Spoilers: This story goes AU somewhere around late season
three, but backstory established in the season four episodes "Debate
Camp" and "Holy Night" is also fair game.
Disclaimer: The characters and concepts used within belong to Aaron Sorkin; I'm just borrowing for non-profit purposes.
You have every right to be this appalled with me, join the club
I signed up a long time ago and I know how you feel
And when you decked me, you left me knocked out on the floor
I came to bloodied up, but you weren't around
I picked my teeth off the ground like they'd been there before
- Bloodied Up, Alkaline Trio
She was jolted awake by the sound of violent coughing.
"Jed? Jed, honey, are you all right?" she asked worriedly, scrambling to her husband's side. He waved her away, still coughing.
"I'm-" He swallowed hard. "Fine."
"Okay." Abbey got up and quickly poured him a glass of water. She brought it over to him, and rubbed his back comfortingly as he drank.
"Thank you," he said hoarsely, when the coughing had subsided.
"Is your throat bad?"
"I just breathed wrong when I woke up," he excused. But he sighed heavily as he lay back, and she gave him a sympathetic smile as she curled closer to him on the bed.
"Feeling bad, babe?" she said softly.
"It'll pass," he said, and made the effort to smile at her. His eyes looked sad, though, and she softly kissed his cheek. He was uncharacteristically silent as she brushed the hair back from his forehead, surreptitiously checking his temperature at the same time.
Perhaps his melancholy mood was only to do with his current poor health, and would pass as quickly as this cold. It worried her, however. It was surely a vicious cycle; his increasing frailty depressed him, and that in turn did his health no favours. Many of his previous forms of relaxation were now denied to him; it wasn't safe to smoke, drinking left him far more intoxicated than it used to, and the low-fat, low-sugar diet that guarded his physical well-being left him thoroughly miserable.
What he needed, she reflected, was something to cheer him up; something that would delight him enough to shake him out of his current malaise. The trouble was, she couldn't for the life of her think what. The impending birth of Zoey's child might just do it... but that was still four months away.
Abbey looked down at her husband. His eyes had fallen closed again, but he was only resting them, not sleeping. All too soon, he would have to leave the relative peace of their shared bed, and face another long day of stress and difficult decisions.
Something definitely had to be done to make him feel better. She decided that if she couldn't think of anything, then she'd just have to get herself a partner in crime. She knew just the person, too. Donna Moss had been wonderfully helpful at gauging the president's mood during the tough days following the publication of a book about his troubled childhood, and she had plenty of practice dealing with her boss's unpredictable moods. Surely, between the two of them, they'd be able to cook up something that would brighten her husband's day for a while.
Sam grimaced at his reflection in the kitchen mirror as he carefully straightened his tie. Steve sloped in, hair sticking up in all directions. "Gods, what unholy hour of the night is this?" he grumbled. Sam swivelled to face him.
"Ten to seven?" he said, raising a pointed eyebrow.
His boyfriend shuddered. "It's not natural. No man should be awake this early." He inspected the half empty coffee mug on the kitchen table. "Were you planning on drinking this?"
He rolled his eyes. "Yes. But you can have it." Steve downed it in one swig, and gave a happy sigh.
"Ah, caffeine." He sat back, regaining some semblance of humanity. "Did you get paged into work?"
Sam gave him a look. "Ah, so you did notice the quarter hour of uninterrupted beeping?"
"I told you, you should sleep with that thing under your pillow if you expect it to wake you up," he shrugged. "I don't wake for nuclear bombs."
"I had noticed." He pulled on his suit jacket. "Yeah, I got a page. The Swedish Ambassador's kicking up some kind of a ruckus. Again."
"The guy from the dinner party?" Steve frowned.
"That's the one."
"Seriously, how does a guy like that get to be ambassador? I know Swedish people; he is not a representative sample of the average level of toolishness."
Sam raised his chin as he inspected his beard in the mirror. Even after several weeks, he still wasn't entirely used to seeing it. "I think it was in revenge for us sending them Ted Sloker," he offered vaguely.
"Well, what did we do that for?" Steve wondered, inspecting the contents of a box of cereal dubiously.
"It was nothing personal," Sam shrugged, "we just wanted him as far away from us as possible." He leaned across to give his boyfriend a kiss on the cheek.
"You'll be home late?"
"I usually am," he agreed wryly.
"Give the Swedish Ambassador a kick for me?"
He smirked. "I wish. See you later, Steve."
"See you tonight," he responded absently. "Hey, did you have the toy out of the cereals?" he abruptly demanded. "I'm collecting those!"
Sam snorted. "You can have the next one," he promised tolerantly.
"Oh, so you say, so you say. Need I remind you of the Great Christmas Stocking Debacle of 2003?"
"Goodbye, Steve." Rolling his eyes, but smiling, he fished for his car keys, and headed out to work.
"Charlie? Are you leaving?"
He smiled at his wife's sleep-fogged voice from the next room. It was another depressingly long day ahead, but he was feeling more relaxed than he had been in recent days. The threat posed by all manner of neo Nazis and garden-variety nutcases to them and their imminent baby was by no means diminished, but he felt better after talking it over with Zoey. Leo had been right; keeping it bottled up had only made him twice as frustrated.
"Yeah, I'm just about to go," he said, buttoning his cuffs as he walked back into the bedroom. He frowned at the sight of her pale face peeking over the covers. "Zoey? Are you all right?"
"Yeah." She sniffed, and reconsidered. "I've got kind of sore throat."
Charlie winced in dismay. "The president gave you his cold?"
"Guess that'll teach me to kiss my dad," she mumbled, closing her eyes. He crossed back to the bed, and sat down.
"Want me to-?"
"Charlie," she protested, cracking open her eyelids. "It's a cold! Go to work."
He grimaced. "Aw, no. It's hereditary." He'd been taking this line off the president all week. It's just a cold. I'm fine. I don't need my pills. I don't need to take a break. Stop fussing.
Two sick Bartlets in one go? His life wouldn't be worth living.
"Yeah, well, unlike my dad, I'm not the leader of the free world," she reminded him, clutching the covers.
"Also unlike your dad, you're five months pregnant," he countered.
"Yeah, but last time I checked, the pregnancy wasn't anywhere in the vicinity of my sinuses, so..."
He gave a long sigh, and bent down to kiss her forehead. "Look after yourself, okay, Zoey?" he pleaded.
"Stay in bed."
"Charlie, I'll be fine!"
He stood up, resigned. He'd had this exact same argument too many times with the president to believe it would work any better on his daughter. "If anything happens- if you get sick, if you're dizzy, if you think you're getting feverish... call me. Call me at work, I'll come home."
"Okay," she said, but she rolled her eyes emphatically as she said it. Charlie patted the swell of her belly.
"I mean it. 'Cause, you know, we went to a lot of effort to get this little fella, and we don't want any harm to come to him because his mother thinks she can run the marathon with a hundred and two degree fever."
Zoey gave him a look. "I like how you make it sound like you did an equal share of the work."
He straightened up and smirked. "I did my part," he said, with a nod of self-satisfaction.
She giggled. "Go to work, Charlie."
"Okay." He ruffled her hair, eliciting a faint squeak of protest. "I'll call you from work as soon I can get a chance."
"Don't worry, Charlie," she chided him intolerantly.
"Yeah," he agreed vaguely.
That ship, however, had pretty much sailed.