kind of nice to get to use it myself, for a change." Jed Bartlet He chuckled for a moment, then crossed to room to where Abby stood. He stood quietly for a moment, then sighed, and took Abby into his arms. "Honestly, Love. This is the only way I can see for us to get rid of the constant scrutiny you are under right now. We need to obtain a quiet time." He moved back enough to look her in the eyes, and continues. "Long enough to allow a graceful transition to Sheryl Wong as you back out of your practice." He took her face in his hand and kissed her gently. Bartlet spoke softly "We got those polling results this morning, Abby. Hoynes and I are neck and neck now. This has to happen. It wonít be long before we cannot avoid publicity." "I know, but so soon?" "Better sooner, and gently than later and rushed, Abby." Jed said softly. "Now, Letís go to lunch with Danny and CJ. Abby walked across the room to her coat rack. "All right, Jed. But this is up to me. I have veto power If I use it, it will stay used. Iíll talk to Mr. Concannon . Iíll keep an open mind. Thatís all." "Understood." Said Jed, as he held her coat for her as she put it on. "Letís go to lunch."
CJ and Danny had been sitting in the restaurant for 45 minutes when the Bartlets arrived. Danny was amazed. He was becoming more and more impressed by CJ Cregg . He smiled and laughed heartily at her dry sarcastic humour. She made things seem so clear, both in her humor and in her conversation. Danny was astonished at the intelligence and insight of her observations. He grinned and parried back comments with zeal and enjoyment. Danny was really beginning to look forward to getting to know CJ a lot better. Her beauty had impressed him, but it was her mind and her character that caught his attention with a vengeance. CJ Cregg was an amazing woman, and one Danny was beginning to become seriously interested in. Danny dated occasionally, but if there wasnít a connection of the minds, he rarely dated that woman again. He had experienced enough of life to understand that beauty was only skin deep, and mere beauty didnít impress him that much. But Danny was very impressed by CJ Cregg. CJ was a little surprised, too. It was very rare that she met a man she felt so comfortable with. It was even more rare that she met a man who appreciated her brilliant mind. It seemed that usually people saw her looks, and accepted intelligent conversation for a few minutes. Then they acted as if they expected CJ to turn it offÖas if she could ever turn her mind of! That had always been a problem for her in school. She was often miles ahead of where the teachers wanted her to be, bypassing quickly the easy conclusions that the teacher expected the class to make. Often CJ annoyed them by grasping information that was far beyond the rest of the classÖand sometimes beyond the teacher in her ability to see the whole picture. Later on CJ learned that her mental ability was called being a "systems-thinker." It was the ability to go beyond the moment, and see the big picture. It also allowed her to understand what one answer or option would do to affect the whole working system. This ability was one of the things that made CJ so good at her job. She could see how one simple question on a polling sheet would bring about so many more answers and conclusions. Even now she was questioned on that ability, but it had never failed her.
The Bartlets entered the restaurant and approached the table. For the next hew moments things were kept very low-key. They all ordered and conversed generally for a while before getting down to the real business at hand. As they ate dinner Danny asked Jed questions about the campaign. Jed Bartlett was surprised that Danny seemed to know the polling results already. He looked at CJ, who shook her head to indicate that she hadnít mentioned anything to the red-headed reporter. Danny was pleased when Jed refused to take the bait and talk disparagingly about the other candidates, some of whom were playing notoriously dirty politics. Danny took a few notes in shorthand, and then turned and said. "Well, shall we talk about you Abby?"
"You know" Abby Bartlet said bluntly. " I donít really want this intrusion." Danny looked at her in shock. "Wow!" he said. "Thatís a first!" "What do you mean?" CJ said. "Come-on!" Danny said with eyebrows raised. "You donít actually think youíre the first person to ask me to do this type of story. I get at least one of these every election." Danny turned to Abby. "Look Mrs. Bartlet. I want you to understand one thing. If I do this, it will be a news story. Iíll research it. Iíll talk to your friends. Iíll talk to your enemies. Iíll go back over your life with a fine tooth comb, and Iíll write the truth of what I find there." Danny leaned back and picked up his glass. "For instance." He took a sip and continued. "CJ has mentioned you have several causes that you have been involved with. Letís look at that. One of them is?" Abby looked at him with a growing appreciation. "The Child Abuse society of New Hampshire." Danny continued. "And how long have you been involved in that particular charity." Danny expected the usual answers. In the past whenever he asked that question he would find that the personís interest in charity usually coincided with the husbands decision to run for office. He was about to be surprised. Abby smiled. "Iíve been on the board of directors for the past 12 years. I worked with them as a volunteer for 5 years before that." Danny looked surprised, and sat up a bit straighter in his chair. Tell me about another cause that interests you." He said with sincerity. Abby looked t him seriously. "I am very concerned about the use of Child Labor through-out the world." She said emphatically. "You bet!" Jed Bartlett interjected. Then Jed grinned as he said, "I still remember when you threw out every bit of Cathy Lee clothing you and the children owned when that scandal came out a few years back." "Hmmmmm" said Danny. " Any other active participation in that causeÖ. other than throwing clothes away?" Abby shook her head. "Not much yet." She said. "Although I did participate in a fact-finding mission to Taiwan in í96. We tried to get into China, too, but we were turned away. I also headed an investigation into child cigarette slavery in India, and into the rug factories in Pakistan. However, I wasnít able to go on those fact finding missions myself because of my role in the practice and Jedís role as Governor." Danny leaned forward. "Well, as a doctor, what do you think about universal health-care, then?
Jed Bartlet stood up. "I think CJ and I are going to have a drink in the bar. Why donít you two talk here a while, just get to know one another, and make up your mind." CJ nodded and grinned. She already recognized Dannyís reluctant interest in writing this story. She had seen the look in his eyes grow from derision to interestÖto fascination. He was going with his gut instincts, and Danny was beginning to realize that he had the scoop of the year in Abby Bartlet." Jed Bartlet grinned too. Jed recognized Abbyís reluctant appreciation of Danny as a "news journalist", and as a much different newsman than the "tabloid journalists" that had been hounding her life. Abby smiled and waved them off. The dining area was visible from the bar through a windowed wall. As they went up to order they ran into Josh. "I followed you here", he said. "Howís it going?" "So far so good" CJ said. "Weíre giving them breathing room." The group watched the conversation going on across the room. It was animated, and obviously very friendly. CJ looked back a couple of times when she heard Dannyís laugh cross the room. It made her feel like laughing too. She smiled, and thought to herself, "Danny has a great laugh, and he seemed to understand my jokes." CJ was beginning to appreciate the unique qualities of this man. About 45 minutes later Danny looked at his watch, and nodded. He stood up with a grin, and shook Abbyís hand. Then with a wave at CJ , Josh and Jed he left the restaurant Jed Bartlet and CJ returned to the table.
"We came to an amicable agreement" Abby said. "He is going back to Washington to pitch the story to his editor. He will also pitch the concept of a magazine article for Time. He doesnít think heíll have much problem selling either idea. I have agreed that I will give him a week of my time., and access to any past history he is interested in." She looked sternly at Bartlett. "However, Danny suggested that you hire a security outfit to keep other reporters at bay. He gave me the names of several outfits that are highly respected. This one" she handed Jed a card, "uses Secret Service Retirees. Danny said they have the best training in the world." Jed nodded silently, understanding that it was a very reasonable request from his wife to safeguard her privacy. Abby Bartlett continued. "Danny says he will write the story, for both Time and the Post, but it has to be about both of us Jed. He does understand that youíre a bit busy right now, and wonít be able to give him much time. He will keep the children out of the story as much as possible. Danny said he might mention them in a very minor way, but he will avoid all invasion of their privacy." "You know," Abby smiled. "I trust this man. CJ, Jed mentioned that you came up with this idea. What a wonderful idea to ask him about this. Thank you for your help and understanding in this situation." She grinned at her old friend. "You made a really cute couple, at the table, too. And I think he likes you." CJ blushed, and said "OH, Abby. When are you going to stop trying to be a match-maker for me!" However, she looked just a bit pleased. Abby turned to Jed again. "Danny seems confident that youíll win this contest, Jed. I think so too. And I think I can trust that whatever he writes about me will be nothing less and nothing more than the truth. I think this will work out."
As the daylight faded on the road home to Washington Dannyís mind was filled with thoughtful consideration of the two women he had spent time with that day. CJ was fascinating. She was Brilliant and beautiful, a true woman of substance. Danny couldnít wait to get to know her better. She wasÖÖimpressive. Abby was sincere and warm. She had compassion and cared for the world. She was an intelligent, opinionated, and independent woman. Dannyís mind had already started to outline the article he was going to write, and he was awed at the chance he had been givenÖthe chance to literally write the book on the next First Lady of the Untied States.