This is the fourth of four stories in the O, Canada series.
Disclaimer: I did not create these characters, unfortunately.
O, Canada: Battered But Not Diminished
A West Wing Story
Abbey who? She was vaguely aware of a low voice swimming through the murky depths of her consciousness. A voice that was recognized around the world, a voice that had commanded powerful forces and inspired a nation, a voice that had made her furious, a voice that had brought tears of laughter to her eyes, and tears of sorrow, a voice that had declared unconditional love, a voice that had driven her mad with seductive, sensually whispered endearments.
"Abbey?" A voice that was persistent.
Abbey who? Oh, me. Okay. She tried to connect her brain and mouth to answer the voice, but all she managed was a mumbled, "Mmm?"
The voice responded anyway. "Happy birthday."
Now she smiled against the chest that housed the lungs that fed the voice. His voice. She had not moved from that position since the incredible explosion that had left her hopelessly melted on top of him. He had promised her the rest of her birthday present, and he made good on his promise – real good. In fact, she was only now managing to get her breathing back under control after he had literally taken it away.
"Mmm." She focused on taking note of the sensations that touched her: the warmth of his strong body beneath her, the delicious tingle of goose pimples rising on her back and hips as his hands caressed lightly, the moistness between them, evidence of their passion. She let her mind wander back to the previous hour – or was it two – they had spent after making a hasty and obvious retreat from the party.
Escaping from her own birthday celebration had proved a little more difficult than she had hoped, and when they finally slid desperately out into the hall, after wishing the Ambassadors of Belgium, Peru, and Something-or-other-ikstan goodnight, Abbey caught C.J.’s eye. The Press Secretary, now minus shoes and in Toby’s arms on the dance floor, smiled and tossed her a knowing salute. Abbey flushed, but inclined her head in acknowledgement and returned her friend’s grin. She and Jed were trying hard to be dignified in their stroll through the White House, but she sensed eagerness in his step, and completely admitted to it in hers.
"You okay?" His voice drew her back to him. He obviously tried to sound casual, but she saw the unmasked concern in his eyes.
"Sure." Okay. Don’t go there again. Decision made. Consequences accepted. Change the subject, Abbey. "Do you think I should have let John Marbury grasp my breasts?" she asked, disarmingly innocent.
That worked. Too bad Allen Funt wasn’t there with his Candid Camera to capture the perfect double take. But he recovered and gamely fell into the banter.
"Well, it would have been good for Anglo-American relations. I’ll bet he’d have forgotten all about Brendan McGann."
She grinned, relieved to see him abandoning the subject of her license. "So would you."
Jed laughed. "So would the rest of the world after I punched him in the nose."
Amused, but also a little pleased by the hint of honest emotion behind his words, Abbey leaned into him and asked, in a stage whisper, "Would you like to grasp my breasts?" She smirked as she saw the widened eyes of the secret service agent they passed.
A brow lifted. "I dunno. What’s in it for me?"
"A night of unbelievable ecstasy."
He was not quite successful at suppressing the burst of desire that appeared in his eyes. Pursing his lips and managing an unconvincing air of disinterest, he shrugged and said, "Gee, I kind of thought I’d watch women’s lacrosse on ESPN Two, but if you really want me to…"
The two secret service agents outside their door straightened a little more, if that was possible, as they neared. Jed turned the knob and guided her in, his hand warm against the small of her back. She chuckled as she heard his orders.
"Absolutely no interruptions, guys. Unless it’s—"
The guard with the most solemn expression finished for him, "Grace Kelly or Marilyn Monroe, Sir."
Abbey shook her head. He’d always had a thing for glamorous movie stars of the ‘50s. She figured it was because his first pre-pubescent sexual interest blossomed in that decade. But since both of those women were dead, she felt relatively secure for the evening. Then, the door closed and they were alone.
"So," Jed said, tossing dinner jacket and unraveled tie on a chair, "what do you want to—"
Before he could finish, Abbey had grabbed his shirtfront, pulling the tails out of his waistband, and jerked him against her, her mouth hard on his. She didn’t think she could wait, not after the frustrating delay at the party. But he apparently had other plans.
"Uh uh," he said, wagging a finger at her and easing her body away from him. "Your birthday present, remember? I wasn’t finished."
The promise in his eyes sent a flame straight to the pit of her belly and she knew that she trembled as he turned her in his arms and kissed her gently, then began undressing her with torturous deliberateness. He moved slowly, caressing a shoulder, then a thigh, then behind a knee, ignoring her pleadings for more. Finally, his mouth touched her, softly at first, then with increasing pressure that set off tingling electric pulses. He brought her to the edge again and again, but refused to let her to go over. Sometime along the way, she managed to finish tearing off his shirt and rid him of his pants and boxers, bringing another almost overwhelming wave as he pulsed hard against her. When she drew too close, he paused, letting her tight muscles relax enough to keep her just below the breaking point. Throbbing nerves screamed for him to let her go, but he toyed with her.
"Holy Mother, Jed Bartlet," she gasped, neck arched back onto the pillow. "You’re a sadist."
He paused to grin up at her. "Oh no, Hot Pants, that’s for later."
Dodging her feeble swat, he returned to his mission. Just when she was contemplating if this constituted spousal abuse, he stopped and slid up the bed, lying on his back. Taking her in his arms, he lifted her so that she straddled him, and slowly eased into her. Oh God! That was what she had been waiting for. The sensation raced along her ravaged nerves and launched her into a dizzy ascent that could only end in orgasmic fireworks. Still teasing her unmercifully, he pumped hard, then slowed and held back. Sweat glistened on both their faces as she arched above him. She tried to thrust down, to relieve the almost unbearable ache in her loins, but he wouldn’t let her. He placed his hand on her stomach and smiled up at her, and she gritted her teeth, fighting for control. It wasn’t easy. Again and again she knew she could not hang on and gasped his name, begging for release, but he controlled her with his hands, his voice.
His name was torn from her throat as she reached the absolute limit of her endurance. As many years as they had been lovers, he knew that cry, and she knew he would hear the desperation in her voice. Sure enough, he pushed up hard, thrusting deep inside her and she cried out, trembling at the magnificent agony he had caused.
"All right, Babe," he coaxed, his own voice hoarse. "Here we go."
She gritted her teeth and groaned, feeling him push into her several more times before her tortured nerves realized they could let go. As the first wave of release washed over her, her breath caught and tears welled at her eyes. She bucked against him over and over, hands clawing at his hips, forcing her eyes open to watch his face contort with the pleasure she was giving him.
"Abbey!" His choked cry echoed her own, ragged with emotion.
He came then, hard bursts inside her again and again, until they froze with the final, nearly unbearable spasms. As the amazing sensation began to fade, she felt a pang of disappointment that it had to end, but reassured herself that their night was not over by any means. After all, she still owed him, now even more. Treasuring the feel of him inside her, Abbey leaned forward, kissing his lips softly and resting her head on his chest.
"…present?" The voice drew her back to the present.
"I said, ‘Did you like your present?’" This was more of a rhetorical question, she figured. Her reaction to his gift had been loudly obvious.
Finally, she summoned enough energy to respond in English. "Eh. It’ll do in a pinch. They were out of nail kits at Wal-Mart, huh?"
A deep rumble in his chest indicated his amusement. "Yeah. And I knew this wouldn’t really be enough."
What? The sound of paper crinkling was loud at her ear and she turned to see him holding a neatly wrapped rectangle about the size of a medical chart against the pillow. It caught a bit of light in the semi-darkness and she saw silvery reflection.
Just as she tried to reach for it, a tap on the door knifed into their peace. Oh no! Please not now, she pleaded silently. Not now when I have him to myself. Maybe the secret service agents would force the interloper away, or shoot him or something. They could do that, couldn’t they? Abbey thought of them standing on the other side of the threshold, and the fresh memory of the sounds she knew she and Jed had made brought a hot flush to her cheeks. She looked down at her husband, who still held the package. He shook his head. Don’t answer.
The intruder knocked again, a little harder this time. "Jed…" she whispered.
"Pizza man," he murmured. "Don’t answer it."
Okay. Sure. She took the time to enjoy the feel of his body beneath hers, his chest hair tickling her breasts, his right hand rubbing up and down her back and hip. It would only last a moment longer. Somewhere within her logical brain cells she knew he would have to answer the door. But now, she wanted him for just a few more—
This knock was accompanied by an almost pleading entreaty. "Mister President?"
Charlie. Despite the irritation at his untimely interruption, Abbey felt an instant sympathy for unfortunate young man.
"Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!" Jed, forced to abandon his fantasy about the Pizza man, spat out the curses, sliding her off him and onto the bed, and snatched up a pair of pajama bottoms, pulling them on as he flung open the door and greeted the hapless assistant with a less-than-courteous "What the hell do you want?"
Letting her eyes enjoy the view of Jed’s broad back, Abbey listened, sympathetic both to Charlie and to her husband, whose sharp anger dissipated with his messenger’s information. A situation. Of course. What else would it be? Even on her birthday, or birthday event, they couldn’t have an entire night uninterrupted.
As they spoke in sotto voice at the door, she ran her hands over the smooth, silvery gift paper and snatched a nail through one of the side folds. The wrapping ripped easily and she held up the present, trying to see what it was by the pale outside light. As Jed opened the door a little wider, a beam fell across the bed and she found herself looking at an impossibly young couple, grinning, their arms around each other. The girl wore the robes of a medical school graduate and the boy was so handsome in that navy suit she had given him for their first anniversary. Even through the two-dimensional photograph, their love was visible, illuminating the entire scene. She had not seen the picture in years, and the last time it had been on a table at her parents’ house. The tears that suddenly welled up in her eyes stung and reminded her how much had happened since that day of innocent elation. She understood, too, why he gave this to her now. On this night. Before the next morning. Oh, Jed. What a sweet jackass you can be sometimes.
When he glanced back at her and told Charlie to give him ten minutes, she placed the picture on the bedside table, pulled the covers up around her and cursed, a little more loudly than she had intended. Charlie probably heard that. Well…good. Even though Charlie was just the messenger, Abbey needed someone to be aware of her displeasure at the disruption. She hadn’t gotten to pay Jed back for the South Lawn, and she had promised him interest to boot, not that he hadn’t already enjoyed himself immensely. No doubt about that, but she wanted to treat him, to tease him, to give back as good as she got. Now… Damn it.
Vaguely, she heard something about twenty minutes and then Jed was under the covers with her again, his pajamas discarded, his lips on her neck, her breasts, her stomach and lower. Oh, no. Laying the frame on the side table, she braced herself to resist his touch that had already begun to make her skin tingle, pushing him off, catching his eyes and giving him her best seductive stare.
"My turn, Jethro," she said, voice husky. "You forget I owe you…with interest."
"We only have twenty minutes," he reminded her, bending to nuzzle her neck despite her protests.
"On our wedding night you only needed ten."
He blushed and grinned, raising his head to look at her. "Hey, I was going to be a priest. You know celibacy is tough on a guy. Besides, I’ve practiced since then."
"That you have." This was an understatement. It hadn’t taken him long at all to become a skilled lover and she knew he could last all night, if necessary. But they really didn’t have much time now, and she was determined to knock his socks off before he had to leave.
"Remember that debt I owe?"
"Um hmm." His mouth was busy nibbling at her ear.
Instead of answering verbally, she pushed him back on the bed and leaned over him, licking his chest with sensuous swirls, then slowly sliding down his body. When she reached her destination, she teased, caressing all around him, lingering on his upper thighs and just below his navel, but studiously avoiding the straining erection. Maybe they did have enough time, if he cooperated and didn’t practice self-control. As if in answer, his hips rose from the bed hungrily, trying to find her, but she pulled back. His groan was agonized, desperate, and utterly enjoyable, and she smiled, happy that she could bring him this pleasure, too. Finally, she checked the clock, glaring irritatingly from the bedside table. Damn. Twelve minutes had already passed. Okay. No more messing around.
She took him in abruptly, hands touching him intimately, mouth drawing him deeper. He gasped, thrust upwards and cried out her name again, allowing himself to be taken quickly toward climax. She felt the pressure build in him, heard his breathing quicken, saw his mouth open in a silent groan. In a moment he was swept away, holding her head in place with gentle, but insistent hands as he rocked back and forth. When he finally sprawled back onto the bed, hands dropping to his sides, she propped on one elbow and looked at him. Looked at his strong body, his handsome face, his blue eyes, his wild hair. The love she felt for this man, even after so many years, grabbed at her heart and squeezed.
Oh, Jed, she thought, what a good man you are. I need to tell you that more often. Her hand pushed the hair back over his eyes and he shifted to meet her gaze.
"You like your presents?" he murmured.
"All of them." She knew he would realize she was including the photograph.
"Did you read it?"
Huh? "Read what?"
Now, he smiled and his eyes closed. Reaching to the table, he lifted the picture and handed it back to her. In the dark, she couldn’t make out the newly handwritten inscription, but she didn’t need to. He quoted it to her from memory.
"’She was there, in the full vigor of her personality, battered but not diminished.’ It’s by Willa Cather, from My Antonia."
She couldn’t speak, couldn’t manage a response at all, the swell at her throat threatened to cut off her breath. So she ducked her head and tried to hide against his shoulder, but he shifted and took her face in his square hands.
"I don’t know if I’ve ever told you that I am so proud of you, Abbey."
She felt the quiver at her lip, just as she had at the party when he had professed his love. He held on to her, his thumbs moving just barely to caresses her cheeks.
"They can’t take away from you what you did, what you have done, who you are. It doesn’t matter what happens later today, or tomorrow, or next week," he said, his voice deep and open. "You are Abigail Bartlet, battered…" – now the voice faltered -- "…because of me, but not diminished." He paused to regain the power in his tone. "You are an excellent doctor, a dignified First Lady, a loving mother. And you are the rest of me. My God, I love you, Abbey."
She wiped the tear that slid down his face and it mixed with her own tears on her fingers. Maybe he was a jackass, but he was the most wonderful jackass in the world. Oh how she loved him. And whatever happened tomorrow, after she gave up what was most important to her, apart from him and the girls, she would still be Abbey Bartlet, still be First Lady, still be the rest of him.
She lowered her wet face to his and let their lips brush together, no passion for the moment, no lust, just deep, unquestioned love. She fought back the urge to burst out into sobs, to cling to him. Instead, she focused on bringing the conversation back to a more manageable emotional level.
"Where did you find the quote?" she asked.
He knew what she was doing. She smiled at the brow that rose in mock insult. "I happen to have some knowledge of literature. I almost selected an appropriate comment from Elbert Hubbard."
"What was it?"
"’Life is just one damned thing after another.’"
She laughed. Too close to the truth.
"It’s from The Philistine," he continued, his voice transforming dangerously into the tone of a lecturing professor. "Published in 1909. Sometimes this quote is attributed to Frank Ward O’Malley, but—"
She glanced at the clock. Time was up. They had even overshot the extra ten minutes Charlie bought for them. She had so many things to say, but he knew them already. So instead she settled for sending him off with a lighter thought, a simple reminder.
"Yes, it was," he agreed. "Next time—"
Her fingers touched his lips and he stopped. "No. You’ll be back and I’ll be waiting. It will still be THIS time. I owe you, remember?"
He chuckled. "You took care of that debt already."
Her hair tickled his chest as she shook her head and grinned at him, eyes flashing with re-ignited desire. "That," she said, caressing him intimately, "was the principle. Wait ‘till you get the interest."
"As I confronted her, the changes grew less apparent to me, her identity stronger. She was there, in the full vigor of her personality, battered but not diminished, looking at me, speaking to me in the husky, breathy voice I remembered so well." – Willa Cather, My Antonia, Book V.