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This story is No. 7 in the series "Penultimate". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: The year is 2008, and tongues are wagging in DC about a potential, unlikely candidate for the Senate. But are they right? Is A/U after Season 1 of West Wing.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Television > West Wing > GeneralNorwegianneFR15109,65611626,49831 Oct 042 Sep 07No


Disclaimer: I claim no ownership to characters or settings from the television shows: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, The West Wing, Step by Step, Gilmore Girls, The Pretender, Sex and the City, Cheers/Frasier, from the Harry Potter books, or other material referenced. Said other material will be properly disclaimed at appropriate times.

Rating: PG-13

Summary: The year is 2008, and tongues are wagging in DC about a potential, unlikely candidate for the Senate. But are they right?

Notes: This is the main story in the Penultimate-verse. The prequels, which may be preferable to read beforehand, can be found the following places:

Syringa Vulgaris



This land is your land

Running into friends of old friends


They might be good to have as a backstory, but I won’t force you to read them. (How can I?)

Timeline: We go off the West Wing timeline after the final episode of season one. Have you read Syringa Vulgaris it will be obvious to you why I’ve done that. Buffy goes off the official timeline after Hells Bells.

I am not American, nor do I claim to be an expert on any of this. Therefore I’d like to express my gratitude to Captain Boulanger who was an excellent sounding board when I first came up with the idea over a year ago. I’d also like to thank Booster and Lemming for reading through the first parts, and giving me valuable feedback on them.

If there are some things that are unclear, ask, and I’ll do my best to answer.

It's choice - not chance - that determines your destiny.

Jean Nidetch

But may I cure that habit,

Look up and outwards

And may my feet follow my wider glance

First no doubt to stumble, then to walk with the others

And in the end - with time and luck - to dance.

- Canto III by Louis MacNeice

1. Stand beside her

26. September 2008

Manchester, New Hampshire

“God,” Eleanor Bartlet exclaimed, as she pulled off the bloody surgical gloves on her hands. The other two people that had entered the washroom with her had both discarded the gloves in the operating room and were busy dragging off their caps and masks. “I’m so tired I think I’ll just fall asleep, standing right here.”

“Oh, no no no. You don’t want to do that,” the senior consultant looked seriously at her. “I tried that a few times in Korea, before I discovered that it works much better if you stand in a corner. Of course, I then fell through the tent, but these walls look sturdy. You shouldn’t have a problem.”

She rolled her eyes at his deadpan humor. 85 years old, an age where most people would either be in their graves, or in a home somewhere, and Dr. Benjamin Franklin Pierce did consulting work at Manchester Medical Center. And managed to hit on all the females on staff while doing it. She was positive he was a twenty-year-old male mind, trapped in an eighty-five year old body.

Dr. Pierce couldn’t perform the operations, but he sat in on them, and assisted more in the mental capacity than any practical. His advice was sound, and his jokes were just the right thing to have to relieve the pressure.

She didn’t know what she would have done without him these last few years.

Emil Dawson, a resident a couple of years her junior, lifted his wet head from the sink and grinned wearily at them.

“I think I’m going to get drunk. So drunk that my lovely fantasy about you, a feather boa and…”

“Why, Emil. I’m flattered. But I don’t swing that way,” Dr. Pierce grinned, the twinkle in his eye growing more prominent. “I think you might have more luck with Eleanor.”

Eleanor smiled wearily at them and pulled off the cap covering her hair, and let her blonde ponytail loose.

She wondered when her hair had grown so long it covered her shoulders?

When was the last time she had been at a hairdresser? Two months ago?

No – she’d cancelled that appointment after Erwin Burwinkle had died on the operating table.

Her last hairdresser-appointment had been two years ago, when her mother had forced her to go to a stylist. She had chopped off chunks herself from time to time, but that was the last time she had been at a salon.

“Don’t encourage him,” she scolded her white-haired colleague with a smile before turning to Emil. “The answer you got before this shift, and every other shift? Copy and paste that,” rolling her head in an attempt to get out some of the kinks in her neck didn’t work. “Besides I’ve got a date already. I’ve got a foursome in mind.”

“Ooh, kinky,” Dr. Pierce wiggled his eyebrows. “Mind if I watch? Watching is all I can do nowadays, I’m afraid.”

She sighed longingly. “Just me, Humphrey Bogart, Ben & Jerry. Without any phone calls related to work at all, preferably no calls at all.”

“Ow,” Emil flung one arm onto the green surgical outfit. “She’s not even considering me. I’m wounded, stabbed in the heart by a dearly beloved one.”

“Emil,” Dr. Pierce intervened. “That’s not your heart.”

“No,” added Ellie. “Good for you, though. If your heart had been there, I’d recommend some very heavy surgery. I’m a doctor, we know these things.”

Emil removed his hand from the pelvic-area.

“Brat,” he said, only glaring slightly at her. “I’m convinced you were a spoiled child, you probably didn’t get spanked enough.”

“Come to think of it…”

“I can rectify that,” he wiggled his eyebrows. “My place, you bring the butt, I’ll bring the spankings.”

“Thanks, but no. Sweet of you to offer, though.”

“Well,” he glanced up at the clock hanging on the wall. “If I hurry I might catch Rita at home before her shift starts. It’ll be nice to get off my feet.”

Dr. Pierce rolled his eyes. Emil grinned at her.

Ellie threw her cap at him.

“Funny guy. Now, go home to your wife.”


About the same time,

Washington, DC

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Danny,” Zoey Bartlet twiddled the cord to the phone, around and around her finger. “I’ll admit to having heard the rumors, but…”

She paused for a while, watching her finger turn red then white from the blood loss before releasing it.

“Yes, but…”

Sarah White, her assistant, knocked softly on the open door. Zoey rolled her eyes at her.

“Look, Danny. We can go over this as many times as you’d like, and I still wouldn’t see the truth in it. It’s a rumor. Look up the definition.”

Sarah smiled as Zoey continued.

“Danny! I don’t have anything for you on it. If you’re so desperate after the story, call her yourself. She won’t answer, huh? Well, ever since she got the machine… Why am I telling you this at all? You’re a reporter. And last I checked I had a person responsible for my PR.”

Sarah looked down; she was the one who had put the call through to Zoey.

“Yeah, fine. Give my love to Isabel and the kids.”

She smiled a soft smile.

“I’ll tell her, it’ll mean a lot. Bye,” Zoey put the receiver down, gently. She turned to Sarah. “Oh for the love of Dunkin’ Donuts, I’m not going to eat you, Sarah. You put him through, but that’s one of the minor blips on my radar today. In fact,” she rose. “It’s hardly worth mentioning. Are they here?”

Sarah nodded before scrambling towards the door. “I’ll show them in.”.

“Please do that,” Zoey opened a drawer in her desk and took out a bottle. She opened it, poured a pill quickly into her hand, closed the bottle and put it back into the drawer. She downed the pill with drink from the bottle of Evian on her desk.

“Zoey,” the voice sounded like it belonged to a teenager instead of the nearly 46 year old man she knew it was. “How are you?”

She smiled at them. “I’m good. How are you?”

Senator Samuel Seaborn of California, and his chief of staff, Joshua Lyman, both grinned widely at her.

“Do I even want to know what you’ve cooked up, this time?”

“I am appalled that you think that a United States Senator and his chief of staff have nothing better to do than to “cook up” something that will cause you trouble.”

“Did I say anything about causing me trouble, Sam?” she paled. “Oh, God.”


“You’re the ones that set out the rumor about… you’re the ones who set out the rumor that I’ve spent half an hour on the phone with Danny, denying any knowledge about. How could you?” she stepped around the desk and began to hit Josh.

“Hey, why are you hitting me? I’m an old man, hit the boy here.”

“Josh? Sam is not bright enough to have come up with a plan like that on his own.”

An outraged “hey” from the man in question didn’t stop her.

“And if I’ve learnt something from the so-called master politician - you rarely do anything without a political motive, Josh. Spill.”
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