Vulnerant omnes, ultima necat

Psycha (psycha underscore fairy at yahoo dot co dot uk)
Rating: T
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Aaron Sorkin and whomever holds the legal ownership of the show. I make no money, only headaches in fact.

My first West Wing fanfic. I'm not quite up to speed on the canon yet, but I will be. In the mean time, I hope any mistakes I might make won't deter too much from the story itself. Also, keep an eye on the time switches and please: all help, encouragement and suggestions are much appreciated, especially any comment both critical and constructive, or just plain intelligent, gets attention :-)

Summary: There is a countdown for every major event, even if no one is aware of it.

The time is now

Abigail Bartlet startled awake in a dark room only semi-familiar. The room, her bedroom, was unusually bright and eerie shadows seeped into the room through the balcony doors. Her heart going a million miles a minute, the First Lady reached over to the still form at her side. "Jed?" Her voice hoarse, still enough to rouse him. "You okay?"

The body bag moaned, shifted, grumbled and finally muttered in almost unintelligible but strangely comforting way, "sleeping."

She shivered from the chill of night and tried to shake the fear that chased her heart down the hall. "Must've been a nightmare." Still, rather than scoot back down next to her husband, she stayed upright, surveying the shadows. She couldn't make out the forms of the Secret Service agent outside, which now that she thought about it, was actually a positive. Satisfied that all was well with the world, Abbey sank back under the covers.

Her head barely hit the pillow or suddenly the room was a flurry with chaos. The sudden bright lights stabbed through the lids of her eyes and men in suits were shouting at her from all directions. Next to her, Jed tried to reconcile the chaos with whatever he'd been dreaming about. The first coherent words out of his mouth both calmed and amused her. "This had better not be another damn drill."

The nearest agent answered curtly with a negative. It was only then that Abbey realized they had their weapons drawn. The unmistakable barking of guard dogs and the searchlight of a helicopter too far away to hear, finished painting a picture of something more serious than a drill. Her eyes met Jed's and she saw the last remnants of sleep dissipate.


"Your daughters are fine." Senior agent Butterfield stood at Jed's side of their bed and Abbey had never been more relieved to hear his gruff voice.

Next to her, the President of the United States was being dressed. Not one to be left behind, she reached for her robes and followed the detail. "Care to tell us what's going on Ron?" The both of them were surprised when agents blocked and guarded all exits of the Residency. Shouldn't they head for the Oval Office?

Butterfield listened to his earpiece before nodding. Through her hand on Jed's arm she could tell he was trembling from the adrenaline rush. Countless scenarios ran through her head. Anything from the kidnapping of one of her grandchildren, to Britain declaring them war or a powder letter on the lawn.

"There's a situation in the West Wing."

On reflex she tightened her grip on her husband's shoulder and tried to steal a glance at the White House just across the lawn. "What kind of situation?" Everyone in the vicinity stared at her for a moment and she silently cursed them for paying attention to the blasted protocol at nerve-wracking times like this.

"What kind of situation?"

Apparently, only now that the leader of the Free World repeat her question, it was deemed worthy of an answer. "Someone penetrated our defenses with a firearm, sir."

"A firearm?!" Her husband's voice roared through the room and for a second everyone froze.

"Is anyone hurt?"

"The intruder has been incapacitated, sir."

"Is anyone hurt?" This time she stepped directly in front of agent Butterfield. Their friends were in the West Wing. Not their employees, or acquaintances, or servants; their friends! But again they ignored her, at least until Jed indicated quite clearly he would like an answer as well.

Ron stepped back, but Abbey recognized his expression. "Due to the late hour, most of the staff was at home." She wanted to scream at him to cut the crap, but instead stood as unmoving as the Statue of Liberty, waiting. "We are rounding them up as we speak."

"That's good," the President allowed with a healthy dose of apprehension.

"Sir," that toneā€¦ Abbey tightened her grip, "Flamingo was shot."

Already motionless, her lungs flaked out. Claudia Jean, oh dear god.