Title: Just A Shadow
Summary: My first (and only) songfic. Starts in 1998 and based on Big Country's 'Just A Shadow'.
Episode: Anything up to the end of season 3.
Characters: Jed, Leo and Josh
Disclaimer: They all belong to Aaron Sorkin, NBC, John Wells and many others who aren't me.
It went so well for you,
With a place right where you wanted
and the ones to fill it to.
"Just the guys I wanted to see." Jed sat down across from Leo and Josh. "Did you hear about David Rosen?"
Leo glanced at Josh, who tried not to smile. "No, what about him?" he asked.
"He's been offered another job and he's taking it."
"He'd rather earn hundreds of thousands working in the private sector than tens of thousands working for the government. Almost hard to believe," Leo commented, still trying to avoid looking at Josh.
Jed looked suspiciously from Leo to Josh. "Neither of you look especially shocked, and how'd you know it was the private sector?"
"Lucky guess," Leo replied. "Who do you think now for Communications then?"
"I suppose you both get your way, and I get Toby Ziegler."
"Toby's the best man for the job, Sir." Josh pointed out.
Jed scowled, but he nodded. "I wanted David Rosen," he said stubbornly.
"Probably best not to tell Toby that," Josh replied.
Jed glared at Josh and Leo interrupted them before this turns into a battle of wills. "Give us a minute, Josh," he said. Josh got up and left, looking a little too happy for Jed's liking.
"Did you two plan this?" Jed asked.
Leo decided it was best to avoid that question entirely. "Jed," he said. "You've got all the other staff that you wanted. You've got Mrs Landingham, you've got Millicent as Surgeon General, CJ as Press Secretary. True you've got me as your Chief of Staff, but we all have burdens," he smiled. "You wanted Josh as my Deputy and you got him....."
"I get your point," Jed interrupted. "I just don't know if I can work with Toby."
"Toby's exactly what you need. Him and Josh work well together, better than Josh and David would have. With Josh, Toby, CJ and Sam, you couldn't ask for a better team and you know it."
Much as Jed hated to admit it, he knew Leo was right.
But some blows break the spell,
That it hits you every day
Until you need to hit as well.
"They shot the damn plane down, Leo. Maurice's plane. I want to hurt these people."
"It's not your dinner guests who shot the plane down, Mr President, and it certainly wasn't Abbey. You have calm down and stop yelling at everyone."
"Calm down!" Jed shouted. "He had a baby daughter, Leo, and they killed him."
"I know that, Sir." This was Jed's first major international incident and the first time he was going to have authorize a military action. It didn't bode well that he was taking this so personally. "They didn't shoot the plane down because Maurice was on board."
"No," Jed agreed, looking up at the sky. "They did it because it was full of Americans. They're not getting away with this, Leo. I'm meeting the Joint Chiefs tomorrow and I want to see plans for an action that's going to hurt them as much as they've hurt us."
"An eye for an eye, Mr President? That's not how we do things. How do you think the rest of the world is going to view us attacking Syrian civilians. How do you think our allies, particularly Britain and Israel are going to react?"
"We don't need their help."
"No," Leo agreed, "but we do need their support. We can't go alienating our closest allies. If it had been an RAF plane and the British had gone in and bombed Syrian civilians, how would we react?"
"They need us more than we need them," Jed said.
"Well that's just crap, Sir," Leo replied. "We need each other, that's what friends are for."
Jed sighed, he knew that. He knew that if he authorized a massive attack on Syria, the repercussions amongst the International Community would be enormous. He knew that he would damage relations with their closest allies. But Maurice was dead and his daughter would never know her father. "Let's go back in and finish dinner."
Leo followed Jed back into the dining room and sighed. He just hoped that the Joint Chiefs had more luck talking to Jed.
It all seemed fine for you,
'Til the struggle of ambition
turned in violence upon you.
"Jed, will you stop worrying about the country for a while and rest. You've just been shot. Leo can handle things," Abbey said, stroking her husband's hair off his forehead.
"But everyone's okay? No one else was hurt?"
"Jed, will you sleep for a while." Abbey knew she had to tell him about Josh, but not just yet.
Jed closed his eyes and tried to sleep, there was an atmosphere in the room that he couldn't quite put his finger on. Something was wrong, he could feel it. "Where's Leo?" he opened his eyes and asked.
"He's probably back at the White House." Which Abbey knew was lie. Leo was stood with Donna and Mallory, watching through the OR observation window. "Try to sleep."
Jed studied Abbey. Something was very wrong, he could see it in her eyes. "Abbey, I know something's wrong."
"For God sake, Jed, you've been shot, of course something's wrong."
"And everyone else is fine?" he asked. When Abbey didn't answer immediately it confirmed his worst fears. "Abbey, just tell me, 'cos what ever it is can't be worse than what I'm imagining."
"Josh is in surgery," Abbey replied.
"Oh God," Jed said, struggling to sit up. "Is it serious? Leo said that everyone was okay."
"He didn't know then, Toby found Josh about 10 minutes after the shooting. Leo honestly thought everyone was fine when he spoke to you."
"How bad is he?" Jed asked quietly.
"He was shot in the chest." Abbey debated with playing down the extend of Josh's injuries, but Jed was going to know soon enough. "The bullet collapsed his left lung and damaged his pulmonary artery. The surgeons are trying to repair the artery."
"Trying?" Jed repeated. "What if they can't?"
"Jed, it won't be an issue."
"Just tell me."
Abbey hesitated, before admitting, "If they can't repair the artery then, he won't survive the surgery." Abbey saw the panic in Jed's eyes and added hastily. "But that won't happen. He's got one of the best cardio thoracic surgical teams in the country."
Jed considered that and then asked, "Once they've repaired the artery he'll be okay?"
Abbey decided that the truth was the best course, otherwise Jed would imagine his own worse case scenario. "He lost a lot of blood, he stopped breathing on his way to surgery." Abbey sighed, she wasn't going to tell him everything though, not yet. Wait until Josh was out of surgery and see whether the lack of blood flowing to his brain had caused any problems. Jed was still waiting for her to finish though. "He'll have a long recovery, it could be months before he's back at work."
Jed started to sit up, "Do they have an observation window in the OR he's in?"
"Yes, but you're not going anywhere."
"I want to see him. Help me out of bed."
"Jed please, I want you to lie still for a few hours."
"Mr President," Leo said, walking into the room.
"I want to see him," Jed pleaded.
"Is he okay?" Leo asked Abbey.
"I told him about Josh."
Jed was still pleading to see Josh. He had to know, had to see what was happening. Abbey and the doctor agreed that he could go for a few minutes. As Jed got up, Abbey studied Leo, he looked like hell. Which was understandable she knew. Two of three most important people in his life had just been shot and one may still die. She knew Leo was tough, but the last few hours must have been hell for him.
If it really was the truth,
Why are faces filled with anger
that should only shine with youth?
Jed walked through the darkened West Wing, trailed by his trusty shadows. At the moment they were the only ones who he was certain would still be following him tomorrow. It was gone midnight and he wasn't too sure why he was stalking the corridors. He walked past the Mural Room and into the Communications Bullpen. Toby and Sam had left for the night. Toby had been the most angry with him. He'd expected that though. In fact he'd been pretty pissed himself that Toby didn't even ask how he was. The last couple of days, since he told him, Toby had been quiet, like he was trying to decide his options. Leo had told Sam. When Jed saw him later Sam had asked how he was, but he had a look in his eyes like Jed had just run over his puppy. Sam was an idealist, even after nearly three years in government he could still be naive, and he'd been more hurt than angry. Jed really couldn't understand their reaction, after all he'd never actually lied to them.
He left Communications and turned left into the hallway that led to the press room and CJ's office. Leo had told her too. When she'd seen Jed later she'd asked how he was feeling, but he could see she was angry, almost as angry as Toby. She hadn't ranted and yelled like Toby had, at least Leo had said she hadn't, but she was still furious.
Jed turned right and walked toward the Operations Bullpen. He smiled a little, no one ever called it that, this was Josh's Bullpen, this was Josh's part of the West Wing. There was a faint light coming from his office and Jed paused. He'd told Josh himself, he'd thought he owed him that after all he'd been through. Josh hadn't been angry, at least not at first. He'd asked how Jed was, he'd asked a little about MS and he'd been concerned. Gradually though the political part of his brain had kicked in and Jed could see him working through the implications for the administration. Then realization had dawned on Josh, just like it had on Toby and he worked out that Jed had only ever intended to have one term in the White House, before stepping aside for Hoynes. That was when anger had flashed in Josh's eyes, leaving almost as quickly as it had appeared.
After telling his security to wait in the bullpen, Jed knocked on Josh's door and walked in.
"Mr President," Josh stood up.
Jed waved him back down. "Don't you have a home to go to?" he asked.
"I have been known to forget where it is," Josh smiled, sitting back down and looking expectantly at Jed.
"So why are you still here?"
"Just finishing some stuff off," Josh replied.
Jed studied him. Is he finishing stuff off so that he could leave an empty desk when he quit? No, Josh would never do that to Leo. "You think I should have told you during the campaign?"
"Told me what, Sir?" Josh asked.
"That I don't like green beans. What the hell do you think?" Jed snapped.
Josh wasn't bothered by the sarcasm. "I think your health is your own business and it's private," he said. "I wouldn't want a group of virtually strangers knowing things about my health," he smiled a little, "hell, I don't tell most of my friends."
Jed wondered what Josh was keeping from his friends, but he knew asking would be pointless. He is a little concerned though, which obviously shows on his face.
"It's nothing serious," Josh quickly added.
"Then why not tell them?"
"Leo and Donna know," Josh said. Five days ago Jed had told him about the MS and Josh could appreciate how hard that must have been for him, so he confided, "I still have some stiffness in my right leg and arm, from the shooting."
Jed was a little taken aback by Josh's admission and went to ask him about it, but Josh was too quick.
"I haven't told anyone because I couldn't stand the sympathy, people asking if I was okay and pulling out chairs for me. So on a much, much smaller scale I can understand why you didn't tell anyone. Like I said it's no one else's business."
"I think you may be in a minority there, Josh," Jed said. "Why are you so angry then?" he asked.
"I'm not angry."
"Josh. You may not have exploded in the way that Toby did, but I can see you're angry."
Josh thought he knew just how far he can go with Jed before he crossed the line, now though he wasn't sure which side of the line he was about to end up on. "You only ever intended to have one term in office," he said.
"And if you'd known that, you'd have stayed with Hoynes and safeguarded your career for eight years instead of four?"
"You think if I'd just been bothered about my career I'd have left Hoynes in the first place?" Josh snapped, well aware that the line was now only a distant memory. "I'd have still joined the campaign, but I'd have known what I was signing on for. You want to know why I was angry, it's because we could have got more done if we'd not had to worry about re-election, because it turns out that wasn't an issue after all."
"I haven't said that I wasn't running for a second term," Jed pointed out.
"Hoynes certainly thinks you aren't," Josh replied. "Is he just hoping?"
"No, he thinks I won't be running again," Jed agreed. "But decisions made three years ago can be changed, Josh. In the last three years we've been through a lot. We've done some good, but there's more needs to be done. I haven't said I won't be running," he repeated.
Josh smiled at that. "Good," he said. The smile faded though. "It won't be that easy you know. We thought the last campaign was tough, that was a picnic compared to what the next one would be like."
Jed laughed. "You're not doing much to encourage me here, Josh." But at that moment, sat in Josh's office, he really believed that running for a second term would be worth it all.
Frustration brings a heavy hand to bear,
And there never is a hand outside that cares,
Still the promise comes of living fit for all,
If we only get our backs against the wall.
These were the times Jed hated being President. Deciding the fate of peoples lives, no matter who they were or what they were alleged to have done, was something that should be left to God, not the President Of The United States. That was in an ideal world though and he knew that that wasn't where he lived. He also knew that Leo was right. No matter how much Josh screwed up on welfare reform he didn't deserve being spoken to that way, especially in a room full of people. The Welfare Reform Act was very important though. Not just because it would be a victory for them, but because it was needed. Welfare was woefully inadequate and anything that could be done to improve it should be done.
I look at backs that pushed the wall for years,
Scarred by many knives and too much fear.
Josh still didn't deserve that though. Jed was actually a little worried about him. He'd looked tired and distracted and jumpy for days now, ever since CJ started getting death threats. The shooting left its scars on Josh, and not just physical ones. It was the emotional scars that keep returning, that will probably never mend. Jed still had nightmares about Rosslyn and he didn't doubt for a minute that Josh did too. The threats against CJ could only have served to remind him of the things he tried hard to forget. Not that Josh would ever admit it to anyone, except maybe Donna.
All the staff been through a rough time the last few months. First there was the MS disclosure. The depositions were worse, most of all for Leo. That was so close and he never did find out why Cliff Cally chose to intervene to stop the proceedings, but he suspected that Josh was involved. Now there was re-election. Jed knew he had to start treating all his staff better than he had been recently. There was only so many blows any of them could take and keep getting back up. Especially Josh and Leo, neither of whom were as tough as they made out.It's just a shadow of the people we should be,
Like a garden in the forest that the world will never see,
You have no thought of answers only questions to be filled,
And it feels like hell.