A/N: This is my first foray into a multi-chaptered West Wing story, but I'm feeling confident about updating for now; my muse is in love with the Abbey/Jed relationship at the moment. This is an AU, pre-series storyline; as far as I know, they didn't get pregnant after Zoey and have a miscarriage. I simply got this idea and couldn't let it go; it is going to be angsty, and devastating- it's not exactly an easy topic.
There will be a cast of characters in this story, from characters we know, like the McGarry family, to a few guest stars, like the Shepard family, and a few OCs, like Theresa Gold (mentioned in 'Hormone Horror'). I'm not positive about the length of this story yet; I'm guessing somewhere around twenty chapters, though.
Disclaimer: I own only the idea and the OCs; nothing original to The West Wing is mine, sadly.
"Mommy, play with me!"
Abbey Bartlet looked down at her youngest daughter, tugging on the hem of her shirt and thrusting a Barbie doll up in the air. The medical textbook she'd been reading had been swimming in front of her eyes; she was still exhausted, and in sore need of a nap.
"Will you Mommy?" Zoey asked this time, her blue eyes looking up at her mom, frowning slightly when Abbey rubbed at her eyes. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine sweetie, just tired," Abbey said, stroking her daughter's hair and tucking the soft strands behind the four year old's ear. "What do you say we take a nap before your sisters come home?"
Zoey frowned, blue eyes becoming troubled. At four she didn't like the idea of naps; her big sisters didn't have to, so why should she?
"You know how I come and sit with you while you're falling asleep?" Abbey asked instead, watching as Zoey's interest piped up and she nodded, strawberry blonde ringlets flying. "Could you do that for Mommy? Come lay with me until I fall asleep? You can even bring your Barbie."
"Okay, I can do that Mommy!" Zoey said, eyes shimmering with excitement. Abbey smiled, closing her textbook and kissing her daughter's head, standing and taking her hand.
The curve of her belly was becoming a little more prominent as the weeks passed, and she knew she and Jed had to sit the girls down and tell them. Abbey suspected Liz already knew; not much got past the fourteen year old. But nine year old Ellie and little Zoey didn't know any better, and Abbey was gratefully for Liz's silence.
Even at seventeen weeks, she was still terrified that something was going to happen with this pregnancy. She was nearing forty, her blood pressure was already noticeably higher than with her three pregnancies with the girls, and the stress of taking care of three children, a Congressman-husband, and her job was taking a toll on her.
But the thought of the baby growing in her womb; the thought of another new life she'd created with Jed, another part of him inside of her, pushed that fear a little farther away. She was already into the second trimester; the chance of miscarrying was decreasing as the weeks went by.
Zoey led her eagerly up the stairs, to the large master bedroom. She jumped onto the mattress and scooted under the covers, her Barbie in her hands as she waited for her mom. Abbey tugged her long, dark hair back into a ponytail; one of the good things about pregnancy was that her hair was growing nicely, along with her nails.
After exchanging her jeans for a pair of comfortable sweatpants with a loose waist, Abbey climbed in beside Zoey, smiling when the preschooler cuddled into her embrace.
"I'll watch you fall asleep Mommy and protect you, don't worry," Zoey said, but her declaration was already slurred with sleep, and her big blue eyes were half-shut and foggy with drowsiness.
"I know you will baby," Abbey whispered, kissing her forehead and closing her eyes, grateful for the warm body pressed against her for the first time all week; Jed wouldn't be home from Washington until the next day, for their doctor's appointment.
It felt like she'd barely fallen asleep when she was awoken to urgent shushing noises; blinking her eyes open against the heavy exhaustion, she discovered her three daughters in a circle just a few feet from the bed.
"Lizzie, I want Mommy!" Ellie whispered urgently, green eyes wide, dark hair falling into her eyes. "She's been asleep since we got home and I want her!"
"Haven't you seen how tired she's been lately? She needs to sleep Ellie, you can wait another hour or two," Liz whispered back, voice laced with concern. "Zo, can you stay with her until she wakes up?"
"She askted me to!" Zoey declared proudly, immediately shushed by her big sisters for being too loud. "Oops, sorry. But it's boring, I don't wanna sit still I wanna go outside and swing."
"You can do that later Zoey," Liz said, shaking her head, dark hair tumbling down her shoulders. "I need you to-"
"Girls, I'm awake, it's fine," Abbey said, sitting up and rubbing her eyes, giving them a fond smile. A quick glance at the clock told her she'd been asleep for four hours; Ellie and Liz's buses had dropped them off about an hour ago. "I appreciate you girls letting me sleep, but you should have woken me up when you got home from school."
She got out of bed, aware of the nausea that filled her from head to toe. She took a deep breath, pushing off the dizziness she felt.
"I'm thinking pizza and salad from Gino and Joe's for dinner, how does that sound?" Abbey knew the girls would jump on the suggestion; it wasn't often she placed the idea of take-out in front of them- that was their father's role usually. But she felt too tired and sluggish to fix dinner tonight; that, and her stomach didn't know how much it could take.
A chorus of 'yes please!' sounded and she smiled, heading for the bathroom.
"I'm going to take a quick shower; go down and set the table for me, and start your homework. I'll order when I get out, alright?" Abbey asked, watching as Ellie and Liz nodded.
"What about me Mommy?" Zoey asked, too little for homework. Suddenly her eyes widened, and a panicked look crossed her face. "Did I do a good job watching you today?"
"You did an excellent job, sweetheart," Abbey reassured her, watching as the little girl's face relaxed, the frown being replaced by a smile. "Why don't you color me a picture? And you can choose which movie to watch tonight, since Ellie picked last time."
"Okay Mommy!" Zoey exclaimed happily, grinning. The girls ducked out of the room to fulfill their requests, and Abbey walked into the bathroom and shut the door behind her. She gave into the nausea and sank to her knees by the toilet, the bile she brought up stinging her throat and bringing tears to her eyes.
The morning sickness had been consistent throughout her pregnancies with the girls, but this pregnancy she was attacked nonstop, throughout the day. She stood and flushed, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.
Her shower was brief; more a way to wake up than anything else. She was still plagued by exhaustion; she'd have to turn in early tonight and try to catch up for the weekend, when Jed was home. She didn't want to miss a moment of him being there.
She dressed in a new pair of jeans and one of Jed's Notre Dame sweatshirts, drying her hair quickly with the blow dryer and then heading downstairs. She found Liz and Ellie doing their homework like she'd asked, Zoey at the table with them coloring a picture out of her princess book.
She ordered a cheese pizza with half mushrooms and peppers along with a salad, and then set to making a pitcher of lemonade; soon, Zoey had wandered into the kitchen, wanting to help.
"What can I do Mommy?" she asked dragging a stool over and perching on it on her knees. Abbey had her carefully measure out some sugar, allowing her to dump it in, and then set her to stirring.
The phone rang and she heard Liz head into the hall to get it; she helped Zoey carry the pitcher to the fridge, to chill before dinner.
"Mom, it's Daddy!" Liz called, and Abbey felt relief fill her chest. She hadn't talked to her husband all day, and the ache in her chest at not hearing his voice lessened as she took the phone from her eldest daughter's hands.
"Jed," she said, all her relief flooding into his name. The three girls ducked back into the kitchen to leave them some privacy, and Abbey practically sank against the wall.
"Are you okay, Abbey?" Jed asked, his deep voice marred by the static of the phone line and concern. She heard him turn, the noise in his background quieting somewhat as his voice dropped. "Is it the baby?"
She could picture him, in his office, turning his back as he spoke so as not to let anyone overhear his words. They hadn't told anyone about the baby; not even their parents.
"I'm exhausted, Jed," she answered honestly, clutching the phone closer to her ear, wishing she was seeing his eyes. "But the baby's fine; just some nausea after my nap this afternoon. I miss you."
"I miss you too sweetheart," Jed said, and she knew he meant it. She struggled against the tears in her throat, not wanting to cry.
"I hate sleeping without you," she whispered, a few tears spilling over. "I don't know how I can go another night."
"I'll be home soon Abbey," her husband murmured, and she wiped away her tears, giving a soft chuckle. "What's so funny?"
"These hormones are killing me," she replied softly, and she could hear his smile through the phone. "Your plane lands at noon tomorrow?"
"Abbey, you don't have to come pick me up, it's fine," Jed said, but she shook her head, even though she knew he couldn't see her.
"Zoey and I will be at the gate," she said firmly, hearing him sigh. "Hurry home, Jed."
"I love you," he said, and she returned the sentiment before hanging up, sighing. She wasn't found of this arrangement, but they did what they could.
"We get to go get Daddy at the gate tomorrow?" Zoey asked excitedly, and Abbey nodded.
"Why don't Lizzie and I get to go?" Ellie asked, obviously disappointed.
"You two will be in school already," Abbey reminded her, tucking some hair behind her daughter's ear. "He'll be here when you get home."
The doorbell rang and Abbey grabbed some cash out of her wallet, walking to the door and exchanging the money for the food, thanking the teenaged delivery boy.
"Girls, go wash your hands, the food is here!" Abbey called, hearing them scamper to the bathroom, fighting each other for control of the sink. She brought the food to the kitchen and opened the box, selecting a small mushroom and pepper slice for herself before taking some salad, and grabbing the lemonade from the fridge.
Liz, Ellie, and Zoey raced back to the table, where Abbey promptly told them to calm down. They prayed and then ate, and Abbey listened to Ellie and Liz both tell her about their day. She only ate part of her dinner; the nausea still hadn't completely dispersed, so she simply sipped her glass of water and listened attentively.
Together they cleaned up, and after checking that Liz and Ellie had finished their homework, they all sat down to watch Zoey's movie pick. Tonight, it was Beauty and the Beast.
Abbey fought to stay awake throughout the cartoon; Zoey's warm body was curled up in her lap, Ellie was on one side, Liz on the other. When it was over and Belle and the prince were married, Abbey carried a sound-asleep Zoey to bed, and ushered her two other stumbling daughters into pajamas and then their beds.
By the time Abbey fell under the covers she was exhausted. She'd started a new load of laundry and folded the newly cleaned things, and straightened up some things for when Jed got home tomorrow afternoon. She curled up in a ball and sighed, closing her eyes.
The warm hand brushing the hair from her face jerked her from her dream; it wasn't until she recognized Jed's soothing voice that the panic fell away.
"I thought you weren't going to be home tonight," she said, still drowsy, but contentment filling her as she snuggled closer to him. His arms slid around her, holding her close, dropping a kiss onto the top of her head.
"I wanted to surprise you," he replied quietly, his hands rubbing her back gently. "I was at the airport when I called earlier."
"Sneaky jackass," she murmured, though the smile on her lips and happiness in her voice counteracted the name. He started to move away and she gave a small moan of complaint, not wanting him to let her go.
"I've gotta take a shower babe; then I'll be back," he whispered, kissing her lips gently. She responded by grabbing his face in her hands, opening her mouth against his and moaning when he responded with his tongue.
"Shower after," she breathed against his lips, opening dark green eyes to his, seeing his resolve to wait lessening. It had been almost two weeks since they'd been intimate and she knew it was killing him too.
He left her briefly to lock the door and to strip off his clothing; she sped up the process by ditching the sleep shorts and over-sized t-shirt she'd worn to bed. He slid into bed in his boxers and she was in only her panties; soon both of those were lost as their kissing resumed, adding in roaming hands under the covers this time.
An hour later they were back in bed after a shower together; too tired to go another round, Abbey had simply enjoyed being around her husband. Under the covers again they had a few minutes of pillow talk, but Abbey was too tired to truly participate; Jed noticed, and drew her into his arms, tucking her head underneath his chin.
"Get some sleep babe," he whispered, kissing her damp hair softly. "I love you."
She mumbled her response back, the blackness of sleep already tugging on her as she cuddled into his warmth.
When she awoke to an empty bed the next morning, she thought she'd merely dreamt the whole thing, but then she heard the excited sounds of three girls, and she smiled to herself. There was no nausea this morning, and she couldn't help but smile wider; things were starting to turn up.
She brushed her teeth before padding downstairs, wrapped in Jed's sweatershirt. She found her husband and daughters in the kitchen, Jed making them pancakes and bacon and listening actively to everything they were telling him about the past two weeks.
"Mommy, I thought Daddy wasn't going to be home until I got home from school!" Ellie said when she noticed Abbey walking into the kitchen, coming over to kiss her good morning. "Were you surprising us, did you know he was going to be here this morning?"
"No, your daddy surprised me too," Abbey said, shaking her head and sending her husband an affectionate smile. "Everyone's ready for school?"
All three girls nodded their heads dutifully, and Zoey reached for her, kissing her cheek when Abbey scooped her up into her arms.
"Mommy, can Daddy come with us to drop me off?" she asked, eyes wide and pleading, and Abbey smiled.
"I can't see why not if he wants to," she said, knowing full well Jed would never miss an opportunity to take Zoey to preschool with her. Zoey swung her head to look at her dad, working her puppy dog eyes on him.
"Pleaseeeeeee Daddy?" Zoey asked, and Jed played around for only a moment, stroking his chin as though in thought. Then he grinned, nodding.
"Of course I'll come Zo," he said, and the little girl squealed. Abbey let her down, coming over to kiss her husband lightly. "Morning babe. I turned off your alarm so you'd sleep, I hope you don't mind."
"I don't mind anything right now, Jed," Abbey said, shaking her head and pouring herself a glass of orange juice. "You're home, that's all that matters to me."
His smile warmed her stomach; God, did she miss him when he was away.
"Mom, can I stay afterschool for math today?" Liz asked, looking up from putting her homework folder in her backpack. "I have a test tomorrow and I want to make sure I know what I'm doing."
"I don't see why not," Abbey said, nodding. "I'd like to pick you up though; I don't want you riding with the high school kids."
"Mom, I'm in eighth grade, I'm practically in high school," Liz whined, but Abbey held her ground. Eventually the teenager gave in, and with that, Jed and Abbey kissed their two oldest daughters goodbye and watched them walk off to the bus stop together.
Leaving Zoey to watch a morning cartoon they headed upstairs, hands intertwined.
"I moved our appointment to nine this morning," Jed said, once they'd shut the door to their bedroom. "So we can drop Zoey off and then go, and not worry about getting your mom to watch her."
"That works out much better," Abbey said, nodding. She tugged her sweatpants off, stretching like a cat and making Jed swallow. "I think we need to tell the girls this afternoon. Jed? Are you listening to me?"
He hadn't been, in fact; his thoughts had been focused on her long legs and her expanding chest; she threw a slipper at him, and he jerked out of his trance.
"Sorry," he muttered, and after she'd repeated herself, he nodded. "And we can tell our parents this week too. Invite them all over for dinner."
Abbey consented, falling back onto the mattress, sighing softly. Jed pushed her t-shirt up gently, lips touching the soft swell of her belly. Her hands threaded lightly into his hair, murmuring in contentment as he kissed her stomach softly.
"We can find out today, you know," she said quietly, and he looked up at her, chin resting on her abdomen. "If we're having a boy or a girl."
"Can we?" Jed asked, eyes lighting up. She nodded, smiling as she stroked her fingers through his hair. He leaned up and kissed her, lips gentle against hers. "Shower time?"
"A boy," Abbey whispered, holding the picture in her lap after their appointment, driving home. Her pointer finger traced the outline of their son, holding her breath. She'd seen Jed's eyes when the doctor had twirled the wand around, finally turning the monitor to show them their baby. Then, she'd asked if they wanted to know the gender; after their eager answers of yes, she'd announced they were having a boy. "Jed, we're having a boy."
He didn't answer; he merely reached over, entwining their fingers and squeezing. She knew he was thrilled; he didn't need to say anything.
They had a quiet rest of the morning; they picked Zoey up and went out to lunch, and then when Ellie and Liz got home, they pulled them all into the living room and sat them down.
"Your dad and I have something we want to tell you guys," Abbey said, glancing at Jed, who nodded. "I know I've been tired more lately, and not always in the mood to play with you girls."
"Are you going to have another baby?" Liz asked when Abbey took a breath, and Abbey's eyes widened slightly at the interruption. Then she nodded, lips parting in a smile.
"Yes we are," she said, looking at all three girls before continuing. "In a few months you girls are going to have a baby brother."
"We get a baby brother?" Ellie asked, perking up slightly. Jed nodded, tucking some of Ellie's dark hair behind her ears.
"Your mom and I found out this morning," he said, and all three eyes widened. "Some things are going to change around here the next few weeks, and we're all going to have to adjust to the idea of a new baby in the house."
All three girls nodded, and were oddly quiet, but both parents had expected that after such big news.
"Do you guys have any questions?" Abbey asked, eyes searching all three faces. Zoey was silent, her face unreadable, and that Abbey worried a little. "Zoey?"
"Am I still gonna be your baby?" she asked, and suddenly her blue eyes were filling with tears. Abbey's heart broke, and she carefully gathered the little girl onto her lap, shushing her gently and wiping away the tears.
"Oh Zoey, you know you'll always be my baby," Abbey said, tucking a few strawberry blonde curls behind the little girl's ear. "Just because there'll be a new baby doesn't mean anything is going to change between the two of us."
"You promise?" Zoey asked tearfully, sniffing as she looked up at her mom. Abbey nodded, sticking her pinky out.
"Promise," she affirmed, and Zoey wound her smaller finger around her mom's. "Ellie? Lizzie? You guys okay?"
Both girls nodded, smiling at her.
"Where's the baby gonna sleep?" Ellie asked, tucking her knees under herself.
"Well, for the first few weeks he'll sleep in Mommy and Daddy's room," Abbey answered, stroking Zoey's hair softly. "Just like all three of you did. And then we're going to convert that guest room upstairs into a nursery."
"Can I help paint it?" Ellie asked, eyes shining eagerly. Abbey nodded, grinning at her daughter's enthusiasm, tweaking her nose.
The rest of the afternoon was blissfully quiet and calm; Abbey took a nap while Jed helped the girls with their homework and made dinner, and then the girls dragged them into a game of 'Sorry' before bed. After Ellie had thoroughly beaten the pants off everyone they finally said goodnight; Jed read to Zoey while Abbey sat down with Ellie.
"Are you excited about the baby?" she asked carefully, tucking her middle daughter in and stroking her hair, brushing her cheek gently with her thumb. Ellie nodded, green eyes so similar to Abbey's sparkling.
"I can't wait to have a brother," she said, but quickly continued. "I mean I love Lizzie and Zoey but I'd like a brother too, I already have two sisters!"
"Well I'm excited too," Abbey said, leaning forward and kissing her daughter's forehead. "I know you're going to be a great help to me these next couple months, especially with Zoey."
Ellie nodded, eager to please her mom.
"Goodnight sweetheart, sleep tight. Daddy'll be in in a few minutes," Abbey said, touching her daughter's cheek once more before standing up, starting Ellie's music box.
She passed Jed in the hall, squeezing his hand lightly before heading into Liz's room, finding the teenager reading in bed.
"Hey Mom," she said, marking her page with her bookmark and shutting it, snuggling up under the covers. Abbey sat on the edge, brushing her daughter's dark hair back from her eyes, smiling. "I'm excited about the baby. Does this mean I get to babysit?"
"It would be very helpful if you could," Abbey said, nodding. "You, your dad and I will talk about it soon, okay?"
Liz nodded, smiling.
"Sleep well, baby," she said, bending to kiss her daughter's forehead. Liz's arms wrapped around her neck, tugging her into a hug Abbey gladly returned. It was unexpected, but then again maybe not- Liz certainly wasn't above needing the reassurance that things with her mother weren't going to change. "I love you so much, Elizabeth."
"I love you too Mommy," Liz said, reverting from her teenaged ways to the little girl that used to tug on Abbey's stethoscope and ask to listen to Daddy's heartbeat. Abbey kissed her daughter's cheek, swallowing the tears in her throat.
She exchanged places with Jed a final time, making her way into Zoey's room and finding the little girl curled up in a ball, her back to the door.
"Zoey?" Abbey asked softly, sitting on the edge of the bed and rubbing her youngest daughter's back. "Baby, talk to Mommy."
"What if the new baby doesn't like me?" Zoey asked in a small voice, still not facing Abbey, but bringing her head a little out of the pillow. "What if the new baby hates me?"
"Oh, sweetheart, the new baby could never hate you, you're his big sister!" Abbey said, gently rolling Zoey over, wiping the tears off her tiny cheeks. "You're going to teach him so many things, and help him and love him so much, he'll never be able to hate you!"
"What if I don't like him?" Zoey asked in an even smaller voice, eyes downcast from her mother's, unable to look at her. "I won't be the baby anymore."
"Oh, Zoey baby," Abbey said, raising her daughter's chin up, looking into her eyes. "I told you, you're always going to be my baby, even when you're twenty years old. And you won't hate the baby; he's your little brother. I didn't always like my little brother, but I'll always love him."
"You didn't always love Uncle Jack?" Zoey asked, eyes widening. Abbey shook her head, smiling down at her daughter.
"He got on my nerves a lot, but he was still my little brother, and I always wanted to protect him," Abbey said, and Zoey's eyes widened further. "And Zo, you do such a good job of protecting me, like today when we took our nap, I just know you'll do a great job of protecting him."
"I wanna do good protecting him Mommy!" Zoey said, and Abbey smiled, kissing her daughter's nose.
"And you will sweet pea," Abbey said, smoothing Zoey's covers. "But to be a good protector you have to sleep. So sweet dreams, Zoey. I love you so very much."
"I love you too, Mommy," Zoey said, snuggling under her comforter, just her tiny reddish blonde head peeking out. "Goodnight!"
Abbey smiled as she left her youngest daughter's room, clicking the door shut softly and heading to her bedroom, where Jed was already half undressed.
"I think that went really well," she said, sinking down onto the edge of the bed, reclining back. "I talked to Zoey, I think we're on the same page now."
"Good," Jed said, tossing his shirt aside and sitting next to her, kissing her temple. "How do you feel, Abbey?"
"Tired," she said truthfully, rubbing a hand down her face. "And I have to go to the hospital tomorrow morning for rounds at seven."
"C'mon; let's get some sleep then, babe," Jed said, blue eyes softened with concern, touching her cheek lightly. Abbey nodded, sighing.
"I was never this tired with the girls," she complained, climbing in beside him, setting her alarm.
"You didn't have three demanding kids already," he reminded her, and she nodded, curling into his side, kissing his jaw lightly. "I'll take 'em to the zoo tomorrow; tire 'em out."
Abbey laughed softly, burying her nose in his neck.
"We should have our parents over for dinner on Friday," she said, feeling him nod against her.
"Sleep, Abbey. We have all weekend to plan."
The following Thursday night, Jed was exhausted, just having arrived back from DC. He was unbuttoning his shirt when Abbey walked in, looking devastated.
"Jed I'm bleeding," she whispered, her eyes filling with terrified tears. He looked confused, noticing the red towel in her hands. Then, he realized it wasn't a red towel.
It was a white towel drenched in blood.