Habeas Corpus
by Abaddon

"I've told the Special Counsel. I've told Leo. I've told Josh, and Sam - and Toby, that was a fun experience. Do you know he glares more intently than my husband? I didn't even know that was possible."

CJ flicked through the papers on her desk, barely aware of the words. It was a familiar stall tactic: Abbey preferred to keep up the illusion of her geniality for the most part, so she'd rather babble the way through the conversation in hope that CJ would eventually give up. Sadly for her, CJ was about the only other person in the White House who was just as stubborn as she was.

"You haven't told me yet."

"I shouldn't need to. You're not a member of my staff."

"That's correct, Mrs. Bartlet-"

"Please, CJ, call me Abbey." There was the bonhomie she exuded to people, but as always there was a faint note of bitterness amongst the honeyed tone. The gossip was that the First Lady hadn't even been consulted before the President's decision to run again, and that could only make her typical belligerence worse. Abbey was the kind of person who thought that if you just stuck to your guns and hit people over the head with your opinion often enough they would invariably listen to you. She'd made enemies in Washington even before the President had moved in.

"Abbey, I am press secretary to your husband. Your testimony-"

"Testimony, CJ, you make it sound like a court case!" Abbey's voice threatened to dissolve into laughter, the derision making it very clear exactly what she thought of this little chat.

CJ closed the manila folder that she'd been flipping through, lacing her fingers it flat against the surface. "It could be," she replied evenly, and tried not to feel so smug at the sudden start of anger in Abbey's eyes. "I'm not going to judge your conduct as a doctor or wife - I can't, for one thing - but we both know that when we release this no matter how carefully we prepare it's going to get out of control."

"Things always get out of our control, we can't help that." Abbey buffed her nails on her lapel. CJ tried not to grind her teeth together.

"No, but this thing will certainly involve senate hearings, possibly leading to impeachment. We need to be covered for anything they could throw at us. So I need to know exactly what you've said and how you'll say it when the press start asking questions."

"I've told everyone else!" Abbey exclaimed, and threw her hands up in the air. "I can count every single one of them off for you, including dates, times and location of conversation. Hell, CJ, I've probably even told the damn janitor! You can ask him for Christ's sake!"

"Still doesn't explain why you're not telling me," CJ replied easily, and resisted the impulse to lie back in her chair.

"Because I'm sick of telling everyone how I flouted medical ethics and jepoardised my husband's political career in order to prolong it. Newsweek called me Lady Macbeth simply because of the first six months of this presidency. I don't especially look forward to the sequel." She shifted in the chair, looking back at the door, and CJ could her fingers tense on the arms of the chair. CJ's eyes flicked across to the door too, and she quickly hurled herself out around the desk, managing to slam the office door shut and pressed herself back against it, arms and legs spread wide.

"What are you doing, CJ?" Abbey asked in a low, almost vicious tone.

"I'm doing my best imitation of Leonardo Da Vinci's 'X Man'," CJ told her, batting her eyelashes. "In truth, I'm refusing to let you leave until you tell me your side of the story."

Abbey curled her fingers into claws and broke away from the door with a frustrated groan, sinking back into the chair and in a flat, brittle tone told CJ everything she wanted to know. Once it was all over, she turned her head to glare at the woman standing in front of the door. "There?" she asked, and CJ stepped aside, opening the door with a wide smile.

Raising herself from her chair with a regal dignity, Abbey made her way across the threshold of the room.

"It's a she, you know."


"The janitor. Or at least the cleaning staff member responsible for this section of the West Wing. Her name's Santa Sofia de la Piedad. She has three children, and when I'm working here as I often am, she comes in and empties my trash can."

Abbey glowered at her. "You made that up."

"I did not."

"You did too. Santa Sofia de la Piedad is the name of a character in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, which I'll have you know I read at one time."

"Damn doctors. Why don't you just stick to cutting people up?"

Abbey laid a reassuring hand against CJ's abdomen, giving her a brief pat, and stood on her toes to brush her lips across the taller woman's cheek, before sweeping out the door. CJ took a deep breath, cocked her head to one side, and then shrugged, deciding she had far too much work to do.


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