A/N This fic is based on an AU prompt by Carolinagirl919 and I decided to bite. I'm not from the U.S., so I'm going to try to be as authentic as I can when it comes down to the Electoral process there as well as the operation of the Secret Services and how they protect Presidential candidates and families. For creative purposes I'm going to take some creative licence, but I hope you'll enjoy what I come up with in this version of our beloved couple. A big thanks to Fanu for being my beta. And away we go!
***Disclaimer, I do not own POI or any of its characters.
Joss Carter stared at her reflection in the floor length mirror in her bedroom and idly called out when she heard the knock on the door. It could only be one of two people: her mother who lived with her or her son, Taylor. When the door opened, it turned out to be the latter. She glanced at her watch checking the time. It was a quarter to seven.
"Morning, mom," he said.
"Good morning," she replied, finally turning around.
"Ms. Shaw's downstairs," he said, referring to Sameen, her personal assistant. "And I'm headed to school." He turned around to leave, but she stopped him.
"Hold on, wait. Not just yet. There are some people coming here this morning. Remember we talked about this, so I want you to stay behind to meet them."
The people she was referring to were members of the United States Secret Service. The look of annoyance on her son's face at the mention of them mirrored what she felt on the inside, even if she didn't allow him to see it. Truthfully, she'd called them as a last resort, but she was a Senator and the first female African American candidate for the highest office in the land. The amount of death threats she'd gotten recently had been staggering, not to mention downright frightening, and she realized that she had to think not only of herself but of the safety of her son and her mother. They were all she had left, and she'd never forgive herself if anything happened to them when she could have prevented it. So she'd applied for protective detail and her request had been granted. In fact, they were being sent over this very morning and should be there in another half hour.
"Why do I have to meet them? They're here to protect you."
"Not just me, Taylor, but you and your grandmother too. They're here for all of us," she said as they walked together and headed downstairs.
Once in the living room, Sameen appeared; a short girl with long, dark brown hair, olive skin, and a dour disposition. She automatically fell in step beside Joss as they made their way to her home office, located right off the living room. Despite the fact that her assistant appeared somber on most days, Joss found her to be efficient, organized, and very good at her job. She was excellent at anticipating her boss' needs, was good at following instructions, and Joss considered her to be extremely valuable.
She had information on the latest poll numbers, and they had a lot to discuss today about Joss' progress among young voters. She listened intently to Sameen, taking in the information but she was also thinking about the upcoming debate she had with the other democratic candidates and a luncheon she was speaking at for widowed military wives within the next few weeks. Her mind was going a mile a minute, as was the time.
"Taylor," she called out, narrowing her eyes. Over the last year he'd become so stubborn and headstrong, testing the limits of what she'd allow him to get away with. She knew it went with the territory of being a mother to the average teenager, but at the moment she didn't have time for his budding rebellious streak. She could see him inching towards the front door, not wanting to stay behind despite her asking him to. He spun round quickly, not realizing he'd been seen.
"Go see if grandma's up yet. Make sure she's ready." She eyed him as he hurried up the steps then turned her attention back to Sameen.
It was going to be a long day, she thought. She needed coffee. "Sam, we need to take this to the kitchen for a minute. Have you eaten?"
"Not yet. Headed straight here soon as I got dressed."
"Great, so we both need food. Let's get coffee started at least."
A fresh cup was just what she needed, although it didn't stop the chatter about upcoming events. They were gaining momentum in certain states, but many people were still critical of her decision a few years back to vote for a military strike in Syria and their current occupation of it. That decision would also affect her speech and how well it would be received during the luncheon. People were split on her stances on foreign policy. It was a major hurdle she needed to get over. Her biggest opponent right now was Harrison Caine, a Senator from Chicago. He was the one to beat; they just needed to figure out how. She needed to meet with her campaign managers to work out a strategy.
The doorbell rang just as she heard footsteps coming downstairs. She smiled, seeing her mother being led into the living room by her son.
"This must be them now," Sam said, looking out the window, and they left the kitchen.
Although he'd had nothing but disdain at the idea of them needing protection before, Taylor's face expressed great interest at the two vehicles that were now parked directly in front of the building. A few curious neighbours stared on in interest at the cars with tinted windows and the men in dark suits that'd exited them and walked up the front steps.
Taylor didn't wait for anyone else to get the door; he opened it wide and Joss moved to stand beside him. She beckoned them to come inside and they were cordial as they filed in. There were six of them in total, but one man was particularly striking, Joss thought. He seemed to stand a few inches taller than the others. His hair was dark, cut short, with flecks of gray sprinkled at the temples. He had a very straight nose, a rigid line for a mouth, and cheekbones that could cut glass. He removed his shades, tucked them into an inside pocket of his jacket and she thought she'd never seen eyes quite like his. They were a deep blue, his gaze so piercing and intense, for a moment she was so caught up in it she couldn't speak.
He held his hand out and she took it, finally finding her voice. "Good morning," she said.
"Good morning, ma'am," he replied. His voice was low, deep, and he smiled. His eyes seemed to twinkle when he did. She smiled in return.
Beside her Sameen cleared her throat.
"I'm Senator Joss Carter, this is my assistant Sameen Shaw, my mother Mrs. Evelyn Ward, and this," she said, putting her arm around Taylor's shoulder. "…is my son, Taylor."
"I'm pleased to meet you, ma'am, Mrs. Ward, Ms. Shaw, Taylor. I'm Agent John Reese."
John Reese had been in the Secret Service for the past fifteen years. He'd had a lot of standing posts protecting the perimeter at numerous presidential events, and he'd been assigned to protective detail for government officials and staffers. But years of hard work were finally paying off and he was now in charge of a team guarding a presidential candidate.
He took his sunglasses off and made eye contact with Senator Carter. The discipline of his job kept his face impassive, but under the cool façade of his expression he was instantly drawn into her warm tone of voice, her smile and the way she regarded him when she spoke.
He introduced her to the other five agents who accompanied him; Thomas Bingham, Daniel Williamson, Trenton Miller, Jesse Olsen and Samuel Groves. She took them on a tour of the house and the surrounding property, and while the other agents made sure that every inch of the residence was secure, she took him into her home office and he sat down with her and her family. He gave them their locators and code names. Hers was Jasmine, her mother's was Jericho, and Taylor's code name would be Jasper.
"It all sounds so clandestine and deceptive," Evelyn said. The petite older lady peered at him over the edge of her glasses while she rolled the locator between her fingers.
"Some level of deception is necessary, Mrs. Ward, if we want to remain one step ahead of whoever might want to harm your daughter," he replied. "Keeping her safe is what's most important."
"I'm happy to hear that, Agent Reese. There are a lot of people who don't want to see an African American woman become president. There's one group in particular that's been very vocal about their hatred for my daughter-"
"Mom." Both of them gazed in the Senator's direction, and he saw a look pass between them.
"Well, I'll let Jocelyn share the details with you, Agent Reese. Taylor has to go to school and my first lecture at Columbia starts in another hour."
They all rose together, and Reese noticed that the boy was eager to leave. He assigned Olsen to go with him to school, while Miller would accompany Mrs. Ward to the university. He watched as the boy embraced his mother before leaving, and then he and his grandmother headed outside.
"Olsen, keep an eye out on the boy. I sense a little mischief in him. Don't let him get into any trouble."
"Good. Williamson, you stand post outside, Bingham I'd like you at the rear of the house and Groves, keep Ms. Shaw's company while I speak with Senator Carter in her office."
"Copy that," they all said in unison and followed his instructions.
"Senator," Reese said turning to Joss. "If I could have a word with you, please."
"Would you like some coffee, Agent Reese?" Carter asked him once they were in her office again. She asked him to sit while she walked behind her desk to rest comfortably in her chair.
"No thank you, Senator. And since I'm going to be your shadow for the next couple of months, please call me John."
"Alright. John it is." It was a simple enough request, and she guessed it was his attempt to make her feel as comfortable as she could be given the circumstances. Still the sound of his name on her tongue made her blush. She bent her head trying her best to conceal the small smile that came to her lips.
"All of this is going to take some getting used to, I know. But rest assured we'll try to be as invisible as we possibly can so we're not too much of an unwanted intrusion to your daily routine."
She shrugged. "I never thought I'd even get to this point. Of needing protection, I mean. I guess that was incredibly naïve of me to think that."
"I think it speaks to your ability to see the good in people as a matter of fact." Joss thought that he was being incredibly kind on top of being really professional. His warm words weren't necessary, but she appreciated them nonetheless.
"So how long have you been in the Secret Service, John?"
"A little over fifteen years."
"Fifteen years is a long time. Do you like your job?"
"I love my job, ma'am."
His answer was quick and confident, and she could tell it wasn't just lip service. It was the truth. "And in those fifteen years have you ever lost anyone?"
"No, ma'am, I haven't. And I don't intend to, either." He could see that his presence along with the other agents in her home and in her life was making the dangers she faced suddenly all too real. A hint of fear crossed her features, and she sat back in her chair quietly.
"I want you to know that I will do everything in my power to make sure that you are safe at all times. I want you to know that you can trust me to protect you."
"I started thinking about running for president two years ago. The campaign started last year and though there was some initial resistance, I ignored it. I guess they figured I wasn't that big of a deal, I didn't really have a shot, I'd go away soon. But they were wrong. And the more momentum my campaign gained, the more calls and letters I got. Last month there was a break-in at my campaign headquarters. They wrecked the place. A few weeks after that, someone threw a brick through my front window. My son was sitting in the living room at the time."
"Your mother mentioned a group in particular. Do you want to talk about it?"
She didn't, but she knew she had to. "It's a hate group, the Aryan Brotherhood Foundation. They picket outside my office, outside my campaign headquarters. Every time I have a public function they are there. I believe they're the ones responsible for the break in, and the brick through my window. Of course, I can't prove that."
"We'll have someone do a background check on the members, ma'am. Make sure you're protected at all times."
"I won't be intimidated, John. It doesn't matter what they do, I won't stop what I've always intended to do. And that's run my race." She got up from her chair, shook her head, and laughed. "And I think I have a very good chance of winning too. They think they're holding me back, but actually they just inspire me to keep pushing."
"I'm glad to hear that, ma'am."
"Good. Now I've got a busy day and an even busier week. I hope you can keep up with me."
"I'll be there every step of the way," he said.
"Hooah," Joss muttered with a smile, and paused, seeing him linger behind.
"A real army vet through and through," he said, recognizing the battle cry. When she turned round she saw a smile on his face. "I'm sorry, ma'am."
"No, don't apologize. Yes I am. Served two tours. You served in the army too?"
"Yes, ma'am I did. Served in Kuwait. Desert Storm."
"Oh my God. Which unit?"
"Special Forces. I was a Ranger, ma'am."
"Well! That is one of the elite units in the military."
"Yes ma'am. I was a proud member."
"As well you should've been. But once a Ranger, always a Ranger. I definitely feel as if I'm in good hands now."
A flash of red coloured his cheeks and she smiled at his embarrassment. Admittedly she felt a little bit more relaxed; felt a little more of a kinship with him knowing that he was a former soldier just she was. She wished she had time to swap stories about missions, recruitment, and training. She would have loved to reminisce about some of the things they'd both endured and experienced.
His sentence was interrupted by an abrupt knock on her door, and Sameen walked in. "I'm sorry Senator, but we've got to get going. Harold's already at HQ wondering when you're going to get there so…"
"Right," she said, turning back to Reese. "So it begins."
She shrugged into a jacket and headed outside.
"Attention all posts, Jasmine is moving to the car."
She heard him speaking in the back of her, and when she slipped into the back seat next to her assistant, there was a smile on her face knowing that he was in the front seat. "Hooah," she whispered again.
In the rearview mirror she caught a glimpse of a smile on his face. He'd heard her again.