Disclaimer: If I had created these great characters, owned the show, or received any money for writing this story, believe me - I would let you know all about it.Zoey's Nightmare by Linda Bindner
A/N: Thanks to Silver Ash for being such a great beta. Takes place in first season.
The classroom door slammed open one last time, and a youngish man strode down the nearest aisle between the bored looking students. He walked right up to the teacher's desk in the front of the room and plopped a cloth briefcase that had seen better days onto the scarred metal desktop.
The students all looked at each other in confusion. This wasn't supposed to be their teacher. According to their class schedules, they had been assigned someone named 'Dana Jones.' And as 'Dana' was a girls' name, they had all expected some female to be staring at them right about now, not this wannabe beatnick guy with bad hair.
In spite of looking silly due to his unruly hair, the man jumped right in, saying, "Yo guys - no, your schedules are right on the money - I'm Dana Jones - Dana-the-guy not Dana-the-girl - just call me Mr. Jones if you don't believe me. And this is Math Lab - not Calculus For Dummies, not Algebra -101, not Number Theory Without the Theory, but Math Lab. Got it? As in Math L.A.B. - Lab. We're going to be doing Addition, Subtraction, Algebra, Calculus, Game Theory, Number Theory, Trigonometry... This is a 'You Name It Math Class.' According to your SAT Math scores, you're not quite up to snuff yet in the math department, so I'm here to assist you in brushing up on your skills in a lab setting so you can pass on into one of those remedial, beginner math classes that the university requires you to take. With any luck, you won't fail out of those beginners classes, nor will you fail to pass on from this one." He glanced up at them and smirked. "Imagine how embarrassing it would be to tell your parents that you flunked out of Math Lab, for Chrissake."
One of the students interrupted this monologue. "We're not supposed to cuss with the Lord's name like that - it's a Commandment."
The beatnick guy in front just waved one hand in the general direction of the voice. "Yeah, yeah... whatever. Religious studies is down the hall..." Again that smirk crept across his face. "... and it's held during the day - guess that religious dudes can't think at night... not like us, who will be in MATH LAB..." He yelled the words. "... studying our butts off so that we can at least pass some dumb math class and graduate where we will make sure never to do math again... cause surely math has no place in real life, does it?"
The boy to Zoey's left piped up, "You got it, man. Math don't belong in reality... got no call to use it, ever."
"Riiiiight." The teacher... professor... student assistant... grad student... or whatever he was - lifted his head so that he could stare at the boy who had just spoken. "You would never need to... say... balance your checkbook, would you?"
The boy scoffed. "Balancing checkbooks?" he repeated in an incredulous voice. "That's what the bank is for!"
"Yeah... okay," teacher man said. "That bank that you trust to balance your checkbook for you... it just ripped you off by $100.00. And since they know, and have known for years, that you clearly never balance your own checkbook - 'cause obviously you're too stupid to do it yourself, since you let some clerk do it for you... and have for years... they'll make sure to add that $100 you just donated to the other money they've been skimming off your account for years... because you never notice... because you can't add... and when you try, you get it wrong... because you always do when you try to add in front of the bank clerk..."
"Hey," broke in the same student. "Is it my fault that I go all crazy when I have to add under pressure?"
Dana Jones smiled. Zoey felt it wise not to smile in return. "Then thank you for your donation, Mr..?"
"Justin. The name's Justin."
"No, it's Mr. Alvers. Justin's my first name."
"No," Dana said, shaking his head. "Your name is now please-take-advantage-of-me-because-I'm-stupid." The boy student glared and started to make a response that sounded something like, "I am not stu..!"
Dropping the persona of arrogant math jerk, Dana Jones suddenly grinned. "I hope you're not stupid. But if you don't even balance your checkbook because you can't, then you can be sure that someone will eventually figure this out and use this information against you, and if you're lucky, they'll only get $100 out of the deal. I'm here..." He waved at the whole class. "We're all here... to make sure that won't happen." He turned back to his briefcase, rifled through some papers, then abruptly turned back to the class. "Oh, and I'm here to help you graduate. But that's a minor point..." His voice trailed off as he found what he was looking for in the briefcase and pulled a piece of paper out. "This here's my class roll. When I say your name, answer 'here' or I'll mark you absent - three absences mean you've dropped this class and won't get credit for it." He looked up in wonder. "Oh, yeah - that's right... you already don't get credit for this class!" He laughed at his own joke, but nobody else did. He cleared his throat in a nervous gesture. "Okay - Paul Abbot."
"Here against my better judgment."
Dana responded without missing a beat. "Ah, good, a comedian. We'll need a little laughter to keep us awake during a night class like this. Jody Banes."
Zoey perked up enough to respond, "Here."
The man's smirk was back in evidence. "Bartlet. Any relation to The President?" His growing smile and general attitude of disbelief let everyone know exactly what he expected to hear.
Just like she and Gina-the-new-security-agent had discussed before school started that day, Zoey looked embarrassed as she softly replied, "Yeah. He's my dad." Might as well tell them up-front, Gina had figured. That way she and Zoey would know that everyone already knew their secret, and it couldn't be used to lord it over their heads by anyone.
And anyway, Zoey loved to watch the face of the person she'd just told about her parentage - it was the only thing that made that parentage bearable at times like this. At first, there was a general attitude of disbelief, then when she didn't change her story, total gaping silence. At long last, her words finally sank in. A micro second later, the suddenly blank faces of her fellow students went completely ashen as if all the blood had recently fallen to their toes.
So it was with this Dana person. His face went pathetically white. His eyes bugged out of his head. He looked like a Biology experiment gone terribly wrong. Or, at least, that's how she imagined a Bio experiment going bad would look. Actually, she had no idea. Biology wasn't her thing. Neither were experiments. She just loved watching what she was watching.
At the same time, she hated that kind of reaction. It meant that she was suddenly no longer anonymous, no longer just one of the guys. Because OhMyGod! - she was The President's daughter.
Which meant that life was now going to be about him instead of about her. And the last time she checked, she was the Georgetown University student, not her dad. But it happened every time: she faded into the background, and President Bartlet's daughter, celebrity extraordinaire, took her place.
And she could see it happening again. "You're not serious?" Dana Jones asked, still staring in astonishment at Zoey.
Zoey sounded reluctant now. "Yeah - but don't tell him - please," she entreated, her reluctant voice suddenly ringing with beseeching persuasion as she glanced at those in the room. "Please don't any of you tell." She faced forward again. "My dad... He's this number genius or something, and I can't..."
"... can't balance your checkbook?" Dana guessed in amusement mixed with terror.
"Yeah." Zoey hesitantly nodded, and continued in an imploring tone. "Can you imagine having this Economics/Nobel Award Winner for a father, and I can't even add a bunch of numbers together? If he ever finds out that I'm in Math Lab, he'll make me study math until I puke, then lecture me until I die on the uses of doing it myself rather than using a calculator."
Dana smiled again, slow and lazy. "Well, we can't have that. You got that, everyone? No puking in Math Lab." He considered. "Crying is acceptable... but no puking." His gaze swept over the room. "What do you say, guys? Can we keep Zoey from puking?"
"Not a word!"
"Yeah, man - mum's the word!"
"You can count on me."
"I won't say nothin' - 'cause the President, he don't listen to me anyway... I'm just this invisible adviser..."
Zoey smiled shyly and gave her head a bob. "Thanks. I really appreciate it." She imbued her voice with just enough warmth to denote her sincerity.
Keeping information from The President wasn't something that any of the other students had much, if any, experience with. But hiding information from nosy parents... that was another thing altogether.
With his own head bob, Dana agreed for the entire class, then continued calling roll. "Claudia Canes."
"Juan Cajonez - geez, is that name real?"
"It's pronounced 'Kahones.' And I'm here."
Dana looked to the far corner at the boy sitting there. "I hope you're here, Mr..."
"Señor Cajonez, or we'd all be worried that we're having a mass hallucination."
The class laughed, forgetting all about Zoey in a heartbeat.
With that, Gina-the-security-agent leaned forward until her lips were right next to Zoey's ear. "Getting them on your side - that was well done."
Zoey grinned, victorious. "Thanks."
Gina continued. "I like the way you didn't tell them that I'll shoot them if they so much as utter a word to your dad."
Zoey grimaced. "I thought I'd better leave that part off for now."