NOTES: Hi, everyone this is just a little story that I couldn't get out of my head. I'll be back with a longer, also serious one, which involves all of the cast soon.
This is a one-parter about how The First Lady helps the President through a tough time two months after the season finale shooting. Hope you enjoy it and please let me know what you thought. Thanks! ~Steph
Disclaimer: "The West Wing" and its characters do not belong to me. They belong to Aaron Sorkin, NBC, etc. This is just for fun out of a love for the show. No profit is made and no infringement is intended.
* * * The Good Fight: Part 1/1 * * *
President Josiah Bartlet sat at the foot of the bed, his head in his hands. The moonlight from the window illuminated his tired face, as it cast dark shapes across the floor.
He hadn't been able to sleep again. Every time he closed his eyes, he saw the faces of the people he loved twist with fear. It had been two months since the shooting and the only way he could fall asleep now was by lying awake until exhaustion overtook his aching mind and body.
He had been a shadow of himself since that day. To the untrained eye, he seemed the same. He went about his duties with the same flair and diligence that everyone had become accustomed to. He would joke with his staff, dispense unsolicited advice and handle every matter that was given to him with the same professionalism as before.
But if one looked closely, if you looked into his eyes, you could see that a moment two months ago had forever changed him.
They held a fear that hadn't been present before...Self-doubt floated around in them, something he'd only been briefly acquainted with in all his time on this earth.
The fact that everyone had been lucky gave him little solace. None of his staff had been seriously injured, Zoey had only sustained a sprained ankle and the Secret Service only minor wounds. There were no physical scars left from that night, but its emotional ones would live on for sometime.
In those moments, he had not been the leader of this country; he had been a father and a friend.
The thought that his daughter, his staff and his protection had all been placed in danger because of him wore on his mind...But what bothered him, perhaps the most, was how his loyal Senior Staff had reacted afterwards. They had been as professional as ever, they never cried a tear, never said a word in anger. And that bothered him...It bothered him because without them he could not run this country, yet no one had jumped in front of them to save their lives. He and Zoey had been tackled and protected by numerous agents, but they had been left on their own...These people...People he trusted, people who sacrificed for him and this nation...Their lives had been regarded as worth less than his and that just didn't sit well with him...Yet the next day they had resumed their responsibilities, never uttering a word at the injustice of it all.
The fact that they had not been seriously injured did not ease his mind and the fact that they could have died burdened it.
The President sighed and squeezed his eyes shut, as he rubbed at his temples. He heard Abbey stirring and she was soon at his side. She took his hand in hers and stroked it, "Jed, you can't keep doing this to yourself."
He bent his head and focused his eyes on the floor. He spoke, his voice barely above a whisper. "Did I ever tell you what Leo said to me the night before my inauguration?"
Abbey shook her head, so he continued. "He looked at me and said 'I've never met a man that I respect more than you. I know that you will do right by this nation, that you will fight for its people. You have the strength that is needed to do so'."
Abbey nodded, a slight smile pulling at her lips. She was about to respond, but he continued before she could, "Strength...That's the word he used, Abbey. If that's true, if I have so much strength, then why do I feel so powerless now?"
Abbey shook her head at him, "Because you're always too hard on yourself, Jed. You try to take the weight of the world onto your shoulders, but you are not that strong, you can't be."
The President turned his head to her, his eyes clouded by a million thoughts and worries. "People that I love and trust could have died two months ago, Abbey. They could have died because of me...And I didn't do a thing to stop it. They are loyal and dedicated, but supposedly their lives aren't as important as mine. I am the leader of this country, but without them I would be nothing...Yet no one walks beside them, willing to take a bullet. How am I supposed to feel about that?" He asked, his voice trailing off and his eyes leaving her face.
Abbey placed her other hand over his and spoke softly, "Jed, you know that's how this game is played. They are the people who help you do your job so well, but you are the one who gets the praise, the criticism...and the protection...They know that, too...No one blames you."
Jed shook his head, as he ran a hand through his hair. "I know that's how it works, Abbey, but that doesn't help to rid me of this knot in my stomach...And it goes deeper than all that. If I feel this way, then what kind of President can I hope to be? If I feel that I let down those that I care about, then how can I fight for the people of this nation?" The President asked, doubt swimming in his eyes.
"How can you even ask that, Jed? You've always done all you can for the people of this country. That's not going to change now," Abbey responded.
He shook his head, "There are things that this incident has made me consider, Abbey...It's made me evaluate what kind of President I have been so far. And I've realized some things...My job is to serve the people of this nation, to protect their rights and to help them prosper. I work for them, yet I have not listened to their wants and needs."
Abbey opened her mouth to say something and he could tell she was about to disagree with him. He smiled with a gentle shake of his head, "It's true, Abbey. I have let political agendas stand in the way of what I know is right for these people. I have listened to politician after politician tell me what would be best for our administration, what would pass through Congress, what wouldn't rock the boat...And some even claim to know what the people need, but they couldn't possibly...Do you know why that is?...Because they haven't listened either."
He paused and rubbed at his weary eyes. Abbey placed her arm around his shoulders and lay her head against his arm...She would listen.
He continued, emotion overtaking his voice, "Too many times, I've sat in a room with Congressmen telling me that we can't try to pass stricter gun laws because we would receive flack from the NRA. What I should have been doing is visiting a nine year old boy, as he lay in the hospital because we made it so easy for someone to put a bullet in his spine. I've spent countless hours listening to them tell me that we can't pass a bill funding after-school programs that help homosexual teenagers deal with their feelings. What I should have been doing is visiting the parents of the seventeen year old girl, who hung herself because she was ashamed of who she was and felt she could talk to no one." He took a deep breath and then concluded in a soft voice, "I should have listened to them because they know."
Abbey waited a moment before placing her fingers beneath his chin and gently turning his face towards hers. She spoke in a soft, yet determined voice. "I want you to listen to me, Jed...Really listen." He nodded, his eyes finally meeting her gaze. She continued, "You are a man. Yes, you are the President, but at your very core, you are just a man. You are a great man and a man that has achieved greatness, but you have your limits. You are not a superhero and you are not a saint; you can't be everywhere and everything to everyone. You can only hope to do your best. And, in order to do that, you have to listen to the people that are there to advise you. But that doesn't mean you can't also listen to the people of this nation, just because they aren't present to speak for themselves. You can. They have a voice, Jed. They speak to you in the articles you read and in the stories you see on the news. If you feel that something has been missing from your time as President, then you can change that. You can listen to them, you can fight for them...And, in doing that, you are also honoring the people that work for you in the best way you can."
Jed smiled and brought his palm up to caress his wife's cheek, "And I thought you were only going to disagree with me."
Abbey also smiled, "Well, I certainly wasn't about to say that I think you should be making house calls to half of America." Then she added softly, "But I knew what you meant and I knew that you meant it."
Jed nodded his head and then brought his lips closer to hers in a soft kiss. After they parted, he spoke, "What would I do without you, Abbey?"
She grinned, "You'd probably never sleep another wink."
He bobbed his head in agreement and then took her hand in his, "Let's go to bed."
Abbey linked her fingers with his and then brought the back of his hand up to place a light kiss on it. She met his eyes as she spoke softly, "Let's go to bed, Jed."
With that, they stood and walked together to the head of the bed. Jed crawled in first and then Abbey took her place by his side. She lay her head on his chest and then whispered into the silent night, "Rest easy, my dear."
Jed smiled and stroked her hair.
The eyes that had once held doubt were now clear. They would always hold a fear in them, that he could not rid himself of, that day had made it so. But he would move on...He would battle...He would fight the good fight.
He would do it for the people that served him and for the people he served.
Please let me know what you thought, I'd really appreciate it! Thanks for reading this story, I hope you enjoyed it. Feedback link---> FEEDBACK