Author's Notes: Private fic challenge with slimwhistler. I was given two characters, a line to use and music to set the mood.
DON'T STOP ME NOW
Abby Bartlet was tired. It was well into the campaign and she was ready to pack everything in and go with Jed to the Manchester farm and take a well earned rest. Unfortunately, the President and his wife were, more-or-less, required to campaign for their party's candidate and it was for that very reason she was standing here, in a hotel room in Boston, on a rainy Friday night.
The event was a black-tie fundraiser for the Santos/McGarry ticket at the Four Seasons in Boston. Abby had been in New England to speak with a woman's group in Concord earlier that day and had accepted the invitation to appear at the fundraiser so that Jed could mark one less public appearance off of his calendar.
Shifting in her evening gown, Abby studied her hands. She had been scheduled to meet with Helen Santos in this hour before the fundraiser, but when she arrived, she had been told that one of the Santos children was ill and that the Congressman's wife sent her sincere apologies. Such a snub would normally anger Abby and put her on the warpath, but having seen what she had seen of Helen Santos, she knew that the excuse was legitimate and that her family came first. Of all people, Abby was the last to condemn someone for caring for their children before they cared about politics.
Abby stood and began to walk around the room. It was like hundreds of hotel rooms she had been in over the course of their years in office. Beautiful and sterile and museum-like in its sheer anonymity. She would be happy when she could stop calling such places home and the traveling would stop.
"Enough," she muttered, "I will not sit here like a china doll."
Striding over to the door, she opened it and called out to her security detail.
"We're going to have a drink, boys."
Her evening gown rustled as she walked down the hallway toward the elevator. For a tiny woman, she moved fast – a habit learned in her years working in the hospital. Over the years, she had become infamous among the Secret Security details for her quickness and at one point, her code name had been Quicksilver. A fact that still gave her a small sense of pride.
Rounding a corner, she stopped in her tracks, forcing the men following her to nearly fall over one another in their attempt not to fall over the First Lady. In front of her was Josh Lyman, in black tie, talking on his cell phone like a man possessed and attempting to tie his tie in the mirror of the hotel hallway.
"I don't care what you want out of this, John. You promised us..." Josh turned his head and caught sight of the First Lady. "I have to go, John. But we're not done with this."
Clicking his phone shut and putting it in his pocket, he turned to Abby with a smile, "Mrs. Bartlet."
"Josh. Who are you getting all foxy for?" Abby teased, holding open her arms and turning her cheek so Josh could give her a kiss. She had always liked Josh Lyman. His dimples and adolescent humor belied a fire and a mind that was, in simple terms, brilliant.
Blushing, Josh kissed the First Lady on the cheek. Abby Bartlet had been a blessing and a curse in the years he had worked for her husband, but throughout it all, Josh respected her without question. Helen Santos reminded him a great deal of Abby and it served as a comfort when he thought that the Congressman had wandered too far afield.
"Foxy?" he replied, his eyebrows arching. "I'm not sure about foxy. I'm not sure about dressed at all..." Fiddling with his tie, he unbuttoned the top button of his tuxedo shirt. No reason to be uncomfortable yet.
"Doesn't Donna do that for you?" Abby joked, gesturing to his tie.
Josh lost his smile and fiddled with his cufflinks, "She does. Did. Used to."
Noticing the change in his demeanor, Abby took his arm and said softly, "Where can a lady get a drink around here?"
Putting his hand over hers on his arm, Josh smiled slyly and said, "Right this way."
A few moments later, Abby found herself in the reception room for the evening's speakers which was, for the time being, relatively empty. A full bar was set up in the corner and Josh had gone over to get them each a drink. Her security detail was busy keeping the curious away and Abby was happy to stand for a moment and watch the man at the bar.
The relationship between Josh Lyman and Donna Moss had always intrigued her – from their time on the campaign trail way back in the beginning to the moment she heard from Leo that Donna had left to work for Bob Russell's campaign. Abby knew there was much more between them than simple friendship – the years had proven that theory all but dust in the wake of Rosslyn, Gaza and the hundreds of daily tragedies and trials they all had suffered.
Josh was walking back toward her with drinks and she walked over to two chairs in the corner. Seating herself, she reached up for the glass of wine Josh handed to her.
"Why, thank you," she said smiling.
"My pleasure," he said, returning the smile and seating himself next to her.
After a few moments of silence, Abby leaned toward him slightly and said, "How are you doing?"
Slowly swallowing his drink, Josh said cautiously, "Fine."
"I'm not asking as a doctor," Abby said smiling, "though I'm sure I could get Millie to call if that is necessary..."
Josh's eyes got wide and he started to shake his head.
"I'm asking as a friend," Abby continued, swirling the wine in her glass and taking a sip. She could see his shoulders relax slightly and smiled inwardly.
Josh took another swallow of his drink and looked at the First Lady. "Honestly? I think I'm too old for this."
Abby let out a laugh, the deep, liquid laugh that had been so rare in the past few years and Josh smiled at her.
"It happens to the best of us, Josh. Believe me."
Smiling, Josh looked down at his drink. He should really be with the Congressman getting him ready for the event, but he was enjoying the few minutes with the First Lady. It was almost, but not quite, like old times.
"How is Donna?" Abby asked, studying someone across the room, but surreptitiously watching him out of the corner of her eye. She saw his expression fall at her question and his hand move up to fiddle with the end of his untied bow-tie.
"Ok, I guess," he said quietly. "We don't talk much."
Looking over at him, Abby took a breath and said nonchalantly, "Did my husband ever tell you how he told me he was in love with me?"
"I'm sorry?" Josh said, puzzled.
"He was an economics geek," Abby continued, purposefully ignoring Josh and standing. Josh stood with her. "I was pre-med and we were friendly, but not dating seriously yet."
As she told the story, Abby started buttoning the top of Josh's tuxedo shirt and fiddling with his bow-tie.
"He approached me one day and asked me if I liked baseball. I, of course, replied that I found it as exciting as watching flies procreate. Not necessarily in such polite terms. Do you know what he said?" Abby stopped and put her hands on Josh's chest. Josh shook his head and looked down at the woman in front of him.
"He told me that he was willing to give up the rest of his life to make it exciting for me." Abby smiled up at Josh, "That got me."
"Josh! There you are! Ned said... Mrs. Bartlet!"
Josh and Abby turned to see Donna, in a beautiful, deep purple evening gown come strolling into the reception room.
"Donna!" Abby said cheerfully. "Apparently, this man has yet to learn how to tie a bow-tie. I was assisting him, but I'm shamefully out of practice. Perhaps you could help?"
Abby stepped aside as Donna walked up and took the ends of Josh's tie.
Josh looked down at the blonde head in front of him and then over to the First Lady who gave him a conspiratorial wink and made the motion of swinging a baseball bat. Smiling, Josh looked back down at Donna.
"Oh my goodness! Look at the time!" Abby said, "I should go find Leo!"
"Mrs. Bartlet, I could..." Donna started, turning from her task of the bow-tie.
"No. Make him presentable. I'm sure I can find my way." And with those words, Abby made her exit, security detail in tow.
Turning his attention back to the woman in front of him, Josh could hear her softly chastising him.
"Josh," she whispered. "How could you have her do this for you? You know..." At that moment, she tightened his tie and looked up at him.
Reaching out, Josh put his hands on her arms and stared down into her eyes. A moment of stillness passed between them that felt like hours.
Josh took a deep breath, studied her face for a moment, and said with a smile, "What do you think of baseball?"