Dealing With The Future
Summary: The making of the "deal"
Feedback: Feedback is greatly appreciated.
I watch from the wings as the applause dies down. The debate is over and he's done it. In a few days the man I married is going to be the President-Elect of the United States. But for now he's just my husband who's struggling to stay on his feet in front of a national television audience. Leo catches my eye as I plead for him to get Jed off the stage. He nods a little and leans over to shake Jed's hand, tugging him gently towards the steps.
Fifteen minutes later we're getting settled into our hotel suite. I am trying to help Jed out of his suit and into a pair of pajamas. He's being his usual stubborn self and is trying to insist on going to celebrate with the rest of the group down in the bar, despite the fact that he's already stripped down to his boxers and socks. He's starting to realize that's not going to happen as he struggles to walk to the bathroom by himself. I try to convince myself that the trouble he's having is from the ear infection I diagnosed this afternoon, along with the fever and his general exhaustion. But I'm not having a whole lot of luck in that department. I know it could be an "episode", as Jed prefers to call it. He can deny it all he wants. And so all of this is leading up to a conversation that I need to have with Jed, and soon. One that he's not going to like, not at all.
“Jed, you ok in there?" I yell as I hang his suit up in the closet.
A groan is the only response I get so I head across the room to the bathroom. I push the door open and manage to get a good look at him before he notices me. He's sitting on the floor with his back against the wall, head back, eyes closed. He's got his arms wrapped around himself and in general he looks like crap. On the plus side, he's managed to put on his pajamas. I sneak out of the room and grab my medical bag off the bed. He cracks one eye open as I sit down next to him.
"Hey." he sighs, not opening his eyes fully.
"Hey yourself. You did well, you know that? I honestly had my doubts." I admit softly.
"Me too. I didn't know if I was still going to be standing when it was all over."
"Open up." I say as I grab the thermometer out of the bag.
"What ever happened to the ear one?" he whines as he puts it in his mouth.
"I like this one better, it gives me three minutes of peace and quiet."
He just smirks, as well as he can with the thermometer in his mouth.
I press my hand against his cheek to take a guess at how hot he's running at the moment.
"101." I mutter to myself.
I get up to grab the Advil off of the counter and get him a bottle of water. I get back as he's taking the thermometer out of his mouth and trying to read it without his glasses.
"Pretty close," he says as he squints at the mercury. "100.8"
"How's your ear?" I ask as I hand him the pills and the water.
"Better, I guess."
He nods his head ever so slightly, not wanting to admit it.
"Sick to your stomach?"
He nods again with a look that says he's really trying not to puke.
He just shrugs his shoulders a little as his head falls back against the wall and his eyes close again. I consider helping him up so he can crawl into bed but something tells me that leaving him in the bathroom is a good idea.
Two minutes later that proves to have been a very good idea as Jed is leaning over the toilet throwing up what little he's eaten today.
"Shh, it's ok...relax...take a deep breath...I'm right here." I murmur into his ear as I hold his head and rub his back.
Ten minutes later he's still on floor trying to catch his breath. I wet a washcloth and wipe his face as he starts to regain a little color.
"You think you can get up?"
He nods and holds out his hands so I can pull him to his feet. We manage to make our way to the bed with a minimal amount of trouble. I tuck him in and hand him the ginger ale.
"Did you take the antibiotic?"
"Uh, yeah but I uh..."
"Puked it back up?" I ask, trying not to smirk.
He nods with a weak smile.
"Well, you have two options, you can take another dose and see if it stays down or you can drop your pants."
"Well, gee, when you put it that way." he smirks as he pushes the covers back a little. "I don't want to put anything on my stomach other than ginger ale."
I get the injection ready and administer it quickly. By the time I've changed into my own pajamas Jed's nearly asleep, sitting up trying to watch Leno. I nudge him a little to get him to lie down and I cover him up.
I wander around the suite for a while, trying to decide just how to bring up what I need to bring up. It wouldn't be easy, that's for sure.
Jed's so set on being President, it's downright scary. And I couldn't be more proud of him. But when all of this started he was such a long shot, the proverbial dark horse. It was almost like a game. A game he started to win, against all the odds. Everything happened so fast and he had been so healthy for months that if it weren't for the Betaseron injections and the physical he had to take, we might have been able to forget about the MS all together. Being in remission, the physical showed nothing, as we knew it would. So we just kept things to ourselves, probably not the best course of action but by the time we realized we should have come clean things were so far along that it seemed...I don't know...we just kept quiet, and we shouldn't have.
So now, I've come to a conclusion. One that will probably piss off my husband to no end. One that will probably be the start of the biggest fight we've ever had. But it's something I feel so strongly about that I don't care what he says. He's my husband and I'd like to keep him around as long as I can and if that means curbing his Presidential career, then so be it.
Jed moaning a little in his sleep brings me out of my thoughts. I sit down next to him and plant a kiss on his cheek. He's still warm. I wet a washcloth and place it on his forehead before crawling into bed next to him.
Something wakes me a few hours later. I lean over to glance at the clock, it's a little after 3. Jed's not in the bed; I can hear the water running in the bathroom. Sliding my feet into my slippers I pad across the room to check on him.
"Honey you ok?" I ask as I knock softly on the door.
He comes out a second later looking pretty good, considering. "I'm fine, just had to go to the bathroom. I took more Advil too, I don't think the other dose had much chance to work" he says with a smirk.
He wanders around the room for a few minutes. That gives me time to take a good look at him. He's steady on his feet, something he wasn't when we got back to the room. His color's a little better, or at least from what I can see in the dim light.
"I'm fine, just restless. Why don't you just go back to sleep. I'll be fine." he assures me as he opens up a dresser drawer.
"What are you doing?" I sigh as I lean against the door to the bathroom in an effort to stay upright.
"Looking for a sweatshirt. I need some air, I'm going to go sit on the balcony." he mutters.
"Jed, it's 3 in the morning, not to mention the end of October." I say with a tired grin.
"Abbey," he whines, "I just need some air."
I grab his sweatshirt off the back of the bathroom door and toss it to him. He pulls it on and throws his jacket on over his head. I see him pat his pockets down searching for something.
"One cigarette Jed." I say as I climb back into bed.
I hear him mutter something under his breath but I can't quite make it out and I'm sure I don't really want to hear it anyway. Even though I am exhausted I can't seem to settle down long enough to fall asleep.
"If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." I say to the empty room as I pull on a sweatshirt of my own and head outside.
Jed puts out his cigarette in the large potted plant next to the lounge chair he's stretched out on when he hears me open the sliding door. I glance to see about 3 or 4 butts in the plant already. I hold out my hand silently and he hands over the rest of the pack and the lighter. I shove both in my pocket and motion for him to sit up a little so I can sneak in behind him.
"I couldn't sleep either." I say as I pull him back against me and kiss the top of his head. "You feeling any better?"
"Yeah, a little."
"Feel like talking?"
He shrugs his shoulders a little and sighs with an edge of annoyance to his voice.
"Jed, I was really scared today. The doctor in me knows that most likely all the problems today were from an ear infection but I can't help but worry..."
"Do you know? Do you really think how the presidency could affect your health? Or do you just think about how your health will affect your presidency?"
"Isn't that the same thing?"
"Not at all. Your health has got to come first Jed. Don't you get that?"
"I get it. Why are you bringing this up now? It wasn't an episode, at least I don't think it was."
"Doesn't matter if it was or not there are a few things we need to talk about. Things we should have talked about long ago."
"Why now? Why not 6 months ago?"
"Because 6 months ago this was still a game. Now it's reality. Josiah Bartlet, you're about to become the President of the United States."
He squeezes my hand. "I know, pretty exciting isn't it?"
"Terrifying is more like it. There's something I need to say. Please listen to me and let me finish. OK?"
He nods and snuggles deeper into my embrace. With a deep breath I gather together my thoughts and dive right in.
"Assuming you win next week I want you to promise me something."
"Well, you know what the statistics are on relapsing/remitting MS turning into secondary progressive are, right?"
Another nod against my chest.
"I want you to promise me you won't seek re-election."
It takes him a few seconds to react and he does so pretty much as I expected. He untangles himself from my arms and sits up straight.
"I haven't even gotten elected yet and already you're talking about re-election. I think you're moving a little fast Abigail."
"I don't think so. Jed, you're going to make a great President. And you're going to love it. From the official stuff, the pomp and circumstance all the way down to the little things, like the Presidential M&M's on Air Force One."
I reach out to put my hand on his shoulder and he flinches. I pull my hand back as quickly as if I had touched a hot burner.
"Jed, I am scared to death about this. I love you more than anything in this world and I don't want to see you run yourself into the ground. I want my husband around for a long time to come. Do you get that?"
He nods with his head in his hands.
"Please say something." I plead softly.
"One term?" he whispers as he falls back against me.
"Yeah." I say as I brush back the lock of hair that never wants to stay in place.
"And we still try to keep it to ourselves?"
I hesitate for a minute and then realize that's his bargaining chip in this deal. In exchange for one term I agree to continue to do my best to keep his illness private.
"As long as it's possible."
"Deal." I say as I wrap my arms tightly around him and hold on for dear life.